“Doubt Not, But Be Believing”

Exactly five years ago today, our little family neared the end of our first (and only) real vacation (you know the kind, where you go somewhere fun without the express purpose of visiting family!).  With our Phoenix friends, the Koshars, we had rented a house in a quiet California beach town (that I had never even heard of) named San Clemente.  Although we wanted something close to the beach, nothing would fit our combined families so the house we ended up renting was in an Edenic master-planned community called Talega high in San Clemente’s hills looking over the ocean.  With large, family-friendly homes, lush green landscapes and ocean views, it was perfect.

Two days previously, M.E. and I did something we often do: we toured a few models homes in the community.  And they did not disappoint!  It was fun to look and dream, but when the agent handed us the pricing sheet all I could do as chuckle and think, “only in some other lifetime.”  What a dream, though…

Well the following day, I hopped on a plane back to Phoenix so I could return to reality in time for my Sunday church obligations.  During sacrament meeting, as I was sitting on the stand, my phone started to buzz.  And buzz.  M.E. was firing off texts in rapid succession.  She, too, was in church (though a couple hours ahead in the three-hour block schedule).  She was in the middle of a fifth Sunday lesson and filled with the Spirit of revelation.

And the gist of her texts was crystal clear: that community in San Clemente is where we need to be; that is where the Lord wants us to raise our family…

At first, I shrugged off her “inspiration”—when it’s 120 degrees in Phoenix, California has that effect on a lot of people!  But then I saw that she was perfectly serious.  And I needed to shake her back to reality.

Zach: I’m a lawyer without a license to practice in California.

M.E.:You can just take the bar, can’t you?

Zach: Well yeah, but my firm’s closest office is either San Diego or L.A.? That’s a heck of a commute!  And you don’t really see me now as it is…

M.E.: But there are other law firms, aren’t there?

Zach: Well yeah, but they’d actually have to hire me.  And don’t you remember how much those houses cost?!?!

On and on I went.  Quite a logical list I must say.  But she had received a revelation.  She knew it.  And she knew that God knew it.  (See JS-History 1:25).  M.E., ever the visionary who often sees from His inspired perspective long before I, knows that “God is in His heavens, and His promises are sure.”[1]  Now, I may be “slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord” (D&C 101:7), but do eventually hear His voice.  So as they all returned from California and August turned into October, I put the wheels in motion.

October–March: I registered for the California bar exam, bought some use prep materials on Craigslist, crammed for two weeks, and miraculously passed the bar.  California law license: Check.

May–June: Within two days of passing the bar, a recruiter I was working with set up an interview with my dream law firm, I interviewed, and miraculously was offered a job at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in Irvine, just 25 miles away.  Job: Check.

June: And the day after I received that offer letter, a new short sale was listed.  We loaded up the kids that night and headed to California for the open house the next day.  Offer made and accepted.  House: Check.

June–September: Now, I am leaving out significant details: about how everything almost fell through on multiple occasions; about how I slept under my desk in my office while commuting back and forth to for work while closing on the house was delayed; and about how M.E. loathed the new house we purchased.  (Really, everything was beige/peach…the carpet, travertine, paint and cabinets/trim.  Gack!)

But, like everything else in this journey, that house was “but for a small moment” (D&C 122:8), a means to an end (His end), and ended up being the financial catalyst to where we are today.  Moving forward exactly five years, the picture now is incredibly clear…

24 Via Carina Map

Indeed, in more ways than one, in this life we often “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12).  A glimpse here, a foreshadowing there.  But we do not see all that He sees or know all that He knows.  Instead, He asks that we walk by faith.  For when we have the faith to “[d]oubt not, but be believing,” we can do (and become) more than we ever thought possible ourselves.  (Mormon 9:27).  And then, we start to see for (and in) ourselves what He sees.

Today, as I “remembered” (see Hel. 5:6, 9) these seemingly unrelated miracles that transpired over the last five years, I found myself sitting through a fifth Sunday lesson just like M.E. in that same ward and building in San Clemente.  I was overcome with gratitude.  And these words sunk deep in my heart, now with newfound understanding:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

(Isaiah 55:8-11 (emphasis added)).  These words are true and apply to every facet of our mortal and eternal selves.  God has tremendous blessings reserved for His children if they will but hear His voice and hearken to His counsel.  We are His work and glory.  (Moses 1:39).  And “all that [our] Father hath shall be given unto [us]” if we will do that which He commands us.  (See D&C 84:38).

* * *

All of which leads me to a final thought on obedience, which is where this story began.  Our loving Heavenly Father will not make us become like Him.  He will not compel us to seek out His greatest blessings.  But we can choose to seek them (and Him) out.  And by choosing to follow Him through His son, Jesus Christ, we are transformed, enlarged and exalted.  Faith to obey—even when it seems impossible—is the transformative power.  If we choose:

Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient.  They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expression of their own individual agency, to obey the commandments of God.

