Perfect positioning and our divine assignments
One of our favorite parts of getting ready for Christmas is setting up our nativity. My three children all look forward to it, and they eagerly extend their hands to help. In fact, there are always specific pleas for certain statues … and when they finally grasp them, they take time and great care in perfectly positioning each one.
Lately, I’ve been pondering about our positioning. I know that we too are perfectly positioned. We are not placed hap hazardously or by coincidence. During our time on earth, we have specific things to learn, things to accomplish and people to love, serve and teach. Therefore, an all-knowing and always-loving Heavenly Hand perfectly and purposefully positions us – in every single thing. Even in being where you are today, doing what you are doing … even now. There is a purpose.
We, like each figure in the nativity, have defined and divine duties given to us by Heavenly Father. A prophetic document called, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, tells us that we each have a “divine nature and destiny.” It comforts me to know that many of the important people in the birth of our Savior did not anticipate their divine role, or recognize it instinctively. So, God gave them defining moments, filled with the Spirit, to lead and teach them about their purpose, path and positioning.
I believe that’s true with us as well … We may not fully understand His plan for us, but surely He has a plan – and as we seek Him, He will provide us with defining moments, filled with the Spirit, to teach and reveal our personalized path, plan and positioning.
Let us look to the story of Christ’s birth for three examples:
1. Sometimes our defining moments just happen … perhaps we’re doing our jobs, like the shepherds, and then life *snap* changes for us. For them, angels appeared and announced the greatest news ever given – the coming of the Savior of the World. The shepherds went straightway to see Him. And what they saw with their eyes, a babe lying in a manger, was forever changed by what they felt in their hearts. They knew that this was more than an infant – this was the Infinite Atoning Christ. Surely, they were never the same. Then, with their spirits touched and changed by His Spirit, they knew their divine role – to go and share the glorious news with all who would listen.
I relate to those shepherds. The experiences I have seen with my eyes and the holy words I have heard with my ears are divine and miraculous only because of what I have felt in my heart. I have felt the Holy Spirit testify to me that God’s hand is in these experiences and His love is found in those words. And surely, I pray, I will never be the same. With my spirit touched by His Spirit, I can understand more clearly my divine role – to go and share the good news, to build His kingdom on earth, and to prepare for when He comes again.
2. Other times, defining moments come in the form of crossroads – those difficult and defining decisions – the ones that tug at our head and hearts. Like, when Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant. At that point, he had a crucial and defining decision to make. He loved Mary and wanted to marry her, and yet she was already pregnant and not with his child, and the law was clear about the consequences for that. His head and his heart were conflicting. He had a decision to make. He was standing at the crossroads. And so, the Bible tells us that “Joseph thought.” He pondered about what to do. He thought about this decision until heavenly help gave further instructions … and that’s how he learned about his divine assignment, to be a father-figure in that Holy Family. Joseph teaches me that when we stand at the crossroads, facing defining decisions, we too can take time to ponder and look for further light and knowledge from heaven-sent sources. For often, in the pondering we find our perfect positioning and purpose.
3. Mary was also a ponderer – for the Bible says that “she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” On the defining day that taught her of her divine assignment, Mary was at first troubled to hear the angel call her “highly favored” and “blessed … among women.” She saw herself as simply an ordinary believer. (We know now that scriptures of old and the world today are filled with ordinary believers, who God trusts with His extraordinary work.) Sweet Mary couldn’t see how all that the angel asked of her could come to pass – and she couldn’t foresee all that this divine assignment would require – but she accepted her destiny with a simple, submissive and profound surrender: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.” Those six words pierce my soul every time. She chose to serve Him – to truly serve Him – however He deemed best. She trusted the angel’s words, that “With God, nothing is impossible.”
Years later, her Perfect Son would also utter a simple, submissive and powerful surrender – as He surrendered His very self in the very act that atoned for our sins. I don’t think it is coincidence that Christ, the ultimate servant leader, used words that echoed His mother’s faithful and courageous example: He said, “not my will, but thine, be done.” Oh, how much Mary and her Son teach us about approaching our defining moments, accepting our divine assignments, and giving up our will to fulfill God’s will.
Now, back to our modern day Christmas nativity – the one with fragile figures to remind us of the faithful figures on that First Noel. My children crowd around ready for the crowning moment. All the other statues are in their place … and then, when the bundle with baby Jesus is lifted in the air, I notice that we all hold our breath for a moment. Little fingers tenderly unwrap the swaddling tissue paper …. And there is a hush, a reverence and a peace as the Holy Infant is placed where it belongs – right in the center.
Our sacred opportunity is to keep Him there – right in the center – all year and every year.
“Centering our lives in Jesus Christ and His gospel will bring stability and happiness …” In fact, “…the joy we experience in this life will be in direct proportion to how well our lives are centered [on Him].”
– Elder Richard J. Maynes
We want Him in the center of our hearts, and our thoughts and our actions. This is not always easy to do – especially when we’re filled with busy blurry or deep worry or whatever form our stress and sorrow come in…. But as we choose Him – as we choose His ways, by listening to His words and following His commandments, He will steadfastly stay centered in our life and centered in our soul.
For it as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Christmas, like the kingdom of God, is within you.”
He is within us … at least, He can be. He wants to be. And He will be – as we choose Him, every day and every season of the year.