Friday, March 29, 2013

In honor of Easter Sunday

I have been on an Elder Holland kick recently, watching the CES Devotional firesides, Israel, Israel God is Calling, and Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, the General Conference talk, None Were With Him, and talks on missionary work. I'm constantly amazed and floored by his powerful testimony. I just want to take excerpts from a few of my favorite talks:

Missionary Work & the Atonement:
"I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. [...]

Now, please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying we need to look for sorrow and I'm not talking about anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and frankly sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators, to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to know something of this price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same price.

For that reason I don't believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is. I believe it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul.

If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, 'Abba, Father (Papa), remove this cup from me,' then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing. [...]

The Atonement will carry the missionaries, perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived."

"my Easter-season message today is intended for everyone, but it is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse yet, feel abandoned. These might include those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lost or have never been blessed with children. Our empathy embraces wives forsaken by their husbands, husbands whose wives have walked away, and children bereft of one or the other of their parents-or both. [...]

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. [...] Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone or unaided, even if sometimes we feel that we are.

This Easter week and alway, may we stand by Jesus Christ 'at all times, and in all things, and in all places that we may be in, even until death,' for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone."

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