For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.When we hold a newborn child in our arms, we are given a small insight into the love our Father in Heaven has for us. One cannot look lovingly into the face of an infant without also seeing the great potential and complete innocence of the child. In this painting, Mary looks into the face of her child, her joy. His name will be Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, but she will call Him “son,” and He will call her “mother.”
Surely the Savior knew from an early age the path that lie ahead of Him, yet He was not discouraged or dismayed. He went about doing good and filled His life, and the lives of others, with joy and happiness.
I am inspired by the story of Reverend Henry Lyte. Henry's father abandoned the family while he was a young boy and his mother died shortly after. In addition to being orphaned at an early age, Henry struggled throughout his life with poor health - yet all that knew him commented on his cheery temperament. His final contribution came just three weeks before his death. Though he was dying of tuberculosis, Henry was still determined to give to others. He rose from his bed and penned the words that would become the cherished hymn,
Abide with Me.
Abide with Me! fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens. Lord with me abide.
When other helpers Fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, oh, Abide with me!
Certainly none of us can walk through life free from illness and despair, but we each can decide how we will respond to those trials that come. This painting reminds me when trials come that I can choose to retreat into myself, or I can choose to reach out as the Savior did and bring happiness to others. Only selfless sacrifice can we ever hope to abide with the Lord.
When Peter saw the Savior walking on the water he cried out, "Lord…bid me come unto thee."
"Come." was all He said.
Filled with faith, Peter stepped from the safety of the boat on to the stormy sea. But as the winds picked up and the waves grew stronger Peter’s faith turned to fear. As he began to sink, Peter cried out, "Lord, save me."
Two thousand years later, Christ is still calling to us. As we step from the safety of self-reliance on to the stormy seas of discipleship, like Peter we pray, "Lord, save me."
With perfect calmness He stills the winds of our doubt, reaches down from heaven and saves us.
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”
How often do we seek to go “apart to pray”? How often do we seek a place separated from the world and its commotion? I felt this portrait conveyed to me a sense of wanting to just talk to my Father in Heaven alone, away from distractions, away from troubles and fears. The two of us, a Father who has more love for me than I can imagine, waits to listen and to calm and reassure His love for me as I speak out to Him.
I remember a moment after the birth of my first child when everyone had left and I was alone with my son for the first time. I looked at him lying on the bed and realized I was responsible for this new life. How could I teach him everything he needed? I was terrified
I held him close and the two of us cried. Those were tears of fear and tears of joy, but most of all they were tears of love. Looking into his little face that day I made promises to my Father that I have tried very hard to keep.
Was it different for Mary on that night in Bethlehem? Like any first-time mother she must have felt all the fear, all the joy, and all of the love that comes with a child. This painting reminds me that we are never alone when we look heavenward.
Too often we look at others and pass judgment that they brought on themselves their problems. The disciples upon seeing the blind man asked "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." The Savior then healed his physical blindness. The Pharisees soon questioned the man trying to force him to deny the miracle and the divinity of the Savior. When he would not, they cast him out.
Then comes my favorite part of the story where Jesus, as He does with all of us, heals the spiritual blindness, "…he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?...Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." – John 9
Cast Your Net John 21:1-14One week after the Saviors’ resurrection the Apostles returned to Sea of Tiberias to fish, because that was what they knew. They spent the entire night casting their nets into the water with no success.Then as the morning sun broke through the clouds they saw a figure on the distant shore and heard the voice suggesting they should cast their nets to the other side of the boat.Like the Apostles that morning, we too must choose. Choose to routinely continue in our own way, paying no attention to the Savior’s voice; too involved in life. Satisfied to keep our head down and continue to fish. Or perhaps, we act like the Apostle at the front of the boat and we stretch as far out as we can to hear the voice of the Master, to listen and to follow.Have you ever wondered how often in your life the Savior has been on the shore calling to you? How did you respond?
The relationship of Joseph and Jesus is easily overlooked. The scriptures say little about this man who humbly accepted the role of stepfather to the Son of God. I am sure there were nights Joseph held Jesus in his arms and, feeling the weight of his responsibility, looked heavenward and prayed, "He is not my son. He is Yours. Father, help me."
My husband is a stepfather to our children, and as I watch him I am reminded of the millions of others who accept the responsibility of loving and raising children that are not their own. They change diapers, attend ball games, and bandage knees without any thought for themselves. They too look heavenward and offer the prayer of every parent, "They are not my children. They are Yours. Father, help me."
On April 3, 1836, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were in the temple at Kirtland, Ohio. The occasion was that of a Sabbath day meeting. The Prophet prefaces his record of the manifestations with these words: "In the afternoon, I assisted the other Presidents in distributing the Lord's Supper to the Church, receiving it from the Twelve, whose privilege it was to officiate at the sacred desk this day. After having performed this service to my brethren, I retired to the pulpit, the veils being dropped, and bowed myself, with Oliver Cowdery, in solemn and silent prayer. After rising from prayer, the following vision was opened to both of us." Doctrine and Covenants 110, gives the account of the vision they received.