Saturday, December 11, 2010

Joyful and Triumphant!

This morning I sat in the freshly decorated living room to read my scriptures and do some journaling.  As I enjoyed the symbols of the season my eye settled on a Jim Shore recreation of Joseph and Mary's journey to Jerusalem.  How arduous that effort must have been.  I imagined that Satan must have danced alongside the entire trip, celebrating his latest coup.  How clever to have enticed Caesar Augustus to call for a tax at this critical moment in history.  What genius he must have congratulated himself for at having orchestrated this dusty, arduous mass migration of all of Israel to their cities of origin.  The streets and lanes must have been clogged with travelers.  Satan must have been giddy with anticipation that he'd assisted Joseph and Mary in arriving late enough that the Inn was filled to capacity.  What carnal delight he must have felt to have caused the Son of God to be born in a disgusting stable.

Then I began to think, what if.....    What if Jesus had been born in Nazareth in the comfort of his parent's home?  Or what if he'd been born in the crowded Inn surrounded by clamor and unwanted attention?  What if he'd been born in a palace?

Surely Satan, in his self centered, egotistical way, imagined that the Son of God would want to be born in lavish, royal conditions.  So how could he imagine that he was fulfilling prophecy, magnifying the purposes of the Lord and assisting in the very thing he hoped to thwart.  How he must have gnashed his teeth when he discovered that he had fully played into the Father's hand.  He did the same thing in Eden and he does it still today.

Look through the scriptures and you will discover that the lessons and experiences of each story were made meaningful by the opposition eagerly provided by a voracious opponent, Lucifer.  Laban's refusal to surrender the Brass Plates, Nephi's broken bow, Limhi's captivity, Alma's rebellion, Pharaoh's refusal to release his Israelite slaves, the Mormon's being driven from Missouri and then Nauvoo; example after example of the role of opposition in the growth, development and eventual deliverance of God's children.

Never once, in recorded history, has the journey to the Promised Land been an easy one.  Israel's journey took 40 years and the loss of an entire generation.  The Jaredites' journey was similarly long and arduous, fraught with peril, labor and seemingly unsurmountable obstacles.  Consider Lehi's journey with his family; or that of the Mormon Pioneers, or the Willie and Martin handcart companies.  Satan was there taunting them with obstacles and opposition every step of the way.  We admire all of these because in the end, they overcame the opposition and in the strength of the Lord emerged strong and victorious.  Push-ups would be of no value at all were there nothing to push against.

I look back on my own journey, one strewn with obstacles and afflictions like addiction, depression, and manipulation, not to mention the flooded basement and other disasters too numerous to mention.  In a poignant way, my morning musing taught me that those too, are the source of growth and meaning in my life.  So often all I could hear were the peals of Satan's laughter at my set backs and sorrows.  But today looking back from a perspective of redemption through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Satan's taunts are silenced by an overwhelming emotion I can only call joyful and triumphant!  Merry Christmas!

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