I have always considered myself to be fairly intelligent – maybe that is a stretch, but it has been my own belief. Sometimes I have let that get in the way of assimilating new ideas but, overall, there has been an innate desire to learn and grow in smarts.
That’s why General Conference is one of my favorite times of year. As Latter-day Saints, we gather twice a year to listen to our leaders share words of wisdom and encouragement to help us along our path through mortality. Throughout the past 60+ years I have found myself gleaning vast amounts of knowledge – typically spiritual but other types as well – from those whom we sustain as Prophets and leaders of the Church of Christ. So, my intent today is to share a few things that have settled into my heart from the most recent gathering of Latter-day Saints. Hope you enjoy this summary.
(For a more detailed look at the messages, click here)
#1 – The Lord does His work in His own way.
According to common practices in the business world, when a leader begins to show signs of diminished abilities, it is time to replace them. For many years Elder Robert D. Hales has been physically impaired from cancer and other debilitating issues. It would be a simple thing to release him from his position and replace him with someone who is younger and more physically able to serve. But that is not the Lord’s way. Elder Hales has been allowed to stay with us, despite his struggles.
So he could teach from the afflictions he has so patiently endured.
How we would have been deprived if we had missed the messages he has given over the years, particularly as he has shown so many signs of the illness and suffering. I recall that in one conference he shared that he had spoken in his prayers about being released from his afflictions. He tenderly confessed to the Lord that he had learned the lesson being taught. But the answer given to him was that there was more to gain from his experiences and he needed to continue on.
|Elder Robert D. Hales|
So he did.
And I love him all the more because of it.
No cursing God.
Just ‘soldiering on’ with faith in Christ.
Selfishly, I am grateful for the faithful attitude of Elder Hales, President Monson, Elder Packer, (and others) as the ravages of life consumed them physically but increased their power spiritually while they endured “to the end.” The example of righteous men and women, overcoming the weakness of mortality inspires all of us as we approach our own challenges in mortality.
And here’s a second example of how the Lord’s ways are not the ways of man.
Heavenly Father knows how to guide His kingdom so that the power of the Priesthood and the ordinances of salvation are offered up to as many as choose to accept. I am constantly amazed at His willingness to use ALL the resources available to spread the gospel through the world. Yes, there are challenges that must be overcome, but if the gospel is to go to everyone He can’t ignore the gifts He has given to man for that purpose.
The Father and the Son do Their work in Their own way – and that means it won’t look like what others would do.
And that’s a good thing.
#2 – Our priorities are not the same as God’s.
While there are so many things to worry about in life, the Lord has a habit of focusing us on the important ones.
Right now the United States is embroiled in a great political experience. Every thought seems to be on whom we should elect to help us recover from the effects of past decisions. These things are important, but I submit that they are not MOST important – or not even highly important.
Lately I have been impressed, through scripture study and listening to wise men and women, that our highest priority just might be the plight of the poor, needy, and helpless (see Ezekiel 16:49).
Political concerns are about how to prevent some of the issues caused by refugees fleeing from oppression. Statesmen debate on constructing walls or blocking the paths of suffering groups, but God is more concerned with the individual needs.
I was impressed with the response we all witnessed to the message of Elder Patrick Kearon in the Sunday afternoon session. His plea to consider the plight of refugees around the world was tender and Christ-like in its presentation.
|I would encourage you to read his message.|
But the response by President Uchtdorf, immediately following, drove home the sacred nature of the counsel given. How can we not feel the need to lift the souls of those who are suffering, through no fault of their own, through the horrendous experiences we see across the world?
Our priorities need to align with God if we are going to become more like Him. It’s not about who we should elect or who can do the most good for our nations. The question is, “what are we willing to do to lift those with the feeble knees and the hands outstretched in hope?”
In the final judgment, the answer to this question will carry more weight than all the other things we might think are important in life.
#3 – There is more to the Atonement of Jesus Christ than the healing of sins.
It is becoming clear to me that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the source of all that is good in this life.
Without the sacrifice of the Savior, there would be no hope for eternal joy through the cleansing of sin.
There would be no hope for healing wounds (physical, mental, or spiritual) that afflict us in life without the Priesthood of God which relies on the Atonement.
The nature of goodness would be greatly diminished (or even eliminated) without the sacrifice of the Savior. Men and women, by nature, would be unable to practice or even recognize goodness around them.
Hopelessness would abound and all mankind would revert to the behavior we witness in the animal kingdom.
We are ‘fallen’ beings and without the influence and power of Christ’s Atonement we would sink into a state of wickedness that would preclude ever living again with God.
It is eternally clear that a proper understanding and belief in the Atonement of Christ must be part of our core if we are to find joy.
#4 – The scriptures given by God are a primary source for finding faith enough to continue on.
We have four Standard Works to rely on in the latter-days. If our daily study isn’t continued there will be a gap in our spiritual sensitivity and that will cripple us in the fight we must wage against our ‘natural man’.
I would also include the words of living Prophets in this category. They give us the current, living word of God to guide our lives. Their guidance and counsel point us in the direction that leads to eternal life. The human nature to think we “know better” can be corrected by listening to prophets and studying the scriptures.
#5 – Prophets are critical to maintaining a testimony of Christ.
Each time I study the scriptures (this year it’s the Old Testament) I am reminded of the need to have living prophets for guidance. As much as I love Daniel, Ezekiel, Peter, Paul, John, Nephi, and Alma they are not here today and can’t guide me the same way a living prophet can.
I’m sure John saw our day and may have even tried to warn us about some of the trials we would encounter. But it is so much better to have living prophets who can see and experience the same things we do to help us know how to respond. The slight corrections they offer are critical to keeping us on the course that leads to peace and happiness.
While my list is not complete, it gives a taste for what was given by righteous men who follow God’s commandments. My hope is that what I have shared might entice some to go check out the rest of the messages.
It will be worth the time take.