The Lord Almighty, Jesus Christ, came down to this earth in the pattern his Father had established. He was called “the word of my power” by the Father — he who created “worlds without number” for the eternal purposes of God. But he came to this earth as a baby, came down as all men come down and began at the beginning — but, oh, what a beginning it was!
How long had the world waited for his coming? How long had the prophets — and the righteous — and the downtrodden yearned?
How long had he, the Savior, waited? He who was anxious to lift us, to bless us, to redeem us? He, too, had watched the suffering, the blind wandering of his brothers and sisters through countless generations of men and women, living out their lives without his gift, without knowledge of him. Jesus Christ knew what he was able to do. He was anxious, I am certain, to set things in motion, to begin at last the mighty work of redemption, to let light in all its fullness break upon the darkness and wretchedness of the world!
Even as a newborn babe, lying in his mother’s arms in that first hallowed place, the power was in him. All who looked upon his face felt it, recognized it to one degree or another. As he grew and progressed from stage to stage of his childhood, so did the pureness and reality of that power increase. The Prophet Joseph said, “When still a boy (Jesus Christ) had all the intelligence necessary to enable him to rule and govern the kingdom of the Jews, and could reason with the wisest and most profound doctors of law and divinity, and make their theories and practice to appear like folly compared with the wisdom he possessed.”
The Savior’s gift was to give all that was embodied in his high and holy self to us. We blithely parrot words from time to time of what the Savior has given us without one portion of their meaning sinking into our souls. Even in the sacrament prayers we often repeat covenants and promises involving the sacred powers of eternity, of which we are made partakers, with no thought and no care.
This is grievous. This is the essence of an insult, an irreverence to him who is ever looking upon us with entreaty and love.
We have the right and privilege of being accompanied by the Spirit of the Lord as we walk forth in our earthly lives, day after day. But what blessings and powers can come to us if we do not receive the gift? What blessings can come to us if we do not give in return?
What have we to give? Our “selves” — weak and imperfect as they at this moment may be. The idea sounds simple enough, but giving of self requires the relinquishing of our will. And, oh how tenaciously we cling to our own wisdom and ways!
George MacDonald, the great religious teacher, and mentor of C. S. Lewis, taught: “We must never fear the will of God. We are not right with him until we can pray heartily ‘Thy will be done.’ Heartily — not in sad submission. When we wish what he does not wish, we are not only against him — we are against our Real Selves. Only the will of God is desirable.
"As we give, we allow the Savior to magnify every effort we make, every righteous desire we feel. Our Savior takes joy in the charity he holds for us, in the power he has to continually save us, forgive us, and lift us along our way.
"Our will; our obedience!" Joseph Smith said. “The commandments of the Lord, we hope are constantly revolving in your hearts, teaching you not only his will ... but his meekness and perfect walk ... Remember that he has called you unto holiness and ... to be like him in purity. ...”
This is the gift, then, that we give: our will for his. Our small part for his encompassing, everlasting one. But, he loves us. The Atonement IS love. His “self" is love — the power, along with faith, that governs and enlightens the universe.
Our will ought also to be given in love.
From the hymn written by Aurelius Prudentius in 413, I quote:
"Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
"He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending, He.
"Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see,
"Evermore and evermore.
"Oh, that birth forever blessed, when the Virgin, full of grace,
"By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Savior of our race.
"And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, first revealed his sacred face,
"Evermore and evermore."
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