Friday, October 3, 2014

The Good Stuff -- October 2014 General Conference



This weekend is the semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This conference holds a special place in my heart, and I am more than excited that starting tomorrow, I will get to hear the living Prophet speak to me. 

In my Living Prophets class at Brigham Young University my professor asked us when General Conference really became real for each of us. Most of the answers given in class described mission experiences that made General Conference all the more real. As I was pondering my professor's question, one particular address given in such a conference came to my mind. 

In April 2009, Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave an address entitled, "None Were with Him". In April 2009, I was just finishing my sophomore year at high school. And I remember sitting down and watching that General Conference with my family. I remember making a commitment to myself to be more focused on conference that April, and my timing could not have been better. 

Elder Holland's address, "None Were with Him" describes Christ's journey alone to complete the Atonement for each of us. Elder Holland said, 

"Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour … is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” and “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”? 17
With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.
But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us."
This message, though only a portion of the full address given, changed my life. General Conference became real for me when I heard this talk and allowed the Holy Spirit to enter my heart. This was the moment where I knew, without a doubt, that I am a loved daughter of God and that no life circumstance or disappointment could ever take away that divine heritage. Christ suffered alone for us so that we never ever have to be alone. 
I love General Conference and I feel so blessed to have living apostles and prophets that speak to us today, just as they did in times of old. I invite you to listen to General Conference this weekend, and really hear the messages that are meant for you. 
Our loving Heavenly Father will never leave us alone. He loves us, He speaks to us, and He is always there for us, no matter how far we may have strayed from Him. His arms are open for us always. 
Take the time to hear or watch General Conference this weekend, and I promise it will change your life, just like it changed mine on that fateful day in April 2009. 
(Elder Holland's full address, "None Were with Him" can be found here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2009/04/none-were-with-him?lang=eng)
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