The Hope of God’s Light
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Of the First Presidency
… It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might have lost a loved one; a child might have strayed; we might have received a troubling medical diagnosis; we might have employment challenges and be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved.
But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances, God promises the hope of His light-He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness.
A Room Filled with Darkness
… From the time Jane was three years old, she was repeatedly beaten, belittled, and abused. She was threatened and mocked. She awoke each morning not knowing if she would survive until the next day. The people who should have protected her were those who tortured her or allowed the abuse to continue.
In order to protect herself, Jane learned to stop feeling. She had no hope of rescue, so she hardened herself to the horror of her reality. There was no light in her world, so she became resigned to the darkness. With a numbness that can only come from constant and unrelenting contact with evil, she accepted the fact that any moment might be her last.
Then, at age 18, Jane discovered [The Church]. The joy and hope of the restored gospel penetrated her heart, and she accepted the invitation to be baptized. For the first time, light entered her life, and she saw a bright path before her. She left the darkness of her world and decided to attend school a great distance away from her abuser. At last she felt liberated from an environment of darkness and evil-free to enjoy the Savior’s sweet peace and miraculous healing.
However, years later, after her abuser had died, Jane was again troubled by the horrible events of her youth. Profound sadness and anger threatened to destroy the wonderful light she had found in the gospel. She realized that if she allowed that darkness to consume her, her tormentor would have a final victory.
She sought counseling and medical help and began to realize that, for her, the best path for healing was to understand and accept that darkness exists-but not to dwell there. For, as she now knew, light also exists-and that is where she chose to dwell.
Given her dark past, Jane could easily have become vindictive, venomous, or even violent. But she didn’t. She resisted the temptation to spread the darkness by lashing out in anger, hurt, or cynicism. Instead, she held fast to the hope that with God’s help she could be healed. She chose to radiate light and devote her life to helping others. This decision enabled her to leave the past behind and to step into a glorious future.
She became a schoolteacher and today, decades later, her love has influenced the lives of hundreds of children, helping them to know that they have worth, that they are important. She has become a tireless defender of the weak, the victimized, and the discouraged. She builds, strengthens, and inspires everyone around her.
Jane learned that healing comes when we move away from the darkness and walk toward the hope of a brighter light. It was in the practical application of faith, hope, and charity that she not only transformed her own life but forever blessed the lives of many, many others.
Light Cleaveth unto Light
There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth-God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn.
This is “the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” which gives “light to every man that cometh into the world.”
Nevertheless, spiritual light rarely comes to those who merely sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch. It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the Light of Christ. Spiritual light cannot be discerned by carnal eyes. Jesus Christ Himself taught, “I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” For “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
So how do we open our eyes to the hope of God’s light?
First, start where you are.
… The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are or how far behind others you may feel. The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come.
Second, turn your heart toward the Lord.
Lift up your soul in prayer, and explain to your Heavenly Father what you are feeling. Acknowledge your shortcomings. Pour out your heart and express your gratitude. Let Him know of the trials you are facing. Plead with Him in Christ’s name…. Ask that your ears may be opened… Ask that your eyes may be opened…
Third, walk in the light.
Your Heavenly Father knows that you will make mistakes. He knows that you will stumble-perhaps many times. This saddens Him, but He loves you. He does not wish to break your spirit. On the contrary, He desires that you rise up and become the person you were designed to be.
To that end, He sent His Son to illuminate the way and show us how to safely cross the stumbling blocks placed in our path. He has given us the gospel, which teaches the way of the disciple.
Light Overcomes Darkness
Yes, we will make mistakes.
Yes, we will falter.
But as we seek to increase our love for God and strive to love our neighbor, the light of the gospel will surround and uplift us. The darkness will surely fade, because it cannot exist in the presence of light… To all who feel they walk in darkness, I invite you to rely on this certain promise spoken by the Savior of mankind: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shalt not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Come to the Light
Yes, from time to time our lives may seem to be touched by, or even wrapped in darkness. Sometimes the night that surrounds us will appear oppressive, disheartening, and frightening.
