He Lived for Us

This poem stuck me as a great one to go along with Alma 34, which I read this week for Come Follow Me. is one of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. I especially think about verse 10, where Amulek describes the Atonement as an “infinite and eternal” sacrificed. This has always struck me as odd, because although I certainly see that the effects of Christ’s sacrifice are infinite and eternal, the sacrifice itself seems to have been limited in time and scope. Christ gave up his life, but he was resurrected. He suffered, but He is not suffering now. If any of you have any insight into this, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

One thought I’ve had is that part of the sacrifice that Christ made was sacrificing His life as He lived it to be an example and to be worthy to perform the Atonement. He sacrificed His will entirely and for all eternity, not just in the Garden of Gethsemane when pleading if the cup could pass from Him. 

He Lived for Us

Written on my mission, May 6, 2018

On a mission one spends a lot of time studying and pondering the Atonement. One thing I have been struck with was that Christ didn’t just come down to earth, suffer, die, and resurrect. First, He lived a life. A perfect life. That means that every single choice, every single temptation faced, would have to be faced and overcome perfectly. I can’t imagine the sort of pressure this was on Him, but I am fortunate that because of His perfect life, our lives, though far from perfect now, can become better.

His first steps were not on the road to the hill called Calvary.
His first breath was not taken in the Garden Gethsemane.
His hands were first a carpenter’s hands, before nailed to the cross.
Before He died, our Savior and Redeemer lived for us.
 
Christ was born in Bethlehem, a baby in a manger.
He grew from grace to grace, though to temptation was no stranger.
He always chose the harder right, never the easier wrong.
The Mighty God Jehovah served the weak He was among. 

He taught us how to live our lives, He said, “Come, follow Me.”
He did good long before he died for us on Calvary.
He fulfilled His father’s will in all things from the start,
Until the end, upon the cross, when sin’s pain broke his heart.

He is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with our grief,
But He knew the way to give true healing and relief
Was to be perfect—to bear the weight of the world in every deed.
And when we make His soul an offering for sin, he’ll see His seed.

It’s as if He walked a tightrope over a pit to save a friend—
One misstep and down He’d fall, a poor and unhappy end.
But Christ was perfect! Every step was straight and strong and true
So He could qualify as sacrifice and die for me and you.

He’ll look back, and He can see the travail on His great soul.
But if just one man, through His sacrifice, can be made pure and whole,
He shall be satisfied, His joy in heaven how sublime.
How great a man, my Jesus Christ, how perfect and divine.

God versus the world

God versus the world

The world says: “You need to keep in touch
with your phone as the world keeps turning.”
I say: “I prefer to stay in touch
with God, and His infinite learning.”

The world says: “Seek for wealth and prestige.
Money is what life’s all about.”
I say: “The joy that God gives, you can’t buy,
not for any amount”

The world says: “Power is what you should want,
seek for control and success.”
I say: “God is worth much more to me,
and in Him I’ll find what is best.”

The world says: “Don’t look for more out of life.
Right here and right now is all you need.”
I say: “Happiness and joy in my life
come as God becomes closer to me.”

The world says: “Always put yourself first,
your focus in life should be you.”
I say: “My God told me to go forth and serve
others who need my help, too.”

The world says: “Go, and be true to yourself,
and your dreams of who you want to be.”
I say: “I’d rather be true to Truth,
and God’s greater plans for me.”

Trust

Sent home from my mission Aug 28, 2017

Trust

As I stood on a mountain
He said to me:
“come to the edge.”
and I didn’t because I feared I would fall.

Again He smiled, and beckoned to me:
“come to the edge.”
“No.” I said, “I’ll fall,
I don’t trust myself there.”

Comfortingly, He reached for my hand
I took it, He said:
“come to the edge, and trust me”
I trusted Him, so I followed.

I saw the view, the world,
and as I turned to Him to thank Him
He pushed me off the edge—
and I flew.

The next time that I stood there,
I remembered my flight—
the joy of the view
and the thrill of the hight—

And I thought it’d be wonderful
to do it again,
so I went to the edge
and jumped.