Those who talk of blind obedience may appear to know many things, but they do not understand the doctrines of the gospel.  There is an obedience that comes from a knowledge of the truth that transcends any external form of control.  We are not obedient because we are blind, we are obedient because we can see.[2]

And now I, too, can see.  Because M.E. had the faith to follow an inspiration.  A commandment.

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   [1]   Dallin H. Oaks, “Give Thanks in All Things,” Ensign, May 2003.

   [2]   Boyd K. Packer, “Agency and Control,” Ensign April 1983.

“There is a man.”

My parents recently moved out of their little log house in Southeastern Idaho to the Wild West of North Dakota.  When I was 11, my dad built that log house, and I’ve thought a lot lately about my experiences working side-by-side with him to build our home.  Unknowingly, he taught me many priceless life lessons–not the least of which were how to work and be self reliant.  I still marvel at the way he would spend all day at work then go over to the house and build late into the freezing Idaho winter nights day after day.  (But I do understand his sense of urgency a bit better now that my young family of 7 has been crammed into a tiny townhouse very similar to the apartment our family of 7 lived in then as we awaited the construction of our new home!!)

But in those days, I didn’t value those lessons the way I do today.  When he’d leave my brother and me a task to complete during a summer day while he went off to work (like caulking or staining a section of the new house), I complained my dad had discovered a way to end-around the 13th Amendment’s prohibition on slavery and involuntary servitude–not realizing that it would have been much easier for him to have simply done it himself when he got home, and it would have looked better, too!  You see, now that I’m the parent, I’ve experienced firsthand life’s cruel irony that it’s actually more taxing and time-consuming to teach a child to work than it is to just complete the task yourself.  (Really?!)

A few years after we built that log house, my father and his 11 siblings built another little log house, this time as a resting place for their parents.  Aunts and uncles, cousins, siblings–all contributed what they could, and the house quickly went up.  Here is a picture of my father and grandfather on one of those first days…

Dad and grandpa

To me, that house is a lasting testament to the Lloyd legacy of love and sacrifice.  This picture especially fills my heart with unspeakable gratitude.  Plagued by a body riddled with cancer, nearly blind and mostly deaf, yet there’s my grandfather with a hand on the drill and a smile on his face.  Those were such great times!  I look at them now and see the goodness of their lives, their living sacrifice, and an ever-growing posterity now nearly as numberless “as the sand of the sea” (Gen. 31:12).

I see men who at all times were true to their families and the Lord.  “Integrity is fundamental to being men. Integrity means being truthful, but it also means accepting responsibility and honoring commitments and covenants.”[1]  And no men better exemplify honoring family commitments and sacred, eternal covenants than these two.  My father gave his life to raising a family, just as his father before him.  Personal dreams were set aside as they each assumed the weighty yoke and daily drudgery of finding a way to feed and care for an ever-growing family.  How my parents made ends meet, I’ll never ever know; the numbers, from my perspective, just don’t add up.  But my father has never given less than an honest day’s work for a day’s pay and the Lord always made up the difference.  I’m sure my father often went without; but we rarely did.

In them, I see the man Elder D. Todd Christofferson saw in his own father…

These words were true of Elder Christofferson’s father.  So they are of mine as well:

Though he will make some sacrifices and deny himself some pleasures in the course of honoring his commitments, the true man leads a rewarding life. He gives much, but he receives more, and he lives content in the approval of his Heavenly Father. The life of true manhood is the good life.[2]

Yes.  There is a man. And now I see that his is the good life.  35 years of marriage to a loyal “help meet” (Gen 2.:18; Abr. 5:14).  Five (mostly!) adult children.  4 returned missionaries.  5 college graduates.  2 doctorates and another masters or two on the way.  2 additional eternal families.  7 beautiful grandchildren.  And no missing links in the chain.  These are the “heritage of the Lord” and “[h]appy is the man that hath his quiver full” (Psalms 127:3-5).

Thank you, Dad, for being a man.  And for showing me how to be one.  What I wouldn’t give for another summer’s worth of days enslaved at your side, wildly swinging a hammer, as we talked about life…

 

[1]           D. Todd Christofferson, “Let Us Be Men,” Ensign (Nov. 2006).

[2]          Id.

Hope…

I’ve always struggled to understand “Good Friday.”  What’s so “good” about the day where humanity cast aside as dross the Divine?  Why a celebration of the Adversary’s one and only seeming victory over the Son of God?

We know that the crucifixion was necessary: “he surely must die that salvation may come; yea, it behooveth him and becometh expedient that he dieth, to bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, that thereby men may be brought into the presence of the Lord” (Hel. 14:18).  But each Good Friday, I am drawn back to the Book of Mormon physical type and a shadow (see Mosiah 13:10) of what the world looked like for all of  us (physically as well as spiritually) that first Good Friday.

[A]nd then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land.

And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;

And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them (3 Ne. 8:19-23).

That fateful Friday, as the creature mourned the loss its Creator, we were given a window into a world without His resurrection.  Had He not risen triumphantly on that Easter morn, this is future that awaited each of us.  Death.  Darkness  Damnation.  The End…

But these words changed everything: “He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 26:6).  Light replaced darkness.  Hope replaced hopelessness.  And the finality and chains of death were broken, bringing each of us to stand again in the presence of God.