My heart grieves for the many sorrows some of you face, for the painful loneliness and wearisome fears you may be experiencing.
Nevertheless, I bear witness that our living hope is in Christ Jesus! He is the true, pure, and powerful entrance to divine enlightenment.
I testify that with Christ, darkness cannot succeed. Darkness will not gain victory over the light of Christ.
I bear witness that darkness cannot stand before the brilliant light of the Son of the Living.
It’s a Miracle
Elder Neil L. Andersen Of the Quorum of the Twelve
… As the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth 183 years ago, the Lord’s charge to His small band of disciples echoed His words spoken centuries before: “The voice of warning shall be unto all people.” “For, verily, the sound must go forth… into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”
“All people?” “All the world?” “The uttermost parts of the earth?” Was it possible?
The Savior reassured His latter-day Saints, but could they foresee the reach and destiny of this marvelous work? They must have wondered if miracles really would accompany them in spreading the gospel.
Again, faith overcame doubt and thousands were baptized. In England, Elder Wilford Woodruff found an entire community awaiting his arrival. The spirit of the Lord fell upon them and he baptized 45 preachers and several hundred members during his first month…
Our day is no different. When Elder Bednar and I were missionaries approximately 40 years ago, (and I can assure you that we are not the oldest of the returned missionaries sitting in the red chairs) there were 16,000 missionaries. We now have 65,000 (more than ever before). There were then 562 stakes. Today there are more than 3,000. At that time, our wards and branches were in 59 countries. Today we have congregations in 189 of the 224 nations and territories of the world…
This is a remarkable time of miracles. Six months ago as President Monson announced the age change for young men and young women desiring to serve missions, there was an undeniable spiritual outpouring. Faith overcame doubt and young men and women moved forward. The Thursday following conference I was assigned to recommend missionary calls to the First Presidency. I was amazed to see the applications of 18-year-old men and 19-year old women who had already adjusted their plans, visited their doctors, been interviewed by their bishops and stake presidents, and submitted their missionary applications – all in just five days. Thousands more have now joined them. It’s a miracle.
We are grateful for the energizing faith of our sisters, the growing number of missionaries from countries across the world, and the increasing number of couples ready to serve. Fifty-eight new missions have been announced, and our bulging Missionary Training Center in Provo has amazingly found a new companion in Mexico City.
We are witnessing the miracles of the Lord as His gospel is spreading across the world.
Brothers and sisters, as surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries. You already know them, or will know them. They are in your family and live in your neighborhood. They walk past you on the street, sit by you in school, and connect with you online. You too are an important part of this unfolding miracle.
If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart… Every righteous member of the Church has thought about how to share the gospel. Some share the gospel naturally, and we can learn a lot from them. Some struggle and wonder how to do better, wishing that guilty feeling we sometimes feel, would find somewhere else to go.
Our desire to share the gospel takes all of us to our knees, and it should, because we need the Lord’s help.
President Monson has asked that we pray for “those areas where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely.” As we earnestly and unitedly petition our Father in Heaven, the Lord will continue to open important doors for us.
With the confusion and commotion of today’s world, it’s not surprising that fewer people are attending their places of worship. Although many want to be closer to God and to better understand the purpose of life, they have unanswered questions. Many have hearts open to the truth, but as the Prophet Amos described, “they [are running] to and fro [seeking] the word of the Lord, and [cannot] find it.” You can help answer their questions. In your everyday conversations, you can add to their faith in Christ.
The Savior said, “Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up.”
I promise you as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind. Words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them. Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles.
The Savior taught us how to share the gospel. I like the story of Andrew who asked, “Master, where dwellest thou?” Jesus could have responded with the location of where He lived. But instead, He said to Andrew: “Come and see.” I like to think that the Savior was saying: “Come and see not only where I live, but how I live,” “Come and see who I am.” “Come and feel the Spirit.” We don’t know everything about that day, but we do know that when Andrew found his brother, Simon, he declared: “We have found…the Christ.”
