There's this famous family story, that my dad likes to tell. He used it for an illustration in an article he wrote from Elder S.T. Tolley's The Christian Baptist when I was a child. He and Benjamin, my youngest brother, were out in the yard one evening, and looking up we had over 50 pine trees in the lot, and you could see the tops of them waving and dancing in the wind, the way a pine will do. Daddy looked at Benjamin with the most serious deadpan expression and said, "You know the trees move to make the wind blow." Benjamin not too much older than Britt is now, immediately answered, "No, silly Daddy. The wind blows and makes the trees move." He used the picture, to help explain the following verse of scripture,
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. - John 3:8It is an example that always has stuck with me. It is a picture even a child can understand. We cannot cause someone to be born again by preaching to them, or fussing after them. We can't pray enough or work enough to get ourselves born again. We can't instruct our children or our neighbors enough to get them born again either.
Tonight driving home, it was quite dark in the car, and I handed Ruth a picture that one of the Cook girls had colored for her, that she had forgotten to get out of the car. When she asked if that was the same picture. I told her there wasn't any picture. She then insisted that "it is too a picture!" I replied, "But it's dark, I don't see a picture." She told me just because I couldn't see it didn't mean it was there. She told me to turn on the light and look. The exchange brought to mind the following verses,
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: - II Timothy 1:9-10You know, God saved us and called us, not because of our works (anything at all that we could or would do), but because of his grace. He did all of this in His mind, according to His purpose before the world began. This covenant, this agreement between God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit was made manifest or made plain to us when Christ came and died for us on the cross. His death put away death for us, there will be no eternal death, no separation from God in Hell for His children, for all that he died for. And all of these is brought to light by the gospel. Just as me turning on the light didn't make the picture appear. The gospel doesn't give life to God's Children, it only makes evident what was already there. The gospel is a light switch for God's children. It explains that unexplainable feeling we have. It sheds light on what that hope is, it tells us that we need not fear anymore because Christ paid it all. Ruth never doubted that there in the dark on the piece of paper she held there was a beautifully colored picture. Turning on the light didn't magically make it appear. But, when I turned on the light, and she could check and see that everything was just right on that paper, it was comforting to her. And the gospel is good news, it is comforting to us. Our Heavenly Father loved us so much as to take care of us, to right the wrong we couldn't, and then He didn't leave us in the dark about what He did but shared the good news with us - really, what could be more comforting than that?