I know He is “the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 93:3)

I know in and through Him we find “hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God” (Ether 12:4).

I know that “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20).

I know “the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ” (Mosiah 16:8).  He lives.  And so shall we.  Like the Christ, one day we all will die.  But we all must die to live again.  Because of Him, we can.  And we will.  That is hope.  That is Easter.

 

The Good Shepherd

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

–Luke 2:8

The crisp spring air of the starlit night echoed with muddled voices.  As the flickering of firelight caused soft shadows to dance playfully up into the starry sky, the men huddled around the warm flames while the sweet olive smoke and aroma of cooking food passed them by.  In the near distance, the soft baying of their restive flocks broke the night’s vast stillness.  Some prepared for peaceful sleep while others’ watchful eyes kept the lookout across the starlit grassy hilltops.  In the far distance, the faint urban light of Bethlehem bustled with abnormal care and worry in stark contrast to the shepherds’ serenity.

As the night and flocks grew still, an angel descended from the heavens.  Darkness gave way to the angel’s pure light and “the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid” (Luke 2:90).  This messianic messenger changed forever the shepherds’ usual evening.  “Fear not,” said the angel, “for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10).  And then, as the angel delivered the good news, countless concourses of the heavenly host appeared “praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).  On this night in Bethlehem, the announcement of the Lord’s birth came not to the royal court of kings of men but to humble field of the shepherds of sheep.

I dare not attempt to ascribe a magnitude on the importance of the various events transpiring that night in Bethlehem.  But the condescension of God, the long-awaited fulfillment of the coming of the prophesied Messiah, went almost unnoticed.  He who would be “King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords” (Rev. 19:16), the “hope of Israel” (Jer. 14:8), and the Savior of all mankind.  Surely the significance of His miraculous birth could only be surpassed by the eternal impact of His voluntary death on the cross at Calvary and glorious resurrection three days thereafter.  Yet, on this starry night, there was no room for Him in the inns of Bethlehem.  Most could not be bothered by the birth of just another baby boy.  But for these shepherds, theirs was an entirely different story.

I often wonder what made these few fieldsmen so special.  Why shepherds?  And why not the majestic court of Herod the King or the greatest courts of men found not far away in Rome?  Why send a “multitude of the heavenly host praising God” announcing the Lord’s long-awaited birth across the unpopulated plains of Judea where only a few humble shepherds and their slumbering sheep could hear their hosannas as they raised their hallelujahs high into the heavens?  (See Luke 2:13–14).  Several reasons initially come to mind—they would hear the angel Gabriel, they would hearken to the good news, and they would bear witness of the most miraculous birth in the most humble of circumstances.  Scripture surely validates these: “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem . . . And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:15–17).  President Ronald Rasband, of the Presidency of the Seventy, in a recent Christmas Devotional (available here) made the additional observation that the angels’ announcement to the Judean shepherds was also a fulfillment of Alma’s prophecy that “glad tidings of great joy” would be declared “unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming” (Alma 13:22, 26).  Clearly, their willingness to “c[o]me with haste” to the lowly stable inside the city’s walls that night–when so many others could simply not be bothered–and then “ma[k]e known abroad” the birth of the Christ-child evinces they were “just and holy men.”  (See Luke 2:16-17).

But there is more.  Much more.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Each book of the sacred canon confirms the Psalmist’s song: “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (Ps. 95:7).  (See John 10:14, Alma 5:60, and D&C 50:44). Yet of all the great teaching tools symbolically utilizing shepherds and their sheep, none reaches the depths of the Lord’s allegory of the Good Shepherd.  This instruction, unique to the Gospel of John, offers insight that transcends the darkened veil imposed by mortality, giving us true perception of the identity and mission of Jesus of Nazareth as the lone leader who can guide us back to the presence of our Father.  Further, it also teaches each of us “how his true shepherds should deal in the spiritual pastures of the gospel.”[1]

First, these verses let us know who He is:

            I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:11–15).

Christ is first a shepherd, not a hireling or a stranger.  He knows His sheep and will never abandon them, regardless of the danger they face or the difficulty of their circumstances.  Truly, He will (and did) give all that He has—even His life—for His precious sheep.

Second, the allegory also teaches us how He leads:

             But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:2–5).

As a true shepherd, Christ leads His sheep—those that follow Him.  Three crowning characteristics mark the shepherd/sheep relationship.  First, He goes before them, showing by perfect example the way to safety and happiness, both in this life as well the “eternal life” that follows.  (See John 17:3)  Second, He calls out to each of them by name beckoning them to follow.  He knows them, loves them.  If the sheep truly be His, they will faithfully follow because they hear and hearken to His voice.  And third, because He goes before them, they know  the can safely follow Him as He will not deceive them or lead them through danger or darkness.

