As I was preparing for today's Sunday School lesson this weekend, I rediscovered a scripture that gave me lots to think about. It's in D&C 109:50-53. Referring to the people who persecuted and drove the Saints out of their homes, Joseph Smith prayed:
Have mercy, O Lord ... that they may cease to spoil, that they may repent of their sins if repentance is to be found; But if they will not, make bare thine arm, O Lord, and redeem that which thou didst appoint a Zion unto thy people. And if it cannot be otherwise, ... may thine anger be kindled, and thine indignation fall upon them, that they may be wasted away, both root and branch, from under heaven; But inasmuch as they will repent, thou art gracious and merciful, and wilt turn away thy wrath when thou lookest upon the face of thine Anointed [Jesus Christ].
Here is what struck me about these verses - the word anger comes from Old Norse angr, meaning "grief", and angra, meaning "vex". It would not surprise me one bit if our Father, as a loving parent, sees our unwise (and sometimes downright wicked) choices and feels anger - not in the modern sense of the word, but rather in the sense of intense grief. That makes the next section of the scripture even more touching - when in His grief or anger, He turns to look upon the face of His Only Begotten Son, who has atoned for the sins of the world, including the very sins that made our Father grieved, the Father's feelings of grief are replaced with grace and mercy. The atoning blood of Jesus and the love that motivated it make possible the repentance (re-turning toward God) of each of God's children. And when we re-turn to Him, He can freely forgive us because of that atonement.
Speaking of repentance, here is a quote that I absolutely LOVE by Elder Weatherford T Clayton:
As we act on His words, we are doing something called repenting. In the New Testament, repentance comes from the word metanoeó, from the words metá and noeó, meaning "to change one's mind or purpose." Isn't that interesting? Every time we turn more to Christ, we are repenting - we are following Him. When we sincerely pray to the Father, in a very real sense we are repenting. When we read the scriptures and ponder them, we are repenting. As we make changes because of what we are learning about Christ and His gospel, we are repenting. When we do things that make us better, kinder, gentler, more sensitive, more spiritual, more virtuous, and truer, we are repenting. Whenever we choose the better path, we are repenting. Though we all repent of things that are sinful in our lives, most of our repenting comes from hearing His words and doing them - from turning to Him.
Isn't that cool? It is so much easier for me to relate to than the steps of repentance that I learned as a child (recognize, regret, confess, forsake, make restitution, etc. - they aren't wrong, but they are perhaps incomplete, because they assume that repenting only has to do with sin). Read the rest of Elder Clayton's talk here (it's a BYU devotional, totally worth your time).
And those are my thoughts for tonight. Happy Sabbath!