This week I have studied a lot about forgiveness. If it feels like I have been talking about that a lot it’s because we are working with a guy. I can’t share a lot of information right now because it is a sensitive subject but I will say that He has legal problems. So for that we have been focusing a lot on how we can help him because they are legal problems that are preventing him from receiving the baptism that he wants.
While searching the years of Liahona Magazines, that we have stacking in our room, I found a beautiful talk by Jeffrey R Holland that he gave at a devotional at BYU. It is in the 2013 September Liahona in a talked called The Justice and Mercy of God. He started with this example of a graduation ceremony: “It was unlike any other commencement or baccalaureate exercise I had ever attended or in which I had ever participated. There were 44 graduates, all male. They did not have traditional academic robes or caps or gowns. Each man wore a light blue denim shirt and dark blue denim trousers.
“The ceremony was not held in a field house or a stadium or even a lovely auditorium. It was held in a modest interdenominational chapel at the Utah State Prison. The graduating class had successfully completed a year’s course of Bible study, which was sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but open to all who cared to participate.
“The opening prayer was given by a young man who looked more like a mere boy. He was frightened to death, but he gave a prayer from his heart. He was in prison for 10 years to life on an armed robbery charge. The closing prayer was given by a man who was 45 or 50 years old and who looked as if he could have been somebody’s uncle. He was in for a life term on second-degree murder.
“A young man who had been released from prison had come back to get his certificate and to encourage his colleagues. He said, “Guys, the perspective in prison is really bad. It really looks better on the outside. Try to remember that.” Then he turned to the outsiders, to the friends and families who had come, and said, “You people are a light in a dark place. If it were not for love like yours, we would not be able to get from where we are to where we need to be.”
When the service was over, the inmate who conducted said, with some emotion in his voice and a little mist in his eyes, “This is the most auspicious occasion of our year. It’s better than Christmas. It’s better than Thanksgiving. It’s even better than Mother’s Day. It’s better because we’re enlightened, and that’s as close as we come to being free.”
I love what this last man said, because it really describes what freedom means. These men are in what is considered the worst moment of their lives where they are literally incarcerated, but they felt the freedom because they took the opportunity to get closer to Christ. To be FREE from their sin.
We are all aware that God is just and sometimes that scares us to death but Elder Holland describes that perfectly when he said "Then, ironically, I had a comforting realization that my first thought—that God is just—wasn’t as painful as it sounded. However frightening it may be that all of us have sinned, however frightening it may be to contemplate a just God, it is infinitely more frightening to me to contemplate an unjust God."
But we know the sins that we have committed and we know that there is something that has to be done to fix it. Sometimes that is what we have the most fear of. To confess our sins to the world, more often than not we are fine confessing to God but to go to man and confess to the world we find a bit harder because we never know what the consequences are.
But as Jeffrey R Holland said "We have our own little penitentiaries, I suppose, all around us. If going there is what it takes to make us truly penitent and to enable us to lay claim to the gift of mercy, then we have to do it."
And that is what stands out. This man who we are working with has more fear than faith that the Lord will help him and is waiting for the mercy to take action now, but here it explains to us that we need to take that leap of faith and repentance to truly be open to the mercy of God.
I know that this is true. I know that God helps us to always do the right thing and the Holy Ghost will testify and help us when we have done the right thing. I know we can be forgiven but first we just need to show our desires to do what is right.
I love you guys