21 Day Walk with Christ Final Steps

Thank you so much for joining me on this walk with Christ as we prepared for this beautiful Easter day. I am so grateful for the many stories of Christ that we have in the Holy scriptures thanks to those who were faithful to record these experiences. I am so grateful for the power these stories add to my life as I take time to read and ponder on them. I am so grateful for the tools that we have been given to draw closer to our Savior, to build a personal relationship with Him. I am so blessed by an increased understanding of who Jesus is and of His nature, which grows each time I read the stories in the Gospels. I am most humbled by the knowledge that Jesus Christ loves me personally and yearns for a relationship with me. He has that same desire for each of us. He will gather us in His arms if we will allow it!

Song:

Come Unto Christ

Talk:

According To the Desire of our Hearts

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/10/according-to-the-desire-of-our-hearts?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

What will you do to continue your personal walk with Christ?

Note: A Special thank you to the many talented and inspired artists whose incredible works of art, music, or words added so much depth and beauty to this walk. No infringement of copyright was intended and I hope they will know how much the sharing of their gifts and talents contributed to our last 21 days.

Day 20: He Suffered and Died for You

Luke 22:

39 ¶ And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
47 ¶ And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?

54 ¶ Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house. And Peter followed afar off.

Matthew 27:

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers.
28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
29 ¶ And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
30 And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.
31 And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Mark 15:

22 And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.
23 And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not.
24 And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take.
25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

Luke 23:

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
47 Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.
48 And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.
49 The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.
50 ¶ Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

John 19:

38 ¶ And after this Joseph of Arimathæa, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.
39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.
40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.
41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Matthew 27:

60 … and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Today I have posted just a few verses for a glimpse of the agony our Savior went through on that first Good Friday. His anguish began with the distress of the atonement in Gethsemane, followed by a painful betrayal at a friend’s hands, an unfair secret trial, the demand for His death by His own people, mockery and torment by soldiers who knew nothing of His mission or who He was, and finally a horrific death upon a cross. I would highly encourage you to read these chapters in each of the Gospels for your own personal understanding and insight of these events. (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19)

It is hard for me to put into words my feelings about these torturous last hours of my Redeemer’s earthly life.  As I read talks, listened to music and watched videos to prepare myself for this post I found myself weeping with compassion for my Savior, remorse for my own part in His suffering, and gratitude for what He was willing to go through for each of us.  His love-driven willpower is incomprehensible to me.  As much as I know His Grace is an offering free of my earning it, it does make me want to prove my gratitude through my actions.  I want to show my love to Him by using my time wisely and serving Him and those around me well. I think one of the other important ways for us to show our appreciation to Him for all He did for us is to accept the gift He has offered.  We must allow His atonement to be applied to us and not just believe in its effectiveness for other people, but to really believe we personally can be cleansed, sanctified and empowered by it.

When I was younger and tried to picture the atonement made in our behalf, I would imagine Christ suffering for culminations of individual sins, for instance, first He would suffer for all the lies that were ever told, then for all the murders that were ever committed, then for all the impure thoughts that were ever considered, and so forth.  A combination of study and spiritual growth over the years has given me a better understanding of the reason for what our Savior went through. He was willing to suffer for us because He loves us wholly and completely.  He loves us individually and wanted to understand us each perfectly so that He could succor us in the exact way we need to be attended to.  I believe the atonement was much more personal than suffering for clumps of similar sins.  I believe He suffered individually for each of us.  I believe He knows every moment of my life, my joys, my sorrows, my strengths, my weaknesses, my sins, my sicknesses, and every burden I will ever carry.  I do not know by what miracle this is possible, but I believe He is the God of the individual and this is the only way He could truly know me well enough to care for me in every way I need Him to.  And I believe He did the same thing for each of you.  It is a personal atonement.  An atonement made one by one.  And I believe He would have been willing to do it even if you were the only one.

Song:

Lay Down My Life

Song:

Peace in Christ

Talk:

Gift of Grace

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-gift-of-grace?lang=eng

Talk:

Pattern For All

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/a-pattern-for-all?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question:

How can you allow the atonement to work in your life? Is their something specific you need to repent of? Is there something you’ve repented of you need to forgive yourself for?

Day 19: Love Much and Do What You Can Do

Luke 7:

36 ¶ And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,
38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.
40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.
42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?
43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.
49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?
50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

This story is precious to me for a many different reasons, I will share three. I am amazed at the courage displayed by this woman to enter a home knowing how she was defined by those in her community because of her past mistakes. But she didn’t care. She cared much more about what Jesus thought of her than what anyone else did. I have carried my own heavy burdens of sin and I remember a particular time thinking, “What if people find out?” A few moments later I was led by the Spirit to a scripture that in essence said, “If you can stand before God at the last day with clean hands and a pure heart, what else matters?” This woman had learned that lesson and her story teaches us the same thing.

