Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Funeral Talk, Plan of Happiness

Funeral Service—Plan of Salvation, plan of happiness, Talk

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak w/ you this afternoon. I have come to really enjoy funerals for we come and celebrate the life of our loved one and remember who they were, what they taught us, and who we want to become. And in reality we don’t speak in the past tense, we speak in the present tense. “Who they are and what they continue to teach us.”

I like the saying that funerals are for the living and not for the dead. In reality those that have passed from this mortal earth life simply have walked through a revolving door and they look down upon us hoping they left something of a legacy with us to cherish and emulate.

Funerals cause us to pause and leave our daily routines to think of the eternal and not the earthly, to look heavenward and ponder the wonders of God.

Without thinking of God and His purposes in our creation, life, and death, is like going to a feast and eating everything but the main course. We would leave here not being nourished and the emptiness would leave us feeling a void in our minds and hearts. My purpose today is to let the word of God fill the void that many feel this day.

We know from the scriptures that the earth was created that man and woman might have a place to come and live, to learn to become like heavenly parents and enjoy the happiness they enjoy. It says in the book of Moses, “For behold this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).

In the book of John we learn that “this is life eternal they [we] might know [Him] the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom [He] hath sent” (John 17:3).

So what does this really mean? I believe a simple analogy Elder Oaks, a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles, shares helps illustrate the plan of life very simply and beautifully.

Imagine a wealthy landowner who has fields of grain, pastures w/ cattle, rivers, streams, and beautiful mountains in the background. He has a wonderful mansion full of all the necessities and many extras. He has investments and business ventures that keep him and his loved ones comfortable. He has many employees that depend upon him for their sustenance as they help keep his estate moving forward and growing. This landowner has a son and he really wants to give him all that he has. Not only does he want to give him all that he has but most importantly he wants to give him all that he has become. For you see, he cannot give his son honor or prestige among men, that must be earned over time and experience. He cannot pass on his character and integrity. That must come w/ a life of correct choices and resolve in doing what is right and good even in the most difficult circumstances. He could try to give his son things, but the son would not know what to do with it all and squander it away w/o the proper training and for sure w/o the proper maturation of character and integrity. And so he sends his son away to earn money for school and then to use his training to make a living and start his own family. His son passes through a series of tests that temper him and mold him into a man of honor. Eventually through a life that mirrors that of his father, he becomes like his father and is ready to inherit all that his father has. A wise father was able to prepare a ready son to become like him in character and integrity and enjoy peace and happiness through who he has become. Wealth of character and integrity among men has proven to be the greatest honor that one could enjoy in this life.

So now as we ponder these scriptures maybe they now have more meaning. (reread Moses 1:39, John 17:3).

Eternal life is the life that God has and this mortal, earth life prepares us for that wonderful life of true peace and joy.

In this life of joy, sorrow, trials, and tribulations we all make mistakes. We falter and feel the loneliness of life. Perhaps the deepest pains we feel are from our own mistakes and sins. That is one of the great roles our Savior fills in our lives. He paid the price and filled the void of the many sins we commit as we go through life. This makes it possible for us to keep trying. As long as we never give up and keep repenting and changing, his sacrifice will cover us.

Prophets testified for thousands of years that the Savior of the world would come to heal us from all infirmities, redeem us from our sins, and bring forth the resurrection of us all.

President Henry B. Eyring, a special witness of Jesus Christ, explains the role of Jesus Christ in our lives:

Pg. 225 in my scriptures, the insert.

Jesus knows how to succor, or run to us, and bring peace to us. He redeems us from sin and he gives us the gift of the resurrection. We will all live again.

Paul said:

1 Cor. 15:55, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

1 Cor. 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Have you ever wondered what gave Paul the audacity to say such a thing? Here Paul was, formerly Saul the persecutor of the Christians, those that believed in Jesus Christ. One day on the road to Damascus he was visited by the resurrected Lord and his entire life changed. Saul the persecutor became Paul the apostle, a witness of the living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

1 Cor. 15:55, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

1 Cor. 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

I add my witness to Paul’s that Jesus is a resurrected and glorified being. Because He lives, we know Sandy will live again. Because He lives all of us and all of our dead will live again. What a glorious doctrine!

There are events that happen in our lives that cause us to doubt God or grow in our love and trust in Him. There is an experience in the Book of Mormon. The people have been fighting for many years and this great statement is made

Alma 62:41

41 But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their aafflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.

1 Nephi 2:12 12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their afather. And they did bmurmur because they cknew not the dealings of that God who had dcreated them.

Contrasted to Nephi: 2 Nephi 2:16

16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the amysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did bvisit me, and did csoften my heart that I did dbelieve all the words which had been spoken by my efather; wherefore, I did not frebel against him like unto my brothers.

Nephi’s words: “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”2 1 Nephi

Several years ago a friend of mine had a young daughter die in a tragic accident. Hopes and dreams were shattered. My friend felt unbearable sorrow. He began to question what he had been taught and what he had taught as a missionary. The mother of my friend wrote me a letter and asked if I would give him a blessing. As I laid my hands upon his head, I felt to tell him something that I had not thought about in exactly the same way before. The impression that came to me was: Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision. He would need to choose faith.

My friend did not know everything, but he knew enough. He chose the road of faith and obedience. He got on his knees. His spiritual balance returned.

It has been several years since that event. A short time ago I received a letter from his son who is now serving a mission. It was full of conviction and testimony. As I read his beautiful letter, I saw how a father’s choice of faith in a very difficult time had deeply blessed the next generation.

Challenges, difficulties, questions, doubts—these are part of our mortality. But we are not alone. As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have enormous spiritual reservoirs of light and truth available to us. Fear and faith cannot coexist in our hearts at the same time. In our days of difficulty, we choose the road of faith. Jesus said, “Be not afraid, only believe.” 4

No comments:

Post a Comment