… We can follow the Savior’s example by inviting them to “come and see”. Some will accept our invitation and others will not. We all know someone who has been invited several times before accepting an invitation to “come and see”. Let’s also think about those who once were with us but now we rarely see, inviting them to come back and see once more.
We respect each person’s choice and timing.
The Lord said: “Let every man choose for himself.” A person’s lack of interest need not diminish our bonds of friendship and love.
For those using the internet and mobile phones, there are new ways to invite others to “come and see”. Let’s make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life. Lds.org, Mormon.org, Facebook, Twitter-all provide opportunities.
We are all in this together. With fellow ward members and missionaries, we plan and pray, and help one another. Keep the full time missionaries in your thoughts and prayers. Trust them with your family and friends. The Lord trusts them and has called them to teach and bless those who seek Him.
The Words We Speak
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, Primary General President
One of the greatest influences a person can have in this world is to influence a child. Children’s beliefs and self-worth are shaped early in their lives. Everyone within the sound of my voice has the power to increase a child’s confidence in himself or herself and to increase a child’s faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through the words they speak.
In Helaman chapter 5 we read, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation.”
These were the words Helaman taught his sons-and we read on: “And they did remember his words and … they went forth … to teach the word of God among all the people.”
Even though Helaman’s sons were persecuted and put in prison, those words they had heard never failed them. They were protected and encircled about with a pillar of fire. Then there came a voice, saying to their captors, “Repent ye, and seek no more to destroy my servants. … It was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul.”
We can learn from that voice from heaven. It was not loud, scolding, or demeaning; it was a still voice of perfect mildness, giving firm direction while giving hope.
How we speak to our children and the words we use can encourage and uplift them and strengthen their faith to stay on the path back to Heavenly Father. They come to this earth ready to listen.
Pray to know a child’s needs.
To speak to a child’s heart, we must know a child’s needs. If we pray to know those needs, the very words we say may have the power to reach into their hearts. Our efforts are magnified when we seek the direction of the Holy Ghost. The Lord said, “Speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts… for it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
Disconnect and listen with love.
Unfortunately, the distractions of this world prevent many children from hearing encouraging words that could shape their view of themselves.
The answer to our prayer of how to meet our children’s needs may be to more often technologically disconnect. Precious moments of opportunity to interact and converse with our children dissolve when we are occupied with distractions. Why not choose a time each day to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other? Simply turn everything off. When you do this, your home may seem quiet at first; you may even feel at a loss as to what to do or say. Then as you give full attention to your children, a conversation will begin and you can enjoy listening to each other.
“Write to persuade our children.”
We can also influence our children through the words we write to them. Nephi writes, “We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children … to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”
President Thomas S. Monson shared the experience of Jay Hess, an airman who was shot down over North Vietnam in the 1960s. “For two years his family had no idea whether he was dead or alive. His captors in Hanoi eventually allowed him to write home but limited his message to less than 25 words.” President Monson asks: “What would you and I say to our families if we were in the same situation-not having seen them for over two years and not knowing if we would ever see them again? Wanting to provide something his family could recognize as having come from him and also wanting to give them valuable counsel, Brother Hess wrote… These things are important: temple marriage, mission, college. Press on, set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.”
What words would you write to your children if you had 25 words or less?
Marriage: Watch and Learn
Elder L. Whitney Clayton Of the Presidency of the Seventy
One evening several years ago, my wife and I were visiting the home of one of our sons and his wife and children for dinner. It was a typical event for a family with small children: there was much noise and even more fun. Shortly after dinner, our four-year-old granddaughter, Anna, and I were still sitting at the table. Realizing that she had my full attention, she stood up straight on a bench and fixed her eyes on me. When she was sure that I was looking at her, she solemnly ordered me to, “watch and learn.” She then danced and sang a song for me.
