Last night was so special, seeing my friend Kristin get baptized. There is an incredible, unique spirit at a baptism. I felt it powerfully when she was baptized, and again at confirmation. It's just about her and Christ (or, to put it more generally, it's about you and Christ). Baptism is a signal that you're willing to go the distance. Then it becomes more- you fuse to the road the Lord wants you on when you are baptized. And it's up to you to stay on it. And hopefully you will always keep in mind the fact that the savior wants you on that path, and that he has given you a precious gift: the holy ghost, received that same day you got baptized, to get through it all.
The bishop gave remarks that started with the seeming randomness of being assigned to a ward by something as arbitrary as zipcode. Then he advised- there will be people in your ward who are so strong in some principle, whom you will need to rely on and learn from. And there will be people in your ward that are struggling with something who will need your guidance and example. You can't know, just by looking at them, who is on top of their testimony, and who hasn't read their scriptures in months. You only find out as you throw yourself into your ward!!!
I sent Kristin a letter containing a reprint of one of my blog posts on faith from several years ago, I just wanted to reprint it for the Christmas season:
How often do scriptures cause us to visualize something in our minds? Stories, people, places, things... all the time, right?? In fact, once you take out the ubiquitous "And it came to pass"'s, you'll see that our holy writ is pretty much stuffed full of amazing visual ideas and symbols. This is one of my favorite features of the scriptures. Somewhere, (you are about to see how much of a scriptorian I am NOT) it says that God speaks to his children at their level of understanding, wherever that is. I feel like he also speaks to us through all of our senses! In addition to the heart and mind, God speaks to our ears, our sense of touch (baptism by immersion, the warm hug you offer to friends in their trials), our sense of taste (sacrament emblems and visiting teaching cookies :), smell (cookies again :) and last but not least, our sight! There are a few vivid "visuals" that I count as my favorite in the scriptures. These visuals, some symbolic and some literal, I imagine again and again, and they never fail to affect me. I'm going to set a couple of them before you, and not offer any art historical dissections. Scriptures sure can stand on their own. That's one of the many reasons why I know they are not a construct of man alone. (I can't resist, however, including a few select illustrations of these scriptures' ideas. The following scattered images are the nearest that reality and the internet come to resembling the truths of these verses, at least as I imagine them. :)
|Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet,they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.|
|Isaiah 49: 15-16 Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.|
|1st Nephi 11: 8, 33 (Lehi and Nephi's Vision) I looked and beheld a tree... and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.|
|I beheld that the rod of iron,which my father had seen, was the word of God.|
This scripture is perhaps my favorite of all these; it comes into my mind all the time when I'm studying the stories and images of the Savior. I'm on an eternal hunt for images that really strike me as looking like Him. It was told to me once that I would recognize the Savior if I saw him before me, which was a sweet thing to be told. It's kind of cool to me to think that somewhere in the back of my subconscious mind I know what Jesus Christ looks like. BYO Illustration to this one :)
Isaiah 53: 2-3, 5 He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.