Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, November 22, 2007

No Empty Chairs

By Julie Coulter Bellon

Today we will all be gathered around our Thanksgiving table, laden with a turkey feast, as we enjoy our family and close friends. I love the symbolism of a table to gather around, the chairs filled with those we love. It seems easier to count my blessings when I am in that setting.

I am so grateful that all the chairs at my table are filled, but today I will be thinking of those who may have an empty chair this year.

I am grateful that doctors were able to care for my family so that there are no empty chairs at my table, but today I will be thinking of those who may have lost a loved one and have an empty chair.

I am grateful to live in America, but today I will be thinking of those who have an empty chair at their table because they have a loved one fighting in faraway lands for America.

I am grateful to have family and friends who forgive, love and support me even when we argue and have a falling out, but today I will be thinking of those who may have an empty chair because they have been hurt or have hurt someone and pray they will be able to find forgiveness and peace.

I am grateful to even have a chair, a roof over my head, running water, indoor plumbing, a soft bed to sleep in, and plenty of food to eat, but today I will be thinking of those who are less fortunate and won’t be sitting down at a table filled with food today.

I am grateful for my knowledge of my Savior, of His mission on earth, the Plan of Salvation and the restored gospel, but today I will be thinking of those who don’t have that knowledge and peace in their lives and how much Jesus loves all of us and wants no empty chairs at His table.

The hope is that someday we will all join with Him once again in heaven to partake of the feast that Heavenly Father has prepared for every one of His children. It is His work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality of man. To me, that means, no empty chairs and what an opportunity we have here on earth to share in that and how much work there is still to be done.

So today I am giving thanks for the blessings I have, which include all of you, and hoping that someday, there will be no empty chairs anywhere.

Happy Thanksgiving!


At 11/22/2007 1:25 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Beautiful, Julie!

At 11/23/2007 11:09 AM, Anonymous marlene said...

Thank you for that beautifully thought out and written piece. From those of us who have or have had empty chairs, it is especially meaningful. The part we are most thankful for, after we've had time to grieve, is that, though we have empty chairs, we do not have to have empty hearts. The gospel fills our minds with peace, and the Spirit heals our hearts. It can be a difficult journey to get there, but it can come and is one of the most significant gifts we can receive.

At 11/24/2007 2:22 AM, Blogger Dr. B said...

I was actually choked up reading this. It brought Ezra Taft Benson's quote back to me about there being no empty chairs in the celestial kingdom. I also was glad my two daughters were out on missions in Italy and Korea and hoping someone remembered them because I really not to good at sending them packages.

At 11/24/2007 10:27 AM, Blogger Anne Bradshaw said...

How lovely, Julie. Thanks for an inspirational start to my Saturday.

At 11/25/2007 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all of your comments on my blog.

Marlene, your comment really touched me and Dr. B, I wish you and both of your daughters all the best. You must be so proud that they are truly doing the work so there will be no empty chairs.

Julie Bellon

At 11/25/2007 11:09 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

What a great blog. Thanks for sharing it with us.

At 8/10/2008 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No empty chairs brings to mind the comments of Joseph Smith. Most parents have some rebellious children mixed into our families. It is these children who grieve us so much. They are the Lamans and Lemuels who are part of a family sealed by the 'New and Everlasting Covenant. It is these children who a part of the lost sheep Christ spoke of. It is these children that we seek who will complete our joy in our Father's Kingdom, for without them I don't know how it would be possible. President Smith said "“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.” And there will be no empty chairs.

Carl Watkins
Blackfoot, Idaho


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