Jesus Christ is the “true light” (John 1:9, D&C 93:2).  May we all see Him.  Follow Him.  This Christmas season, let us all “come unto him” (1 Ne. 10:18, 2 Ne. 26:33, Omni 1:26) “with haste” (Luke 2:16).

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[1] Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol. I, 484 (Bookcraft 1998).

The Information Age: Sifting and Substance

In 1984, when Apple launched the revolutionary Macintosh personal computer, it came standard with 128KB of memory.  Now, just thirty years later, my cell phone has 32GB of memory–that’s roughly 8,000 TIMES the storage capacity!  And with this exponential increase in capacity has come an unprecedented access to information.  Indeed, this is fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy that in our day “knowledge shall be increased” (Dan. 12:4).

In the palm of our hands we literally hold the library of the world…

Recently, however, I lost myself in the depths of the bright glow of that phone’s little screen as I sifted late into the night and, on the morrow, my life lamented the loneliness caused by that “damned phone.”  Ugh.  Chastised and suddenly self-aware, I realized how much of what was most important I was losing to the insignificant.  To mere information.

And the prophetic words of a favorite poet, T.S. Eliot, came rushing back.  (Focus on the capitalization!)

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to God.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

T.S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock,’” in The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950 [1962] 96.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?   Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?   Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?  Amen!  Indeed, Eliot’s illustration of the irony of modernity–advancement moving us further from, not nearer to, the God from whence we came–serves as an honest indictment of our current predicament.  (At least it was of mine!)

In ages past, the Adversary often used ignorance to stifle mortal progression.  For the blind “knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).  Today, however, he stymies eternal growth by giving us too much.  And if “the world is too much with us,” much like it was for Ancient Israel, there’s likely  no room for Him.  Thus, too often we’re “[e]ver learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7).  True friendship.  True companionship.  True discipleship.  Truth Eternal.

Yes, too often lost in all this learning is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).  And instead of sifting through chaff and finding the substance–the kernel’s  sustenance–we find ourselves awash with wheat stalks as we lay up in store “that which is of no worth” (2 Ne. 9:51).

In short, instead of knowledge leading us to wisdom through perfecting application, we endlessly cycle through increasing piles of rather useless–at least from an eternal perspective–information.  And soon, we slow “to remember the Lord [our] God, and to give ear unto his counsels” and “to walk in wisdom’s paths!” (Hel. 12:5).  Soon, in the name of learning marked by our hunger for more information rather than His inspiration, we “set at naught his counsels, and [] will not that he should be [our] guide” (Hel. 12:4-6).

But this need not be.  Let us instead sift wisely, prioritize fiercely and focus acutely on that which matters most.  For “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Ne. 9:29).  And give our best time to Highest devotions.  To our God (see Matt. 22:37).  To our “help meet” (see Gen. 2:18). To our “heritage” (see Psalms 127:3).

“The Fountain of Living Waters”

The winter of 2013-14 has been one of the driest on record in California.  Finally, just a couple of weeks ago, it rained–seemingly for the first time in ages.  And within days, the brown, barren landscape began to flourish.  Last week, as I was on a trail run up to the highest point in San Clemente, I stopped at the summit and surveyed the parched earth’s renewal.  As I looked out over the hills to the ocean, green life was springing up all around and I remembered why I love spring so much.  Each spring, the life-sustaining rain brings renewal and rebirth to a parched earth seeking to bring forth new life.  Hope.

As I observe this transformation each year, I cannot help but think about that first Easter long ago as the Savior of the world’s infinite sacrifice–steps marked through Gethsemane’s garden and up to Calvary’s cross and completed with Hs triumphant rise from the tomb on that glorious third day–brought about rebirth and renewal for all mankind through the resurrection.  And never are Jesus’ words at Jacob’s Well better understood than springtime in the desert:

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not . . . .

(John 4:13-15).  Like springtime rain for a thirsty earth, Christ is our “Living Water” in a spiritually drought-stricken world.

But like the Israelites of old, too many today “have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” Jer. 2:13.  Seeking to satisfy our creature rather than follow our Creator, too many of us have “forsaken the right way, and are gone astray . . . lov(ing) the wages of unrighteousness” which “are wells without water” (2 Pet. 2:15-17).

This need not, no must not, be.  As sons and daughters of God, we all have an inner innate thirst.  But how, and with what, we chose to quench that thirst will determine our destiny.  We can choose to “consume it on our lusts” (Morm. 9:8; see also James 4:3).  Or we can choose to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny ourselves of all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32). Yes, “come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption” (Omni 1:26).   Yes, “come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that (we) might enter into his rest” (Jac. 1:7).  For this is His promise: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37) and ” I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20) for ” he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

In our day, those who keep the commandments of God are promised “the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life” (D&C 6:23).  We find those commandments in the scriptures, even “the rod of iron . . . the word of God, which (leads) to the fountain of living waters” (1 Ne. 11:25).  And in the words of His living oracle, even Thomas S. Monson.  As we come unto Him by keeping His commandments, we “partake of the waters of life freely” (D&C 10:66).   Then, each Sabbath day, we partake in the Sacrament–the covenant key that connects us to weekly to Savior’s saving grace–which brings the powerful promise that each worthy partaker thereof “shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled” (3 Ne. 20:8).