It is so obvious that she loved Jesus with her whole heart and truly understood His mission. She had faith in who He was and in what was necessary for Him to do to fulfill His purpose. She did more than just profess her belief vocally, but also acted on it by giving of her substance, love, and humility in a way that could be recognized by the Savior, by everyone else watching, and by those who would read her story for thousands of years.

Another reason why I love this story is how clearly it shows the tenderness of the Savior towards one who is remorseful and repentant. He knew what the other people in the room were thinking of her and He told them to leave her alone. He told them that He was well aware of her sins but that her love had more than made up for them. She was forgiven because she loved much! I see her example and I feel hope. Loving well is something each of us can do. We can love our Savior and care more about what He thinks of us than anyone else. We can show our love for Him by loving others and showing mercy to them. And honestly, I believe that is all God expects of us, to do our best and to love much. Because of this story, that has been my motto for many years now… Love much and do what you can do. I believe there is great mercy in that objective.

Song: Loving My Jesus

Talk:

He Means Me

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1979/04/he-means-me?lang=eng

Soul Searching Question: What can you do to show your love for the Savior and an understanding of His mission? How can you better show your love for Him?

Day 13: He Can Make Us Whole

Luke 17:

11 ¶ And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Matthew 9:

22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
Mark 10:

52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

There are so many stories in the scriptures of Jesus healing people. The phrase “made whole” has always struck a chord with me. Especially reading the first story I shared here. When I would read about how 10 lepers were healed and only one went back to show gratitude, I always wondered why Jesus would tell him that his faith had made him whole. He had healed all 10 of them, so how was this grateful leper’s blessing any greater? For a while I thought maybe it was because he was given the knowledge of how he was healed. Then I had an experience that taught me for myself that there actually was a difference between being healed and being made whole.

In 2011 I unexplainably started losing my vision. It affected both eyes, but my right eye more dramatically. I went to many doctors and no one could ever explain why my retina suddenly started to become defective. My blood vessels were leaking and I was losing my color and central vision. The first year was incredibly hard, especially because they could not identify the cause and therefore could not tell me how it would progress or whether it would spread to other systems. It was a time of great loss and much fear for me.

In my religion we believe in the power of healing blessings through God’s power. I received many blessings of healing over this time. I struggled because I had faith that God could heal me, but for some reason felt that He did not want to. After nearly 2 years of working through things, turning to God for strength and answers, seeking the best medical help, sharing my feelings and fears with my friends and family, I got another blessing. After that blessing I had the strangest calm come over me. And in that calm I distinctly felt a lesson being taught to me. The anguish and uncertainty that had been so prevalent in my life for almost two years was gone. I felt peace. I could look back and see times of comfort, tender mercies of love, and so much I had gained… empathy for others, gratitude for the blessings in my life, an increased closeness to my family, and a better relationship with my God. I had received the miracle of one eye being healed and the other eye was being left with me the way it was, maybe as a reminder of those lessons. Maybe to keep me humble. Maybe so I would remember to testify of God’s mercy in the other things I had learned. But at that point, it didn’t matter. Even though I had not been physically healed in that eye, I had through God’s power, my faith, my positive attitude, my searching for lessons in the trial, and my patience over that time been made whole.

Through that experience I was able to understand the story of the lepers. All were healed, but only that grateful leper was healed from his mental, emotional, and spiritual scars that had stemmed from his affliction. He was made whole because he turned back to the Savior. Though we may not be healed physically in this life, we can ALL be made whole emotionally and spiritually by doing exactly as the leper in this story did, we can turn to the Lord. And as we do this, He will help us start that journey of healing.

Song:

Made New

Talk:

Wilt Thou Be Made Whole

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/wilt-thou-be-made-whole?lang=eng

Thought by Merrill J. Bateman:

(He was listening to a woman who had been paralyzed in a car accidentally bear witness to Good having healed her on the inside.)

“As I listened, the Spirit bore witness of the great miracles of the Atonement and the Savior’s power to mend broken hearts, to heal from within. The Savior’s parable of the ten lepers took on new meaning. Luke describes Jesus meeting ten lepers. Upon seeing the Savior, they cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus responded: “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” As they went their way, they were cleansed. One returned, fell on his face at the Master’s feet, and gave thanks. Jesus said, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” And then the Lord said to the one who returned, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (see Luke 17:12–19). In becoming a whole person, the grateful leper was healed inside as well as on the outside. That day nine lepers were healed skin deep, but only one had the faith to be made whole. The tenth leper and Sister Hee were changed eternally by their faith in the Savior and the healing power of his atonement.
The Savior’s atonement in the garden and on the cross is intimate as well as infinite. Infinite in that it spans the eternities. Intimate in that the Savior felt each person’s pains, sufferings, and sicknesses. Consequently, he knows how to carry our sorrows and relieve our burdens that we might be healed from within, made whole persons, and receive everlasting joy in his kingdom. May our faith in the Father and the Son help each of us to become whole.