Anna’s instruction to “watch and learn” was wisdom from the mouth of a babe. We can learn so much by watching and then considering what we have seen and felt. In that spirit, let me share with you a few principles I have observed by watching and learning from wonderful, faithful marriages. These principles build strong, satisfying marriages that are compatible with heavenly principles. I invite you to watch and learn with me.
First, I have observed that in the happiest marriages both the husband and wife consider their relationship to be a pearl beyond price, a treasure of infinite worth. They both leave their fathers and mothers and set out together to build a marriage that will prosper for eternity…
Watch and Learn: the best marriage partners regard their marriages as priceless.
Next, faith. Successful marriages are built on the foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and adherence to His teachings. I have observed that couples who have made their marriages priceless practice the patterns of faith: they attend sacrament and other meetings every week, hold family home evening, pray and study the scriptures together and as individuals, and pay an honest tithing.
Their mutual quest is to be obedient and good. They do not consider the commandments to be a buffet from which they can pick and choose only the most appealing offerings.
… Watch and Learn: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of happy eternal marriages.
Third, repentance. I have learned that happy marriages rely on the gift of repentance. It is an essential element in every good marital relationship.
Humility is the essence of repentance. Humility is selfless, not selfish. It doesn’t demand its own way or speak with moral superiority. Instead, humility answers softly and listens kindly for understanding, not vindication. Humility means that both husbands and wives seek to bless, help, and lift each other, putting the other first in every decision.
… Watch and Learn: repentance and humility build happy marriages.
Fourth, respect. I have observed that in wonderful, happy marriages, husbands and wives treat each other as equal partners. Practices from any place or any time in which husbands have dominated wives or treated them in any way as second class partners in marriage are not in keeping with divine law and should be replaced by correct principles and patterns of behavior.
Husband and wives in great marriages make decisions unanimously, with each of them acting as a full participant and entitled to an equal voice and vote. They focus first on the home and on helping each other with their shared responsibilities. Their marriages are based on cooperation, not negotiation. … Where there is respect there is also transparency, which is a key element of happy marriages. There are no secrets about relevant matters in marriages based on mutual respect and transparency. Husbands and wives make all decisions about finances together, and both have access to all information.
Loyalty is a form of respect. Prophets teach that successful marriage partners are “fiercely loyal” to each other. They keep their social media use fully worthy in every way. They permit themselves no secret internet experiences. They freely share with each other their social network passwords.
…Watch and Learn: terrific marriages are completely respectful, transparent, and loyal.
Fifth, love. The happiest marriages I have seen radiate obedience to one of the happiest commandments — that we “live together in love.” Speaking to husbands, the Lord commanded, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.” A Church handbook teaches, “. . . the word cleave means to be completely devoted and faithful to someone. Married couples cleave to God and one another by serving and loving each other and by keeping covenants in complete fidelity to one another and to God . . .” Both the husband and wife “leave behind their single life and establish their marriage as the[ir] first priority . . . They allow no other person or interest to have greater priority . . . than keeping the covenants they have made with God and each other.”
Watch and Learn: successful couples love each other with complete devotion.
One of the sweetest verses in the Book of Mormon states simply, “And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them.” The promises of the Lord are extended to all those who follow the pattern of life that builds happy, holy marriage relationships. Such blessings come as the delightful, predictable consequences of faithfully living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Obedience to Law Is Liberty
Elder L. Tom Perry Of the Quorum of the Twelve
I received a special gift last Christmas that brought with it many memories… It is a book that was given to LDS servicemen who entered the armed forces during World War II. I, personally, viewed the book as a gift from President Heber J. Grant, and his counselors, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay. In a letter at the front of the book, these three prophets of God wrote:
“The incidents of the armed services do not permit our keeping in constant personal touch with you, either directly or by personal representation. Our next best course is to put in your hands such portions of modern revelation and of explanations of the principles of the Gospel as shall bring to you, wherever you may be, renewed hope and faith, as likewise comfort, consolation, and peace of spirit.”