This Easter season may each of us “hunger and thirst after righteousness” that we may be filled with the Holy Ghost.  (See 3 Ne. 12:6, Matt. 5:6).  As Jacob of old, I, too, echo the invitation: “Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” (2 Ne. 9:50).  Drink and drink deeply. “(D)o not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor labor for that which cannot satisfy,” but instead “feast upon that which perisheth no, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in (His)fatness” (2 Ne. 9:51).

I know that He lives.  And because He lives, so, too, shall each of us live again.  Happy Easter!

Gratitude: a Few Thoughts on Thanks From an “Unprofitable Servant”

“Thankfulness is measured by the number of words;
gratitude is measured by the nature of our actions.”

–President David O. McKay

Recently, I frantically scrambled through LAX to catch my flight.  On the car ride to the airport, I had worked through some last-minute revisions to a draft pleading that I needed to then send to a partner for review and filing later that night.  But, because I had delayed my departure to the airport until the last-minute (yes, I’m that guy), I had no time, once I arrived at the gate, to break out the laptop, hit the airport WiFi and send the email.  No worries, I thought, the plane will have WiFi.  I can just send it once I’ve boarded.  Thus convinced, I headed down the jet way.  Sure enough, the plane says “WiFi enabled.”  Not ten minutes later, however, the flight attendant leveled the death-blow over the intercom, “I’m sorry, ladies and gentleman, due to some technical difficulties, our in-flight WiFi service will not be available.”  Awesome…five hours stuck in this tiny chair and no way to work.  At that moment, embroiled in problems of my own making no less, I almost boiled over by lashing out at said flight attendant when I instantly realized I’d become this guy…

[Editor’s note: this might be the first time Louis CK has ever been cited in the same piece as David O. McKay and James E. Faust.  If you view his “related” videos, do so with caution as you’re proceeding at your our peril…language NSFW. ]

Thanksgiving Daily

Notwithstanding the Lord’s ongoing injunction to “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow” (Alma 34:38), I find myself too frequently encamped with other fair-weather followers.  You know, those who “[i]n the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me” (D&C 101:8).  Too often, I feel my expression of gratitude is a direct reflection of my perceived need for continuing clemency and compassion from a Father for whom I’ve already proven to be an “unprofitable servant” (see Mosiah 2:19-21).  The greater my need for His inspired intervention, the more heart-felt and frequent my offering of thanks.

Sadly, however, I am not alone in my ingratitude.  Consider these words written by Abraham Lincoln as part of a resolution in 1863.  True then and truer now 150 years later:

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in number, wealth, and power as no other Nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.[1]

Indeed, as I reflect on the last ten years of my life—beginning at a time when my wife and I literally did not have enough money to buy food to eat as we struggled through the end of my undergrad to the present day as I get chauffeured about in Towncars and stay in hotels next to Oprah—my own “intoxication” with my apparent “self-sufficiency” is sobering.

Certainly, our expressions of gratitude—indeed, measured far more by action than word—should not be an annual affair commemorated by an afternoon of gluttony and Cowboys football.  Daily, in good times as well as bad, we each should privately “ask[] for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive” (Alma 7:23).

Thanksgiving Through Good and Bad

The explanatory introduction to Section 98 of the Doctrine & Covenants provides a humbling example.  “In July 1833, a mob destroyed Church property, tarred and feathered two Church members, and demanded that the Saints leave Jackson County.”  This happened on July 20.  Then, just three days, later the mob returned:

On July 23, 1833, five hundred men rushed into Independence waving a red flag and brandishing guns, dirks, whips, and clubs. With oaths and curses they searched for the leading elders of the Church, threatening to whip the ones they captured with from fifty to five hundred lashes. Negroes owned by members of the mob laid waste the crops of the Saints. Dwellings were demolished by the mob as they threatened ‘We will rid Jackson county of the “Mormons,” peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must. If they will not go without, we will whip and kill the men; we will destroy their children, and ravish their women.’

To save the lives of the Saints, Edward Partridge, William Phelps, Isaac Morley, A. Sidney Gilbert, John Whitmer, and John Corrill offered themselves as a ransom for the lives of their brethren, to be scourged or put to death if need be. For this noble gesture their names will be remembered forever in the annals of the Church. But the mob, insensible to this noble manifestation of love, scoffed at the six leaders and with brutal imprecations swore they would flog every man, woman, and child until the Mormons agreed to leave the county. ‘Leave the county or die’ was the demand.[2]

Word could not have reached the Prophet Joseph, who received the following instruction from the Lord while still in Kirtland just a few days later:

Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;

Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.

Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.

(D&C 98:1-3 (emphasis added)).  I can only imagine how these suffering Saints must have felt when told to be “thankful” for such injustice and intolerance!

