Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Tree of Life

I will never be able to write in words the feelings that the Spirit has brought to me in different points in my life.
But I would like to attempt to tell a couple experiences I've had.

In my institute class a few nights ago we talked about Lehi's vision.
We talked about how the tree of life represents the love of God. 
And then we cross referenced this with John 3:16 which says,
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
With this cross reference I learned that the love of God is partially that he sent his son to the earth to die so that we could come to live with Him again. 

Then my teacher asked us if we remembered a time in our lives that we realized the power of the atonement. 
I thought back to the summer before my senior year of high school.
A friend of mine was leaving on a mission and I had the opportunity to hear him sing in church a couple weeks before he left. 
He sang "I Stand All Amazed" (Hymn #193).
This was the first hymn that I learned to play on the piano so I had read the words time and time again but they hit me in a completely different way on this day and filled me with a feeling of indescribable love.
The love of my Heavenly Father and my brother, Jesus Christ.
I knew that despite any mistakes that I had made or would make in my life I would be able to repent and be forgiven and that my Heavenly Father would always love me. 
Thinking back to this experience and later that night going back to my old journal and reading about it brought back the feelings that I had had that day two and a half years ago. 

After talking about  our stories of gaining a testimony of the atonement my teacher told us the story "The Bridge". This story has a short film to go with it that we did not watch but I had seen it before. Here is the film: The Bridge. I can not tell the story as well as the film does so I recommend watching it but for those of you who don't have the time I'll try to paraphrase it.

There is a father who operates a bridge. He has to move the bridge so that the train is able to cross over the water safely. One day when he is moving the bridge it won't connect with the train tracks for some reason so he has to go and do it manually. While he is holding the tracks together his son comes running down the tracks looking for him. The man has to decide between saving his son or letting all the people on the train die. He decides to save the people on the train. (I know it sounds like a terrible story but there is so much that we are able to learn from it as we compare it to the sacrifice our Father in Heaven has made for us.)

This film helped me understand a TINY bit more of what our Heavenly Father must have been feeling when he let his son suffer and die for us. He chose to save each and every one of us rather than just save his son. 

The people on the train had no idea what had just happened just as many of us are ignorant as to what Heavenly Father has sacrificed for us. The people on the train went on to live their lives doing good and bad not knowing at all what that father had sacrificed so that they could live.
If the father in this film was able to see what each of these people had done with their lives in the future I am sure that there would be some things that would just be a stab in the heart to see as he had given them life when he let his son die.

It also hurts our Heavenly Father when he sees us make bad choices. Especially when he sees those of us who have a knowledge of the sacrifice he and his son made, straying from the path.
And yet our Heavenly Father continues to love us.
And he continues to forgive us. 
And he continues to bless us. 

 Having this realization that night through the help of my teacher, my classmates, and the Spirit helped strengthened my testimony in so many ways and I am grateful for the opportunities that I have to learn and feel the Spirit and grow closer to my Heavenly Father as I learn more about him and his continuous love.

I know this was kind of long but I would like to end with the words to the hymn "I Stand All Amazed":

Verse 1:
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, 
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

Verse 2:
I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

Verse 3: 
I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt! 
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

And if you want to hear the music here is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing it. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your beautiful testimony Emma. "I Stand All Amazed" has special meaning to me too. We sang it at my friend Bekah's funeral... she was only 17. My knowledge of the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation helped me to get through that hard time. It truly is a gift we have. I love you!