President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, began his Sunday morning session address by sharing a haunting childhood memory of dashing to a bomb shelter while planes dropped explosives on his hometown in Germany.
The nearby city of Dresden, he noted, was almost entirely destroyed by the bombs of World War II. Counted among the many historic buildings that were lost was the beautiful Lutheran church known as Frauenkirche.
Years later, it was determined to rebuild the Frauenkirche. Stones from the destroyed church were used in the reconstruction. The fire-blackened stones are reminders of both the horrors of war and a monument to hope and man's ability to create life from ashes.
“As I pondered the history of Dresden and marveled at the ingenuity and resolve of those who restored what had been so completely destroyed, I felt the sweet influence of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Surely, I thought, if man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost?”
It matters not how completely ruined one's life may seem — destroyed by sin, loneliness or a broken heart.
“Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God, can be rebuilt,” he said.
Through a loving Heavenly Father's eternal plan of happiness and Christ's “infinite sacrifice,” a fallen person can be redeemed, restored to purity and become heirs of eternal life “and partakers of God's indescribable glory.”
President Uchtdorf shared Christ's parable of the lost sheep where a man leaves his 99 sheep to go after the one sheep who is lost.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep is one of the most hopeful passages in all of scripture, he noted.
“Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you,” President Uchtdorf said. “He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears. It matters not how you became lost — whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. All that matters is that you are His child. And He loves you, His children. He loves His children.
“Because He loves you, He will find you. He will place you upon His shoulders rejoicing. And when He brings you home, He will say to one and all, 'Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost'” (Luke 15:6).
The Lord can rescue any who shows Him that he or she wants to be rescued, he added.
“It requires a little faith. But do not despair. If you cannot muster faith right now, begin with hope. If you cannot say you know God is there, you can hope that He is. You can desire to believe. That is enough to start. Then, acting on that hope, reach out to Heavenly Father.
"God will extend His love toward you, and His work of rescue and transformation will begin. Over time, you will recognize His hand in your life. You will feel His love. And the desire to walk in His light and follow His way will grow with every step of faith you take.”
Obedience, he said, is the lifeblood of faith. Through obedience, one gathers light to his or her soul.
“The moment we choose to incline our hearts to our beloved Savior and set foot upon the path of discipleship, something miraculous happens. The love of God fills our hearts; the light of truth fills our minds; we start to lose the desire to sin; and we do not want to walk any longer in darkness.
"We come to see obedience not as a punishment but as a liberating path to our divine destiny.”
President Uchtdorf declared that God regards all His children as “worthy of rescue.”
“You may feel that your life is in ruins,” he said. “You may have sinned. You may be afraid, angry, grieving, or tortured by doubt. But just as the Good Shepherd finds His lost sheep, if you will only lift up your heart to the Savior of the world, He will find you.”
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