In my New Testament class, one of the assignments was to choose a Christlike attribute to develop/work on over the seven weeks of the class. As I pondered the many attributes that Christ has that I am severely lacking, the one I felt like I need to work on at this stage of my life is PATIENCE. The dreaded "p" word. Now, how many times have I specifically focused on being more patient? WAY too many to count. But I'm not giving up. No way, no how. I'm going to be patient in the process of learning how to be more patient. :)
As I have studied the life of Christ, specifically looking for how he exemplified the attribute of being patient, I feel that I am seeing familiar stories in a whole new way. I have been able to see how patient the Lord was with those around Him.
How many times did His disciples see Him perform a miracle only to marvel the next time something amazing happened? For example, after Christ fed the 5000 with a few loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:15-21), the disciples just could not believe it when they saw Him walking on the water not even a day later. This happened time after time, miracle after miracle. If I were the Savior, I feel like I would be fed up by this time. "When are you guys going to get it?" type of frustration here. The "throwing up your hands and wanting to throw in the towel and leave" kind of frustration here.
But the Savior, in the way that only the Savior can(and maybe Elder Holland because that guy is amazing), patiently loves His disciples, gently rebukes them when they need a course correction while trying to "get it", and explains things in different ways until they do "get it". What is it, exactly, that He needed them to get? The same thing He needs us to get...that He is the very Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer, and the only One who can stand as our Advocate before God. He wants us to get that it is because of Him that we are able to repent of our sins and be with our families forever. He wants us to get that He asks us to obey certain commandments and do certain things because those are the things that will keep us close to Him and far from Satan.
Just as He patiently waited on His disciples to "get it", He offers that same patient waiting to us. That doesn't mean that He doesn't need to give us a swift kick in the pants sometimes to get us going back in the right direction (AKA cleansing the temple, not once, but twice). But even as He is offering that swift kick, He is patiently waiting until we "get it", even if it takes years...and a million swift kicks in the pants.
Enduring to the End
Becoming Like He is...AKA "Goals"
Patience is a purifying process. I love thinking of it that way. I also love the idea that patience means active waiting and enduring. We live in a world of instant gratification, which is why I think patience is so hard to come by. We really don't have to wait long for anything, unless your internet has a hiccup and is a little slow (first world probs, am I right?). This is why it is so important for us to focus on developing patience because "in your patience possess ye your souls".
God has things that get lost as well, although because He is perfect, I'm sure He doesn't go through quite the range of emotions that we do. When I say that God has "things" that get lost, I'm really referring to His children. We get lost, and He feels sadness about that. But even though we are lost, in a sense, He still knows exactly where we are. He just has to wait for us to use our agency to find our way back to Him.
In my New Testament studies this week, I studied a lot of parables. Three of them deal with lost things and offer three different ways that we get lost from the path that leads back to God.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
"How did that sheep get lost? He was not rebellious. If you follow the comparison, the lamb was seeking its livelihood in a perfectly legitimate manner, but either stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, it followed the enticement of the field, the prospect of better grass until it got out beyond the fold and was lost.
The lamb took his "eyes off the prize", so to speak. He focused his gaze on things other than the Shepherd. Maybe he started by stealing a few glances of the grass on the other side of the fence, which turned into staring hungrily at the grass, which then led to sampling the grass, and before he knew it, he had lost sight of the Shepherd completely.
Elder Joseph B Wirthlin (1917-2008), an Apostle of Jesus Christ, shared another take on this parable and who the lost sheep could represent.
"Some [children of God] are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don't belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don't fit in. They conclude that they are not needed. ...
Who's been one of these little lambs at one point or another? I have definitely felt a little of both of these "lost lamb scenarios" in my life. But here's the good news. The Good Shepherd, AKA the Savior of the World, knows exactly where we are, at all times. We are never lost to Him and He is always there, waiting for us to call out, just like a little lost lamb cries out to its mother.
We can return to the arms of that Good Shepherd who loves us wholly and completely, no matter where our wanderings have taken us.
The Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver
Going back to President McKay's insights on these three parables, he describes what the lost coin may represent:
"In this case the thing lost was not in itself responsible. The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it. ...Our charge is not only coins, but living souls of children, youth, and adults. They are our charges."
