An excerpt from The Peacegiver, published by Deseret Book.
Other than the TV in the next room, the house now stood in heavy silence-not accidental silence, but purposeful, scared, motivated silence.
Carol was somewhere upstairs-perhaps buried behind the clothes in their closet as Rick had sometimes found her. Wherever she was, she was surely feeling deeply sorry for herself. Always sorry for herself, Rick raged. Never sorry for others, just for herself. He clenched his teeth in anger, completely blind to the irony of his own self-pity.
It was Lauren, poking her head around the kitchen counter. Rick hadn’t heard her approaching.
“Daddy,” she said timidly, “will the hurties get better?”
“Hurties‘? What do you mean, honey?”
“Are Mommy’s hurties going to get better?”
“Mommy’s hurties‘?” Rick repeated lamely.
“Yes, on her heart. She showed me. Will she be all right, Daddy?”
Lauren’s halting words and worried eyes melted Rick. He felt the anger drain from him, and he sat down on the floor and took her into his arms.
“Sure, sweetie,” he said, stroking her tangled hair, “Mommy’s hurties will be fine.” His words were sure, but his heart wasn’t. He loved his children so much, but he was feeling lost once more.
Rick held Lauren for a good minute, stroking her hair all the while. “Mom’s pretty lucky to have a girl like you, isn’t she?” he said, finally.
Lauren nodded in a much more subdued way than was natural for her.
“Go play with Anika and your brothers now. Everything will be fine.”
Lauren obediently did as she was told, and Rick took his folded notes out of his pocket.
This didn’t help much, he thought to himself in disgust, as he reread the words he had written that morning.
1. We are each of us sinners, entitled to nothing but hell and therefore utterly and equally dependent upon the mercies of the Lord. (Jonah)
Okay, I understand that, he thought.
2. I can receive of the Lord’s mercy-and the happiness, healing, and peace that attend it-only to the extent I extend the same to others. (Jonah)
But it isn’t fair! What about mercy from Carol! But then he read the next point:
3. The Lord mercifully removes any justification for failing to extend mercy to others. (Abigail)
a. For the Lord has taken the sins of others upon his own head and personally atoned for them. (Abigail)
b. What possible justification could there be for demanding more for others’ sins than the Lord has given? (Abigail)
Rick closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the cupboard. “Forgive me this trespass.” That’s what the Lord is saying here. “Forgive me this trespass.” He remembered David’s rigid form as he stood over Abigail. He recalled seeing the tension leave David’s hands and face, and the calm serenity that replaced it. David had been pierced by Abigail and her offering. He was able to let it all go. Why can’t I? he cried within. And, referring to Carol, why can’t she?
But the Jonah story says that it isn’t about others at all, Rick battled within. Just like it wasn’t about Nabal, either. My peace is not determined by others-whether they be righteous or not-but by myself. Or rather, my peace is determined by whether I come to Christ myself. For when I come to him, he blesses me with his mercy, and basking in that mercy I find peace. Whether others come to Christ-Nineveh and Nabal, for example-will determine their peace but not mine.
But she makes it harder! He shot back at himself. It would be easier to come to Christ if she herself were better.
Would it? came a voice from within.
Is that what the Book of Mormon teaches-that people come to the Lord most when things are easiest?
Rick’s shoulders slumped. He had to concede-that’s not what the Book of Mormon teaches. The Nephites came most readily to Christ when things were hardest and their burdens were greatest.
But she still makes it harder, doesn’t she? Rick questioned, almost in pleading.
“It only seems that way because you find it easier to sin toward those who sin toward you. But it is your sin, not theirs, that is the source of your struggle. Carol cannot keep you from me. Only you can.”
This voice came from within, but it was not his own, nor was it his grandfather’s. It was a laser shot of light that came from somewhere else.
“Your love faileth. Mine never will. Come, cast off your sins and drink of my love.”
Rick sat stunned on the kitchen floor. It had been years since he had been addressed so directly by the Spirit, and he had almost forgotten what it felt like.
So if I find it difficult to come to the Lord, it is because of my own sins. Rick pondered on that truth, and he realized that that was what his grandfather had taught him. His children loved fully, despite the problems he and Carol were creating, because of their own purity from sin. And Christ, who suffered at the hands of every soul, nevertheless loves us perfectly, and this because he was perfectly free from sin himself.
Rick looked down at the notes he had written:
4. I can recover mercy by remembering (a) Abigail’s offering, (b) the Lord’s question to Jonah, and (c) my own sins, the memory of which brings me to the Lord and invites me to rediscover his mercy and peace.
My own sins .
. . he repeated to himself. What sins are keeping me from Carol and therefore from the Lord? Well, they all are, I suppose.
“Yes, they are, Ricky,” came a voice, “but do you understand how they are doing that?”
Grandpa Carson was sitting at the head of the kitchen table.
The Peacegiver is serialized every Friday on Meridian.
Copyright Deseret Book Company. Used with permission.