With tomorrow being Easter, I want to share my profound gratitude for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for His atoning sacrifice to redeem us all. There are not words adequate to express the depth of my wonder and amazement that He endured all that He did for the benefit and salvation of each of us.
I’m also grateful for the precious gifts of repentance and forgiveness, and the joy we can have as we apply those principles in our lives.
This week I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a special one-hour “Lunch and Learn” with Brother S. Michael Wilcox. I have read a couple of his books, and he was also the guest lecturer for our trip when Bob and I went to China a few years ago. He has wonderful insights!
His topic was the temple, and how God teaches us through symbols and symbolism in the temple. There is symbolism in all sacred ordinances, of course, not just those performed in the temple, and we can find various meanings in each of them. For instance, someone might say baptism is like a bath, because I am washed clean from my sins. Another might say that baptism is like a birth, because when I am baptized I am born again to a newness of life. And, another might say that baptism is like a burial because the old me was buried under the water and the new me arose. And, they would all be correct (and, in fact, each is based in scripture.) By using symbolism, the Lord teaches us layer by layer and will increase our understanding as we are prepared to learn.
Brother Wilcox cited the first three verses in 3 Nephi 17 where the Savior gives instructions to the Nephite people about what they should do in order to prepare themselves to learn from Him the next day. Jesus told them to go home, ponder upon His words, and pray unto the Father for understanding, then “prepare your minds for tomorrow”, and return. This is the same pattern for learning in the temple, too. We can go to the temple, then go home, study and ponder the scriptures, pray to the Father for understanding, prepare ourselves, and then, return again to the temple. As we do this, over time, more will be revealed to us.
Bro. Wilcox used the example of Naaman, the Syrian captain, who visited Elisha and was healed of leprosy by dipping in the River Jordan seven times. Then, he asked, “Which of those seven times healed him?” The answer is all of them. It was the cumulative effect of repeatedly keeping a simple commandment that healed him. We can be blessed and healed in the same way as we keep the simple daily commandments the Lord has asked of us. (i.e. prayer, scripture study, FHE, sacrament meeting and temple attendance)
Bro. Wilcox also related how we learn in the temple to the miracle of Christ feeding the five thousand with five barley loaves. After the Lord blessed those loaves, everyone there took what he wanted and was filled, and afterward there were 12 basketsful left over – even more than they started with. . .
Each of us, as we go to the temple, can be filled with what we want and are prepared to receive, and we can also know that there will always be more.
He also talked about what he called the “dangerous decade” – those years between the ages of 13 and 23 which are so pivotal in determining the course of our future lives. He spoke of how fervently he prayed for his children to be protected from the evils of the world, and how his regular and frequent temple attendance was critical for his own insight for his children during those years. (We also pray fervently for our grandchildren who are now experiencing those important years.)
There was much more to Bro. Wilcox’s presentation, and I wish everyone could have heard it. What a blessing it is to live in this day when temples dot the earth and we are given the privilege of performing sacred ordinances on behalf of our ancestors!
God loves us, so He sent His Son! Happy Easter!!
We learned this week who our new mission president is going to be. President Tate will leave at the end of June, and, on July 1, our mission president will be Elder Boyd Fenn. We heard he has previously served as a mission president in the Chicago area, and that his wife is one of Bruce R. McConkie’s daughters. Transitions are sometimes challenging, and President Tate will be a hard man to follow, but, we look forward to meeting and working with President Fenn.