Monday, November 25, 2013

I Thank Him Reverently

Have you ever come across something in your day that made it so much brighter?  That one little thing that happened that, for whatever reason, totally made your day?  Sometimes I find that little thing in the scriptures.  That one little verse that really makes my heart smile.
For example, John 16:33.  "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  The Savior tells us this right before Gethsemane happens.  I don't know about you, but if I knew I was about to experience suffering beyond comprehension, I probably wouldn't be too sympathetic toward other people and their problems.  Yet the Savior is still so compassionate.  What an example.
In the next chapter, Christ gives the intercessory prayer.  It's John 17, and I highly recommend you read it.  And specifically pay attention to the way that Jesus prays.  Because that was one thing that really struck me.  The way Jesus talks to Heavenly Father is still respectful, but He prays like He is actually talking to someone face to face.  His relationship with His Heavenly Father is so strong.  I think the most wonderful part is that I know I'm capable of having a relationship like that too.  I already love the relationship I do have with Him, but I know I should still work to develop it.  It's like any other relationship here on earth; it takes genuine time and effort.  But I still feel so lucky knowing that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me.
As we get closer to the time of the Garden of Gethsemane, I'm just amazed at the love that both Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for us.  One of my absolute favorite songs is "My Heavenly Father Loves Me."  I ask you to really listen to it, because it is wonderful, beautiful, and true.  You can listen to it here:
Folks, your Heavenly Father loves you, whether you like it or not.  There's no denying that.  I hope you can feel His love like I have in my life.  Because it's there.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

For Those Days

I know I say this pretty much every time, but I’ve found another new favorite parable.  The parable of the talents.  Basic summary: a wealthy man gives his servants each a certain number of talents.  One gets five, another two, and another one.  When the master returns, he asks the servants what they’ve done with their respective talents.  The first had earned ten, the next four, and the last had buried his.  I guess I’d never consciously thought this, but a common misconception is that the man who ended up with ten talents is the most righteous.  However, this is not true.  In Matt. 25:15, it says that the master gave “to every man according to his several ability.”  I’d never picked up on this phrase. 
For those who don’t know, I play the piano, the organ, I sing, I do ballroom dance, and I’m currently attending BYU.  That’s more than the average 19 year old is up to, I guess you could say.  Throughout my life, people have commented that they were impressed with how naturally talented I was.  This always bothered me, because I certainly wasn’t born with what I have.  This did not just “happen.”  I’ve spent many hours working to get to where I am now.  And now I’m glad I did (Yes, mom.  You were right that I would thank you one day.)   
I like that this gospel makes us work hard.  How boring would it be if you just got the short straw and there was nothing you could do about it?  This gospel is about helping us become better.  We are meant to find happiness.  You develop whatever talents you have.  Not much will be sweeter than hearing, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt 25:21). 

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Reins of Jesus

I don't know about you, but I like knowing stuff.  It feels cool.  It gives me almost this sense of power.  Plus, I know that this crazy brain of mine is all I get to take with me at the end of my time here, so I might as well make it a good one.
As we've been studying the scriptures, I've gained so many new little nuggets of knowledge.  I never realized how much Atonement symbolism is in the New Testament.  Of course I knew that the Atonement was the most important part of it, but I never realized just how many places you could find it, whether explicit or discreet.
For example, the triumphal entry in Matt 21.  I never knew this story very well, for some reason, but now it holds beautiful symbolism for me.  Jesus rides into Jerusalem on an unbroken donkey.  First of all, a donkey is the most lowly creature.  Second, because this donkey was a colt, it was unbroken.  It was a miracle that that donkey didn't get spooked and start bucking once he was surrounded by people shouting, throwing clothes in front of him, and waving palm fronds in his face.  This is no coincidence, that's for sure.  The Savior has taken the reins, and He will steer the donkey where it needs to go.
So it is with us.  If we can let the Savior take the reins in our lives, He will take us in the right direction.  He will keep us on the path that we need to be on, helping us get through our daily struggles.  This is something I have a bit of a hard time with.  I'm very independent.  I can do lots of things by myself, and I really like it that way.  I like knowing that I can manage my own life.  However, as I've approached the doorstep of this period of big decisions, it's more crucial now than ever to really trust the Savior.  This has been tough for me, and I need to have greater faith that I won't be led astray.  I certainly can't do this alone, no matter how hard I try.  Let's work on this together, shall we?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Rolling Stones

If your life has been anything like mine, you probably ran into an immature boy or two or a few hundred.  I'm sure there's also been one of those boys who chose to share the shortest verse of scripture ever written as a spiritual thought.  That shortest verse happens to be John 11:35, and it has now become one of my new favorites.
So here's the background story on this verse.  Lazarus, one of Jesus's friends, gets sick and passes away.  The Jews believe that the spirit lingers around the body for three days.  But by the time Jesus gets there, it's already been 4-5 days.  Mary and Martha both tell Jesus that if He has only gotten there sooner, Lazarus wouldn't have died and they start to weep.  Cue John 11:35
"Jesus wept."
The shortest verse in words, but the longest in meaning.
He doesn't just get teary-eyed or let out a little sigh.  He weeps.  Why?  I think there are several possibilities.  He could be demonstrating the scripture that says to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.  We also weep about things we care about.  But I think the answer I like best is that He can feel our mourning and sadness.  He understands the sufferings inside our hearts, and I think He sincerely wants us to be happy.  It pains Him when we are in pain.  He loves us so much!  
Now on with the story.  Jesus asks some of the others to move the stone.  He certainly could have done it Himself, but I think He wanted the focus to be on the rising Lazarus.  But this also makes a beautiful Atonement symbol.  In our lives, sometimes we do bad things.  Sometimes our choices turn out to be not so great.  But if we want to get on with our lives, we must be the ones to move the stone blocking the way of the Savior.  There is no stone big enough that can block you from the power of the Atonement.  Once we let Him in, He can bring us back to life.  He can restore us and help us return to a happy and healthy life.
Guys, I believe this is true.  I really do.  But that's not going to make one bit of difference if you don't do anything about it.  This is a gospel of action!  As was stated in one of my favorite movies: "Life's not a spectator sport.  If watching is all you're gonna do, then you're gonna watch your life go by without you."  Right now is the time to turn that life of yours around.  Let Him in.