His Loving Arms
Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional
August 31, 2004
Last fall I witnessed an incident that made a vivid impression on me. Visualize in your mind a warm, sunny, autumn afternoon in Rexburg, Idaho. I had parked my van in the parking area and was walking toward the front door of the downtown post office to mail some packages inside. On the sidewalk in front of me, I noticed a grandmother with her small grandson in tow making their way toward the open door of the building. I remember thinking to myself how fun it must have been for that grandmother to run errands with her little grandson, when suddenly the little boy released his grasp from his grandmother’s hand and sprinted impulsively toward what he thought was the open door of the post office. His grandmother could see the inevitable, but her warning cry was not heard nor heeded. What the small child thought was an open door was actually a solid glass window panel adjacent to the door. This poor little boy smashed head-on into the glass panel. Stunned, he turned around to frantically search for his grandmother. Maybe it was the way this woman instinctively scooped up her crying and hurt grandson and clutched him tight in her arms that impressed me so. Or, perhaps, it was the way she lovingly consoled him and tenderly wiped the blood from his nose and face. Anyway, I was touched as I saw the Savior’s loving arms personified in the arms of that grandmother.
What comes to your mind when you consider the word arms?
I think of devotional when you students use your arms to hold up your scriptures every Tuesday. By the way, it really is an amazing sight to view from my vantage point here on the stand.
Those of you who have been watching the summer Olympics have seen the muscle definition and strength in the powerful arms of male gymnasts as they have made iron crosses while gripping suspended rings high above the floor.
I can’t help but think of the arms of young men on our campus. So many times you have extended a steady arm to assist me across an icy parking lot in the dead of winter.
Fond memories of our precious little granddaughters being held in the faithful arms of their daddies, grandfathers, and other priesthood holders while they are given a name and a blessing paint a beautiful picture in my mind.
I see thousands of loyal arms being raised to the square during general conference as we sustain President Gordon B. Hinckley as our prophet, seer, and revelator. What a sacred opportunity to pledge our willingness to support him and to obey his counsel.
How many of you have recently returned home from a mission? Can you ever forget the feelings you experienced as loved ones threw their caring arms around you to welcome you home?
If we open our scriptures to page 16 in the topical guide, we will discover many scriptural references to the word arm and will notice that the Lord’s arm is a mighty symbol for His judgment (2 Nephi 8:5), protection (Isaiah 33:2), power (Doctrine and Covenants 16:2), and redemption (Psalms 77:15).
Reference is also made to His mighty arm, holy arm, His arm of safety, arm of mercy, and the arms of His love.
As I have read and examined these and other relevant scriptures more carefully, various mental images of the Savior’s arms have come to mind.
Envision for a moment with me the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob pleading with his people:
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts. (Jacob 6:5)
Can you hear the anguished cries of Mormon after he witnesses the terror and destruction of his Nephite nation:
“O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! (Mormon 6:17)
Maybe you will be as touched as I was by the words of Nephi as he writes the things of his soul:
O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. (2 Nephi 4:34)
Listen to the stern admonition given by the Lord to Joseph Smith after the 116 pages of manuscript translated from the first part of the Book of Mormon were lost by Martin Harris:
. . . you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble. (Doctrine and Covenants 3:8)
I love the biblical reference in Mark, chapter 10, verse 16, where Jesus blesses the little children:
And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:16)
Imagine what it must have been like and how it must have felt had we all been children then? I know we would have experienced Jesus’ love.
Though we can picture this tender scene in our minds, we don’t have to be a little child to feel the Savior’s loving arms around us. I know the declaration the Lord made to Oliver Cowdery, which is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, is true for each of us today:
. . . Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20)
I’ve felt the arms of my Savior’s love encircled about me at times in my life. That little boy at the post office felt the love of the Savior through the gentle, yet secure arms of his grandmother. I hope you students will feel the arms of the Savior’s love while you are here at BYU–Idaho.
My prayer for you as you start a new semester can best be offered in the words of a hymn:
Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
We are weak but thou art strong;
In thy infinite compassion,
Stay the tide of sin and wrong.
Keep thy loving arms around us;
Keep us in the narrow way.
Precious Savior, dear Redeemer,
Let us never from thee stray.
(Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer, Hymns of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, No. 103)
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.