I imagine that many of you reading this are active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Others are not. Whether you are one of the 16 million members today or not yet acquainted with our church, we all have the same question: how can I find happiness now and in perpetuity?
“What?” you ask. “How can you be so bold?” It’s simple.
Logic. One simply need look to see the fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It comes in many ways.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Experience. Those that have received the gospel and live by its principles need not wonder. They know of its truth for themselves.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Faith. I love the principle of faith. It is often referred to as the first principle of the gospel, and indeed it is. But it is also the most frequently used. Faith is the principle to which we retreat during hardship.
1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Happiness Through Obedience
There are many who have valuable philosophies and guidelines for obtaining happiness. I enjoy reading about and learning from them as well.
“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
This is good advice. While the people who make these claims don’t know it all, they have understanding and share their insights willingly. That is good. But there is One who knows everything there is, and His guidelines and direction give us a sure way to accomplish His goal (Moses 1:39), while also giving us the answer to our question about happiness.
My message today is that lasting happiness is found by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that for a fact. I see it. I feel it. And I have experienced it.
Does that mean that problems will all go away? That you won’t face hardship or disappointment or rejection? Oh no. That is not at all what I am saying. Challenges and suffering will continue for now. Rejection, grief, and despair are part of this life, but you will be empowered to handle these vices now and hope for a better day when all the depravities of this world will only be memories.
How do I know that? Because I believe in the Great Plan of Happiness, and I have seen its manifestation in my life and others. Our Heavenly Father does not require that we live our lives in fear and trepidation until someday we will know for ourselves. Through His Son Jesus Christ, He makes manifest His plan and shows us the way. We need only follow the gospel to know for ourselves of its truth.
I asked my brother in a text message which is his favorite scripture on faith and why? I share his response below:
“Hum… that’s a tough one. It depends what day of the week it is. There are so many great, meaningful verses on faith. At this moment, I’m leaning towards Ether 12:6. It includes that classic definition, “things hoped for but not seen,” (similar to Alma 32:21 which is probably the best, most encompassing definition) but I like the final line about receiving a witness (testimony) only after we get through the test. That is what life is all about, proceeding on faith, which tests our commitment, and then comes the confirmation we are on the right path. It’s the stepping out into the dark, and then our way is illuminated, that captures the key element of faith (not the other way around). That’s my two bits ;)”
And I agree. Faith in Jesus Christ illuminates our whole life, and we will forever be indebted to the Savior for the opportunities He enables and the guidance He provides for our growth and development.
Showing Gratitude through Reverence
How do we show our appreciation for Jesus Christ for this great blessing? Reverence.
- Dressing our best when we go to church
- Bowing our heads, closing our eyes, and, when appropriate, kneeling when we pray
- Doing our best to use terminology like Thee and Thou and Thine in our prayers
- Maintaining a quiet and reverent demeanor in the chapel, temples, and other holy places
- Being focused and respectful during the passing of the sacrament in His memory
- Following Him by keeping His commandments
These are small and seemingly insignificant ways to show reverence when compared with the wealth of blessings they afford. But to increase our understanding, we need to know why.
Why do we show reverence for Jesus Christ?
- All good things that we have now or will ever obtain come because of Him
- Hope in Jesus Christ gives us confidence, joy, and peace, even amid hardship
- Great blessings here and now are available to those that honor and follow Him (Mark 10:30)
- Reverence in the chapel, temples, and other holy places gives us perspective, insight, and allows us to show appreciation. With this understanding, we realize that reverence is a privilege
The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain Without Hands
Many years ago in Kirtland, Ohio, Church leaders learned about their infant church. President Wilford Woodruff was an eyewitness and recorded the following:
“The Prophet called on all who held the Priesthood to gather into the little log school house they had there. It was a small house, perhaps 14 feet square. But it held the whole of the Priesthood of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were then in the town of Kirtland. . . . The Prophet said, ‘Brethren, I have been very much edified and instructed in your testimonies here tonight, but I want to say to you before the Lord, that you know no more concerning the destinies of this Church and kingdom than a babe upon its mother’s lap. You don’t comprehend it. . . . This Church will fill North and South America—it will fill the world’” (Conference Report, Apr. 1898, 57).
I love that quote. But it is my conviction that those words are just as true for us in the Church today. We still have no idea the destiny of this church and our part in it. Since the days of the prophet Joseph Smith, this church has exploded in size and capacity and goodness. When I was born, there were just under 2M members. At the time I was called to serve my mission in Helsinki, Finland (19 years later) there were approximately 5M baptized members. I remember that because that was the same number of people in Finland at the time. The Church’s reported membership as of December 31, 2017 was 16,118,169. There are a lot of statistics about the Church and its amazing growth.
Newsroom, the Church’s news website, writes, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in a small log cabin in upstate New York in 1830. It took 117 years — until 1947 — for the Church to grow from the initial six members to one million.” Seeing the amazing growth in education, temples, missions, and membership in our day is impressive and unequalled anywhere else, but this is only the beginning.
The growth, the statistics, the explosion of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world was prophesied as “the stone cut out of the mountain without hands” (Daniel 2:31–45; D&C 65:2) that shall roll forth until it fills the whole Earth. We have the blessed opportunity of witnessing the fulfillment of this prophecy in our very day.
We Can All “Make It”
But the real miracle of the gospel of Jesus Christ is what it does in the hearts and minds of its followers. It changes their lives, brings them happiness and hope, and provides peace and security amid the challenges of life. For them, love and adoration for the Savior is a natural response. We are not reverent because we are coerced into acting that way. We joyfully give our allegiance to the Savior. We are pleased to honor Him more, and in return He rewards us with eternal life—the life that He lives.
One more story! (You may think that I am about to change the subject we are discussing, but bear with me and you will see why I felt so adamant about including it.)
Several years ago, the BYU women’s golf club set their sights on the National Championship. At the time, they were an up-and-coming team. They stuck to their plan and had complete buy in from everyone. Watch this short clip. You may choose to watch the whole talk. It’s that good.
My favorite part comes as the clutch golfer steps up to make her approach on the final hole, and sinks the putt. She said she smiled following that experience because “I knew I was going to make it.” That is exactly my sentiment in life—because of the Savior Jesus Christ, we can all know life’s outcome.
Everyone that wants to reach heaven will do so. Life is our opportunity to practice heaven so that we can love it, and we will want to be there with the Savior, our Heavenly Father, and our family for eternity.
Because of Jesus Christ, I know I am going to make it. And you can too.
That is living life in crescendo.
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.