Sunday, March 22, 2015

Neil L. Andersen on the encircling arms of the Lord

Elder Neil L. Andersen (1951- ) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009 (the most recent member called).
"I have thought of the Lord's invitation to come unto Him and to spiritually be wrapped in His arms. He said, 'Behold, [my arms] of mercy [are] extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me' (3 Nephi 9:14).
"The scriptures speak of His arms being open (Mormon 6:17), extended (Alma 19:36), stretched out (2 Kings 17:36; Psalm 136:12), and encircling (2 Nephi 1:15). They are described as mighty (D&C 123:6) and holy (3 Nephi 20:35), arms of mercy (Alma 5:33), arms of safety (Alma 34:16), arms of love (D&C 6:20), 'lengthened out all the day long' (2 Nephi 28:32).
"We have each felt to some extent these spiritual arms around us. We have felt His forgiveness, His love and comfort. The Lord has said, 'I am he [who] comforteth you' (2 Nephi 8:12).
"The Lord's desire that we come unto Him and be wrapped in His arms is often an invitation to repent. 'Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you' (Alma 5:33)."
- Neil L. Andersen, "Repent... That I May Heal You," Ensign, November 2009, pp. 40-43
Click here to read the full talk
"Arms" are often used in scriptural imagery, frequently to denote power or strength, such as making the arm bare in order to fight or defend (see for example Isaiah 52:10). Another important aspect is the warning not to trust in our own abilities, in the arm of flesh (2 Ne 4:34) — instead, learning to trust in God to defend us.

Elder Andersen provides a wonderful summary of the scriptural descriptions of God's love for His children, as manifest in the examples of how His arms express the more tender emotions. How beautiful is the imagery of open, inviting arms, waiting to envelope in a protective embrace!

Elder Andersen believes that each of us has felt aspects of that divine spiritual love and comfort. It's good to remember those feelings! And to seek to experience them more constantly in our lives, through repentance, obedience, and faithfulness.

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