A few days ago I was listening to the General Conference talk by Elder Jonathan S. Schmitt who spoke about the many names of Jesus Christ.
Just as Jesus knows each of us by name, one way we can come to better know Jesus is by learning His many names. Like the names of Israel and Peter, many of Jesus’s names are titles that help us understand His mission, purpose, character, and attributes. As we come to know Jesus’s many names, we will come to better understand His divine mission and His selfless character. Knowing His many names also inspires us to become more like Him—to develop Christlike attributes that bring joy and purpose to our lives.
As I listened to this talk, my musical mind traveled back in time 20 years to my full-time missionary service in Brazil. It was there that I was first introduced to a recording of The Garden: An Allegorical Oratorio. With lyrics by Michael McLean and music by Bryce Neubert, it is beautiful and moving. There is no spoken word – the story is told completely through music. It's an allegory about Jesus Christ from the perspective of four objects in the Garden of Gethsemane, each with unique troubles:
- A seed that can't grow.
- A ram caught in a thicket.
- An olive tree that can't produce fruit.
- A millstone that has no feelings.
Each of them sings a song explaining their dire circumstances. And to make matters worse, there's a snake slithering around and quite happy about the sorry state of the garden.
Then a Gardener comes and brings hope. He tells the garden's beleaguered residents about someone who will come to help them. The song the Gardener sings is called The Man With Many Names. And it was this very song that began playing in my mind as Elder Schmitt spoke.
That evening I listened to the song for the first time in probably a decade or more, and it moved me just as much as it did the first time I heard it. I listened intently to the lyrics as I reflected on all of the beautiful talks and music about Jesus Christ I had heard during General Conference.
There is One who to this garden comes
Like a most unusual rain
Drink it in and never thirst again
Living Water is His name
There is One who comes to find each one
Who has lost his way again
He will lead the way back to the fold
The Good Shepherd is His name
There is One who when your crying's done
Gives the gift you've never known
He'll give fruit because He is the Vine
And life, for He's the Living Stone
He is known by oh so many names
And will be forever more
Hope comes from the One with many names
And He's not forgotten yours
No, He's not forgotten yours
I won't spoil the rest of the story for you (though you may already have an idea of how it ends), but it's well worth a listen if you can find a digital or physical copy (which I have discovered is sadly not easy to do these days).
I'm thankful for this divine blast from the past. Only God could have brought a memory made 20 years ago to the surface at the perfect moment. It reminded me that God is and has always been aware of and concerned about me and what I do with my life. As the song says, He hasn't forgotten my name. It reminded me of the powerful testimony of Jesus Christ I gained during my 2-year missionary service, and which has grown steadily since.
#100DaysToOffload (No. 18)
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