Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 April General Conference


The joy I felt when President Eyring talked to us during the Saturday Morning session of conference is with me still.  He talked about hearts being softened, faith strengthened and the increased capacity to love the Savior more.  

Great counsel and I talked to myself about all I had heard and read. I found a story about Sherlock Holmes that helps.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson went on a camping trip. After sharing a good meal, they retire to their tent for the night.  At about 3 AM, Holmes nudges Watson and asks, “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?”
Watson said, “I see millions of stars.”
Holmes asks, “And what does that tell you?”
Watson replies, “Astronomically, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Theologically, it tells me that God is great ad we are small and insignificant. Horologically,  it tells me that it’s about 3 AM. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.  What does it tell you, Holmes?”
Holmes retorts, “SOMEONE STOLE OUR TENT!”
My mind drifted back to my first years in the gospel when a Branch President said he had an assignment for me. I was one of his Counselors.  Conditions in Northern British Columbia were economically poor at the time and called for sacrifices both temporally and spiritually.    He had become aware of several sisters who lived a couple of hours away in the back country whose husbands were not keen on the idea of them driving over a rough road into Dawson Creek, especially in the winter to go to church. He had consented to have two elders come up every other Sunday.  The time with these sisters took on a spirit that lifted us up as we blessed and passed the sacrament in the home of one of them.  We felt so special to have the opportunity. Words spoken there have long since drifted from my mind but not the remembrance of the Savior’s influence. I cherished the honing of friendships and the increase of joy as we met together. Hearts indeed were softened; faith strengthened, and love of the Lord increased.

I have long had the picture of that gathering and watched as we shared the gospel.  I never will forget the words I read then and especially when I heard President Eyring repeat from D&C  6:32 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, where two or three are gathered together in my name --- behold, there will I be in the midst of them. Even so am I in the midst of you.”

Twenty plus thousand people were in the Conference Center and millions more were watching and listening from all over the world.  President Eyring reminded us with tears in his eyes that we could feel the Savior with us today.

Many are struggling, President Eyring said, with their testimonies. He said they were not alone in their concerns nor was their test a new one. He spoke of the parable of the seed and the sower.

Without going into that parable, President Eyring’s summary is the the seed is the word of God and the soil is the heart of the person who receives the seed. He went on to say, “We are all called by called servants of God and we all remember the day of our baptism and felt the swelling in our hearts being part of the nurtured soil we knew would grow our testimonies.”  President Eyring  also said:  “Satan wants us all to be as miserable as him and says the joy we once felt was childish and self-delusion.” End quote.

I can still hear the words of an older brother who came to the rented hall our Branch was worshipping  in and say so quietly in that humble setting:  “All that I am and all that I ever will be I owe to the Savior. I feel His love and constant encouragement. My prayers have honored His name and my heart has sought His counsel.”  He then sat down and wept and we wept with him.

I instantly understood that he had travelled with the Savior as his companion. President Eyring’s words came home to me as I listened to him say to pray with full purpose of heart. Indeed, we had a witness of it that day.

Confucius said: “Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.”

Sister Hubbert has labored diligently, along with the choir singers and players and we felt their full purpose of hope in their Easter message. President Eyring talked about that kind of preparation, having a special faith in the music, and the song of the heart and said the song of the righteous is a prayer unto the savior.

He further said: “They pray as they sing and their prayers and your prayers will be answered by a blessing upon your heads. We have had a witness of their efforts as they sang out for us and the Lord.”

When I was on the Distant Early Warning Line, above the Arctic Circle, there were no other Mormons around but they had a minister who came in and had a non-denomination service each Sunday.

I enjoyed it as the sermons were thoughtful and enlightened with good reasoning. Then came an LDS  pilot who was flying a DC-3 in and out of the construction camp. He was going to be air support (cargo) throughout the summer.  I contacted him to join me to prepare and take our own sacrament.   We then attended the non-denomination service.  It was so pleasing to be with him on those Sundays and I remember how it lifted my spirits. So much of my life has been in the mission field. Bonnie and I had never lived in a ward until we came to this area.

What I can tell you  is the faith of good people is so pleasing for us and President Eyring’s message goes right to it. His words are so on point. “I know from experience what the faith of good people can do to bring words from the spirit at the close of a sermon.  More than once, someone has said to me after my testimony, how did you know what I so needed to hear.

 I have learned to not be surprised when I cannot remember saying the words. I spoke the words of testimony but the Lord was there, giving them to me in the moment. The promise that the Lord gives us words in the very moment applies especially to testimony

 D&C 24:6  :.And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shall speak and write, and they shall hear it, or I will send  unto them a cursing instead of a blessing. Listen carefully to the testimonies borne in this conference. You will feel closer to the Lord.”

Now, I have thought about how I felt as a new convert.  It was startling to hear of the gospel, scary in that it conjured up feelings I never knew existed but comforting in that it defies all explanation.  After much pondering, much agonizing, I was in a state of wonder when the questions just flowed. Could this be I said? Did it really happen? All of the feelings I had made me weep.  Do they come from God or from finding something so utterly wonderful that I dared not let go of it?  Is it true or do I just want it to be true so much that I can’t stand to say anything against it? The sifting went on and I finally came to the altar of acceptance.  Even more so, I had an understanding of the spirit giving me the quiet assurance that the joy I felt was real and would not go away if I followed the Savior.

For those raised in the church, you will have the benefit of information, exposure to spiritual moments, training, culturally, spiritually with all the resources of the church and its people. However, your road to conversion was probably more tested than mine. You will have the disenchantment of the apostates; the critics of the church who work the half-truths so skillfully.  You may also run into the intellects who argue their way in and out of the church.

Yet, those who came through that and also kneeled at the altar of acceptance have UNITED their lives with the Savior’s and kept their eternal flames burning.

So here we are, the inside converts joined with the outside converts in the journey to perfection.  Now promises & covenants begin to mean more for us; the caring for each other, the understanding, and the willingness to serve takes on a new meaning. Is it not just for goodness sake? Not just for a better way to live but for reasons eternally sanctified with the savior’s blood that is the clear path to the atonement?  Perhaps it is ours to take a deep spiritual breath smiling upward as we follow in the Savior’s footsteps.

I so love feeling the light of the gospel and being given the chance to make a difference.

It is not ours to make anyone ask for love. That is, though, we have a lot of places, things and people to work with constantly.  A walk in the rain with a troubled person has its moments.  Suffering can make saints of people and they rarely know it.  Joy can make the day more blessed and the nights more filled but the greatest blessing is freely giving. To freely accept the Lord's invitation to come home, you have been making it through hard times as it comes to us all.   I have been privileged to be in your company.

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