A great deal of this article is pulled from recent articles of mine, but I have found that repetition truly is a great teacher.
I always wondered how this was going to happen. When word came that it was time to make the trip back to Missouri in preparation for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, I wondered if it would be announced over the pulpit or discussed in a priesthood meeting, or perhaps it would appear in the Church News. I never imagined that I would have the privilege to take part in it—not really.
But it’s happening all around us. From six members 188 years ago when the Church was organized in 1830, the kingdom of God here on Earth has grown to more than 16 million today. There were 5 million members when I left on my mission.
I have been amazed when we have arrived for tithing settlement late some Sunday evening, and the bishop, his counselors, and the ward and financial clerks are still there working. The kingdom of God is boldly going forward in many seemingly small ways, but the combined impact is stunning. What do I mean? Some of you have received an email about upcoming ministering interviews. These messages were sent by new features available on the lds.org website, and more unbelievable advancements are coming. You see, our mission as a people is assured.
Many years ago, just after graduation, 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. What started out as an insurmountable goal quickly changed to a viable opportunity. Instead of building a tremendous infrastructure, the Internet supplied the needs and soon the genealogy resources were available to every home, school, and device on the planet. The goal was done.
A movie came out late last year. The sound track has made waves all around the world. You may have heard of it: The Greatest Showman. Have you seen it?
During one part, the main actor Hugh Jackman witnesses an opera singer performing. It is a crucial time in the film, and he is betting all his marbles on this one act. The music hall is filled to its capacity, and the audience waits anxiously. As the concert begins, at first he is scared and rolls his eyes, hoping for success but not really believing in the outcome.
Soon, as the rendition excels, he is pleased and the satisfaction shows on his face in the form of a smile. But suddenly the song culminates and the majesty of the performance begins to amaze him. His breathing accelerates. It’s really getting good and has exceeded all his fondest expectations. But it’s still not over, and when the piece reaches its climax, he is awestruck and can’t believe what is actually happening. At the song’s conclusion, as the applause erupts from the audience, he stands breathless and astounded—stunned really—and can’t believe what just happened. It’s my favorite part of the movie.
I like it because the performance and imagery are well done and memorable. I love this part because I think that is just the way we are going to feel when we realize the blessings the Lord has prepared for us to receive if we will but follow Him and keep His commandments. Yes, there will be a day when we finally realize the magnitude of His gift and are rewarded for our faithfulness.
I have no doubt that is just the way we will feel as we recognize the blessings that are in store for us. And that emotion is not just reserved for after this life. You who are reading this column are the cream of the crop. Of the billions of people who have lived on Earth, you are among the select few who have been offered all the blessings of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ here on Earth. We are only beginning to recognize its magnitude, and I have been a member of the Church my entire life. The gospel is the greatest message of all time, and we have the exclusive role to carry that precious gift to the world so it can improve and strengthen all those who take part in it.
The blessings of the gospel are real. The promises of Jesus Christ will all be fulfilled. We can see their fulfillment in this life as we follow Him and keep His commandments. Do you believe that?
There is another situation I want to discuss briefly to help illustrate this point. You have all heard about this and no doubt many of you can relay the story better than I. It has to do with the Israelites. They have finally been freed from hundreds of years of captivity and are wandering in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. Incredible miracles have freed them from the Egyptians and sustained them through their trials: parting the Red Sea, manna falling from heaven to give them nourishment, and many other manifestations of God’s power (water from a rock, protection, and a promise).
The Israelites were sustained for 40 years; yet in the midst of all this, due to their unbelief, fiery serpents are unleashed and bite many of the people. This is not good, because the venom is deadly—but then what happens?
Moses is commanded to raise a brass serpent on a pole with a promise that all the Israelites have to do is look at this symbol and be healed.
We are told that many did not look because of the easiness of the way. What?! All they had to do is look, and they would be healed! But sadly, the scriptures tell us the fatal outcome for many. They would not lift their eyes and look.
O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. (Alma 37:46)
How is this situation similar to ours today? This experience, along with the Book Of Mormon scripture, has much to do with our lives today. We are told, “The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.”
