When Gordon Bitner Hinckley was announced on March 13, 1995 as the Lord’s new prophet he was asked by journalists what his message would be. He replied,
“Carry on. Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, 2–13)
And indeed, President Hinckley has carried on even into his late nineties and approaching the century mark. His enthusiasm for life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ Himself and for the members of the Church is unparalleled. He carries the heaviest mantle of any man on earth, that of a prophet of God. He is charged with the spiritual welfare and care of every human being on the face of the earth. He is charged with leading the introduction of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into every land across the globe. Under his direction, two official proclamations from the Lord’s prophet to the world have gone out: The Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World.
As a boy President Hinckley did not enjoy good health. His family moved to a small community where he could run and play in the sunshine and fresh air. As time went on, he eventually strengthened. Of this time he said,
“After a day of good, hard labor, my younger brother Sherm and I would sleep out under the stars in the box of an old farm wagon,” President Hinckley recalls with a wistful look and smile. “On those clear, clean summer nights, we would lie on our backs in that old wagon box and look at the myriads of stars in the heavens. We could identify some of the constellations and other stars as they were illustrated in the encyclopedia which was always available in our family library. We identified some of the more visible patterns in the heavens, but our favorite was the North Star. Each night, like many generations of boys before us, we would trace the Big Dipper, down the handle and out past the cup, to find the North Star.
“We came to know of the constancy of that star,” he recalls. “As the earth turned, the others appeared to move through the night. But the North Star held its position in line with the axis of the earth. Because of those boyhood musings, the polar star came to mean something to me. I recognized it as a constant in the midst of change. It was something that could always be counted on, something that was dependable, an anchor in what otherwise appeared to me a moving and unstable firmament.” (Ibid)
And this is Gordon B. Hinckley, a constant in an ever moving sea of change. His testimony of Jesus Christ as the Only Begotten Son of God, our Savior, our Lord, our Redeemer and King, remains strong and ever growing. His testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ remains strong and inviolate. He ever testifies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as a second witness of Jesus Christ and the truths within its pages holding all that we need to know in order to gain eternal salvation.
It is clear, even as a child, this prophet of God looked deeper, seeking truth. And in this we can thank him for his example.
Because of him I study my scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets, apostles and general authorities, ever seeking deeper knowledge and understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of him my heart is kinder and softer, looking to my fellow man to see who is in need of aid. Because of him my horizons have been broadened as I see the never failing optimism which rules his life. Through him I have come to know my Savior better. For as the the life of the Savior helped us to know Heavenly Father, so too, does the life of Gordon B. Hinckley give me a glimpse of what the Savior would be like if He walked and talked amongst us today.
In response to a question by a New York Times reporter, he replied,
“We have every reason to be optimistic in this world,” President Hinckley insisted. “Tragedy is around, yes. Problems everywhere, yes. But look at Nauvoo. Look at what they built here in seven years and then left. But what did they do? Did they lie down and die? No! They went to work! They moved halfway across this continent and turned the soil of a desert and made it blossom as the rose. On that foundation this church has grown into a great worldwide organization affecting for good the lives of people in more than 140 nations. You can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.” (Ibid)
And so it is, in this world rife with tragedy, wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters, with criminals and despots running amuck, we have a beacon of light in Jesus Christ and through Him, His chosen prophet on the face of the earth today, Gordon B. Hinckley.
God has not abandoned us, nor will He ever. To this day revelation pours from the heavens and we have only to listen to know the answers to all that we seek. A living prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, leads The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as the Mormons, today and will do so until his mission in mortality is done.
Until then, I give thanks to my Father in Heaven every day for the optimism and righteousness of Gordon B. Hinckley. For he is a prophet of God, so chosen to lead the Church in these perilous times. If we but listen to the words of this prophet we will be prepared for all that is coming, whether it be unemployment, the death of a breadwinner, the loss of a mother, hurricane, tornado, flood, earthquake or war . . . listen and you will be as prepared as you can possibly be, for the Lord always warns His people through His prophets and Gordon B. Hinckley is that prophet today.