Monday, June 18, 2012
Have you ever had a phone conversation that begins with the phrase "Hold for a moment please" or some derivative of that statement? For me, once those words are heard, I roll my eyes and settle in for the long haul because I know that moment will seem to me to last forever.
There are many such moments like this in life. Moments when it seems time stands still, the world ceases to revolve, and everything in life becomes caught in this one long pause that carries on indefinitely. These are the moments that memories are made of. The ones forever engraved in our minds with such vividness that we can view them years down the line with the same clarity as when they occurred.
Many of the moments are happy. Time spent with family as a child, being taught to ride a bike by a father, learning to cook with a mother, special vacations to exotic locations like Disneyland and Beaver, UT (great ice cream-just saying). Eventually there are more poignant moments. A wedding day, the birth of a child, your little one taking his first steps. Moments of joy that resonate within our souls.
But there are also moments of darkness, too many to even describe them all, when our souls seem battered by storms that never cease, when the night has fallen, when even the stars in the sky are obscured, and every path seems strewn with the wreckage we call our lives. In moments like these, it is hard to see how we can ever navigate the oceans of dispair and find our way back to the light and love of our Savior.
The scriptures are filled with countless examples of these bleak moments that were made light through the mercy of the Lord. I think about the life of Joseph in Genesis 37, 39-45. He was cast into a pit and then sold by his brothers into Egypt and later, falsely accused and imprisoned for years. I wonder if there was a point in his life that Joseph looked upward and simply asked, "Why?". It is hard to see the end from the beginning when we are in the midst of our trials, but if we can endure these moments in our lives, the Lord can put is in places that will be of greatest benefit to both ourselves and those around us. Because of the events in his life, Joseph was in place to save his family from famine.
Sometimes these moments are ones that come because of our own failings. Alma the Younger, though taught by a loving father the ways of the Lord, strayed and in his own words "went about seeking to destroy the church of God" (Alma 36:6). It took an angel of the Lord appearing unto Him to cause Alma to being to change his life. Said he, "I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins...Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God to be judged of my deeds." (Alma 36:12, 15) Alma's moment lasted for 3 days and 3 nights but I'm sure to him, it felt like an eternity.
We may not have an angel appear unto us and distill in us the need to change, but there will be times when we hear the clarion call of the Savior of all mankind, pleading with us to repent, to come back, to allow His mercy and His Atonement to have a place in our lives. It is hard to believe that He would want us back, that we haven't gone too far, done too much, or failed too many times that we no longer have any redeemable worth in His eyes. And yet the Lord forgave even Alma, a wicked and idolatrous man (Mosiah 27:8), and helped him become one of the greatest prophets to the Nephite people.
Alma states, "My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but i am snatched, and my soul is pained no more... (Mosiah 27:29) Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so equisite and sweet as was my joy" (Alma 36:21).
For a moment, we might feel like we are in the darkest of nights. We hang our heads in failure when we give into the temptations that so easily beset us and take us away from the paths of righteousness. In these moments we might feel as if we are dangling from a cliff with only a finger or two preventing our fall into the abyss. It is in these moments that Satan whispers to give up, give in, and quit trying. He would tell us we've failed. Our moment has lasted for too much of our lives. There's no hope left. BUT HE IS WRONG!
The most vital moment in history sheds its light upon everyone in everytime. The Savior of the world atoned for each person so that we could all find our way out of the dark. I know His moment was not easy. In the Garden of Gethsemane He cried to His Father, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done." (Luke 22:42) How dark this moment must have been! But the darkness was conquered, Jesus is the Savior for each of us, and we can overcome our own moments of darkness through Him.
Isaiah wrote, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer...For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee. (Isaiah 54:7-8, 10)
What comfort this promise gives! Even if in our moments of despair we feel as if the Lord has forsaken us, we can know of a sureity that He will have mercy on each of us. He has covenanted to bring us peace in our moments of deepest grief. He is the light and the life of the world. He will take the moments of our lives, both the good and the bad, and will mold us into the person we were meant to be.
One of my favorite poems states:
My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the underside.
Not til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the skillful weaver's hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.
Heavenly Father is aware of our moments. He knows our happiness and our sorrow. He sees our weaknesses and our strengths. For a moment we might feel as if we have no hope, but He has promised mercy to each one that gives his heart to Him. He loves us all, He has a plan for each of His children, and if we let Him, He will create of our moments a masterpiece.