Tuesday, May 15, 2012
85 Hours of "Why"
Friday evening, we gathered for pictures - all of us. Our nuclear family +1, soon to be added. Sure I grumbled, but I know it is important. When we get the picture back, it will go on the wall with two other paintings: One of a holy temple, the other of our Savior Jesus Christ.
The portrait of our family is a visual reminder that we have been sealed together by the authority of God, in a holy temple. We are bound together beyond this earth life. Like glue. Friday we experienced something new for us: We included in the picture the soon-to-be eternal companion of my son. Our family is beginning to expand through new sacred ordinances.
Friday night, we celebrated the beginning of another eternal family. The daughter of some of our most enduring friends was sealed in the temple that day to a man she adores. They expect to be together for eternity, and they can be. At the reception we visited with people who hold special places in our hearts and memories. It was a joyful night.
Saturday morning, my son had the great privilege of quietly sitting as a servant of God laid his hands upon his head and blessed him. This kind, elderly friend holds a special gift of revelation, and the title of Patriarch. My EC and I quietly listened as the windows of heaven were opened and the Holy Spirit whispered words of counsel, and promised great blessings upon our son. It was made clear that the Lord has high expectations for him, but the potential blessings are beyond comprehension. It was a joyful, teary, sweet morning.
Early Sunday morning, my EC awoke to breakfast in bed. Mother's Day - or as I tell my kids - the most important day of the year. My EC has been a mom now for 24 years, She is really good at it. She has the patience and sweetness that I lack. She is raising up a righteous family, and teaching them how to love. I adore her. Later that day we would make her a special meal, give her gifts, and remember how blessed we are to have her in our lives. We are blessed because of her faithfulness, and willingness to sacrifice career, comforts and health to bring five children into this world and make this family her priority.
Sunday morning, we attended church. Not just because it was Mother's Day, but because it was the Sabbath. There, we participated in the sacred ordinance of the sacrament - a representation of the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Through this simple ordinance, we have the potential to be made clean, and to renew the covenants and promises we have made with God. Because He is merciful
We then listened to children speak and sing songs of appreciation for their mothers. There is nothing that can trigger smiles as quickly as singing children...
But then, our son stood up to speak. Tomorrow he is entering the MTC. He stood and spoke about sacrifice. I was amazed at his maturity, and his skill as a speaker, at his depth and delivery. But what pulled at my heart was hearing him express appreciation for the sacrifice of mothers - especially his own mother, but that's not all. He went on to rightly bear testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and gave his witness of the divinity and reality of Jesus Christ. He knew what he was saying was the truth. I could feel it.
Sunday evening, as Mother's Day wore down, members of our family came to our home. Aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, and grandma, all gathered to enjoy a last chance to visit with my son, and to wish him well. There is strength in those relationships. And grounding.
Monday evening, our Stake President came to our home. He is the leader of the Church in our area. He holds the priesthood keys and authority to conduct the affairs of the church for us. We gathered a a family. We prayed, we shared testimonies. And then, the President gently laid his hands upon the head of my son, as his brother, his uncles, and I joined him. By authority given him by Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, he set my son apart to serve as a full-time missionary. He pronounced blessings upon his head: Blessings of health, and knowledge, and protection. He offered wise counsel as directed by the Spirit of inspiration. Blessings that will guide and help my son as he leaves his family and the comforts of home to serve the Lord in a far-of land. Blessings that will comfort him, and those of us that remain behind.
This morning, our family gathered at the crack of dawn to read scriptures - like we always do. We are currently reading the Book of Mormon again - a book that was delivered and translated by the power of God through a prophet of God. Today, we happened to be reading in Alma 37-38, as Alma counseled his missionary sons. When my turn came around to read, I found myself reading aloud:
"And now my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the word, and be sober. My son, farewell." (Alma 37:47)
Emotion prevented me from choking out the words, and my eldest son stepped in to finish reading for me.
We knelt together in family prayer - like we always do. My wife thanked God for our family, and the sealing power of the temple. She expressed our gratitude for so many things, and pleaded for blessings for our son, as only a mother can do.
Our family is awash in the Spirit, and tears, and gratitude. For 85 hours we have witnessed the power of God in so many different forms. We have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. We have witnessed ordinances performed by God's authority and with power.
"And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the keys of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest." (D&C 84:19-20)
In a mere three-and-a-half days, our family has seen the power of godliness working with our family, over and over and over again. We have been blessed with understanding and interaction with God that the vast majority of the earth's population does not comprehend. We all participated in these ordinances to receive guidance, comfort, and cleanliness.
And this was our weekend. Not because we are special - these things are available to anyone and everyone - but because we are richly blessed.
Why am I a Mormon? Because it doesn't get any better than this.