My wife and I have recently been re-watching the sessions of this last General Conference, which we “tivo-ed”. In my opinion, this is one of the most spiritually powerful General Conferences I have seen. Maybe I am just sorely in need of spiritual enlightenment- which is always true, but I was genuinely touched in life-altering ways by much of what was said over the conference center pulpit at the beginning of this month. I count it among the “tender mercies of the Lord” that so many spoke directly to my soul about real problems and issues I am currently facing and helped me to feel my Savior’s love so clearly. Here are some of the promises and quotes that touched me the most this last conference:
- The testimony that our examples really have the power to touch and change lives. From Sister Cook:
Let me tell you an experience from my own life and how my brother’s patterns of righteousness and example resulted in our family being blessed eternally.
My brother and I were “born of goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1) who loved and made great sacrifices for the two of us, but our family had not been blessed with the sacred ordinances of the temple.
Many years ago on a day in late December, we received a letter from my brother, who was serving in the California North Mission. The outside of the envelope cautioned, “Do not open until you are all together!!”
As my father, mother, and I gathered to open his seven-page typewritten letter, we read his testimony of prayer. He taught us the doctrine of eternal families from the scriptures. We read his experiences of how fasting and prayer helped his investigators prepare to receive the ordinance of baptism. He assured us that our family too could be blessed through fasting and prayer. Then came his challenge: “The bishop of the Stanford Ward spoke on a topic a couple of months ago which really hit home. . . . The bishop’s talk made me stop and realize the goals I want to accomplish in life. Uppermost in my mind is the goal I want to achieve with my own family . . . that, of course, being sealed to you, Mom and Dad, for time and all eternity in the house of the Lord. I love you very much and want our family to be together in the eternities.”
Then his closing words: “May the Lord guide you in this important decision and may you pray together as a family is my prayer.”
As a teenager, I too had prayed for this blessing to come to my family. This letter now brought hope for my righteous desire.
The new year was an opportunity for our family to make some changes. In the many months that followed, we established family patterns of righteousness. We prayed together, studied about the ordinances of the temple, paid tithing, and attended our meetings regularly—as a family. Shortly after my brother returned from his mission, we were prepared to receive the ordinances of the temple. I knew the Lord had heard and answered our prayers as we surrounded the holy altar in the temple and were sealed as a family for time and all eternity.
Can you make a difference in your family? Yes, you can! I often wonder about my family’s eternal progression if my brother had not written that powerful letter. His patterns of righteousness and example changed our lives.
- The promises of an eternal family, especially poignant after recent events:
As time went by, a pair of missionaries taught us the riches of the restored gospel, of the doctrine of the plan of salvation, and of eternal families. We were baptized, and when my father began his calling as district president, his first objective was to journey to the temple and receive the blessings which would come because of that sacrifice. It was a 15-day journey covering 4,800 miles (7,725 km)—a journey filled with difficulties and setbacks, highways in poor condition, uncomfortable buses, not even knowing the route, but with great hope in the ordinances we would participate in.
Upon arriving in the city of Mesa, Arizona, we headed down an avenue at the end of which we could see the house of the Lord, gleaming and beautiful. I remember the joy which filled our hearts; we all broke out in songs and praising, and tears ran down the cheeks of many Saints.
Later in the temple, we knelt as a family to hear the beautiful promises about an eternal family, with the certainty that our mother, though absent, was now our mother forever, and we felt the peace which comes from knowing that we are an eternal family.
The promise of life eternal thus gave us the riches of eternity! “Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich” (D&C 6:7).
- A touching, timely reminder that the Lord fulfills his promises from Elder Condie:
The Apostle Peter testified that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering” toward us (2 Peter 3:9). In this age of one-hour dry cleaning and one-minute fast-food franchises, it may at times seem to us as though a loving Heavenly Father has misplaced our precious promises or He has put them on hold or filed them under the wrong name. Such were the feelings of Rachel.
