Friday, January 16, 2009

The Ministry of Angels

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

The Ministry of Angels, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Some time ago, I needed to discipline David because of something he was doing. Instead of issuing punishment or pain, I had the distinct impression that I should ask him a question. "David," I said, "would you like a spank, or a hug?"

Not surprisingly, he chose a hug.

This interaction taught me, and him, that love can be a better teacher than force. Perhaps through this method the training aspect of discipline will remain (discipline comes from the same root as disciple, after all). Now when our children do something they know is wrong, they often show near-immediate penitence and request a hug. It turns out that it's hard to get or stay upset at a small child who asks for a hug with tears in their eyes.

What does this have to do with the ministry of angels? Elder Holland shared an experience of a Brother Clyn D. Barrus, who, as a seven-year-old, had an interesting experience where he had placed himself in harms way, knew he had done wrong, prayed fervently, and received help from an angel: his father. I won't repeat the story, but a question came to mind: How do I respond when my children make mistakes and need help and love? When they need a hug?

Perhaps the answer lies in how I would like to be received when I am in the same situation. Elder Holland taught:

On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.

When I make mistakes, the thing I want more than anything is forgiveness, and a big hug. I'm grateful for the comfort that comes from the Holy Ghost, from unseen angels, and from seen angels who walk among us, giving hugs when in need. Speaking of angels, I'm grateful for my personal angels: my dear wife, my tender children, and, of course, my always-loving mother.

I hope that I can remember to respond in love, to lift those who are down, and to give hugs freely. I love Elder Holland's concluding charge:

May we all try to be a little more angelic ourselves—with a kind word, a strong arm, a declaration of faith and “the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted" [see D&C 90:24]. Perhaps then we can be emissaries sent from God.

1 thought:

Barry said...

I don't know how you crank these things out so quickly, but I really enjoyed this one from Elder Holland. Earlier this week Elder Holland sent an email to my father-in-law (They served in Chile together a few years ago) and it was filled with a love that can only be described as angelic. It's so fun when I get private glimpses into the lives of the general authorities and receive a witness that the messages they give in general conference are a reflection of their own lives.