But the spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving, born of humility and recognition, reflects an inspired understanding that God the Father is “one who knows us better than we do ourselves, as he loves us better too.  [For] He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill.”[3]  Through gratitude, we acknowledge He is the Creator, we the creation; He the proctor, we the pupil.  Through gratitude, we fully enable the atoning power of the Lord Jesus Christ to teach and temper, fire and fortify our faith as “all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).  In a very real sense,

 [G]ratitude [i]s an expression of faith and [i]s a saving principle.  The Lord has said, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21).  It is clear to me from this scripture that to “thank the Lord thy God in all things” (D&C 59:7) is more than a social courtesy; it is a binding commandment.”[4]

I am grateful—today and everyday—for the Divine Hand of Providence and the helping hand of an all-knowing, all-loving Heavenly Father who knows me well enough to give me what I need, not just what I want and ask for (sometimes in repeated fashion like a whiney three-year-old trying to get at his remaining Halloween candy).  I know that this gratitude is manifest daily through both word and deed as we keep His commandments and learn to ” suffer the will of the Father in all things from the beginning” (3 Ne. 11:11).


 

   [1]   John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln, Man of God, 4th ed., New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, p. 391.

   [2]   Barrett, Joseph Smith, pp. 251–52, 255–56.

   [3]   Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790.

   [4]   James E. Faust,” Gratitude as a Saving Principle,” Ensign, May 1990.

Happy Birthday, U.S. Constitution!

Today, the U.S. Constitution celebrates its 226th birthday.  A social compact–a contract–unlike any before it, it’s now served as the blueprint for dozens upon dozens of others nations to “secure the Blessings of Liberty” for all.

Although what emerged from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia at the end of that fateful four months in the summer of 1787 far exceeded what was proposed when those inspired delegates convened, I think most can now agree that it is “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man” (William Gladstone, North American Review, Sept.–Oct. 1878, p. 185).  Even , as the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, “a glorious standard … a heavenly banner” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 147).

As George Washington humbly acknowledged in his first inaugural address, “[n]o people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency” (First Inaugural Address, 30 Apr. 1789).  True then, truer today.

But now, as we commemorate yet another year of freedom, I am inspired by this nearly twenty-five-year-old landmark address by President Ezra Taft Benson (from whom I draw most of the sources above).  There, he urged citizens and saints alike to honor the Constitution by embracing four timeless virtues:

First and foremost, we must be righteous. 

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (The Works of John Adams, ed. C. F. Adams, Boston: Little, Brown Co., 1851, 4:31). If the Constitution is to have continuance, this American nation, and especially the Latter-day Saints, must be virtuous.

. . .

Second, we must learn the principles of the Constitution in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Have we read The Federalist papers? Are we reading the Constitution and pondering it? Are we aware of its principles? Are we abiding by these principles and teaching them to others? Could we defend the Constitution? Can we recognize when a law is constitutionally unsound? Do we know what the prophets have said about the Constitution and the threats to it?

As Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free … it expects what never was and never will be” (Letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, 6 Jan. 1816).

Third, we must become involved in civic affairs to see that we are properly represented.

The Lord said that “he holds men accountable for their acts in relation” to governments “both in making laws and administering them” (D&C 134:1). We must follow this counsel from the Lord: “Honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:10).

Note the qualities that the Lord demands of those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest.

Fourth, we must make our influence felt by our vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice.

We must become accurately informed and then let others know how we feel. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it. … From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get” (History of the Church, 5:286).

Recommitting to Righteous Living

          During last October’s General Conference, Elder Quentin L. Cook spoke first following President Monson’s historic announcement reducing the age of eligibility for missionary service.  While he noted that the “the rising generation [is] better prepared than any previous generation,” he cautioned that “the culture in most of the world is not conducive to righteousness or spiritual commitment.”[1]  This concern about spiritual commitment underscored the central theme of his message:

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices.  Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants.  Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. [2]

           In a time a day that mirrors ours—both in the influence of evil and the preparation of the earth for the coming of the Christ, Alma the Younger stepped down from his seat as the Nephite “chief judge” so that “might go forth among his people . . .that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:17, 19).  Chapter 5 of the Book of Alma documents his first sermon to the saints in Zarahemla.  Here, through 50 insightful inquiries, Alma walks us through the essentials of recommitting to righteous living.  Here are just a few…

  • In verse 14 he posits to the newly converted and youth of the Church:  “my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God?  Have ye received his image in your countenances?  Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
  • In verses 18 and 19 he calls out to the sinner needing the cleansing soap of the Savior’s grace:  “can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?  I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?”
  • And in verse 26 he reaches out to the previously penitent:  “if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” 

Surely each of us can connect with some (or, quite possibly for me, all) of his incisive questions.  And regardless of where we find ourselves on that upward path toward perfection, this type of personal audit and accounting helps us evaluate just how “committed” we are to Gospel of Jesus Christ and its principles. 

