LOIS’ POST: These last 18 months posting on our blog have brought many surprising blessings. Initially it took courage to open up our most sacred, personal feelings for public viewing. We appreciate your respectful feedback and encouraging comments. We are pleased to note that our modest posts have been read in 78 countries throughout the world. THANK YOU. As we complete our 18-month blogging goal, we hand the baton to our 21-year-old granddaughter, Madeline Dunn. We invite you to continue to visit the website, Reasons to Rejoice, as she expresses uplifting insights from her youthful perspective. As my final post, I want to share a simple statement of truth: Jesus Christ’s Plan of Salvation answers these deep questions of the soul: (1) Who am I? (2) Where did I come from? (3) What is my purpose on earth? (4) Where will I go after death? http://www.mormon.org/ This plan explains how we can be happy in this life and return to God’s presence, and how to grow up to become like Him. The Lord forgives my sins, recreates my nature, promises resurrection after death, and qualifies me for glory hereafter. He assures that all things wrong in the world will one day be made right. He promises His faithful followers a fullness of joy. That is the capstone of my REASONS TO REJOICE. “Rejoice, O my heart…I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (2 Nephi 4:30).
ALAN’S POST: As I look back over the past 18 months that my wife and I have posted on our website, “Reasons to Rejoice,” I have experienced great joy in exploring and sharing my deepest convictions. I have rediscovered and reinforced countless reasons to rejoice in my life. I am grateful for you, our readers, who have perused these posts three times per week. We now find it timely to shift our attention to specific genealogy and family history goals. As a parting offering, I want to share my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify of God’s marvelous Plan of Salvation for His beloved children. We left our heavenly home in order to come to earth and learn by experience. Heavenly Father knew that we would inevitably make mistakes, so He provided a Savior for us, who would atone for these errors. Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and be sanctified. We are enabled through His power to progress eternally, to eventually become as He is. The scriptures and words of living prophets provide a roadmap to keep our feet on the right path. Through covenant making and covenant keeping, we are assured of joy in this life and forever. My hope is that you have been edified by reading our posts and will find future installments equally uplifting. I pray that the Lord’s choice blessings will be with you and your families. Until we meet again, we bid you ado.
Have you ever winced with regret at a poor choice—something you should not have said or something you should not have done? Or have you ever neglected to do something that impaired your spiritual growth and peace? Certainly we all have. The good news is that because of Jesus Christ’s infinite Atonement, He made it possible to follow the pathway of complete repentance. Repentance is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness. Repentance is more than just acknowledging wrongdoings; it is a change of heart and mind. It is turning to God. One of my favorite verses of scripture is the Lord’s promise that, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is designed to nourish, sanctify, and heal the imperfect soul. The Church is filled with people who are trying to keep the commandments, but haven’t mastered them yet. “If you expect to find perfect people here, you will be disappointed. But if you seek the pure doctrine of Christ, the word of God ‘which healeth the wounded soul,’ and the sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost, then here you will find them. In this age of waning faith—in this age when so many feel distanced from heaven’s embrace, here you will find a people who yearn to know and draw closer to their Savior by serving God and fellowmen, just like you. Come, join with us” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf).
“Strike one…Strike two…Strike three—you’re OUT!” bellowed the umpire. I watched as the dejected batter slung away his bat, slumped onto the dugout bench, and buried his face in his hands. In spite of his best effort and most powerful swing, he lost the game for his team because of a slight error of visual judgment. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who has made provision for my inevitable errors in mortality through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Those words, “You’re OUT” are never spoken to God’s children. Through repentance and an earnest desire to do better, we are given a clean slate to try again. “How merciful is our God unto us…He stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long…As many as will not harden their hearts shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (Jacob 6:4). God is patient and long-suffering. He gives me multiple chances to turn and come back when I make a mistake. “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final” (Thomas S. Monson). No matter what challenges or disappointments are tossed in my path, no matter how many times I stumble along on my mortal journey, I promise to get back up and try again. Nelson Mandela said that “a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.” I trust that Christ’s atoning power will cleanse and empower me.
“Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn” (Isaiah 51:1). What does this mean to you? When I think of the word, “hewn” I think of a statue emerging from a block of beautiful marble after the master artisan has laboriously chipped away with sharp tools to create a likeness. Along with all of God’s children, I am “hewn” from divine parentage as a beloved child of God. He is shaping me to be in His likeness. The word “Rock” is often used in the scriptures to represent the Savior Jesus Christ. He is what I strive to become. I have taken upon myself His holy name in covenant, and have pledged to always remember Him. In another respect, I am also “hewn” from beloved earthly parents and ancestors. I want to carry on their legacy of courage and faith. I live in a confused world when it comes to identity. Many people look to find themselves in the wrong places. The right place to find one’s real identity is from God, as His beloved child. Real identity comes from recognizing our divine heritage and purpose. These words from a favorite child’s hymn relate to adults as well: “I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me; help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do, to live with Him someday.” Isaiah’s words, “Look unto the rock from whence ye are hewn” remind me of who I am and whose I am.
Our one-year-old granddaughter played a game of hide-and-seek with her mommy recently. Rather than choosing an easy place behind the sofa, she crawled inside a cabinet, completely out of view. She forgot one minor detail though, and left the door ajar. This caused me to think about the analogy of God’s children foolishly thinking that they can hide sins from our omniscient Heavenly Father. Our choices in life do not constitute a game. They affect eternal life. Of course God sees when I make a poor choice. He prompts me through my conscience, which is the light of Christ, given to every man—to discern right from wrong. Conscience is light to our souls. Have you noticed that evil activities always lurk in dark places? Windows are darkened or shaded, lights are dimmed and raucous music deafens the inner voice of conscience. But, the door is always ajar. Our loving Heavenly Father will reach out to find us and guide us back if we want to be found. As we repent, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is activated, and we are cleansed. “I appeal to each [person] to ask himself: Where am I? Am I ashamed so that I want to hide, or am I where I should be, doing what I should be doing, and preparing to meet God? Let each of us determine to humble ourselves and repent, and prove ourselves worthy of the great promise that those who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever” (N Eldon Tanner). What a Reason to Rejoice!
I’m trying to practice the attributes exemplified by Jesus Christ. The following incident helped me see an area I need to improve—patience! The other night I grumbled impatiently as I waited for another driver to slowly direct his vehicle into a parking space. But when I was able to see the driver, I was ashamed because it was a dear friend of mine. As I looked inside the car, my feelings changed. This experience demonstrates the need to look beyond the exterior appearance of things to develop patience. I need to look inside the heart of others to better understand why they behave as they do. I want to practice patience with people as well as trusting God’s timetable in answering prayers. Patience interlinks with fellow virtues of forgiveness, tolerance, and faith. Elder Neal A. Maxwell linked patience with faith when he taught: “Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His.” I can grow in faith when I am willing to wait patiently for God’s purposes to unfold. And I can learn patience with His timetable. I can also grow in patience with people when I take time to look inside with empathy.
For us, Easter comes in the springtime of the year, when new buds and green leaves appear after a long winter. Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s universal resurrection, with the promise that all in their proper order will have their bodies and spirits reunited immortally, free from disease, pain, or death. Christ’s redeeming power saves all mankind from physical death. At the resurrection, new life will spring forth from the grave with excitement exceeding any earthly expectation. Another gift of the Savior comes through the Atonement, when He paid the price for all our sins. We are sanctified as we repent and are baptized through proper authority, and endure faithfully to the end. Without this great gift, we would all suffer a spiritual death or separation from God’s presence. A powerful witness of the Savior Jesus Christ by His living apostles can be found at: http://jesuschrist.lds.org/testimonies-of-him/articles/the-living-christ-the-testimony-of-the-apostles-of-the-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints?&lang=eng Here is a summarizing statement: “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”