The following article is an excerpt from ‘The Restoration of the Church, Why Now?’ from a devotional given at Ricks College by Hyrum W. Smith. These words were true then, and they are just as true today. These words still thrill me.
On one occasion, President McKay, president of the Church, several years before his death, on a Sunday evening, didn’t have anything to do, so he took his wife, said: “Let’s go to a fireside.” They went down to a stake center. There were lots of cars in the parking lot so he walks in and their stake president was speaking to a group of young people your age. Eight hundred of them.
President McKay and his wife walked in. The stake president about swallowed his tie. Walked down to about the eighth row. He said, “Don’t get excited. I want to hear what you have to say.” The president continued with his talk. About halfway through his talk, he stopped and said, “You know, young people, I feel impressed to tell you that before the world was, in that war in heaven, each of you in this room served as captains and generals in the Lord’s army.”
And then he went on with his talk. It had nothing to do with what he was talking about. As he finished his talk, he looked down at President McKay and noticed President McKay was drilling him with his eyes. His heart stopped. He sat down and thought, “Boy, what have I said?” The closing prayer ended.
He jumped up and he ran down to President McKay. Looked up to President McKay – everybody looked up to President McKay, he’s a great big guy – and he said, “You know, President McKay, I got a little carried away in my talk tonight. Did I say anything that was inappropriate?” He said, “No, you didn’t say anything that was inappropriate, you were just inaccurate.” “Well, what did I say?” He said, “There were no captains here tonight. They were all generals.” And he said, “Don’t you ever forget it.” And he turned around and walked out.
I have a testimony of that, brothers and sisters. If you were to know who you were before you got here, it would scare you. You know what that means? It means we don’t have the right to do all the dumb stuff a lot of the other young people in the world are doing, fooling around with drugs and alcohol and premarital sex and all that dumb stuff. We don’t have the right.
Why? Because we know too much. Why? Because we’re here because we were somebody before we came here and the Lord has sent us here to accomplish some great task. And that task is to take now and export the reality of the fact that the gospel has been restored. No one between 96 and 1820 could authoritatively say “Thus saith the Lord.” Now we can. Why? Because there is a man on the planet today that can say “‘Thus saith the Lord’ because I speak with him.”
I want to bear my testimony to you, brothers and sisters, that is a fact. That IS a fact, and we have the opportunity of basking in that light. The priesthood of God is back on the earth, the same power by which the universe was created, and the only thing which limits our ability to exercise that power is the sanctity of our lives. May I plead with you to keep your lives right. Pure. Holy. Live up to the expectations that were sent to you when you got here. I bear that witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Let’s take this situation a step further. We have been told through experiences like that expressed above that our youth today are incredible. I have heard descriptions of the greatest generation, righteous generation, and a royal priesthood. Statements, promises, and exhortations are prolific. Yet at the same time, as we approach the time of the Savior’s return, wickedness will increase.
Temptations, addictions, and intense afflictions are all part of our daily lives, and they will only become more intense. It is becoming more acceptable in the world to break the laws of God or to disregard them altogether. The stigma attached to immoral, dishonest behavior is disappearing.
So despite these challenges, how do we suppose these exceptional young men and women will record and remember their life experiences? I was reading recently a passage in the Book of Mormon that I have read many times. The part of the scriptures I was studying is perhaps a favorite excerpt in all of Holy writ.
This time, however, it abruptly stopped me when I realized the impact of what it was telling me and my part in it. When the Savior visited the Nephites, he blessed and healed the sick, encircled the children with fire and angels, then prayed to the Father. Then he did something that surprised me frankly and this became the source of my aha moment. Read this in 3 Nephi 23 verses 7-13:
7 And it came to pass that he said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept.
8 And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said:
9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?
10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.
11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
12 And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.
13 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded.
So when Jesus asked why they had not written about the miraculous events surrounding his coming and resurrection and the others that were raised, Nephi realized this had not been recorded and quickly corrected the oversight. It was written as they had been commanded.
My great grandfather produced a history of his life which has come to be known in my family as the ‘Little red book.’ In it he tells of his family’s conversion, migration, and trek across the plains in handcarts and establishing their home in Southern Utah. I know my grandpa because of this book.
Many years ago, I learned of a job at BYU to instigate, design, and build a system wherein the family history resources available at the Harold B Lee Library could be shared with other Church schools around the world. Literally months after applying, the Internet exploded into the scene. The goal was done.
I have often wondered how my children’s age group—the royal generation—will record their miraculous experiences. I don’t wonder anymore. With social media, snapchats, camera phones, Instagram and other media, it is already here. Your history and that of your children’s is happening right now.
Are you happy with what is being recorded?
Remember that all of you young people are the generals that served in the war in heaven. You left a legacy then, and you are leaving an indelible legacy today. The fact that we are here in your midst now is a thrilling experience for us. How I ever qualified to be in your company still amazes me.
You generals inspire us every day.
About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.