But I fell and didn’t fly!
and as the ground came up to meet me
my thoughts turned to a Savior
who left me all alone

I pleaded for someone to come to me
and saw him there besides me
He told me, “take my hand,
and I will do the rest”

“It’s all in your hands now”
I said, as I grabbed and held on tight
and right before we hit the ground—
we started to fly.

I’ve never left my Savior since,
but still, I’ve often thought—
why could I not do alone
what He did for me?

I’ve realized I’m not strong enough
and need my dear Savior near,
in Him I put my trust and faith—
I put it all in His hands.

Pure Water

I was talking with a friend the other week about how it feels to be truly clean, and she compared it to the waters of a river. I tried to capture that idea here:

Pure Water

I’ve stepped in a lot of rivers.
When they had dirt at the bottom,
My steps would send mud
floating down the river,
and the tan filth blocking any view of the riverbed.

I’ve looked at a lot of rivers.
And I love the ones that slowly,
In their crystal blue motion
capture the rolling beauty of nature
in their clear flowing depths.

I want to be a dirt-free river.
I want no mud of the world in me
and to flow confidently onward
to the ocean,
knowing I am clean.

The Village of Krasnodosch

Sent home from my mission, Oct 08, 2018

I thought of this poem this week while listening to a conference talk describing the Jewish seder. Jewish families not only set a place for Elijah, but fill his cup to the brim and send a child to the door to see if Elijah is there. (Hosanna and Hallelujah—The Living Jesus Christ: The Heart of Restoration and Easter, by Elder Gerrit W. Gong) I think this tradition is a great example of living with faith. 

My poem this week, tentatively titled “The village of Krasnodosch” (crass- no- doesh, roughly translated as “red rain”), is a story I heard in sacrament meeting once in Ivano-Frankivsk. I put the story to verse, because I think it fits really well. The speaker used it to point out the difference between mere hope and faith. It reminds me of a quote I heard once, that “faith is what we choose to act on every day”. I liked the story and I hope you’ll enjoy it, too!

The Village of Krasnodosch

There once was a small village
With the name of Krasnodosch.
The people there loved God, and they
All followed him with hope.

One spring, the people planted fields,
But then, no rain did fall.
One week turned to two, then three,
The fields weren’t looking well. 

The people all decided they would gather
Together on the next day
And pray that God would send them rain,
So the drought would go away.

The day was hot and cloudless
As the crowd started to form,
But one young girl walked up with an
Umbrella on her arm.

They asked her why, she said, “Well,
Aren’t we here to pray for rain?”
They shrugged, and all together,
They prayed, and then they prayed again.

They prayed for several hours,
But the rain still didn’t fall.
The crowd started to go back home,
But with hope, hearts were full.

“Look!” Said the umbrella girl,
“A cloud!” The crowd all turned
And saw far off a tiny thing,
The name “cloud” barely earned

They watched as it grew closer, and
They watched as it grew big.
They wondered if this answered prayers,
And each sure hoped it did.

The cloud stood right on top of them,
But not a drop fell down
“Schwoop!” the girl’s umbrella went,
But some began to frown

Then, after a while, a drop,
Then one more, two, and then,
Someone opened heaven’s floodgates-
It began to pour down rain.

The town ran home, glad but wet-
Their hope was not in vain.
The umbrella girl, she walked home dry,
For she had prayed in faith.

The Miracle of the Sacrament

The Miracle of the Sacrament

If you saw the peace
   in the little crust of bread,
   as eyes were closed
   and thoughts turned upwards;

If you saw the cleansing
   in the little cup of water,
   as if liquid light were poured into a silhouette,
   and great drops of brightness overflow;

If you saw the power
   Christ was willing to use in your behalf,
   the legions of angels armed for battle
   awaiting your prayer for their help;

If you saw the gifts
   He holds, willing to give you,
   the blessings He prepared to make you happy,
   and the joy of living with Him up above;

If you saw the desire
   The Spirit has to live in you,
   to talk to you, to be your friend,
   to make you into something wonderful;

If you saw all this with spiritual eyes –  
   the miracle of the sacrament –  
   would you live the rest of the week
   the way you do now?

