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Christmas is nearly upon us. We celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, a glorious mission to fulfill. He taught us, he redeemed us, he saved us. Simultaneously another great event was happening, but it’s much less well remembered: God sacrificed his firstborn Son as he sent his only begotten to rescue the rest of us. He knew in crisp detail every ounce of pain and suffering his Son would feel, but both of them willingly submitted. What unfathomable love!

I was pondering the tender feelings that our Father and Mother in Heaven may have felt that night. Knowing all, they still sacrificed their Lamb in our behalf. Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said this about what God must have felt in allowing his Son to go through such agony, “In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles. … His great heart almost breaking for the love that He had for His Son. Oh, in that moment when He might have saved His Son, I thank Him and praise Him that He did not fail us. … I rejoice that He did not interfere, and that His love for us made it possible for Him to endure to look upon the sufferings of His [Only Begotten] and give Him finally to us, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Without Him, without His sacrifice, … we would never have come glorified into His presence… This is what it cost, in part, for our Father in heaven to give the gift of His Son unto men” (Crusader for Righteousness [1966], 137).

In the book of Genesis we read of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac, a similitude of God sacrificing Jesus. Surely nothing could have been more wrenching, more agonizing for Abraham, but he obeyed and obeyed swiftly. Abraham glimpsed a bit of what God went through, didn’t he? And he learned how great a man he actually was, by following God’s request explicitly.

Each of us needs to be “all in,” willing to submit to whatsoever God tells us to do. It can be the biggest challenge of our lives, and require the strongest faith we have ever exerted. But the blessings will be immeasurable. We simply have to proceed and believe that God will help us through mortality, all the way home again.

When we pray, “Dear Heavenly Father,” many of us know that title from our childhoods. We picture Him in heaven, right? But that adjective means more than a location. It actually describes him. I think of how often I’ve read a recipe for a heavenly dessert, or seen an ad for a heavenly perfume. People even come back from a vacation spot they describe as heavenly. We imagine it as the absolute best, the most wonderful experience beyond our imaginations. Perfection, really.

So when we say, “Heavenly Father,” let’s pause and realize what we are saying. He is heavenly. He loves us more than we can conceive, so much so that He sent Christ the Lord to be crucified, to ransom us. He created this dazzling world just for us. And He has a phenomenal eternal plan that can bring us all home again. He is truly heavenly. Imagine returning home to such a complete wholeness of love? It will be, well, heavenly.

Hilton’s LDS novel, Golden, makes a great Christmas gift. It’s available in paperback and on Kindle. All her books and YouTubeMom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Interfaith Specialist for Public Affairs.