Admittedly, if you participated in the recent general conference sessions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you watched an unprecedented gathering that is still just in its beginning. Millions around the world view or listen in more than 90 languages in over 200 countries via television, radio, satellite, and Internet broadcasts.
I can only share a few sentiments here, but I am so grateful for the messages offered during these recent general conference sessions. One of my top picks was delivered by Sister Michelle D. Craig, who recounted a number of valuable anecdotes including the vision of the servant of Elisha. That has always been a personal favorite Bible account, which is captured in 2 Kings.
Early in the morning, Elisha’s young servant saw Syrian armies surrounding their city and cried out in fear “Alas master what shall we do?” Elisha reassured him:
“Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kgs. 6:16–17).
When I heard that story this time, I recognized something that I had never previously thought about. What I came to realize is that if Elisha prayed in behalf of the lad, then Elisha already knew that the mountain of the Lord was filled with horses and chariots of fire. He saw and had the vision of things that the lad did not. Similarly, our Church leaders know the current situation and see what we fail to realize and understand. They acknowledge for us what we may not yet comprehend.
Sister Craig shared other touching sentiments in her short, less-than-10-minute talk. A couple of them stood out in particular to me. One story was about an older gentlemen at the store who needed a friend. The other was about a woman who was moved to tears by the affection shown to her from a caring young woman. This woman considered the real reason she makes the choices that she does—her love for the Savior Jesus Christ. When I heard that, I remembered my father.
The underlying theme of Dad’s life is encapsulated in a letter to us children. I have shared it before in this column, and I will no doubt share it again.
“There is a matter I have long been concerned about. 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 in the hearts of our children and the saints an even greater love for Him.
“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 he can have in our lives is becoming a reality. He must be the foundation of our lives.”
We have the vision of what is possible when we can look forward with confidence, security, and peace. Unlike those of other dispensations, which resulted in apostasy, the Church of this dispensation will grow to fill the whole world and takes it rightful place as the Kingdom of God on earth.
Dad’s strategy for living the gospel was his love and adoration for the Savior Jesus Christ. When we build our love and appreciation for Jesus Christ, then in gratitude we follow Him and keep His commandments with joy. At that point, following Christ is a privilege and the mechanism for the rest of our lives.
Not only did He suffer for our sins and diseases, He prepared the way for us to become like Him:
“For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made” (Alma 34:9).
“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7).
And perhaps my favorite:
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11-12).
These scriptures detail the security, hope and peace we feel through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As testified by Paul, the gospel of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” is the answer to all our concerns.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
“Once the Atonement took place, there is no external event, no outside circumstance be it death, disease, disaster or the like that can rob us of our exaltation.” — Brother Tad R. Callister
Jesus Christ prepared the way for us to be reunited with Him. There is power in ordinances. The famous Book of Mormon prophet Nephi made a simple comment with enormous implications. He said, “And I Nephi did go into the mount oft”—I believe he was seeking guidance, strength, and sustenance during his challenging journey through mortality. Ordinances provide this and much, much more.
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding” (Isaiah 40:28).
That is not to say that everyone who has had the administration of ordinances will be saved, but everyone that is saved will have ordinances administered.
As we align ourselves with the Savior Jesus Christ, we become powerful, veritably invincible.
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.