We have much to be grateful for—abundance unequaled in the history of the earth. The way has been prepared. We have been commanded to look to the Savior for relief, protection, and safety. Now we have the opportunity and time to accept the matchless gift of the Savior by looking toward and following Him. To delay will only make the process more difficult and put our futures in jeopardy.
But now, the choice should be easy to make. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
The scriptures are very explicit about our day and the magnitude of the blessing in store for the faithful. Paul, when speaking to the saints in Corinth, states, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
We can share the gospel with our friends and neighbors and give to them the hope and security we feel as members of his kingdom here on Earth. The Book of Mormon is filled with examples (see Alma 17).
Our Heavenly Father provided commandments for us and is just waiting to bless us.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven. (Malachi 3:10)
Like many of you, I have put that claim to the test. I know through personal experience that it is true. When we follow the Lord and keep His commandments, the blessings that are showered upon us and our families are too great to number.
It’s amazing and will exceed your expectations, but it’s not over. As you take part in the multitude of blessings prepared for you and your loved ones, your happiness and confidence will grow to a climax.
I imagine that you, like me, will be mesmerized and have difficulty expressing your joy, but even then, what is happening is not the conclusion. In fact, there is no end to the joy and happiness of those that follow Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. Though we will stand breathless and amazed and astounded—stunned—and can’t believe what is happening, the Lord promises to continue to bless us throughout eternity with our loved ones in a never-ending state of happiness.
That really is my favorite part.
As our lives reach their climax, we will continue to be awestruck at God’s mercy and goodness. We will find it hard to believe what is happening. At conclusion of our lives, there won’t be sadness or regret. We will feel the joy that comes from keeping the commandments even as the applause erupts from the family and loved ones that are depending on us. In our gratitude and amazement, we will find it difficult to explain why we have been given so much. It’s already happening.
The matchless gift of the Savior is beyond our ability to comprehend.
But it is right at our fingertips if we will just reach out to and accept the gift that He has already won for us, which we do by following Him and keeping His commandments.
As I stated at the beginning of this article, I know that I have shared this before, but repetition about important topics is necessary to life. I glean strength from the following testimony because I read and re-read it often. I hope it has the same effect on you.
My father tells the story that my Moab seminary teacher and his wife spoke in our branch some time ago. His wife’s talk was on a matter that had long concerned my father. The problem comes into perspective at a sacrament meeting: adults (as well as children) give tender, loving praise for bishops, teachers, neighbors, and the prophet. But too few feel and express it for the Savior. We are not achieving our most important goal until we have established greater love for Him in the hearts of our children and the Saints.
Friends may betray us, spouses may leave us, health may fail, and our possessions burn up. But Christ, His promises, understanding, and love will never fail us. With some trials and most tragedies, only this can get us through. When we can take a thankless, demanding calling; give up something we wanted greatly, so we can pay our tithing; or help out someone who has badly hurt us, and say, “I wouldn’t do that for anyone, but I’ll do it for Christ!” then the power for good He can have in our lives is becoming a reality. He must be the foundation of our lives.
“I think about the great sacrifices my parents and forebearers made for me, and the great example they set of complete faithfulness to the Savior and His teachings in their lives. Now it’s my turn. I would surely feel amiss to pass on to my posterity something less.
“As sweet to me and powerful in my life as the numerous blessings I have received, nothing brought more peace, and hope, and joy than has come from discovering the marvelous qualities of the Savior and all the gracious, loving and merciful things He has done for me and my loved ones. I cannot in any way repay Him, or properly thank Him. But this I can do, and seek with all my heart to do, and that is stand as a witness of the goodness of the Father in giving us such a leader and friend as the Savior.
”I will stand as a witness that Christ is divine, has risen from the dead, and out of his love for us has overcome every barrier to our return to Heavenly Father, and enjoyment of the unspeakable joys of eternal life.
”I know that His teachings are the only way to happiness and peace in this life, for individuals and nations, and to joy in the life to come.
”All I do and say is in the hope that I might further His cause and help others come to Him for the correct guidance in life, and the strength to do what is right.
”I know that through Christ, sins can be overcome and forgiven, and lives changed, and hope restored.”
Yes. I still have much to learn, but I am obedient, because of my love for Him.
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.