Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It All Began With a Promise

I had the honor of speaking at my dear Mother-in-law's funeral yesterday.  There were several who requested a copy of that talk.  I include it here for them and those others who might be interested:

It All Began With a Promise

It all began with a promise -  when in that Great Council in Heaven, Jesus stepped forward and said, “Here am I, send me.”  It was a promise to set in motion, a plan to redeem His Father’s children, his own brothers and sisters, from the inevitable error inherent in their mortal experience.  He knew that in order for us to become like our Heavenly Parents we would have to have our agency in mortality.  He knew that with that agency we would, to some degree, choose to be in defiance of the laws of the Universe, the laws of happiness.  He knew that those wrong choices would prevent us from returning to live with our Heavenly Father and Mother, unless someone perfect and unspotted, without sin, could redeem us from our errors.
And so the Son of God, condescended to come to earth, to be born in a stable, to suffer the pains and sorrows of mortality, to endure the pain of our sickness, weakness, disappointment and sin in Gethsemane and on the cross and then die, that we might live.  That was a very personal promise made to you and to me.

In the church we do everything individually.  We take the sacrament individually.  We are baptized one person at a time.  The labor of the Temple could be greatly accelerated if we could do the work for groups, but no, we spend the hours and do the work for individual souls, one precious person at a time.  Mom knew and rejoiced in the privilege and spent untold hours extracting names and serving vicariously for such individuals in the temple, one person at a time.  So it was with Jesus’ Atoning and vicarious sacrifice.  I bear testimony that He took each of our names through the Temple of Gethsemane, one person at a time.  By so doing, he became intimately familiar with each of us.  He became acquainted with our grief, our disappointment, our fear and frustration, our anxiety and pain.  He did this that He might be able to understand and then succor us, that he might be able to lift us from our sorrow into the glorious light of His love and forgiveness.  Elder Boyd K. Packer explained the breadth of Christ’s most kind service thus:
“Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fullness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.”
That promise extends to all and is a promise that will enable us to not only return to live with God again, but also with Rae and Garth, Noble and Donetta, Willard and Inez, Angela and Annie and myriad other loved ones who have gone on before us.
After Jesus died on the cross He went to the Spirit World, where Mom has gone, to visit the millions who had left mortality through death and were waiting there for the further implementation of God’s Plan for our Happiness.  There He organized the righteous to go forth and inform the rest, of the blessed and still available opportunity they had to, through repentance, find the joy of redemption.  Thus, they might become righteous too.  The definition of righteousness is not nearly so much tied to our performance as it is tied to our willingness to repent and receive redemption through Christ, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Listen to these words of comfort as prophet and President Joseph F. Smith describes the place to which mother has gone:
Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants

 31 And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the acceptable day of the Lord and proclaim liberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would repent of their sins and receive the gospel.
  32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets.
  33 These were taught faith in God, repentance from sin, vicarious baptism for the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
  34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
58 The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,
  59 And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.

I believe that Mom will continue with her involvement in that great work, just as she did here in mortality.  Earlier in that same section of scripture we read:  (Think of Mom as I recite these words.)

  12 And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
  14 All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
  15 I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together

If anyone departed this earth worthy of such joy and rejoicing it is our own Grandma Rae.

You will notice that the chief characteristic of those joyful ones was that they had been “faithful in the testimony of Jesus.”  While it is important to bear testimony of Him, might this not also mean that we must be faithful in His testimony about us?  Everything Jesus ever did or said was a testimony that we, His sisters and brothers ARE of Divine Worth and Infinite Potential!   Mom tried to convey that truth to us as well.  We have within us the seeds of divinity.  Let us go forth from this day forward, responding to Jesus’ promise to redeem us with a promise of our own.  That like our Mother we will be faithful in accepting Jesus’ testimony that we are precious children of God who are indeed, of Infinite Worth and Divine Potential.

It all began with a promise.  On December 22, 1942, nearly 68 years ago, Garth Rasmussen and Rae Petersen knelt across an altar in the Logan Temple and made a promise of their own.  They promised that they would begin a new family in the earth.  One that would endure through eternity.  They have kept that promise. 

