Francisco de Zurbarán's Agnus Dei - a still life of a trussed up lamb

My little baby just got out of the hospital. She’s fine now, no need for sympathy, I mention it because I learned something from the experience.

She had RSV. She was wracked with coughs. She could barely breathe. She kept asking me with her eyes to fix the problem, but I couldn’t. We had her hooked up to oxygen, kept her comfortable, gave her mild painkillers and fever reducers, but once that was done we were helpless. She was helpless, but so were we.  We held her while her chest heaved, while she cried, and in holding her we had exhausted our powers. I told my wife that when I was a kid I felt helpless and looked forward to growing up. But adulthood, I said, just seemed like a wider sphere of helplessness.

While we were in the hospital our new bishop dropped by. Afterwards I walked him to the elevator and brought him up to speed on an ongoing alcoholism problem in one of my hometeaching families. I said I had no idea what to do about it unless the Spirit happened to advise something. He said ditto.

I forgot about the conversation until Sunday. Our new Stake President saw me in the hall at Church and asked how the baby was. Better, I said. We chatted for a bit and I told him what I told my wife, about adulthood being just a wider sphere of helplessness. He nodded. Imagine what it’s like to be the Stake President, he said.

We all have free will. God knows us better than we know ourselves, so no doubt he has a plan for each of us that suits us as well as it possibly can. But plans can only go so far. We still have to choose to go along with the plans; a point is reached where God can’t do anything more. His helplessness extends to the entire human race. He has each of us in his arms, each of us barely able to breathe spiritually, crying in pain, and there is nothing He can do. He is as helpless as only a father can be.

Abinadi has a teaching about the oneness of God that is difficult to parse:


I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.

2 And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—

3 The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—

4 And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.

-Mosiah 15:1-4.

I am not pretending to parse it here. I am saying, though, that in the hospital with my baby I discovered one of the inherent and fundamental ties between the Father and the Son. Christ had a mortal experience where he was initially as helpless as a baby, and was at the end as helpless as a lamb trussed for killing. That experience at first seems like a far cry from the might and power of the Everlasting Father. But it isn’t. The experience of helplessness is one of the fundamental things. It is divine.


“And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness.”  Ether 12:27.


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