Today we find ourselves in another world war. This time it is not with armaments. It is with thought, words and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need reminders to keep the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord himself for the benefit of His children.
In the little brown book, immediately after the letter from the First Presidency, there is a preparatory note to men in service, titled: “Obedience to law is liberty.” The note draws parallels between military law, which “are for the good of all who are in the service,” and divine law. The note states:
“In the universe, too, where God is in command, there is law-universal, eternal law-with certain blessings and immutable penalties.”
The final words of the note focus on obedience to God’s law:
“. . . if you wish to return to your loved ones with head erect . . . if you would be a man and live abundantly-then observe God’s law. In so doing you can add to these priceless freedoms which you are struggling to preserve, another on which the others may well depend, freedom from sin; for truly “obedience to law is liberty.”
Why did the phrase, “obedience to the law is liberty,” ring so true to me at the time? Why does it ring true to all of us now?
Perhaps, it is because we have revealed knowledge of our pre-mortal history. We recognize that when God the Eternal Father presented His plan to us at the beginning of time, Satan wanted to alter the plan. He said he would redeem all mankind. Not one soul would be lost, and Satan was confident he could deliver on his proposal. But there was an unacceptable cost-the destruction of man’s agency, which was and is a gift given by God… It was no small thing for Satan to disregard man’s agency. In fact, it became the principle issue over which the war in heaven was fought. Victory in the war in heaven was a victory for man’s agency.
Satan, however, was not done. His backup plan-the plan he has been executing since the time of Adam and Eve-was to tempt men and women, essentially to prove we are undeserving of the God-given gift of agency.
Satan has many reasons for doing what he does, perhaps the most powerful being the motive of revenge, but he also wants to make men and women miserable, like he is miserable.
… One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards-The Ten Commandments. For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil.
In my judgment, four of The Ten Commandments are taken as seriously today as ever. As a culture, we distain and condemn murder, stealing, and lying, and we still believe in the responsibility of children to their parents.
But as a larger society, we routinely dismiss the other six commandments…
- If worldly priorities are any indication, we certainly have “other Gods” that we put before the true God.
- We make idols of celebrities, of lifestyles, of wealth, and yes, sometimes of graven images or objects.
- We use the name of God in all kinds of profane ways, including our exclamations and our swearing.
- We use the Sabbath day for our biggest games, our most serious recreation, our heaviest shopping, and virtually everything else but worship.
- We treat sexual relations outside marriage as recreation and entertainment.
- And coveting has become a far too common way of life.
Prophets from all dispensations have consistently warned against two of the more serious commandments-the ones relating to murder and adultery. I see a common basis for these two crucial commandments-the belief that life itself is the prerogative of God. And our physical bodies, the temples of mortal life, should be created within the bounds God has set. For man to substitute his own rules for the laws of God on either end of life is the height of presumption and the depth of sin.
The main effects of these depreciating attitudes about the sanctity of marriage are the consequences to families-the strength of families is deteriorating at an alarming rate, and this deterioration is causing widespread damage to society. I see direct cause and effect. As we give up commitment and fidelity to our marriage partners, we remove the glue that holds our society together.
A useful way to think about commandments is they are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy.
The doctrine of the family and the home was more recently reiterated with great clarity and forcefulness in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It declared the eternal nature of families, and then explained the connection to temple worship. The Proclamation also declared the law upon which the eternal happiness of families is predicated, namely, “the sacred powers of procreation are employed only between a man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes. Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty, and, in turn, their eternal happiness comes from obedience to His laws. As Alma counseled his errant son, Corianton, “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).
Surely there could not be any doctrine more strongly expressed in the scriptures than the Lord’s unchanging commandments and their connection to our happiness and well-being as individuals, as families, and as a society. There are moral absolutes. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. These things do not change.
In a world where the moral compass of society is faltering, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers, nor should its stakes and wards, its families, nor its individual members. We must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important to keep but acknowledge all of God’s commandments. We must stand firm and steadfast, having perfect confidence in the Lord’s consistency and perfect trust in His promises.