Here we see that the coin was lost through negligence on the owner's part. We also see that the woman in the parable represents any one of us who have responsibility to watch over and care for someone else--spiritually and physically. Whether you are a parent, or have stewardship over others through leadership roles, you are charged with being responsible for loving and teaching those whom you have stewardship over. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) shared how we should face this responsibility of loving and teaching others:
“There must be warmth in the work of the Lord. There must be friendship. There must be love unfeigned. There must be appreciation and thanks expressed. There must be constant nurturing with the good word of God. All of these are small things, so easy to do, and they make so great a difference." (“There Must Be Messengers,”Ensign, Oct. 1987, 5).
It's about love and friendship, respect and charity. It's about expressing gratitude. As President Hinckley said, these are all small things and easy to do, but they make a huge difference in the lives of those whom are feeling a little lost and unloved.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
"The parable of the prodigal son teaches us much about the nature and attributes of our Father in Heaven. Like the father in the parable, God will not control us, keep us from straying, or keep us from making selfish, foolish errors. Yet His love never diminishes. He is so anxious to have us return that He will run to us when we are still “a great way off” (Luke 15:20). He knows us so well that He can recognize our better selves when no one else can. Each of us, male or female, will be able to recognize something of ourselves in each of the sons in the parable.
We are Never Truly Lost to the Lord
The Shepherd knows His sheep.
He knows them, loves them, and welcomes them back when they stray.
May we always strive to use our agency to make choices that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven, but...if we mess up, if we make choices that lead us away from Him instead, may we always remember how the Lord feels about things that are lost. He has a plan for their salvation and redemption, and for that, I am truly grateful.
He came to heal us from sin.
There are several instances in the Bible where the Savior is asked to help someone--to perform a miracle--and the Savior obliges, but along with the miracle He makes sure to let the people know that His ability to heal us spiritually is more important than His ability to heal us physically.
Matthew 9:13 "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
While we certainly should never discount the beautiful miracles that the Savior creates in our lives, we should always recognize that the opportunity to utilize the Savior's Atonement in our lives to create change within our souls is more important than any miracle of physical healing that the Savior blesses us with.
He came to save that which was lost.
We all have those "wandering sheep" moments in our lives where we stray from the Savior and the protection that comes from honoring covenants we have made with Him. Fortunately, we have a Good Shepherd who loves us, who knows where we are at all times, and who lovingly calls to us. It's up to us to study His life and His teachings because that study will help us to recognize the voice of that Good Shepherd who is calling to us and wanting to lead us back to His fold.
John 10:11, 14, 16, 27-28 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep...I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine...And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd...My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish..."
But I promise you, if you will say to the Savior, "Okay, Lord, I don't understand why it has to be this way, but I am putting my faith and trust in you" and then GO and DO as the Savior instructs, you will be blessed with peace and you may even be blessed with an opportunity to see things through an eternal lens and perspective.
In my New Testament class this week, I studied about some of the Savior's miracles that He performed and also some of the parables He taught during His ministry on earth.
There is no way that I could possibly share everything I learned this week. That blog post would be WAY too long and boring...even for my 5 biggest fans who still read my ramblings on this blog. :)
I'm going to try and narrow this down to three main points...my three biggest takeaways from this week.
#1- It is important to have friends who help you come unto Christ.
In Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:1-12, and Luke 5:18-26, we find the story of the paralytic man who was brought to the Savior to be healed of his infirmity. There was a huge crowd around the Savior, and the man's friends, who were carrying him on a stretcher of sorts, were having a difficult time getting him close to the Savior. Because of their faith, they knew that if they could get their friend to the Savior, He would be able to heal Him.
Did these friends tell the man, "I'm so sorry. I know we have brought you all this way, but we cannot get close to the Savior, this man who can heal you. We will have to try another time."
These friends exhausted all their resources, finally resorting to removing the roof of the house that the Savior was in so they could lower their friend down to the Savior. They did not give up on their friend and they did not give up on their faith.
I would give anything...even my life...for my family and friends to be able to come to know how much the Savior of the world loves them, how much He has done for them, and how He is the one to turn to in order to receive peace and joy in this life and beyond. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic and unbelievable, but it is 100% true. The Savior is everything, my friends. Everything.
