By Elder George R. Donaldson, Great Britain
President Henry B. Eyring said “We are under covenant both to lift up those in need and to be witnesses of the Saviour as long as we live.[i]
As we keep sacred the covenants that we have made, we will draw closer to God. Our desires shall align with His. Our prayers will be given to us by the power of the Holy Ghost. We will know who, when and how to invite our loved ones to return.
“And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also… [ii]
Naturally, during the Christmas celebrations our thoughts turn to those who have wandered onto forbidden paths or those who have estranged themselves from the warmth of family and God. We wonder what more we can do to bring them back. It is my experience and testimony that as we rely upon the healing power and encircling love of Jesus, we shall bring them home.
“You remember the Lord’s promise to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon when they were away from their families: “My friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.”[iii]
Alma and the Saints of his day prayed for his son and the sons of King Mosiah. An angel spoke to them in their rebellion “Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.”
President Eyring reflected “There is a gravestone near my home of a mother and grandmother. She and her husband were sealed in the temple of God to each other and to their posterity for time and all eternity. The inscription on the gravestone reads, “Please, no empty chairs.” She asked for that inscription because she knew that whether the family will be together depends on the choices each family member makes.”[iv]
“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.[v]
May God bless you always in all your righteous endeavors. May He quicken your understanding, increase your wisdom, enlighten you by experience, bestow upon you patience, and charity… May He give you entrance to the hearts of those you (love) and then make you know that as you enter there you stand in holy places… May He enrich your knowledge with the skill and power to teach righteousness. May your faith and your testimonies increase, and your ability to encourage and foster them in others grow greater every day… I pray that this Christmas may bring healing and sincere Eternal reunion, all this in the name of Him who died that we might live, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ.[vi]
[i] General Conference April 2013
[ii] (D/C 84:88)
[iii] (D/C 100:1)
[iv] General Conference Oct 2009
[v] Conference Report April 1929, 110.
[vi] J Reuben Clarke. Brigham Young University Summer school .Aspen Grove, Utah, 8 August 1938