          Because spiritual growth is measured more by present direction than past accumulation we cannot rest on spiritual laurels garnered long ago.  Thus, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:  “It is not enough for us to have once been close to the Savior.  (So was Sidney Rigdon.)  Alma said, if we have once ‘felt to sing the song of redeeming love,’ can we ‘feel so now?’  Dutiful discipleship creates many happy memories, but it does not make nostalgia a substitute for fresh achievement.”[3]

          In spiritual terms, we cannot—or rather, in reality, we do not—“tread water.”  There is no spiritual “status quo.”  American poet and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. counseled, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving:  To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it,—but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”[4]  The Prophet Joseph pointed out that before baptism, you could stand on neutral ground between good and evil.  But “when you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God.  When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can [go] back.”[5] 

          Now, a word to all of us parents.  Elder Cook also cautioned:  “Parents, the days are long past when regular, active participation in Church meetings and programs, though essential, can fulfill your sacred responsibility to teach your children to live moral, righteous lives and walk uprightly before the Lord.”   He continued, “Parents must have the courage to filter or monitor Internet access, television, movies, and music.  Parents must have the courage to say no, defend truth, and bear powerful testimony.  Your children need to know that you have faith in the Savior, love your Heavenly Father, and sustain the leaders of the Church. Spiritual maturity must flourish in our homes.”  But that is tall task in today’s evil environment.  As Elder Maxwell observed, “Today, lust openly parades as love, license cleverly poses as liberty, and raucous sounds mockingly masquerade as music.  Evil even calls itself good and often gets away with it!”[6]

          Indeed, today sin surrounds us all.  And even if we don’t initially succumb to our Adversary’s tantalizing temptations, the resulting desensitization may ultimately wear us down—or the beloved children of God for whom we so deeply care.  For as the angel of the Lord admonished Nephi, “[t]he temptations of the devil . . . blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost” (1 Ne. 12:17).  And David—the Psalmist who sadly knew too well how far a man can fall by incremental steps downward—aptly described the catastrophic consequences of continuing to stand in the face of temptation’s tempestuous storm when we are, pardon the pun, aroused by his onslaught:  “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me” (Ps. 69:2).  Lingering too long in the “deep waters” is a sure way to sink in sin.  Thus, we see Alexander Pope’s precipitous slippery slope…

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.[7] 

          So how can we counter the rising tide of sin?  How can we cleanse both ourselves and our homes from the ill effects of his “fiery darts?” (1 Ne. 15:24).  How can we recommit ourselves to Gospel and all its offerings?  Again from Elder Cook:  “Immersion in the scriptures is essential for spiritual nourishment.  The word of God inspires commitment and acts as a healing balm for hurt feelings, anger, or disillusionment.  When our commitment is diminished for any reason, part of the solution is repentance.  Commitment and repentance are closely intertwined.”  The key to renewed commitment is two-fold:  first, we need to refocus on the scriptures; and second, we must repent.

          President Spencer W. Kimball candidly shared a valuable lesson he learned from personal experience:  “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.”[8]  As Nephi of old, I testify that “whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Ne. 15:24). 

          The central message of Alma’s sermon is spiritual rebirth.  Let us all hear and harken to his beautiful words:  “I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation . . . that [you] must repent and be born again” (Alma 5:49).  “Repent, for except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 5:51).  “[H]umble [your]selves and [] walk after the holy order of God, . . . sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and . . . bring forth works which are meet for repentance” (Alma 5:54).  “[A]ll you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things” (Alma 5:57).

          Lying at the center of the Book of Mormon’s chief chiasmic teaching is the story of a man…a man beset with sin yet clothed in the pride and power of the world.  Yet as it was for King Lamoni’s father, so it is for us.  It is not enough to offer even half of our earthly “kingdoms.”  For the answer to the king’s profound question—“What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken?”—is the same for all: 

But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:

O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. 

(Alma 22:16-18; emaphis added).  King Lamoni’s father’s commitment is measured by his exercising of faith UNTO repentance.  And as I we, too, exercise “faith unto repentance,” “mercy can satisfy the demands of justice” as the infinite power of Christ’s atonement “encircles [us] in the arms of safety” for He “is mighty to save” (Alma 34:16, 18).

          My friends, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not “too good to be true.”  It is so good, it must be true.  But the price of admission is repentance.  We each must be “willing to give away all [our] sins to know [God], that [we may] be saved at the last day” (Alma 22:18).  Like the Christ whom we follow, we must learn to “suffer[] the will of the Father in all things” (3 Ne. 11:11).  “Righteous desires need to be relentless because, said President Brigham Young, “the men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day.”[9]   Therefore, as Elder Maxwell declared, “true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors.” 

          To Alma’s testimony I add my own witness:  the Lord’s ways are ways commitment, not mere conversation; the Lord requires faith manifest through performance, not artificially pious pronouncements unaccompanied by the true hallmarks of discipleship.  Today and always may we exercise faith unto repentance so that we, too, at the last day, can “look up to God . . . with a pure heart and clean hands . . . having the image of God engraven upon [our] countenances?” (Alma 5:19).