Obedience Brings Blessings
President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Throughout the ages, men and women have sought for knowledge and understanding concerning this mortal existence and their place and purpose in it, as well as for the way to peace and happiness. Such a search is undertaken by each of us.
This knowledge and understanding are available to all mankind. They are contained in truths which are eternal. In Doctrine and Covenants, section 1 verse 39, we read: “Behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever.”
… Some would ask, Where is such truth to be found, and how are we to recognize it? In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, in May of 1833, the Lord declared: “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come…The spirit of truth is of God…and no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.”
What a glorious promise. “He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.”
There is no need for you or for me, in this enlightened age when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, to sail uncharted seas or to travel unmarked roads in search of truth. A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide-even obedience. A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God.
We learn obedience throughout our lives. Beginning when we are very young, those responsible for our care set forth guidelines and rules to ensure our safety. Life would be simpler for all of us if we would obey such rules completely. Many of us, however, learn through experience the wisdom of being obedient.
When I was growing up, each summer from early July until early September my family stayed at our cabin at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon in Utah.
One of my best friends during those carefree days in the canyon was Danny Larsen, whose family also owned a cabin at Vivian Park. Each day he and I roamed this boy’s paradise, fishing in the stream and the river, collecting rocks and other treasures, hiking, climbing, and simply enjoying each minute of each hour of each day.
One morning Danny and I decided we wanted to have a campfire that evening with all our canyon friends. We just needed to clear an area in a nearby field where we could all gather. The June grass which covered the field had become dry and prickly, making the field unsuitable for our purposes. We began to pull at the tall grass, planning to clear a large, circular area. We tugged and yanked with all our might, but all we could get were small handfuls of the stubborn weeds. We knew this task would take the entire day, and already our energy and enthusiasm were waning.
And then what I thought was the perfect solution came into my eight-year-old mind. I said to Danny, “All we need is to set these weeds on fire. We’ll just burn a circle in the weeds!” He readily agreed, and I ran to our cabin to get a few matches.
Lest any of you think that at the tender age of eight we were permitted to use matches, I want to make it clear that both Danny and I were forbidden to use them without adult supervision. Both of us had been warned repeatedly of the dangers of fire. However, I knew where my family kept the matches, and we needed to clear that field. Without so much as a second thought, I ran to our cabin and grabbed a few matchsticks, making certain no one was watching. I hid them quickly in one of my pockets.
Back to Danny I ran, excited that in my pocket I had the solution to our problem. I recall thinking that the fire would burn only as far as we wanted and then would somehow magically extinguish itself.
I struck a match on a rock and set the parched june grass ablaze. It ignited as though it had been drenched in gasoline. At first Danny and I were thrilled as we watched the weeds disappear, but it soon became apparent that the fire was not about to go out on its own. We panicked as we realized there was nothing we could do to stop it. The menacing flames began to follow the wild grass up the mountainside, endangering the pine trees and everything else in their path.
Finally we had no option but to run for help. Soon all available men and women at Vivian Park were dashing back and forth with wet burlap bags, beating at the flames in an attempt to extinguish them. After several hours, the last remaining embers were smothered. The ages-old pine trees had been saved, as were the homes the flames would eventually have reached.
Danny and I learned several difficult but important lessons that day-not the least of which was the importance of obedience.
There are rules and laws to help ensure our physical safety. Likewise, the Lord has provided guidelines and commandments to help ensure our spiritual safety so that we might successfully navigate this often treacherous mortal existence and return eventually to our Heavenly Father.
All prophets, ancient and modern, have known that obedience is essential to our salvation. Nephi declared, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” Though others faltered in their faith and their obedience, never once did Nephi fail to do that which the Lord asked of him. Untold generations have been blessed as a result.
