We have been in our resident congregation for 16 years—my, how time flies. The majority of our children have graduated from this local high school and essentially our family has grown up here.
Because I was staying with my sister off campus, my social life consisted mostly of some interaction with other students while attending the classes that I had and BYU dances on the weekends. (These were way back in the day when live bands played at these events!) I was released from my mission just six months prior. I had just finished Dance 180 weeks earlier and enrolled in Dance 280, so I thought I was well-prepared. But looking back, I had no idea what I as getting into. After one particular night, my life would never be the same.
As I remember, for some reason I arrived at the dance early. The band was still setting up their equipment in the Garden Court on campus at the Wilkinson Center, and I was trying to play it cool.
Meanwhile, a particular young lady prepared to attend the dance that evening. When I saw her, I asked if she would like to take a turn with me. She told me her name and joined me on the dance floor.
She danced her way into my heart that night and every day since. We have six beautiful children and recently four incredible grandsons. I love being with my wife and family.
Thank you for allowing me to reminisce. Now you know a little bit more about my dating experience. Some of you are just beginning the trek we started nearly forty years ago, but there is a purpose in my sharing these details with you.
Yes. You could say that my wife and I were quite the pair. I want to speak with you today about pairs. There are lots of pairs. They often go well together.
Some are opposites:
Good and bad / Hot and cold / Light and dark / Top and bottom / Health and sickness
And some pairs have similarities:
Lock and key / Mom and Dad / Cowboys and Indians / Bed and Breakfast
So what would you come up with to pair with the word obedience? Compliance, agreement, respect. Those are all good options, but when I consider the word obedience, I would pair it with “blessings.”
Have you ever felt that Heavenly Father keeps blessings to Himself instead of freely sharing them with all of us? In reality, He showers us with all the blessings that He can:
A free country
Loved ones and much, much more.
We live in a wonderful day and age with modern conveniences and tons of miracles. What we easily take for granted, many have never seen or even imagined. Every time we go to Costco, I can’t believe that we live in a country where our stores are filled with food and goods and abundance from floor to ceiling. It is amazing.
Next time you strain to find a place in your fridge to fit the leftovers or struggle to snap those pants around your waist, think how lucky you are to reside in this country and about the promised blessing found in Malachi 3:10:
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith … if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Blessings, abundance, plenty and to spare—the temple ordinances are the crowning blessings that the Church has to offer.
The blessings of the temple enable us to live in harmony now and be with our families and loved ones in perpetuity after death back in the presence of our Father in Heaven. We achieve these blessings through obedience.
Listen to our beloved prophet President Russell M Nelson. He said:
“Each day, ours is the challenge to access the power of the Atonement so that we can truly change, become more Christ like, and qualify for the gift of exaltation and live eternally with God, Jesus Christ, and our families.”
Those words are from of our dear prophet President Nelson, but they are my sentiments as well.
Jesus Christ has promised blessings to the obedient. Luke recorded “. . . it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over” (Luke 6:37).
The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a harvest basket, which is brimming with bounty and can barely hold the abundance of blessings available in its organization. I love that metaphor.
Imagine with me for a moment that you have gone down to the grocery store or perhaps the roadside market. Something is five for a dollar. So you examine the possibilities, measure the largest of the choices, pick the best of the bunch and walk away happy.
Now imagine you were living in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, and you’re going to the market for a measure of grain. There are many vendors, but you frequent the one that carefully and precisely fills your basket with good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.
That is exactly how God blesses us. My wife joined the Church when she was 15. Even at that young age, she recognized the value of Church membership. At the time, I was living in Utah and interested in football, cars, and girls. Admittedly, at that young age I could not see then the full importance and value of the commandments and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, but I have a much different perspective now.
The opportunity to receive and obey commandments that I took for granted then has become the ultimate source for joy in my life today, and I have a pretty good idea that it will continue to be my strategy for eternal joy in the world to come. I still like football, cars, and I love my wife, but I am much wiser now and know beyond a shadow of a doubt from whence my joy comes. But even that is not my primary purpose for why I am obedient today.
I am obedient because of my love for the Savior. As my father said,
“We are not achieving our most important goal until we have established in the hearts of our children and the saints a great and abiding love for the Savior Jesus Christ.
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 this for anyone else, but I will do it for Christ!’ …then the power for good that he can have in our lives is becoming a reality. He must be the foundation of our lives and stands ready to bless us today and through eternity.”
“The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Jesus Christ is the Architect of our happiness in this world and that to come. He marked the path and showed the way, but it is up to us to walk it.
Obedience is the tool he uses to help us realize all his promises.
That is a large part of why I strive to be obedient.
“Don’t be too critical of the barrier. It’s the only thing keeping you from being devoured” (Von G. Keetch, “Blessed and Happy are Those Who Keep the Commandments of God,” October 2015).
The Lord’s commandments keep us and our families safe. In times of hardship, our faith in Jesus Christ buoys us up, and he provides commandments as a way to bless us now and through eternity.
“They are intended for our joy in this life just as much as they are intended for our joy and exaltation in the next . . . True obedience, therefore, is giving ourselves entirely to Him and allowing Him to chart our course both in calm waters and in troubled ones, understanding that He can make more of us than we could ever make of ourselves.”
His measured blessings for us when we keep His commandments is a full measure, indeed.
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.