#2- Part of the Savior's divine mission is to call the sinners to repentance.
"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." -Mark 2:17
We are all sinners because we are all imperfect. Sin comes in many forms and even though it sounds like a harsh word, a sin is something as simple as losing your patience with someone. We are all in need of the power that comes through the Savior's Atonement and because He is the one that offered that great atoning sacrifice, He is the one that sets the terms for what we need to do, and how we should live in order to fully partake of all the blessings He has in store for us.
"Because of what He accomplished by His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power to prescribe the conditions we must fulfill to qualify for the blessings of His Atonement.
#3- The Savior's compassion and power to heal are extended to all people, everywhere.
In Mark 5:25-34 we find the story of the woman who had an "issue of blood" for twelve years. Because of this illness, she was considered an outcast from society and despite her best efforts of seeking medical help, she was not able to be cured from her ailment.
"When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes,
Immediately, Jesus sensed that "virtue had gone out of him", or in other words, He knew that His power had been used to heal someone. His disciples thought He was crazy. "There are so many people here", they said. "How can you say, 'Who touched me?'"
But the Savior knew because He knows all of us. He knows our hearts, our fears, our weaknesses, our strengths, our desires...everything. He knew that this woman had come to Him to be healed and through her faith in Him, this healing took place.
The Savior didn't care that this woman was an outcast in society or that she had something "wrong" with her. He saw beyond all that and extended His healing hand through her faithfulness.
And He does the same for us, for you and me, for all men and women everywhere. As we turn to Him, as we trust in Him, as we do the things He asks of us, as we exhibit faith in Him, He heals us.
I know this. With every ounce of everything that is in me, I know this to be true. So turn to the One who can truly save you and He will make you whole.
Come, Follow Me
The class I am writing this post for is my New Testament class. I have already been trying to focus on the New Testament and the life of our Savior with the "Come Follow Me" curriculum that we are studying this year as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's been a game changer, folks. For me and for my family. Now, before you get the image in your head of the Ogden clan gathering around our scriptures every night of the week having a picture perfect discussion about what we have already read and prepared, let me help you picture the REAL deal...
Since January, we have not had a discussion every night of the week. Most weeks we get in 2-3 nights of great discussion. Some weeks, such as last week, we got in 0 days of great discussion.
So, there you have it. A glimpse into the lives of a family who is doing their best to follow the Savior and heed the counsel of His living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. Do we have room for improvement? 100%. We will always have room for improvement. Do I sometimes feel stressed and anxious because "we are not doing it well enough"? 100%. But that's where I have to remember to say...
Get Thee Hence, Satan.
And that brings me to what I want to share today about my studies this past week. In Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13, we read about an experience the Savior had when he "was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God" (Matthew 4:1 Joseph Smith Translation). He chose to fast for forty days and forty nights as he communed with God. "He was afterwards an hungered, and was left to be tempted of the devil" (Matthew 4:2 Joseph Smith Translation).
Then Satan, being his incredibly "awesome" self (note, I use the word awesome sarcastically there), came to the Savior and tempted Him three different times. In two of the instances he tempted the Savior, he began with the words, "If thou be the Son of God". I find this interesting that Satan would try and get the Savior to doubt His divinity. What I find equally as interesting is that Satan does the exact same thing with us. We may not hear those exact words, "If thou be the Son or Daughter of God", but he gets us to doubt our divinity all the time.
Is God really there?
These are just a few of the questions that we ask ourselves that allow doubt of our divinity to creep into our minds.
But there is hope for us, my friends. The Savior, being His incredibly AWESOME self (note, I use the word awesome with NO sarcasm this time), set a beautifully perfect example for how we can respond to Satan when he comes to tempt us.
"Get thee hence, Satan."
"Get out of here." "Be gone." "Buh-bye, now." Or, as Moses so eloquently put it, "Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten" (Moses 1:16).
BOOM! Mic drop.
That's right, Satan. I am a daughter of God. I am created after His image. I have God and the Savior on my side which gives me power to "bruise thy head" (Genesis 3:15). I'm not going to listen to your garbage because I know who I am and I know who I have chosen to follow for the rest of my life and throughout all eternity, and it's not you.
And that's my "mic drop" moment with Satan and man, does it feel good.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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