Jonah’s Talk in Sacrament
For those of you who may not know, I’m the reason you didn’t get to sit in the comfy seats if you came later than ten minutes early. My name is Jonah Jensen—soon to be ElderJensen—and I’ll be going to the California Rancho Cucamonga Mission speaking English. I enter the MTC this Wednesday, the 26th, and I am thoroughly excited. Well, as excited as one from high-altitude, low-humidity Utah, where they were born and raised, can be excited to experience immense heat and ocean humidity for the next two years of their life. In case you couldn’t tell, I like the cold; but no, I truly am glad to be going to the mission I am. Even though my mission president said that “there are beautiful palm trees in the valley and rare Joshua trees in the desert . . . neither provide any shade”, or that, “we’ve heard there’s a rainy season, but haven’t seen one yet”, I am genuinely excited to get into the mission field and experience what it’s like to serve the lord full time. As well as that, though some of you may not believe me, I always had a feeling I was going to California. Luckily for me though, I don’t have to learn a language, which I also felt even more sure I would have to do. Eh . . . can’t win ’em all.
Anyway, onto my topic: the Savior. When I got this topic, my initial reaction—mentally, of course—while on the phone was, “Well, what the flip? The Savior? That subject is about as broad as the Grand Canyon itself!” I mean, seriously, the Savior is literally the entirety of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There isn’t one piece of doctrine that we have that doesn’t involve the Savior in one way or another. Nevertheless, however, I accepted, because I knew that whatever topic I was going to get was for a reason—and as I thought about it, a broad subject wasn’t necessarily that bad—I doubt they’re expecting me to cover all of the Savior’s life and his unlimited accomplishments both in past, present and future.
So, yes, the Savior. The first words that come to most of our minds when we think of asavior are probably something along the lines of “hero”, “helper”, “protector” and other things of that nature. Not that this comes as a surprise, but when you think about it, whenever people reference the word “savior” it is most commonly used to refer to something as or like Jesus Christ. This is obviously because of how influential Jesus Christ has been on the entire world since the beginning of time. On the Earth as of two years ago, Christians had the highest percentage of people who belonged to their churches out of any other churches in the world at thirty-one percent. Even then, the next most popular religion—Muslim at twenty-two percent—do believe that Jesus Christ was an actual historical figure—assuming my Ancient Civilizations teacher was correct—and though they don’t believe he was the Son of God, they do believe he was a very wise leader. With how widespread the knowledge of Jesus Christ is through really any country, it would be nearly impossible to have never heard of this glorious man if you are above the age of five. My point that I’m trying to make is that Jesus Christ has made a tremendous impact on the entirety of not just Earth, but our Universe.
Now that I’ve bored you with statistics and things like that, I can apologize and ask to regain your attention, because what I am going to say today is important to at least someone out there. And I don’t mean to toot my own horn, because this talk was only written down by me—it was created by the spirit.
When I go out into the mission field of Rancho Cucamonga, I will be bearing the name of the Savior on my chest and inviting people to come unto him. But what does that mean, “come unto him”? When the Savior invites us to come unto him throughout the course of not just His mortal ministry, but the history of the entire Earth since Adam and Eve first partook of the fruit, He is inviting us to obey His commandments, and in turn promises that we will, among countless other things, feel His love for us as he encircles us in his warm, caring embrace. He promises that we will be able to feel him there in the darkest of times, and even in the best of times. Although when times become easier and we often begin to forget of Jesus Christ, as the natural man is cursed to do, he does not forget us. In the Book of Mormon, throughout the entire course of it, you can see that this ancient American nation follows a very obvious pattern of receiving blessings and thanking God, then going through years of peace, and then eventually feeling as though they don’t need God, at witch point they fall into a rut and require a prophet to save them again. This can be easily related to our own lives. When we receive blessings and start to feel Jesus Christ’s comforting care for us, we begin to get haughty in what we may think to be our own accomplishments—or perhaps a better way to put it is that we don’t take the time to consider that the reason that we have accomplished these things is only because of Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven, and because they allowed it by blessing us with these gifts and talents used to accomplish this great thing that we have done. If we allow ourselves to become self-endorsed like this, then we begin to fall away from what God has commanded us to do, most commonly in small ways until we stop receiving his wondrous blessings. Eventually, we fall back into this spiritual rut and realize that evenphysically things are not going as well as they have been—and this is when we are brought down to our knees.