A soul-stirring account of obedience is that of Abraham and Isaac. How painfully difficult it must have been for Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, to take his beloved Isaac … to offer him as a sacrifice. Can we imagine the heaviness of Abraham’s heart as he journeyed to the appointed place? Surely anguish must have wracked his body and tortured his mind as he bound Isaac, laid him on the altar, and took the knife to slay him. With unwavering faith and implicit trust in the Lord, he responded to the Lord’s command. How glorious was the pronouncement, and with what wondered welcome did it come: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou has not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”
Abraham had been tried and tested, and for his faithfulness and obedience the Lord gave him this glorious promise: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
… Obedience is required of us as well. Obedience is a hallmark of prophets; it has provided strength and knowledge to them throughout the ages. It is essential for us to realize that we, as well, are entitled to this source of strength and knowledge. It is readily available to each of us today as we obey God’s commandments.
… Walter Krause was a steadfast member of the Church who, with his family, lived in what became known as East Germany following the Second World War. Despite the hardships he faced because of the lack of freedom in that area of the world at the time, Brother Krause was a man who loved and served the Lord. He faithfully and conscientiously fulfilled each assignment given to him.
The other man, Johann Denndorfer, a native of Hungary, was converted to the Church in Germany and was baptized there in 1911 at the age of 17. Not too long afterward he returned to Hungary. Following the Second World War, he found himself virtually a prisoner in his native land, in the city of Debrecen. Freedom had also been taken from the people of Hungary.
Brother Walter Krause, who did not know Brother Denndorfer, received the assignment to be his home teacher and to visit him on a regular basis. Brother Krause called his home teaching companion and said to him, “We have received an assignment to visit Brother Johann Denndorfer. Would you be available to go with me this week to see him and give him a gospel message?” And then he added, “Brother Denndorfer lives in Hungary.”
His startled companion asked, “When will we leave?”
“Tomorrow,” came the reply from Brother Krause.
“When will we return home?” asked the companion.
Brother Krause responded, “Oh, in about a week-if we get back.”
Away the two home teaching companions went to visit Brother Denndorfer, traveling by train and bus from the northeastern area of Germany to Debrecen, Hungary-a substantial journey. Brother Denndorfer had not had home teachers since before the war. Now, when he saw these servants of the Lord, he was overwhelmed with gratitude that they had come. At first he declined to shake hands with them. Rather, he went to his bedroom and took from a small cabinet a box containing his tithing that he had saved for years. He presented the tithing to his home teachers and said, “Now I am current with the Lord. Now I feel worthy to shake the hands of servants of the Lord!” Brother Krause told me later that he had been touched beyond words to think that this faithful brother, who had no contact with the Church for many years, had obediently and consistently taken from his meager earnings ten percent with which to pay his tithing.
He had saved it not knowing when or if he might have the privilege of paying it.
Brother Walter Krause passed away nine years ago at the age of ninety-four. He served faithfully and obediently throughout his life and was an inspiration to me and to all who knew him. When asked to fulfill assignments, he never questioned, he never murmured, and he never made excuses.
… Declared the Savior: “For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world.”
No greater example of obedience exists than that of our Savior. Of Him Paul observed, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
The Savior demonstrated genuine love of God by living the perfect life, by honoring the sacred mission that was His. Never was He haughty. Never was He puffed up with pride. Never was He disloyal. Ever was He humble. Ever was He sincere. Ever was He obedient.
Though He was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by that master of deceit, even the devil, though He was physically weakened from fasting forty days and forty nights and was an hungered, yet when the evil one proffered Jesus the most alluring and tempting proposals, He gave to us a divine example of obedience by refusing to deviate from what He knew was right.
When faced with the agony of Gethsemane, where He endured such pain that His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground, He exemplified the obedient Son by saying, ” . . . Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
As the Savior instructed His early Apostles, so He instructs you and me: “Follow thou me.” Are we willing to obey?
The knowledge which we seek, the answers for which we yearn, and the strength which we desire today to meet the challenges of a complex and changing world can be ours when we willingly obey the Lord’s commandments. I quote once again the words of the Lord, “He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.”