Crest the Lofty Heights…
It is hard to feel worthy, to feel like we could ever measure-up to return to heaven, to be like the good people, the saints, we know or admire from afar. Chances are that as inadequate as you and I believe ourselves to be, most of those we love and lookup to have or are experiencing similar doubts about their own worthiness or capability to crest the lofty heights of God’s kingdom and come into His comforting presence. The fact is that alone we are not worthy, not able to self-redeem and climb to the precipice of everlasting peace, but there is one who is able to lift us beyond our inadequate power.
I am writing this from a seat on an airline in significant turbulence. Just a few minutes ago we were on the Phoenix tarmac delayed a couple of hours due to a large dust storm. When the dust finally cleared sufficiently to be able to safely take to the air, the powerful engines of the aircraft roared into service and we rapidly ascended into the desert sky. As we lifted, the wings rocked back and forth in a way I have not previously experienced. With concern I reached over and cinched Monica’s seat belt, looking out the window at the darkening sky, and then suddenly feeling calm and gratitude, confidence in those powerful engines and superbly engineered wings to carry us safely upward and to our desired destination.
Even in concern for our own inadequacy, we can gratefully enjoy that calm confidence in the Savior’s power and perfect plan to restore us to some earlier purity, lifting us heavenward to our desired destination, and made clean in His blood. This has been the plan of happiness conceived in the beginning by a Father who loves us and desires our everlasting joy. For this purpose, for this love, He gave His Only Begotten Son for an infinite and all healing sacrifice.
The Prophet Isaiah foresaw the coming of the Lord and His selfless gift to we His brothers and sisters. “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… …He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. …and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,… …He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was He stricken. …Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin,… …for He shall bear their iniquities. …He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:4-8, 10-12).
The Lord’s gift, His intercession and grace, was beyond the mortal reach of the most saintly of saints, but by His power and for our sakes, we the lost sinners can be transformed into saints. Eternal rest and exaltation is made possible by His grace, for love’s sake. We are not without hope.
Former airline pilot and apostle of Jesus Christ, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught, “It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. …The joyous news of the gospel is this: because of the eternal plan of happiness provided by our loving Heavenly Father and through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, we can not only be redeemed from our fallen state and restored to purity, but we can also transcend mortal imagination and become heirs of eternal life and partakers of God’s indescribable glory” (General Conference, April 2016).
I stand in amazement, wonder and awe, profoundly grateful for the infinite gift of Jesus Christ, a willing sacrifice for sin, a healing ointment for wounds, and outreached hand of mercy. The Charles H. Gabriel hymn, “I Stand All Amazed,” so exquisitely conveys my own joy and deepest feeling for His grace and wondrous love.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me He was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.
I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That He should extend His great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.
I think of His hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at His feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!
Indeed I tremble to think of His all inclusive and infinite love, that for me, for you, He paid the debt and was crucified, “and with His stripes we are healed.” I rejoice in gratitude and testify with all my heart that there is hope for you and I. Our hope is in Christ. Even in darkening skies we can measure-up, for with Him we are redeemed. Let us be lifted by His divine power and matchless love that we might crest the lofty heights of God’s kingdom and come into His comforting rest, made pure and whole. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.