But with the passage of time, we encounter four of the most beautiful words in holy writ: “And God remembered Rachel” (Genesis 30:22). And she was blessed with the birth of Joseph and later the birth of Benjamin. There are millions on earth today who are descendants of Joseph who have embraced the Abrahamic promise that through their efforts “shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abraham 2:11).
When heaven’s promises sometimes seem afar off, I pray that each of us will embrace these exceeding great and precious promises and never let go. And just as God remembered Rachel, God will remember you.
- A powerful apostolic promise from Elder Uchtforf about the divine power of Jesus Christ and his gospel to lift lives:
I remember a time when things didn’t look good for our family when I was a child. It was in the winter of 1944, one of the coldest during World War II. The war front was approaching our town, and my mother had to take us four children, leave all our possessions behind, and join the millions of fleeing refugees in a desperate search for a place to survive. Our father was still in the military, but he and Mother had agreed that if they were ever separated during the war, they would try to reunite at the hometown of my grandparents. They felt this place offered the greatest hope for shelter and safety.
With bombing raids during the night and air attacks during the day, it took us many days to reach my grandparents. My memories of those days are of darkness and coldness.
My father returned to us unharmed, but our future looked extremely bleak. We were living in the rubble of postwar Germany with a devastating feeling of hopelessness and darkness about our future.
In the middle of this despair, my family learned about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the healing message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This message made all the difference; it lifted us above our daily misery. Life was still thorny and the circumstances still horrible, but the gospel brought light, hope, and joy into our lives. The plain and simple truths of the gospel warmed our hearts and enlightened our minds. They helped us look at ourselves and the world around us with different eyes and from an elevated viewpoint.
My dear brothers and sisters, aren’t the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and our membership in His Church great reasons to rejoice?
Wherever you live on this earth and whatever your life’s situation may be, I testify to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the divine power to lift you to great heights from what appears at times to be an unbearable burden or weakness. The Lord knows your circumstances and your challenges. He said to Paul and to all of us, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” And like Paul we can answer: “My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we may claim the blessings promised in the covenants and the ordinances we received when we accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ.
. . .
My dear brothers and sisters, there will be days and nights when you feel overwhelmed, when your hearts are heavy and your heads hang down. Then, please remember, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, is the Head of this Church. It is His gospel. He wants you to succeed. He gave His life for just this purpose. He is the Son of the living God. He has promised:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee” (3 Nephi 22:10). “I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (3 Nephi 22:8).
My dear friends, the Savior heals the broken heart and binds up your wounds (see Psalm 147:3). Whatever your challenges may be, wherever you live on this earth, your faithful membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the divine powers of the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless you to endure joyfully to the end.
Of this I bear witness with all my heart and mind in the sacred name of Jesus Christ.
- Promises that the Lord will provide for us in our need, illustrated by President Monson’s excellent continuation of Mrs. Patten’s story:
My brothers and sisters, I do not believe it was a coincidence that I was impressed to give that particular message at the April 1969 general conference. Nor do I believe it was a coincidence that Mrs. Terese Patton was invited by neighbors to join them in their home for that particular session of conference. I am certain our Heavenly Father was mindful of her needs and wanted her to hear the comforting truths of the gospel.
Although Mrs. Patton has long since left mortality, I have felt a strong impression to share with you the manner in which our Heavenly Father blessed and provided for her, a widow, in her need. With all the strength of my soul I testify that our Heavenly Father loves each one of us. He hears the prayers of humble hearts; He hears our cries for help, as He heard Mrs. Patton. His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, speaks to each of us today: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.”
And that’s just the Saturday morning session, which I was privileged to attend in person with my dad! This last general conference was amazing on many, many levels. I stand all amazed as I re-read and digest the healing words slowly. And, to the extent there were talks I had trouble receiving, I pray that the Lord will help me understand why they were given, and I have confidence that my eyes will be opened.