This video about the Provo City Center Temple hit me when I heard the phrase, “saving what was thought to be lost has enormous significance.” It isn’t just about rebuilding an historic building to beautify the city, it’s the entire message of the gospel encapsulated in one project.
Each of us is like the old building. Perhaps just outdated or worn, maybe even destroyed by sin. And Jesus Christ says to each of us, “you are precious and beautiful” and offers to rebuild us into a temple. Not just restoring what we originally were, but creating something magnificent.
It requires our trust to repent and let Him be in charge. Follow His way of doing things. It’s not easy.
As The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds this temple, it is a symbol to me of everything Christ offers to the members of the church. In Christ’s church there are those who will serve you, programs to help with improvement, leaders who will lovingly guide you as you repent, and friends you can work with side-by-side as each of you slowly becomes more like the temple Christ is creating in you. And all possible because Jesus Christ made His infinite sacrifice to save every soul who would let Him.
I look around at the world. The plants are blossoming, the world has been reborn as it is every spring. I think how God created this beauty, from the oceans and mountains to the molecular structures and biochemical processes of life. I notice my new baby. He has come alive. From complacent newborn he’s grown into a curious infant. He can scoot across the room and explore things that capture his attention. He brims with happiness over his new-found abilities. He freely shares his gushing happiness with anyone around.
I am surrounded by love. My children and husband gush over me. Tell me how much they love me. They notice my moods. Sometimes when I am quiet, they come up and give me a hug.
The message of Easter is all of this and more comes because of Jesus Christ.
He created the beautiful Earth and all life upon it. The purpose of this splendor simply to witness of His love for us. He implemented God’s plan for His children by creating Adam and Eve, our first parents, and beginning family units.
Jesus makes it possible for little children to be born into the world innocent. They are alive in Him. They exemplify the beauty of heaven that we cannot remember yet yearn to return to.
Jesus was born into the world to experience all of the pain of mortality. He felt all of the emotions, physical pain, spiritual stretching, and uncertainty that comes with life. He felt the weight of the sin of all mankind in the garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross. He died.
Then he took his body again and became a resurrected being. He overcame death. He overcame sin and all mortal imperfections. He uses his power to reclaim all of mankind and offer us the blessings He received. He loved us and did not forget any of us in His miraculous mission. He and our Father focus completely on us, their children.After this life is over, God wants to share with us “all that He hath.” (Luke 12:44). He wants to take the little fragments of happiness that we have experienced here and make them into an eternal reality. Jesus Christ made this possible. Everything from creating the Earth through redeeming God’s children is encompassed in Jesus’ divine mission that He fulfilled when He rose the third day.
Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me. (Alma 5)
This beautiful testimony points out that all testimony results from revelation through the Holy Spirit. “Through revelation, the Lord provides individual guidance for every person who seeks it and who has faith, repents, and is obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (lds.org) A testimony is a beautiful combination of insight received through revelation and faith in things we don’t completely understand.
That is one reason it is difficult for detractors to understand how we can believe. To those outside of the realm of faith, belief in Jesus Christ seems foolish. (Alma 30:13) I feel very fortunate I’m taught God’s plan in a way that is simple and easy to comprehend. Millions have lived and died wondering whether God could save His children.
I like to consider what atheists have to offer. There is only one version of the ultimate destiny of mankind for those who don’t believe in God: annihilation. Whether through self-destruction or using up all available resources, the earth and its amazing creations end in death.
Belief in God offers a counter ending. God, who created and knows all things, made us for a purpose. He has enough foresight to make sure there is enough (and extra) for our grand experiment. Like a loving Father sending his young children out into the world to prove themselves, He created a laboratory where we could experiment and explore our potential. We prove ourselves in our daily actions, a lifelong test that is so much harder than any written or verbal examination.
I love that our church pushes each member to continually improve. There is no simple salvation for a trite pledge. We have to live what we believe. It only makes sense: God can’t be fooled by “cheating” on the test of life. He is wise enough to make succeeding questions adapted to our responses, showing us the holes in our logic. And he doesn’t close the examination until we’ve had time to revise our answers.
As time rolls on, God’s kingdom grows stronger in opposition to the expanding forces of Evil. “We will witness increasing evidence of Satan’s power as the kingdom of God grows stronger.” (Elder James E Faust) “The solution of the great world problems is here in the Church of Jesus Christ. Ample provision is made not only for the needs of individuals, but also for the nation and groups of nations. I realize that it is a great claim. … It is simply the application of God’s plan to the world problems.” (Elder L Tom Perry)
I want to share my own testimony. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom on the earth. It contains all of the pieces of the gospel of Jesus Christ, gathered in completeness with authority to provide ordinances of salvation to all of God’s children. The good are being gathered together, as we participate in the final battle against darkness. I know Jesus Christ will come again at the culmination of this battle. Good will be rewarded and evil will be defeated. It is so simple, yet in thousands of years of earth’s history, men haven’t been able to come up with anything to compare with it. I know it’s true. Like Alma,
“God hath made it manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit.”
The future plans God has for us are more grand and glorious that anything we can imagine. They include mansions and thrones and power beyond belief. So when a child dies and our heart breaks for all the things unsaid and memories never made, we are crying because we can’t see. When everything seems lost, we must remember that Christ calmly gave up everything. His mission is to prepare us for the role we will play in his Heavenly Kingdom. Our job is to follow his direction and prepare even if life throws curve balls and we find ourselves being taught through suffering. There is a purpose to it all. We can’t see it, but He can. Every promise He has ever made will be fulfilled. We can count on that.
I wonder what God thinks of His children, us, sometimes. We know He thinks of us as children. He loves us and wants us to grow. In heaven, we were “nurtured near His side” (Eliza R Snow).
I look at my young children and laugh at the things they do as they’re learning and trying. I look at them with love and understanding and mercy. I love their innocence; their honesty. I know they will succeed eventually if they keep trying.
As my children grow, they will reach the period in their lives where they pull against me, testing out the limits of their freedom. They will have to take what I’ve taught them, evaluate it, and compare it to what they see in the world around them. Then in their hearts, they will choose what they believe. I fear for that time, because I know they could choose to walk a path that leads to heartache.
I think mortality is our spiritual adolescence. God taught us everything He possibly could, but there reached a point where we needed a place of freedom to test ourselves and find out what our hearts would choose. We couldn’t be tested in God’s presence, because who wouldn’t choose Him if they could see His glory and love all around? Life was devised as a Divine experiment, not for God, but for us.
We will succeed eventually if we keep trying, through the grace of God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Someday, (not now–after our mortal life), we will see ourselves the way God sees us (1 Samuel 16:7, D&C 76:94). Our bias will fall away, we’ll know our own hearts, and we’ll confess that His plan was perfect.