Just like many of my fellow baby-boomers in their early 60s, I have found that one of my greatest joys in life now comes from my relationship with my grandchildren. My wife and I dote on them at every opportunity, and we try to spoil them as often as possible.
By the time my oldest granddaughter was 4 she had developed a keen interest in horses, and she had put together a modest collection of the toy variety. A call from my daughter alerted me to the need of a barn for her livestock. I quickly rose to the challenge and began designing a structure fit for the occasion. It would come complete with loft, stalls, sliding doors and windows, and fencing sections for a sizable corral area. The time spent completing the project was filled with thoughts of the hours of enjoyment Emilia would have playing with her new toy.
Upon completion, my oldest son came to the shop to inspect my handiwork. His inspection was insightful: “How long will it be before she receives her first sliver?”
My thoughts quickly turned to tiny, tender hands that would bear the risk of shock and pain if my work was faulty. Every extra effort was employed to prevent that. Surfaces, corners and edges were all re-sanded and inspected for possible flaws. One final test remained that would provide the assurance that I would not be the source of pain for my granddaughter. Bracing for the jab, I rubbed my fingers along each of the edges hoping to find any remaining flaw. The task completed, sliver free, I was relieved from the concern of possibly causing pain to a person so important to me.
Later that day, I pondered and considere similarities with my relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. With perfect love as His motivation, He has done everything to enable me to overcome my weaknesses. He willingly bore all the pain associated with my actions. Like many of you, on regular occasions I present my life to Him for inspection. Some of those inspections don’t go as well as they should. All too often during the day, actions on my part raise rough edges in my life that caused Him pain. A word spoken in anger or frustration, an act of kindness left undone, other actions offensive to the Spirit, all raise slivers of pain He chose to endure because of His love for me. Like the barn, as I “sand” the rough edges of my life with sincere repentance, I can present myself to my Savior more worthy of his loving embrace.
Emilia just turned 11 a few weeks ago. Her interest in horses has waned. The barn occupies a prominent place in her room, but its usefulness is now in question. Though still a cherished gift, soon it will be put away and forgotten until needed by another generation.
Unlike the barn, the atonement of Jesus Christ is eternal and will never lose its usefulness.
I hope that you and I will always have the desire to utilize His gift in our lives. As we do so, we will find peace and joy as we stand worthy of His inspection.
James Lewis is president of the Walla Walla Fourth Branch of the Walla Walla Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.