Would I See Him

Sent home from my mission Aug 07, 2017

The poem I want to share with you this week is one I wrote half of in the MTC around Christmastime, and I finished the rest of it out in the mission field. I thought about what kind of person I would be if I lived in the time of Christ—would I be a shepherd who went and worshiped the baby Jesus, or would I be one of the hundreds or thousands of other people in Bethlehem to whom this was just another baby? 

Would I See Him?

If I’d walked the roads of Palestine
in older, simpler years,
would I have seen a man
drying people’s tears?
Would I listen to His words 
and choose to follow where He goes,
or would I spit on Him, reject Him,
there in Calvary, alone?

If I’d walked the roads of Bethlehem
on a certain silent night,
Would I have seen a baby
in swaddling clothes wrapped tight?
Would I have knelt and sang his praise
and worshiped Him, my Christ, that day,
or would I have been too busy
and continued on my way?

And in the paths I’m on today
in this loud and noisy world,
do I make time to see my Savior
and His gospel flag unfurled?
To pray for truth, and seek His grace
and follow what He taught,
or will I never feel His hand in mine
and do the works He wrought?

As I seek to walk His paths,
and simply serve my brother,
will someone see me, and notice 
as I try to help another?
Will they see my work and think of Him
who served us each so selflessly?
I don’t know, but I did my part
And I that’s enough for me.

Christ never said

I was reading Mosiah 24 for Come Follow Me this week (I’m a little behind) and I was struck by verse 14, where Christ seems to show that helping us in our afflictions is more important for us to build faith than delivering us from our afflictions. I decided to expand on that idea with other instances from scripture.

Christ never said

Christ never said that storms wouldn’t come,
He said He’d be a refuge when they raged. (Isaiah 25:4)

Christ never said we would not have trials,
He said He’d visit us in our afflictions. (Mosiah 24:14)

Christ never said He would keep us from wandering away,
He said He’d come and find us when we do. (Luke 15:4-7)

Christ never said we would not have grief or sorrow,
He said that with His stripes we could be healed. (Isaiah 53:4)

Christ never said we would be perfect in this life,
He said He would succor us in our infirmities (Alma 7:11-13)

Christ never promised we would never cry,
He said He would wipe away all tears from our eyes. (Revelations 21:4)

Christ never said we would not be heavy laden,
He said He’d give us rest, and make our burdens light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Christ never said that life would not be hard,
He said He would be with us always, even to the end (Matthew 28:20)

A House of Hope

A House of Hope

Hope is the warm bed
and the blankets I wrap myself in
when the cold creeps in,
and I need to feel held.

Hope is the solid door
that shuts the world out
and reminds me there is more to life
that I can make of it, myself.

Hope is the clear windows
that let me look and see
all the wonders God has made
and look out into forever.

Hope is the slick floors
I can slide on in my socks
and remember small joys now,
and big joys to come.

Hope is the slanted roof
carrying away the storm water
and keeping me dry
from the world’s droplets of depression.

Hope is the sturdy walls
Standing strong every day
and reminding me how long things last
when built with love and time.

Hope is the loving house
that invites me to be safe,
to belong, to find peace in
hope.

Redeemer

Redeemer

If every bad thought
were a stone you had to carry everywhere,
how grateful you would be
if someone helped you lift the pack
and let you walk again.

If every unkind word
were a year you could never see your family,
how grateful you would be
if someone offered to take on your lonely decades
and let you hug your family again.

If every hurtful deed
were a stab wound in your flesh,
how grateful you would be
to the doctor who bound and healed your wounds
and let you live without pain again.

And yet,

when every bad thought would always weigh us down from happiness,
when every unkind word would keep us from our family forever,
when every hurtful deed would lead to everlasting pain and death,
how often we forget
the Man who suffered, struggled, and died
to let us live again.