Jesus Christ, however, is still willing to accept us after every fall. He is a caring, loving individual. He loves us each more than anyone in existence save Heavenly Father himself. For parents, such a love must be incomprehensible if what I often hear about how much they love their children is true. I know that my parents would die for me—I mean, even though that’s a much easier trial than having to live with me sometimes, so God probably decided against that, but still . . . in John 15:13, it says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There is no greater indication of love than that a person should sacrifice themselves for the safety of others. The Savior is not given the name “the Savior” for no reason. He is given that name because in the Garden of Gethsemane he felt it all so that he could know how to handle our situations. He felt it all so he could save us from whatever struggle or trial we could be going through at any time in our life. That is why he bled from every pore; and why, immediately after, he was captured and put to death on the cross. He did these things for us so that we will be resurrected, and so that we might be able to live with our Heavenly Father again through repentance, no matter how much we sin.
I remember once back in school, I had a math teacher who was to teach me math . . . in case you didn’t know that they did that. Anyway, I bring this up because it was the most frustrating experience in school I had ever had. It was precalculus, and at this point, I had gone into the class thinking, “Oh, y’know, I’m fairly good at math. I think I’ll do pretty decent in this class. I’ll just listen to the teacher, do what she tells me, and I’ll be just fine.” Unfortunately for me, that was not the experience I had lined up. She jumped directly into the lessons, not giving us even a moment of solace to recover from the fact that school had just started, having us not only go get books and read a disclosure document, but also start learning the first part of precalculus on the first day. At first I thought that maybe I could handle it—I just had to try harder, but the fact was that she was just moving too fast. I asked so many questions during the day that I found myself embarrassed to raise my hand, and on top of that, whenever people began to ask too many questions in general, she would say, “Well, fine guys, if you keep asking all these questions, you’re gonna’ have to have double homework next class period” and things like that. So over all, just not my favorite teacher. And I’m sure there were those students who were just sitting back in their chairs, pushing up their RealD 3D glasses as they already finished the homework for the next two years in that class period alone, just groaning and telepathically asking the teacher to move on from that subject that their mentally advanced brain had captured at least seven-thousand years ago. But the matter of the fact was that not all of us were at that level, and the teacher was not going a proper speed in order to let those of us who were lagging behind even understand the current concept, let alone catch up. I bring this up, however, because of the fact that the Savior often spoke often in parables, and, as he explained to his disciples when they asked him why, he explained that it was because it was given unto them (the disciples) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but unto the gentiles it was not. He later goes on to explain how if “anyone heareth the word of the kingdom and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one and catcheth away that which was sewn in his heart”. The Savior spoke to us in parables because he is a glorious, masterful teacher. He teaches as it says in D&C 98:12: “For he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith.” To me, that means that the Lord’s way of teaching is to slow down and walk at whatever pace we might need so that we can fully come to understand all of the mysteries of heaven in our own due time—not the time set by a school board, or a time set by our peers, or a time set by anyone at all except ourselves.
In Matthew 14, the story of Jesus Christ coming unto his apostles on a stormy night is told. Peter asked that Christ would allow him to join the Savior on the water, and the Savior allowed it. Peter stepped out of the boat, showing great amounts of faith in his Savior. He began to walk across the liquids toward the beloved Redeemer, but as he drew nearer, he began to be afraid as he took sight of the great waves and heard the roaring thunder. As soon as he let such a fear sink into his heart, he himself began to sink into the dark and cold waves—but the Savior was ready, because he knew Peter’s heart already. He saved Peter from the boisterous waves and brought him back to the boat and, likely in a friendly way of reproval, said, “Oh thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” I believe that this, among many examples that have been made about poor Peter, can be applied to us in many different ways. One of these ways is that, sometimes, we simply do not have enough faith to make it all the way into Christ’s arms—however, a common belief by people when they do not make it to Christ is that Christ is the one who has given up on them. Many people who have already began to come unto Christ believe that, when they are going through some of the hardest trials of their lives, the Savior has forgotten them altogether. They believe that just by following Christ, they should never have trials or tribulations of any kind—that their lives should somehow be easier because they chose to follow Christ. Now, don’t get me wrong, this can sometimes be true—but we willalways have challenges in our lives. Always. My brothers and sisters, we will alwaysbegin to sink into the dark waters here and there throughout our entire lives up until the very day we are in God’s presence alone, but I pray that you will be like the great man Peter. This wonderful man not only had the faith to walk on water, but when he lost that faith in a moment of weakness and likely great embarrassment, he called out to the Savior to save him, not just trusting, but knowing that the Savior would extend his hand and keep him from sinking into the depths of despair.
