Monday, March 14, 2016
justice, love, and mercy
In a few weeks we'll celebrate Easter. To get ready for that holy day, I re-read Elder Holland's conference address from last Easter, entitled, "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet". He begins by telling a story about two teenaged brothers. It is a good illustration of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, so I'd like to share it here.
It goes like this:
"Without safety ropes, harnesses, or climbing gear of any kind, two brothers attempted to scale a sheer canyon wall in Snow Canyon State Park in southern Utah. Near the top of their laborious climb, they discovered that a protruding ledge denied them their final few feet of ascent. They could not get over it, but neither could they retreat from it. They were stranded. After careful maneuvering, John found enough footing to boost his younger brother to safety on top of the ledge. But there was no way to lift himself. The more he strained to find finger or foot leverage, the more his muscles began to cramp. Panic started to sweep over him, and he began to fear for his life.
Unable to hold on much longer, John decided his only option was to try to jump vertically in an effort to grab the top of the overhanging ledge. If successful, he might, by his considerable arm strength, pull himself to safety.
In his own words, he said:
'Prior to my jump I told Jimmy to go search for a tree branch strong enough to extend down to me, although I knew there was nothing of the kind on this rocky summit. It was only a desperate ruse. If my jump failed, the least I could do was make certain my little brother did not see me falling to my death.
'Giving him enough time to be out of sight, I said my last prayer--that I wanted my family to know I loved them and that Jimmy could make it home safely on his own--then I leapt. There was enough adrenaline in my spring that the jump extended my arms above the ledge almost to my elbows. But as I slapped my hands down on the surface, I felt nothing but loose sand on flat stone. I can still remember the gritty sensation of hanging there with nothing to hold on to--no lip, no ridge, nothing to grab or grasp. I felt my fingers begin to recede slowly over the sandy surface. I knew my life was over.
'But then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out from somewhere above the edge of the cliff, grabbing my wrists with a strength and determination that belied their size. My faithful little brother had not gone looking for any fictitious tree branch. Guessing exactly what I was planning to do, he had never moved an inch. He had simply waited--silently, almost breathlessly--knowing full well I would be foolish enough to try to make that jump. When I did, he grabbed me, held me, and refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what would surely have been certain death.'"
Elder Holland reminds us that Easter Sunday is "the most sacred day of the year for special remembrance of brotherly hands and determined arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our fallings and our failings, from our sorrows and our sins." Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate "the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced--to say nothing our our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins. That victory is available to us because of events that transpired on a weekend precisely like this nearly two millennia ago in Jerusalem."
He continues, "That first Easter sequence of Atonement and Resurrection constitutes the most consequential moment, the most generous gift, the most excruciating pain, and the most majestic manifestation of pure love ever to be demonstrated in the history of this world. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightning in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to eternal life."
This knowledge gives me hope. It gives me peace and so much joy. I want to feel this and to remember this always, but particularly during this special time of year. I have a testimony of Jesus Christ. I know He suffered for my sins and my pain. And I know that through Him, I can be forgiven and made whole again. And the really wonderful thing, is that this gift is available to everyone - all we need to do is turn to Him.
Have a happy week!
Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk here. Elder Holland always hits it out of the park.
For more uplifting Easter things, go to FollowHim.mormon.org.
posted by stephanie at 9:43 AM