Monday, June 13, 2016
He will carry you home.
Yesterday was one of those good Sundays, the kind where after a morning spent at church, I was able to plan my upcoming week, study a conference talk, and take a really long nap. It felt really great.
It's been a while since I've posted a conference report, but I am here today with President Uchtdorf's most recent conference address, He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home. I don't feel particularly lost at the moment, but this talk touched me just the same.
President Uchtdorf begins by sharing the story of the beautiful Frauenkirche, a Lutheran church in Dresden, Germany. This church, which was first built in the 1700s, was completely destroyed during World War II, but had been rebuilt, incorporating blackened stones from the original structure.
Likening this to each of us, President Uchtdorf said, "If man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost? It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. . . there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored."
I think we are all familiar with the parable of the lost sheep. Usually it is referenced when we are learning how to reach out to those who are lost, but President Uchtdorf uses it to teach us about the Good Shepherd.
He said, "Is it possible that the Savior's message was that God is fully aware of those who are lost--and that He will find them, that He will reach out to them, and that He will rescue them?
"If that is so, what must the sheep do to qualify for this divine help? Does the sheep need to know how to use a complicated sextant to calculate its coordinates? Does it need to be able to use a GPS to define its position? Does it have to have the expertise to create an app that will call for help? Does the sheep need endorsements by a sponsor before the Good Shepherd will come to the rescue?
"No. Certainly not! The sheep is worthy of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the Good Shepherd. To me, the parable of the lost sheep is one of the most hopeful passages in all of scripture. Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you. He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears. It matters not how you became lost--whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control.
"What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children."
But what must we do in order to be found? We must turn to Him. That's all He requires of us. Elder Uchtdorf assures us, "It requires a little faith. But do not despair. If you cannot muster faith right now, begin with hope. If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start."
Then comes obedience. He continues, "You and I may speak most eloquently of spiritual things. We may impress people with our keen intellectual interpretation of religious topics. We may rhapsodize about religion and 'dream of [our] mansion above.' But if our faith does not change the way we live--if our beliefs do not influence our daily decision--our religion is vain, and our faith, if not dead, is certainly not well and is in danger of eventually flatlining. Obedience is the lifeblood of faith. It is by obedience that we gather light into our souls."
But sometimes obedience gets a bad wrap. It is not an end unto itself. It is not meant to force us into submission. Instead, President Uchtdorf says, "Maybe obedience is not so much the process of bending, twisting, and pounding our souls into something we are not. Instead, it is the process by which we discover what we truly are made of. . . The moment we choose to incline our hearts to our beloved Savior and set foot upon the path of discipleship, something miraculous happens. The love of God fills our hearts, the light of truth fills our minds, we start to lose the desire to sin, and we do not want to walk any longer in darkness. We come to see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny."
We are all worthy of rescue. There have been times in my life when I have felt lost, and there will be those times again. But President Uchtdorf gives us this promise: "You may feel that your life is in ruins. You may have sinned. You may be afraid, angry, grieving, or tortured by doubt. But just as the Good Shepherd finds His lost sheep, if you will only lift up your heart to the Savior of the world, He will find you. He will rescue you. He will lift you up and place you on His shoulders. He will carry you home.
"If mortal hands can transform rubble and ruins into a beautiful house of worship, then we can have confidence and trust that our loving Heavenly Father can and will rebuild us. His plan is to build us into something far greater than what we were--far greater than what we can ever imagine. With each step of faith on the path of discipleship, we grow into the beings of eternal glory and infinite joy we were designed to become."
Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk here. (although I pretty much just quoted the entire thing, sorry about that! :))
Beautiful print of a painting by Beth Allen available here.
posted by stephanie at 6:27 AM