 

   [1]   Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Can Ye Say So Now,” Ensign, Nov. 2012.

   [2]   Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Can Ye Say So Now,” Ensign, Nov. 2012.

   [3]   Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, 88.

   [4]   Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table [1858], 105.

   [5]   Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 324 (2007).

   [6]   Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Behold, the Enemy Is Combined’ (D&C 38:12),” Ensign, May 1993, 76.  

   [7]   Alexander Pope, Essay of Man, Epistle 2, lines 217–20 (1794).  

   [8]   What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren and All Others of the Youth of Zion [address delivered to seminary and institute faculty, Brigham Young University, 11 July 1966],  6.

   [9]   Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 11:14.

Something More Than ‘Just a Mom’

By definition, truth transcends the limitations of language and mortal (mis)understandings.  Consequentially, with modernity’s penchant for progressivism and politically correctness, gender has unquestionably transformed into one of those chief “limitations” imposed by our limited recollection and imperfect perspective.  But God, our Creator and Father, does not so delineate or discriminate between men and women—for He is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10: 34; see also D&C 1: 35, D&C 38: 16).  Though today society sells short shrift to “traditional” gender roles, men—but especially women because of their innate power to both create and cultivate the children of God—are the great product of a divine design:

ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God.  Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.  Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.[1]

These truths, as profound as they are powerful, form the bedrock of understanding and meaning of life. 

But as our world has slowly shaken off the shackles of the Dark Ages and entered the enlightened and empowered age of modernity, we too quickly have taken to the short-term thought process that values women independent (and almost in spite) of their value to society as mothers.  “Oh, I’m just a mom” precipitously precedes the inevitable, “but didn’t you want to be something more?!”  Indeed “successful” women, the world tells us, must be something more than “just a mom.”  

Now I do not pretend to understand the reasoning behind the Lord’s division of labors between man and woman in the “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8).  But a division was made and no level of “progress” or “enlightenment” or “evolution” can disparage or disintegrate the importance and necessity of either half of that division.  Elder Neal A. Maxwell said:

We know so little . . . about the reasons for the division of duties between womanhood and manhood as well as between motherhood and priesthood.  These were divinely determined in another time and another place.  We are accustomed to focusing on the men of God because theirs is the priesthood and leadership line.  But paralleling that authority line is a stream of righteous influence reflecting the remarkable women of God who have existed in all ages and dispensations, including our own.  Greatness is not measured by coverage in column inches, either in newspapers or in the scriptures.  The story of the women of God, therefore, is, for now, an untold drama within a drama.[2]

Similar teachings came from President Spencer W. Kimball: “In the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments. . . .  While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to.  [We] are accountable for those things which long ago were expected of [us].”[3]  In the end, this will be what matters most.  We are accountable for the assignments given to each of us—regardless of whether we think another’s load looks more (or less) attractive. 

I pay tribute today not solely to women—but more importantly to their eternal identity prescribed by Our Father’s “divine design” millennia ago.  “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”[4]  The paramount import of this responsibility cannot possibly—and this is not hyperbole—be understated.  And every woman of every age needs to know that.  Embrace that.  And be exalted through it.  Mothers, we need you now more than ever… 

The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance.  More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know.  Children are being born into a world where they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).1  However, mothers need not fear.  When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.

. . .

Who will prepare this righteous generation of sons and daughters?  Latter-day Saint women will do this—women who know and love the Lord and bear testimony of Him, women who are strong and immovable and who do not give up during difficult and discouraging times.[5]

There is no work being done on the earth today that more closely mirrors the selfless sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ than that done as mothers worldwide nurture children (of any age) around them.  For surely how many of you mothers have not felt “despised and rejected”?  “[Wo]man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”?  Or “despised” as the world “esteem[s] [you] not” (Isa. 53:3).  But as it was for Christ so it will be for each daughter of God as each that has “abased [her]self” in the eyes of the world “shalt be exalted” in the world to come (D&C 112:3). 

As a young returned missionary, I could boldly declare as did Abraham Lincoln that “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”[6]  As a married man, however, I must now acknowledge with heartfelt humility that the heights to which I soar in this life, as well as the eternities hereafter, will be on the angelic wings of my blessed wife.  As the mother of my five very young children, she indeed has been abased, despised, rejected and left for last.  But she will be first forever in the Heavens to come as her selfless sacrifice is seen through the perfect prism of Out Father’s inspired perspective.  (See Matt. 20:16; Luke 13:30; Mark 9:35).  Don’t ever let the world tell you you’re “just a mom.” You are, indeed, “doing a great work”  (Neh. 6:3).


 

   [1]   The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

   [2]   Neal A. Maxwell, “The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, 10.

   [3]   Spencer W. Kimball, “The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102.

   [4]   “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

   [5]   Julie B. Beck, “Mothers Who Know,” Ensign, Oct. 2007. 

[6] Attributed to Abraham Lincoln in Josiah G. Holland, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 23 (1866), and George Alfred Townsend, The Real Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 6 (1867).