I have been at a conference in Milwaukee all week (for work). This conference has a focus on education, and therefore offers classes, workshops, seminars, and hands-on activities in order to educate and inform all conference attendees catered to the particular industry in which I work. Throughout each day, there are a wide range of topics and several options for classes that are offered in simultaneous timeslots, which means that the conference attendees can choose 1 of 8 classes for each time slot that classes are offered. Towards the end of the week – today in fact – I was on the schedule to deliver a presentation. In this presentation, I was to speak for an entire hour regarding how the use of technology could be helpful in the management of PSM. To most of you, this seems like the most boring topic ever (or completely irrelevant to life in general), and you’re probably right. As I have chronicled on this blog before (here), my company offers a software product to help in an area where most people want to ignore, which means that not very many people want help at all, let alone look for it. So, imagine with me my ever-growing unease with this prospect of giving an hour-long presentation to 80 empty chairs.
As time went on, and this assignment weighed in my mind, I became ever more pessimistic and anxious about it. Four months ago, I envisioned the room packed full of people (standing room only) chomping at the bit to devour our product with eager haste and begging me to continue despite the time restrictions leaving all other classrooms and speakers with emptiness. One month ago, I envisioned the room mostly full of attendees taking notes and at least nodding their heads with interest. Two weeks ago, I envisioned around 40 people there, but then as this week started, I started to reduce my hopes that maybe 10 people would be present. Until finally, as I spoke with my wonderful wife last night and early this morning, I wondered if even a single person would attend my presentation. With this dreadful thought in my mind at 2:50 PM, I started the 5-minute walk from our booth (we are also an exhibitor at this conference) to room 103C, and during that time I gave myself the following pep talk. “Tyson, it is probable that not a single person will be in that room where you are scheduled to speak for an hour, and that’s ok. If that is the case and that room is completely empty, those chairs are going to learn how technology and a centralized system can help their management of PSM.” I steadied myself and rounded the corner to where there was a sign with my speaking topic, our company logo, and I braced myself for the worst….and then I saw people.
People were there waiting! People were in their seats before I even got there. People had read the conference agenda, perused the available topics, and they had (of their own free will and choice) selected my presentation to attend. How could this be? I was immediately satisfied. What’s more, the 3 individuals that I had personally invited to my presentation were all present – satisfied again. Then, as I set up for my presentation, I watched with further satisfaction, as additional people trickled in and sat down. In the end (as I started my presentation) I estimated that there were between 25 and 30 people who gave their attention to me.1 With this boost in my self confidence and this feeling of satisfaction, I was strengthened and went on to deliver the most amazing PSM related technology presentation that the 3:00 PM time slot of the 2015 RETA conference will ever see.
Which, interestingly enough, brings me to a scripture passage that I have read several times and have recently been thinking about – related to satisfaction. It is part of Abinidi’s message to king Noah and his wicked priests. For a quick background,2 the people had captured and imprisoned Abinidi for preaching against them and their leadership and in a deliberate attempt “to cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him” he was brought before king Noah and his priests where they began to question him. As Abinidi withstood all of their words, and continued his detailed outlining of their wickedness in a frank and matter-of-fact way, the bad guys got angrier. This led to them attempting to “lay their hands on him” and take him away, but he wasn’t finished with his message. He “said unto them: Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver.” Then, Abinidi’s “face shone with exceeding luster”, and “he spake with power and authority from God.” It is during this powerful and authoritative luster faced message that I quote Abinidi:
“When his soul has been made an offering for sin [speaking of Christ’s suffering during the grueling and agonizing atonement hours] he shall see his seed.”3 “He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”4
I don’t have a good personal example to relate to that concept, but the closest thing I can relate is a mother experiencing intense labor that gets to hear her precious newborn baby cry for the very first time. She is (and has been for several months) in the midst of a grueling and agonizing life creating pregnancy and painful delivery, which can absolutely be termed a “travail”, and all at once – in an instant even – is satisfied when that crying baby is placed in her arms and is therefore willing and able to continue on with the labor process, and indeed discount the months of pain as a satisfactory tradeoff for joy. I have seen the pain and anguish of difficult labor displaced immediately by tears of joy on my wife’s face (more than once). I can’t understand how it feels – yet somehow I can understand why it feels.
With that tender concept of satisfaction during our Lord’s anguishing travail in mind, I would like to add to our understanding of the passage delivered by Abinidi (and Isaiah) in his moments of shining glory with a verse recorded by Luke (referencing the exact same tender, crucial, amazing, grueling moment of travail). It is found in Luke 22:43 which reads “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”
Could it be that this angel which appeared to the savior in the garden during his most pressing and agonizing hours – to strengthen him – somehow made it possible for the Lord to “see his seed” and “see the travail of his soul”, and therefore “be satisfied”? Could it be that the strengthening agent that the Lord needed during his intense suffering was to hear the crying voice of a newborn baby like you and me? Could it be that all in an instant, that anguish and hurt brought upon him by the pain and weight of the world (a necessary part of the life giving process) was immediately swept away by the visual image of his children that he loved so much? I think so. I think that gave him strength, just like it gave my wife strength, and just like it gives so many others strength. That is the power of families, and that is the power of relationships, and that is the power of love and that is the power of life. That idea could also be strengthened by the scriptural phrases of “perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16)
Now, I am not one to compare a lowly trade show presentation to the precious hours of the atonement, or even the childbearing process which both give life to the world, yet I did feel satisfaction in seeing a few bodies in the chairs that was equal to my anxiety – and therefore satisfied my heart. Imagine then, the amount of joy and love that our savior feels with each of us – if the sound of our voice or the image of our faces in his mind allowed him to be satisfied in the most grueling moment imaginable during those garden hours. Satisfaction equal to his anxiety, or as Alma put it “nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were [his] pains… that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was [his] joy.”5
The Savior loves us deeply, more deeply than we can understand. Let us all try and feel that love by allowing his sacrifice to be felt more deeply in our hearts.
1 For reference, I have presented a similar topic at a similar (much larger) conference once before (by invitation even) and the number of attendees was in the single digits (like 6 or 7), which no doubt led to my trepidation, but that’s just a side note for context.
2 This background can be read in Mosiah chapters 12 and 13
3 Mosiah 15:10 (please note this is the reference from footnote b in Mosiah 14:10, where Abinidi is quoting Isaiah. These verses are nearly identical. Also, please note that Abinidi also asks and answers the question: who is ‘his seed’? in the natural flow of this same amazing discourse (see Mosiah 15:10-13). See also Mosiah 5:7.
4 Mosiah 14:11
5 Alma 36:21