When Jesus came to the Nephites, He taught them to be meek and He taught them about heaven. And all this teaching and loving and smiling took a long time. But no one noticed. No one noticed as the sun moved from the horizon to directly over their heads. No one noticed as the clouds came and went. No one noticed as the sun lowered and lowered and lowered and the fireflies came out. The day was almost over and nobody had noticed. They had missed breakfast and lunch and now dinner was rapidly approaching.
And nobody had noticed except for Jesus. Jesus knew the people would be hungry and tired and would need rest and so he smiled and waved and said “Goodbye, friends. I will see you all tomorrow.” But as He looked around, nobody else was smiling. Everybody was looking up at Him. And their eyes were big and wet and their mouths were frowning. You see, it doesn’t matter how dark it becomes, or if the fireflies are shining or not, or if your belly is full or empty. When Jesus is around, the whole world seems full of sunshine. And so the people did not want Jesus to go. Not yet.
They did not want to be left alone in the night with the fireflies and their grumbling bellies. And Jesus did not want them to feel sad or alone and so he said, “You are made to have joy! And if me staying a little longer will bring you joy, then that’s what I’ll do.” And Jesus reached out His arms, and He called out to everybody who was hurt, everyone whose body was sick, or whose mind was sick, everyone whose bones or bodies or spirits or hearts were broken, everyone who had hurt elbows or hurt feelings, and He invited them all to come sit by Him. Which is to say, Jesus invited everyone. And they came, and Jesus healed them.
And so it’s like I told you. Even though the world can be full through with night time and darkness and sickness and hurt, wherever Jesus is, there is sunshine. And He chased the darkness right out of the sky and right out of the people’s hearts. It leaked from them like tears. And the people fell on the ground and they washed Jesus’s feet with their tears because they had known darkness and suffering, and because Jesus had brought them light. And the day seemed to stretch like a rubber band to give the people more time with Jesus.
And Jesus lifted them up and wiped away their tears, and He smiled again and did something very special. He asked the children to come and to see His holy hands and His holy feet. And so all the children came. And they all stood with Jesus. They sat on his lap. They climbed on His back. He held them and hugged them and kissed them.
But then Jesus became sad. Looking at all the pure, wonderful, and innocent children. And then looking behind the children at their parents. They had been children too once. But then they had suffered. And Jesus knew how much they had suffered because He had just healed them. And behind the parents was a whole world waiting for the children. And in the world was badness, and wickedness, and accidents, and bushes with thorns, and snakes, and pointy door knobs, and untied shoes, and glass shards, and tin can lids, and so many other things that are sharp and pointy and hurtful. And Jesus knew that these beautiful, beaming, perfect children would suffer. And Jesus knew just how much they would suffer. And it made Him groan and cry because of the wickedness that was in the world.
And so He reached out His hands and He blessed the children. He blessed them to overcome sorrows. He blessed them to love goodness. He blessed them to be good and strong and brave. And while He was blessing them, angels came down and they flew all around the children in a big circle of light and angles and fire.
He said, “You are very good, and you are happy. And I am glad that you are happy. But you will not always be happy. Because there is darkness in the world. There is a thing called evil. It is everywhere. It is even inside you. You will know this someday. You will feel it. And it will bring you suffering. It will make your life feel dark and broken and painful. And I am so very sorry that you will suffer. But do not be afraid, because I have felt your suffering. And because while there is evil there is also good. So much good. And when you feel overwhelmed by evil, tell me, and I will bring you sunshine.”
But that was not all Jesus did. He didn’t just want to bless the children once. He wanted to bless the children over and over and over again. And so He broke bread and water and gave everyone the sacrament. And they were very hungry and the bread and water tasted so very good and it filled their bellies and it filled their souls. And Jesus taught them about prayer and about baptism and about the spirit and about sacrament.
And He said, “If you feel lonely, pray and come to church and take the sacrament, and you will feel my hands breaking the bread and blessing the water. And you will feel my hands on your head again, blessing you. And you will be surrounded by light and angels and fire. And the fire is the spirit. And it will fill you up, give you strength, heal your wounds, and make you whole.”
And Jesus loved the children. And He knew some of them would suffer and would grow bitter. And they would turn from Him and from the sacrament and from prayer and from the spirit. And they would stop letting Him bless them. And they would say, “God, you do not make any sense. The world is cruel and you made the world. And so you are not good. If you are real, you must be cruel too.” Jesus knew this. And so He hugged and blessed each of the children one last time. And He said, “I love you” and kissed them on their cheek.
And the children knew He loved them. And as they grew and were hurt and bruised and broken. As they began to feel bitter or angry or mad at God. When the world did not make sense, they remembered the soft, wet touch of Jesus’s lips. And they put their hands on their cheeks and remembered that Jesus was suffering too. And if they were standing before Him, and complaining about their sorrows, showing their wounds, or just telling Him that they’re mad at Him because of their suffering. He would answer with a nod and a hug and a kiss. And that would be enough.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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