Soul Searching Question:

How can you show faith and allow God to make you whole in one area of your life today?

I Was Not Fully Healed, But I Was Made Whole

Up until about 6 years ago I would read the story of the 10 lepers and wonder how the leper who went back to show gratitude was any more blessed than the 9 who didn’t go back. I knew it was a story demonstrating the importance of gratitude, but they were all healed. Yet, somewhere at the back of my mind there was a wriggling feeling that there was something more, something bigger to be learned from this story.

Then in March or 2011 I was in a car accident. It wasn’t a terrible accident, but I did hit my head and shortly thereafter I started seeing stars and shimmering lights around my right eye. I had everything checked out and they couldn’t find anything wrong, but advised me to keep an eye on it. About 3 months later I noticed (as a teacher’s aid after summer break) that the writing on the whiteboard was no longer clear. I went to my eye doctor to have the power of my contact prescription increased. It was then that I found out I was losing the central vision in my right eye. A little in my left eye as well, but drastically in my right. I started searching out specialists. I was told by two different specialists in Ogden it was probably as a result of my car accident and that it was most likely permanent and I’d need to just get used to it. A very good friend of mine was appalled by that answer and demanded that I go to the Moran Institute at the University of Utah and get a second opinion. I am so grateful for her and her response to my disappointment!

Very quickly I was seen by 3 different specialists who took my problem very seriously. I spent days completing tests, having photos taken of my eyes, inside and out, and lots of medical tests too. I had a CT Scan, an MRI, a chest Xray, an ultrasound of my heart through my stomach and about 12 vials of blood drawb abd tested for anything and everything they could think of that might be causing my loss of vision. They didn’t know what it was, but they were determined to find out. They thought it might be autoimmune. They guaranteed me that it was not a result of the accident and that if was just coincidental that the symptoms started at the same time. In the end they could not pin it to any particular thing, but they did find that the blood vessels in my eye were leaking and it was causing major damage to my retinas. They decided to treat my symptoms since they couldn’t find a cause to treat instead. By that time most of the vision in my right eye had been affected (I was seeing 20/300 at that point, with my contacts in) and I was at about half vision in my left eye. Thanks to those doctors and the God inspired technology and medications that they have they were able to stabilize my vision and by some miracle the vision in my left eye has come back almost completely.

That first year and a half was probably my hardest year of life up to that point. I was scared. Really I was terrified! I didn’t know if what I had was life threatening or if I was just going to lose my vision completely. In either case, it was life altering for me. I am an artist, a baker, a reader, and an outdoor adventurist (ghost towning to be specific). Everything I love to do requires my vision. I’m sure no one is happy to lose their vision, but I was feeling especially devastated. Not only was I an emotional wreck with the worry of what might happen to me, but my every day routine was exhausting! I had no idea how much losing some of your vision would affect you. I had to exert so much energy straining to read with the kids I was helping in school, I found myself forgetting things my past peripheral vision would have picked up, therefore much of my day was spent retracing my steps. I lost my depth perception and would find myself tripping over things I didn’t realize were poking up a little or falling off little ledges I didn’t see were there. I was tired. I was sad. I was scared. Not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too. It was so hard!

Phew… that was a long story to prove my point. In my religion we believe in the power of healing blessings through the Priesthood. I had A LOT of blessings during that year. After about a year of working through things including going to a specialist in Oregon to get another opinion on the permanence of my condition I had gotten another blessing. After that blessing I had the strangest calm come over me. And in that calm I distinctly felt a lesson being taught to me. The anguish and uncertainty that had been so prevalent in my life for almost two years was gone. I felt peace. I could look back and see times of comfort, tender mercies of love, and so much I had gained… empathy for others, gratitude for the blessings in my life, an increased closeness to my family, and a better relationship with my God. I had received the miracle of one eye being healed and the other eye was being left with me the way it was, maybe as a reminder of those lessons. Maybe to keep me humble. Maybe so I would remember to testify of God’s mercy in the other things I had learned. But at that point, it didn’t matter. Even though I had not been physically healed in that eye, I had through God’s power, my faith, my positive attitude, my searching for lessons in the trial, and my patience over that year been made whole.

I now know for myself that the leper who came back was blessed far more, beyond what words can express, for having come back. He was made whole. The others were, like him, healed physically. But unlike the others, the anguish and grief of the previous years or pain, sickness, and banishment, the emotional aching and mental stress were wiped away when he was made whole.