The Old Testament ends with the infamous scripture mastery verses from Malach 4:
“5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
The lesson asks us to ponder the “great and dreadful day” of Christ’s return to the Earth. This is a useful exercise and one I rarely engage in. I’m not a dooms-dayer or inclined to believe that we have crossed over from the latter-days to the last days. And yet, sometimes, when I become overwhelmed at the frequency of natural disasters, wars, unstable governments, cruelty and moral apathy, I do wonder if these are the last days? How much worse will it get?
Just before I’m about to slide down a rabbit hole of anxiety, dread and fear, I remind myself that this Earthly journey was designed and is overseen by a loving Godhead, and its purpose is for each of us to become as they are. “[A]ll these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).
So, the way I prepare for the future “great and dreadful day” is to be focused on the here and now. The past is what it is; the future is yet to be. I can only turn my heart and find peace in the present. My here and now is to bring more compassion, empathy and forgiveness to my family. This brings me to the last verse of the Old Testament, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
We know that Elijah as returned and entrusted the sealing powers to worthy members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Temple work is some of the most important work being done today. We must continue in this sacred mission.
This scripture has come to mean more to me. It prompts me to ask – what does it mean for me to turn my heart towards my father? If my relationship with my father was a social media status, it would be listed as complicated. We very different in many ways and similar in others. There’s a lot of tension and love in our relationship. He challenges and frustrates me. He is one of my master teachers.
Our relationship challenges me to remember my job isn’t to fix everything. My job is to show up and be the best possible version of myself. And when I’m not, to be compassionate with myself and make amends. To believe that he is trying to do the best he can, and when he falls short, disappoints or harms to walk the path of forgiveness. This is so hard!!! There are times I want to turn my heart away from him and there have been times in my life when I have. But I’m in a better place today and want to do the work of turning my heart towards him.
During this Christmas season, I’ve been reflecting on how the birth of our Savior is the ultimate promise of the Father’s forgiveness. A promise that He will turn His heart to His children, and that we are to turn our hearts to Him. This perspective gives me great courage, strength and compassion to be more loving and patient with my father. I choose to turn my heart toward him, for this is sacred work too.