Along the way there were other, smaller promises that added up to that one big one.  Rae promised to follow Garth to the ends of the earth and Guam and Newfoundland and a dozen places in between were very nearly so.

They promised they would be faithful to one another, and so it was.

They promised they would do their best to raise their children and so they did.

Garth promised to build a house for his parents, a promise he kept.  And then to keep his promise to provide for his family, he expanded that house to what it is today, though not quite as yellow.

Rae promised to fill that house with love and memories and oh, how faithfully she honored that commitment.  But suddenly, have you noticed; it wasn’t the house, but she who was its very heart, which made it such a home.

Mom promised a life of consecration and that was the life she lived.  She kept a journal of all the quilts she made and gave away.  We thought that was pretty impressive.  Then Darryl Wilson showed up last night with another journal of all the quilts her quilting group had completed in just the last decade!  How many lives are wrapped in the warmth of her great love and devotion?  How many names has she done in the temple?  How many more has she extracted from old, hard to read records?  How many sisters has she visited?  How many lessons has she taught?  How many meals has she prepared?  How many lives has she touched for good?  More than any of us can possibly count.

I used to go to the temple on Saturday.  I often wondered if I’d ever see some heavenly manifestation while I was there.  Then when I retired I switched to Monday; and there in the Temple I saw an angel, our own angel mother, I hesitate to add the in-law, for she is a dear to me as my own mother.  I have seen that angel in the Temple often and hope to, yet again.

I hope you all got to hear Mom pray.  I got to hear her bless the food one morning.  She was hoping to choke down a few spoonfuls of yogurt.  But to hear her pray you’d have thought she was sitting down to a feast.  Her humble, sincere, heartfelt gratitude knew no bounds.

Recently, as she and Cheya were closing an arduous day of sickness with prayer, Mom gratefully acknowledged the blessing she had so enjoyed of serving in the Temple.  As they finished and Cheya was tucking her in, Mom told her that the Spirit had whispered another promise; that she would yet enjoy many many hours of Temple service.  We take that to mean that she will be resurrected and serve in the Temple during the blessed years of the Millennium.

I’d like to finish with one final promise.  It is a promise delivered by a Patriarch, from God, to us, through her:

The Lord will make up to you, because of your faithfulness, for every heartache and sorrow that has come to you and they will be turned into joy and blessing for you for every righteous desire of your heart will yet be realized.  The Lord will eventually make up to you every blessing promised to you in the temple.  You will not lose any of them.  You can be sure of family life and exaltation eternally.  Nothing is impossible to the Lord.  Through the continued love, effort and prayers of yourself and children, the Lord will work upon your husband to where he will yet come to love the Gospel and give faithful service in it.

Then God promised:

I seal this blessing upon you Sister Rasmussen, and seal you up that through your faithfulness you will come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, with your loved ones, thrilled at the part the Lord has given you in mortality in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

With regard to God’s promise concerning Dad; Mom had a second witness of its truthfulness when Cory brought Audrey to the Vernal Temple to receive her endowments.  It was an experience too sacred to express here but affirmed that her beloved husband is indeed hers forever.

With regard to the rest of us, who all fall short of the standard of righteousness that lets us send her off so assured of her exaltation, may I close with this affirmation of the Patriarch’s certain promise.  From Orson F. Whitney we read:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home the painful experience will not have been in vain.

I assure you that Mom kept her promises.  She will have us.  Her love will draw us to her and not one of us will be lost to her.  I don’t know about you, but I want to respond to those tentacles of Divine Providence, tentacles I feel here today.  I want to respond to them sooner, not later, so that upon my own arrival in the Spirit World, I will be one found rejoicing, not still treading a thorny path.

Mom is forever ours, and we are hers.  I promise, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

1 comment:

ledenzer said...

Myke...Evan asked me to tell you that his heart was full after he heard your comments at the funeral. He felt that you gave the most wonderful thoughts that he has heard in a long time. He asked me to thank you. His wife Holly also felt the same. I love you and my thoughts are with you and Cheya.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...