Where does this scripture come from? I’ll give you a hint: The Book of Mormon. And you might be surprised at where this little line of cheer appears. It is smack dab in the middle of the war chapters! The record says that there was never a happier time since the days of Nephi than the time of Captain Moroni. (Alma 50:23)
Can we say that there was never a happier time among the people of our day than the time of our prophet? I think it all depends on our thought patterns and the way we have taught ourselves to look at the world around us. For President Monson, genuine happiness spills over in every talk he gives, in every public or private greeting. He is thrilled to be living at this day and time, despite all the challenges that face us as a people and a church. He truly embraces life, even with all its vicissitudes.
Did he let a little thing like the Iron Curtain get in his way when he gave his apostolic blessing to the Saints in East Germany that they could have all the blessings of the temple if they showed their faith and worthiness? No, but I can tell you from hearing him relate that story in person that no one was more surprised than he was when those words came out of his mouth! He went back to Salt Lake to tell President Kimball what he had done, uncertain of how he could explain himself. The prophet assured him that what he promised would come to be, though even he did not know how it would be done.
It is my impression that President Monson has so much faith that he doesn’t worry how things are to be done. He knows that if something is the Lord’s will it will be done and that’s that.
I hope you were all able to raise your arm to the square to sustain President Monson in the solemn assembly wherein he was made prophet. If we have done this, how can we make our sustaining an active, living thing? How can we make this time of strife and turmoil prior to the Second Coming a happy, joyful time? How can we assist our prophet in his great work and divine calling?
Learn to Be Faithful
We see throughout the Book of Mormon over and over how the people are taught that they must put off the natural man and come unto Christ. We are told repeatedly to remember Him. But before we can remember our Savior, we must have a personal relationship with him. This is the whole object and design of the restored Gospel—to bring us to Christ, making Him our greatest resource and friend. We must open the doors to our hearts and pour out our repentance, and then feel His arms around us as He forgives us. We must humbly petition him for gifts only he can give through the power of the atonement—healings, answers, abilities. As we learn through time and experience where to turn for help, we will reach out and we will grow more and more confident that His hand will be there.
President Faust has said this in a more eloquent way than I ever could: “During the years of my life, and often in my present calling, and especially during a recent Gethsemane, I have gone to my knees with a humble spirit to the only place I could for help. I often went in agony of spirit, earnestly pleading with God to sustain me in the work I have come to appreciate more than life itself. I have, on occasion, felt the terrible aloneness of the wounds of the heart, of the sweet agony, the buffetings of Satan, and the encircling warm comfort of the spirit of the Master.
“I have also felt the crushing burden, the self-doubts of inadequacy and unworthiness, the fleeting feeling of being forsaken, then of being reinforced an hundredfold. I have climbed a spiritual Mount Sinai dozens of times seeking to communicate and to receive instructions. It has been as though I have struggled up an almost real Mount of Transfiguration and upon occasion felt great strength and power in the presence of the Divine. Such special sacred feeling has been a sustaining influence and often a close companion.” (James E. Faust, “A Personal Relationship with the Savior,” Ensign, November 1976, p. 59)
Thus we see that developing our relationship with our Elder Brother is a lifelong process, not a one time thing. The Lord tells us, “For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fullness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:20). In the same passage, we are told that the Lord himself grew close to His Father in the same way—grace for grace.
Learning to be faithful takes strength and commitment. It happens slowly, as our very natures are changed through trials and blessings. It takes patience, but the blessings to a faithful heart are sweet and tender beyond our imaginings.
My father was an extraordinary man. He saw the world as a place filled with exciting opportunities for growth, achievement, and learning. He always taught me that there was nothing I couldn’t achieve if I set my mind to it. This was what I grew up believing. I am drawn to people like the Proctors and President Monson, who have this kind of vision and zest for life.
However, when I became ill with depression, my hopes and dreams took a terrible dive.
All I could see around me was Weltzschmerz or “world sorrow.” Most of us will have times in our lives when we are less than optimistic, when the world takes its toll, when we face challenges that are almost beyond bearing.
This is why we must develop the habits of faithfulness. Grace by grace, we will be led through our trials. It took me a long time to be healed, but oh what I learned in the process! I wouldn’t exchange the relationship I now have with my Savior for any amount of missed tranquility. That is the whole “object and design of our existence.”
When I got well, I saw that I had choices. I slowly returned to the kind of thinking I had been raised with—instead of a fatalist, I became an optimist. G.G. Vandagriff is now a witness of the grace and divine healing power of the Lord. Opportunities have opened up right and left for me to testify. The Lord even led me to a prison to speak hope to its inmates. I visited a stake full of sisters whose lives had been shattered by Hurricane Rita. This was not the GG that everyone knew. This was a GG magnified by grace, healed by the atonement, once again eager to make a difference in the world.
Doctors who study the brain have noted that cognitive patterns are actual physical responses—the brain gets used to thinking a certain way. So in order to be truly well, I had to put off the old way of thinking and learn to see the colors around me.
I was freed from years and years of darkness and was nearly blinded by the sun.
My first thought was to bring others, as many as I could into this light. I wanted to stand in a great chorus of people pledging to give their lives to the Savior, as did the people in King Benjamin’s time.
Hold On to What You Know
But for all of us there are dark times, and it isn’t in my power to haul people out into the light. All I can really do is to bear my testimony in every way at every opportunity that the Savior lives and that he performed the Atonement for each of us.
Recently, I had an extraordinary trial with no one to support me through it. I cried helplessly for hours. Then I chastised myself. How could I forget the Savior after all that He had done to rescue me? I ceased my crying and turned to Him in anxious prayer. Gradually that anxiety lessened, and the place it had occupied was filled with a peace so tender and cherishing that I cannot describe it. This enabled me to let go of the entire trial—to place it on the altar. Since that time, whenever I grow anxious about that subject, all I must do is forsake my anxiety and offer another prayer, and the peace returns.
I can stand as a witness that this peace is available to all of us. Remember Paul in his deep and dirty prison, proclaiming that he could do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthened him? Remember Joseph in Liberty Jail?
I can do all I can to make the world happier. To try to help people to make sense of it. I can testify that in the end there will be grace, mercy, and perfect love. No one can take that knowledge from me, because I have experienced it for myself.
We have been warned repeatedly in this last dispensation that we cannot live on borrowed light. Each of us must come out of his or her own darkness to find the light, the Savior and Redeemer.
We do not go to church and sit through a three hour block of meetings because we are Latter-day Saints and that’s what Latter-day Saints do. We go to our meetings and serve where we are called in order to become sanctified. To become closer to our Savior by becoming His hands in the lives of others.
That is what I see President Monson doing. There is not a soul that crosses his path that he does not try to help. That is how Zion will be built.
If someone as sick as I was can be made well, then there is surely hope for us all. And as in Captain Moroni’s time, even this era of terrible war with the Adversary, we can enjoy peace, safety, a great measure of happiness through our individual relationship with and commitment to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
G.G. is a full-time writer and often tries to lift the human race all by herself. In doing so she echoes Alma’s cry: “O that I were an angel.” But she knows she is all too human and that she does sin in her wish. So she writes and writes and writes. Novel #12 was just released. Click here to read about it. The Only Way to Paradise can be ordered at www.amazon.com