Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Greatest Gift

In my chosen profession I am surrounded by those who are in the Twilight of their lives.
 They have seen sorrow, joy, and hard times but not at one time does one hear them murmur.
Instead they chose to share the best part of their lives which is their loved ones and family.
 They quietly bear what they are called to bear with grace and great dignity.
 Their humble and great hearts inspire me and create a desire within myself to become a better person.

A few nights ago as I was visting with my fave guy I found myself asking this question,
"Why does Heavenly Father call home so many of His children during the holidays?
Does He not know now painful it is to the loved ones left behind?"
 I have found myself pondering on my questions for the last few days searching for an answer.
I lost my poppers just a few days after Thanksgiving for many years I found myself dreading Thanksgiving because I missed my family so very much.
It took me several years to stop looking inward and start looking outward.

One Thanksgiving I brought home one of my special friends who had no family close by; we had all the fixings and made some very special memories;
 That started a tradition which continues today and has truly deepened my love for Thanksgiving.

As I watch those around me struggle with losing a loved one at this most joyous time of the year,
I find my heart aching for them and asking, "why!"

Today as I was spending some one on one time with a special friend this thought came into my mind as I looked at the peace that filled her lovely face, "What greater gift could she be given then to return home and no longer face the aches and pains caused by her worn out body."

 My mind then turned to the greatest gift our Heavenly Father could give,
He gave His only begotten son so that all of His children could return home to Him
and live with Him once again. 

He knows better than anyone the feeling of loss and suffering as He allowed His perfect son to be taken and judged of man as a thing of naught and crucified for us.

I read a thought by Elder Melvin J Ballard that truly brought this home to me:

"I think as I read the story of Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac that our Father is trying to tell us what it cost Him to give His Son as a gift to the world...Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, gathered the stones together, and placed the faggots upon them. 
 Then Isaac was bound, hand and foot, kneeling upon the altar. 
 I presume Abraham, like the true father, must have given his son his farewell kiss, his blessing, his love, and his soul must have been drawn out in that hour of agony toward his son who was to die
 by the hand of his own father. 
 Every step proceeded until the cold steel was drawn and the hand raised that was to strike the blow
 to let out the life's blood,
when the angel of the Lord said: It is enough.
Our Father in heaven went through all that and more, for in His case the hand was not stayed.
He loved His Son, Jesus Christ, better than Abraham ever loved Isaac, for our Father had with Him His Son, our Redeemer, in the eternal worlds, faithful and true for ages, standing in a place of trust and honor, and the Father loved Him so dearly, and yet He allowed this well beloved Son to descend from his place of glory and honor, where millions did Him homage, down to the earth, a condescension that is not within the power of man to conceive. 
He came to receive the insult, the abuse, and the crown of thorns.
God heard the cry of His son in that moment of great grief and agony, in the garden when the pores of His body opened and drops of blood stood upon Him, and He cried out:
Father if thou be willing, remove this cup from me.

I ask you, what father and mother could stand by and listen to the cry of their children in distress, in this world, and not render assistance?  I have heard of mothers throwing themselves into raging streams when they could not swim a stroke to save their drowning children,
rush into burning buildings to rescue those they loved. 
We cannot stand by and listen to those cries without its touching our hearts.
The Lord has not given us the power to save our own. 
 He has given us faith and we submit to the inevitable, but he had the power to save, and He loved His Son, and He could have saved Him.  He might have rescued Him from the insult of the crowds. 
He might have rescued Him from the crown of thorns placed upon His head.
He might have rescued Him when the Son, hanging between two thieves was mocked with,
Save thyself, and come down from the cross.  He saved others; himself he cannot save.
He listened to all this.  He saw that Son condemned;
He saw Him drag the cross through the streets of Jerusalem and faint under its load.
He saw the Son finally upon Calvary; He saw His body stretched out upon the wooden cross;
He saw the cruel nails driven through His hands and feet, and the blows that broke the skin, tore the flesh, and let out the life's blood of His Son.
He looked upon that.
In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed,  but it fell,
and the life's blood of His Beloved Son went out. 
His Father looked on with great grief and agony over His Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment when even our Savior cried out in despair:
My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?
In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles
until even He could not endure it any longer; and, like a mother who bids farwell to her dying child and has to be taken out of the room so as not to look upon the last struggles, so He bowed His head and hid in some part of His universe, His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His son.  Oh in that moment when He might have saved His son I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us, for He had not only the love of His Son in mind, but that His love for us made it possible for Him to endure to look upon the sufferings of His Son and give Him finally to us, our Savior and our Redeemer.  Without Him, without His sacrifice, we would have remained,
 and we would never have come glorified into His presence. 
And so this is what it cost, in part, for our Father in heaven to give the gift of His son unto men."  

It brings great peace to my heart to know that My Heavenly Father loved me enough to send His only begotten Son to die that I and all will live again. 

He is right, there is no better gift one could receive during this beautiful season than
 the gift to return once again to Our Father who truly loves each and everyone of us.


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