It's interesting, the things that happen to us. Miracles abound all around us and most of the time we don't even realize them. Most of the time, we also take them for granted. Many times, I have taken for granted the closeness that I have had with the Spirit. I sometimes just don't realize his presence, sometimes don't want to, and other times just haven't been paying attention enough to recognize it, even if I have been listening patiently (or at least seemingly so).
We had a relative scare as a companionship this week. Now we are four, but on Wednesday while heading home, Elder Abaroa got hit by a car. The guy was driving slowly enough that no damage other than a bruise and some fast pumping adrenaline resulted, but to me it kind of jst threw a few things into perspective that we most of the time don't think about at all. Elder Abaroa's fine, a little bruised on the right side, but laughs about the experience, and in particular how completely close to a break down the female passenger in the car was.
Then yesterday, I heard from one of our members about the tragedy in Connecticut. I don't know all the details, but from what I heard there were 30 families affected. Events like these are those that awaken a sense of the fragility of life. Dad also commented about the almost accident with Annie and the stairs. I also have been reminded of all of the people for whom I have attended funerals. These tragedies bring a sense of sadness and gloom that many times we can let cloud over the understanding that we have as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
We know that it is through the Plan of Salvation put in place by our Father in Heaven that we all have the opportunity to return to once again live in a family bond that can never be broken. We have the assurance that through living the comandments and always striving to live and be like Christ we will one day inherit the kingdom of heaven. The whole gospel is centered on Jesus Christ and at this time of year we celebrate His miraculous birth. While we remember His birth, we should also keep in mind, or perhaps even shift our focus, to the whole reason He was born.
We learn from the scriptures that Jesus came into the world to do the will of His Father who sent Him. The will of the Father was that a sacrifice be made that all could have a chance to repent and return, spotless and clean, to live forever with Him in glory. "For this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Because of this, Christ was lifted up, that we may also be lifted up at the last day to appear before our Father and be judged according to our works, that we might receive the reward that we merit.
This last week I had a main focus in my studies about the laws of Justice and Mercy, and this morning studied a little about mercy itself and grace. Many claim that we are saved by grace, but modern revelation and a deeper look into the scriptures help us understand that "it is by grace we are saved after all we can do," for "faith without works is dead, being alone." Grace is defined as being a divine help and strength, allowing us to one day obtain eternal life and exaltation--after our own best efforts.
Because we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) we need grace to make up the difference. Grace is only provided to us by mercy, which we only have available to us if we repent. That mercy is there for us because of the universal and infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, and He wants us to come back to Him. He suffered all that we will ever suffer and more, so that we would choose Him and return to His embrace.
There was a new mormon message recently put up on the Church website about an unexpected gift, which I have here included in my email. The message found there is one of utter strength and comfort found at a moment of complete grief and condusion.
The feeling this woman had as part of her experience helped her to realize and feel the infinite love of our Saviour. I got the chills listening and could feel a portion of what she felt as well.
In many places, the sciptures describe the arms of God as outstreched, open, and full of mercy. He is waiting for us to come to Him, that we may feel the warmth of His embrace.
As we come closer to this season, may we remember that it is the love of God and Christ, with the atoning sacrifice and eternal life of all as the center, that is the real purpose for celebration. I know it is true. Through the difficult moments may we remember the words of the scriptures "Be still, and know that I am God."
I love you with all my heart. I pray for you daily, and I want you all to know that I am doing my best to serve the Lord, even though there will always be room for improvement. I'll be seeing you soon!
P.S. I will probably be here in the mission office almost all day on Christmas. My bet is that President will want to give us Christmas as a P-Day (more or less) and have us go work on Saturday. More news will come, but for the moment, I think I'm open to any moment of the day.