In the Savior’s mortal ministry, he didn’t only perform the Atonement and offer himself so that we might live again, as if that weren’t enough. He spent the entirety of his life devoted to his Father and his Father’s cause. He preached the true word of God as he traveled tirelessly from city to city, healing the sick and afflicted and even reviving the dead. He cast out devils and forgave sins, and he was as perfect as can be.
Often times when thinking about the stories that I write and how I choose to present things in said stories, I think about the world we live in, and I often used to think about how interesting it would be to live in a world like Harry Potter’s with things like magic and stuff like that—and you can’t lie to me; we’ve all imagined what it would be like to have some sort of super power or something like that. But as I’ve gotten to thinking about it, we live in a world that has its own “magic” in a sense. Now, of course, don’t get me wrong, I would never actually consider the priesthood some kind of witchcraft—it is literally the opposite of that. It is the power of God bestowed to man to bless as many others as we possibly can. Jesus Christ held the power of the priesthood stronger than any other being ever on this entire Earth, because he was literally a God descended unto man to teach and save. He used his power to bless the lives of all others who encountered him to a limitless degree—even the very people who crucified him, he asked that God would forgive them in their ignorance.
And now, to continue off of the topic of my stories, for those of you who know me well enough, you know that I have a character named Kayron and he is the protagonist in my books. I am often thinking about how I can make this hero character relate well to my readers who don’t have all of these unusual gifts like he has, which brings up my next point involving the Savior. To give some preface, I’m sure that if there are others out there who have studied the Hero’s Journey at least as much as I have (me being no expert) then you have probably considered this as well: how is it that a hero like Jesus Christ becomes a hero to us with how perfect he is? Because often times you’ll notice when reading almost any book with a linear story-line that follows at least one person throughout a journey in their life that they often have one or more major flaws to make up for all of their amazing qualities; all except for the Savior himself. The Savior was perfect. He was flawless. He was wise, he was fearless and he had the power of God on his side. He was an unbeatable hero. How could such a person be able to relate to me? Well, it all comes down to the simple fact that when in the Garden of Gethsemane, he felt exactly what we went through without having to sin to feel it. When you stole that cookie from the cookie jar as a little kid and got caught, he felt the guilt that you felt in that moment of weakness. When you were jogging during gym class and you twisted your ankle, he felt the very same pain that you felt to the exact degree. And when you were standing beside the death bed of your father or mother or grandfather or grandmother, or whatever loved one that you had never imagined a day without . . . he felt that heart-wrenching sadness and the tears streaming down your face just the same as you did.
Now, I know many of you have heard this story, and I do truly apologize, but there aresome of you who haven’t, and there are likely others of you who weren’t paying attention when I gave it—and because it is the story nearest to my heart, I just have to share it when given an opportunity to talk about the Savior. This is a very personal experience that probably brought me closer to my great brother Jesus Christ, my Atoner and Redeemer than anything else has before, and it involves a short little poem that I absolutely have to read. The story starts some time that I really don’t remember, but I was a young kid, probably just in middle school. I was at some form of family gathering that I also don’t remember, because I’m pretty sure that the entirety of the day was drowned out by one short moment in time. I had locked myself in the bathroom and just begun to weep silently to myself for an amount of time that probably might have been suspicious if any person had been waiting for a turn, but nevertheless, I sat there and continued to just kind of cry to myself. I’m not entirely sure even what I was sad about, but I can tell you it was quite the sadness. But I looked up from my hands and I remember vividly just looking up on the wall, light pouring in through the window and illuminating this poem that hung there in just a moment of sheer inspiration and beauty. Whoever had this poem hung in their bathroom wall, if you happen to be here, I can tell you that it was put there by inspiration. This was the poem written by Mary Stevenson in 1935:
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
(Explain your feelings about the poem)
(Bare testimony. Say things about: accomplishments, his influence, people trying to stay with God, his sacrifice, he understands us)
Given Sunday, August 23, 2015, at the Country Club Chapel in Highland 24th ward.
Gathering of friends and family: