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Becometh As a Child
Elder Craig Zwick and I shared a precious moment in Fortaleza, Brazil, where we were privileged to bless a special seven-year-old boy who was dying of leukemia. His names—Jared Ammon—tell you much about his parents and family. Accompanied by a thoughtful mission and stake president, there was scarcely room for the four of us to stand beside the bed in the tiny room where Jared Ammon’s faithful 14-year-old sister held him in her arms. His stomach was so severely swollen. When the stake president lifted the oxygen mask to ask if he would like a blessing, Jared said, “Yes, please.” It was a privilege to bless him and to call him to serve beyond the veil. Tears flowed, for the Spirit was strong. The oxygen mask was then lifted again, and Jared Ammon was asked if there was anything else we could do for him. Jared meekly requested that we sing for him “I Am a Child of God”. Weepingly, we responded to a submissive Jared Ammon’s last request, and two hours later he was released from this life. Before emplaning the next day, we went to the viewing at the chapel. His wonderful parents were full of faith, composed, and reverently “willing to submit”. The sister who held Jared plans to serve a mission later on this side of the veil, while Jared does on the other. Brothers and sisters, no wonder the divine direction is for each of us to “becometh as a child”. Such saintliness will sustain us as we cross our Sinai, including in those moments when we must “be still, and know that I am God”. Such submissive stillness is necessary, because the process of consecration is not one of explanation. Only “after the trial of [our] faith” does the full witness come; meanwhile, often “a little child shall lead [us]”.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
The Christian world says, “We are going to the kingdom of Heaven;” but what is to become of those who have died, not believing as they do, or who have died without hearing the Gospel? Millions of them have passed away, both in the Christian and in the heathen worlds, just as honest, virtuous and upright as any now living. The Christian world say they are lost; but the Lord will save them, or, at least, all who will receive the Gospel. The plan of salvation which Jesus has revealed, and which we preach, reaches to the lowest and most degraded of Adam’s lost race. Is He going to save all in the same glory and bring all to the same state of felicity? Will they who refuse to obey the Gospel of the Son of God be saved and exalted in the same kingdom and glory as they who have obeyed? No, never, never! It is impossible. Do you suppose that a person can see the kingdom of heaven without being born of the Spirit? Jesus said not. Shall we say to the contrary, and maintain that we can see the kingdom of God without being born of the Spirit, and say that Jesus is a liar? Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man is born of the spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Shall we admit that Jesus spoke the truth, or shall man say that his doctrine is true and Jesus spoke that which is not true? Which shall we do? There is no alternative but to admit that Jesus is true, and will save on no other condition than that laid down in the Scriptures, and that all who preach any other doctrine take the testimony of men instead of the testimony of Jesus, or that the Christian world with their varied opinions and creeds are true and that Jesus is untrue. This is plain talk, my friends. Can you mistake it? Can you gain any idea from what I say except what I mean–let God be true, if it makes every man a liar. I think my words are so pointed and emphatic that no person can mistake them. Did Jesus say, “Except a man is born of the water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God?” Yes, all Christians will admit that. Then do you think there was one plan of salvation for Nicodemus and another for you and me? It is all folly for any person to expect any such thing! Come with the sword of the Spirit! Let the whole world of Christendom come with their arguments and Scriptures, and let us argue these things together! Let us lay them before the people and see who is right and who is wrong.
The Joy of Living the Great Plan of Happiness
You were taught this plan before you came to earth and there rejoiced in the privilege of participating in it. Obedience to the plan is a requisite for full happiness in this life and a continuation of eternal joy beyond the veil. Essential to His plan of happiness is agency—the right of personal choice. Also fundamental is the holy privilege of procreation to be exercised within the commitment of legal marriage. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. The family is ordained of God. As husband and wife, you have the responsibility to bear children and to nurture and train them spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Satan also has a plan. It is a cunning, evil, subtle plan of destruction. It is his objective to take captive the children of Father in Heaven and with every possible means frustrate the great plan of happiness. Our Heavenly Father endowed His sons and daughters with unique traits especially fitted for their individual responsibilities as they fulfill His plan. To follow His plan requires that you do those things He expects of you as a son or daughter, husband or wife. Those roles are different but entirely compatible. In the Lord’s plan, it takes two—a man and a woman—to form a whole. Indeed, a husband and wife are not two identical halves, but a wondrous, divinely determined combination of complementary capacities and characteristics. Marriage allows these different characteristics to come together in oneness—in unity—to bless a husband and wife, their children and grandchildren. For the greatest happiness and productivity in life, both husband and wife are needed. Their efforts interlock and are complementary. Each has individual traits that best fit the role the Lord has defined for happiness as a man or woman. When used as the Lord intends, those capacities allow a married couple to think, act, and rejoice as one—to face challenges together and overcome them as one, to grow in love and understanding, and through temple ordinances to be bound together as one whole, eternally. That is the plan.
“Let Us Think Straight”
This is a great opportunity to learn more about the plan of happiness our Heavenly Father has given to us. There is so much information that I always feel we need to be cautious and wise to ever keep uppermost in our minds the simple doctrine and gospel of Christ. Simply stated, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of sin, baptism by immersion for the remission of sin, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.. . . We are beloved spirit sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We lived with Him in the premortal realms. In order to fulfill the mission of bringing “to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), Heavenly Father created a plan designed to help His children achieve their ultimate potential. Our Father’s plan called for man to fall and to be separated from Him for a time by being born into mortality, gaining a body, and entering a period of testing and probation. His plan provided for a Savior to redeem mankind from the Fall. The Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ provides the way through gospel ordinances and sacred covenants to return to the presence of God. Because we would live in a mortal environment filled with danger and distractions, Heavenly Father and His Son knew we would need access to power greater than our own. They knew we would need access to Their power. The gospel and doctrine of Christ give all who will accept it power to achieve eternal life and power to find joy in the journey. There are those who question the place of women in God’s plan and in the Church. I’ve been interviewed enough by national and international media to tell you that most journalists with whom I have dealt have had preconceived notions about this topic. Through the years many have asked questions implying that women are second-class citizens in the Church. Brothers and sisters, nothing could be further from the truth. Let me suggest five key points for you to ponder and think straight about regarding this important topic.
Necessity of Being Pure in Heart
You have not the power to baptise yourselves, neither have you power to resurrect yourselves; and you could not legally baptise a second person for the remission of sins until some person first baptised you and ordained you to this authority. So with those that hold the keys of the resurrection to resurrect the Saints. Joseph will come up in his turn, receive his body again, and continue his mission in the eternal worlds until he carries it out to perfection, with all the rest of the faithful, to be made perfect with those who have lived before, and those who shall live after; and when the work is finished, and it is offered to the Father, then they will be crowned and receive keys and powers by which they will be capable of organizing worlds. What will they organize first? Were I to tell you, I should certainly spoil all the baby resurrection that Elder Hyde and the others ever preached, as sure as the world. After men have got their exaltations and their crowns–have become Gods, even the sons of God–are made Kings of kings and Lords of lords, they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world. Power is then given to them to organize the elements, and then commence the organization of tabernacles. How can they do it? Have they to go to that earth? Yes, an Adam will have to go there, and he cannot do without Eve; he must have Eve to commence the work of generation, and they will go into the garden, and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world, until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their celestial bodies to enable them, according to the established laws, to produce mortal tabernacles for their spiritual children. This is a key for you. The faithful will become Gods, even the sons of God; but this does not overthrow the idea that we have a father. Adam is my father; (this I will explain to you at some future time;) but it does not prove that he is not my father, if I became a God: it does not prove that I have not a father.
Obedience to Law is Liberty
Why did the phrase “obedience to law is liberty” ring so true to me at the time? Why does it ring true to all of us now? Perhaps it is because we have a revealed knowledge of our premortal history. We recognize that when God the Eternal Father presented His plan to us at the beginning of time, Satan wanted to alter the plan. He said he would redeem all mankind. Not one soul would be lost, and Satan was confident he could deliver on his proposal. But there was an unacceptable cost—the destruction of man’s agency, which was and is a gift given by God. About this gift, President Harold B. Lee said, “Next to life itself, free agency is God’s greatest gift to mankind.” Then it was no small thing for Satan to disregard man’s agency. In fact, it became the principal issue over which the War in Heaven was fought. Victory in the War in Heaven was a victory for man’s agency. Satan, however, was not done. His backup plan—the plan he has been executing since the time of Adam and Eve—was to tempt men and women, essentially to prove we are undeserving of the God-given gift of agency. Satan has many reasons for doing what he does. Perhaps the most powerful is the motive of revenge, but he also wants to make men and women miserable like he is miserable. None of us should ever underestimate how driven Satan is to succeed. His role in God’s eternal plan creates “opposition in all things” and tests our agency. Each choice you and I make is a test of our agency—whether we choose to be obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God is actually a choice between “liberty and eternal life” and “captivity and death.”
Of Regrets and Resolutions
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.” Brothers and sisters, no matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it. Perhaps we should be looking less with our eyes and more with our hearts. I love the quote: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”We are commanded “to give thanks in all things.”So isn’t it better to see with our eyes and hearts even the small things we can be thankful for, rather than magnifying the negative in our current condition? The Lord has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold.” Brothers and sisters, with the bountiful blessings of our Heavenly Father, His generous plan of salvation, the supernal truths of the restored gospel, and the many beauties of this mortal journey, “have we not reason to rejoice?” Let us resolve to be happy, regardless of our circumstances.
An Opportunity of Salvation
We are taught in the gospel of Jesus Christ that the family organization will be, so far as celestial exaltation is concerned, one that is complete, an organization linked from father and mother, and children of one generation to the father and mother and children of the next generation, and thus expanding and spreading out down to the end of time. If we fail to do the work, therefore, in the temples for our dead, you see our links in this chain — genealogical chain — will be broken, we will have to stand aside at least until that is remedied. We could not be made perfect in this organization unless we are brought in by this selective or sealing power, and if we have failed to do the work for those of our line, who have gone before, we will stand aside until somebody comes along who will do it for us; and if we have had the opportunity and have failed to do it, then naturally we would be under condemnation, and I think all through eternity we would regret the fact that we had failed to do the thing that was placed before us to do and which was our duty to accomplish in the salvation of the children of men. Another thing that I would like to say: Some of us get so enthusiastic over this temple work that we are not willing to abide by the rules and the regulations, and to confine ourselves to our own line, but we want to spread out into the other fellow’s line, and we want to do the work because we readily find names that belong to somebody else, and that method of work for the dead is not permissible. It is all right to help others do their work, if we do that with proper consent, but each family group is entitled to do the work for their particular line. One more thought in regard to this work of salvation: A great many people are very anxious to do work for friends, and this thing has been carried to an extreme. We do not need to worry ourselves very much about friends. A man came to me a few days ago and presented two lists and said he wanted to do the work for these people because they were his friends. The oldest man of the group was born in 1710, and his children were born between 1730 and 1740, yet he called them his friends. Now we should confine our activities to our own line. If there is a good reason for doing the work for somebody who had befriended us, somebody who would have accepted the gospel but did not have the opportunity and who has no relatives in the Church that is a different matter, and we may be privileged to do the work, but we need not be over-anxious to work for those not of our own lineage whom we list as friends.
The perfection that the Savior envisions for us is much more than errorless performance. It is the eternal expectation as expressed by the Lord in his great intercessory prayer to his Father—that we might be made perfect and be able to dwell with them in the eternities ahead. The Lord’s entire work and glory pertains to the immortality and eternal life of each human being. He came into the world to do the will of his Father, who sent him. His sacred responsibility was foreseen before the creation and was foretold by all his holy prophets since the world began. The atonement of Christ fulfilled the long-awaited purpose for which he had come to the earth. His concluding words upon Calvary’s cross referred to the culmination of his assignment—to atone for all humankind. Then he said, “It is finished.” Not surprisingly, the Greek word from which finished was derived is teleios. That Jesus attained eternal perfection following his resurrection is confirmed in the Book of Mormon. It records the visit of the resurrected Lord to the people of ancient America. There he repeated the important injunction previously cited but with one very significant addition. He said, “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” This time he listed himself along with his Father as a perfected personage. Previously he had not. Resurrection is requisite for eternal perfection. Thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, our bodies, corruptible in mortality, will become incorruptible. Our physical frames, now subject to disease, death, and decay, will acquire immortal glory. Presently sustained by the blood of life and ever aging, our bodies will be sustained by spirit and become changeless and beyond the bounds of death. Eternal perfection is reserved for those who overcome all things and inherit the fulness of the Father in his heavenly mansions. Perfection consists in gaining eternal life—the kind of life that God lives.
Prosperity Due To Blessings
We are in the world for a purpose. We are not here accidentally. We came here because we were willing to come, and because it was the wish of our Father in heaven that we should come. We undoubtedly saw very clearly that there was no other way for us to secure what the Father had in store for us. We send missionaries among the children of men. When appointed they feel strangely. Their feelings are not always the most pleasurable, either. There are things about a mission which are not altogether agreeable to our young Elders. They realize that they have to sacrifice the pleasures of home, and they understand that they are going among people who will not always feel gratified at what they have to say to them; yet, on the other hand, they feel that they have the seeds of life in their possession, and that if they can find an honest man or woman, the Spirit of the Lord will operate upon their hearts and they will perchance receive this glorious message which they have to deliver. This affords them pleasure and satisfaction. Another thing, they see in this experience a chance for them to secure that which will be of great value to them in their future duties. It is a strange thing that among the thousands of letters which I have received from those who have been called to go upon missions –mostly young men–I do not think of but one case where a refusal was given. Why is this? It is because the spirit of love and of immortality, the Spirit of the Almighty, is upon these young Elders, and they have received manifestations which inspire them to do that which otherwise no inducement could prompt them to do.
The Purifying Power of Gethsemane
I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative. Through it are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Through it, all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. And through it, all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we are—all shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory. . . And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.
The Race of Life
Everywhere people are in a hurry. Jet-powered aircraft speed their precious human cargo across broad continents and vast oceans so that business meetings might be attended, obligations met, vacations enjoyed, or families visited. Roadways everywhere—including freeways, thruways, and motorways—carry millions of automobiles, occupied by more millions of people, in a seemingly endless stream and for a multitude of reasons as we rush about the business of each day. In this fast-paced life, do we ever pause for moments of meditation—even thoughts of timeless truths? When compared to eternal verities, most of the questions and concerns of daily living are really rather trivial. What should we have for dinner? What color should we paint the living room? Should we sign Johnny up for soccer? These questions and countless others like them lose their significance when times of crisis arise, when loved ones are hurt or injured, when sickness enters the house of good health, when life’s candle dims and darkness threatens. Our thoughts become focused, and we are easily able to determine what is really important and what is merely trivial. I recently visited with a woman who has been battling a life-threatening disease for over two years. She indicated that prior to her illness, her days were filled with activities such as cleaning her house to perfection and filling it with beautiful furnishings. She visited her hairdresser twice a week and spent money and time each month adding to her wardrobe. Her grandchildren were invited to visit infrequently, for she was always concerned that what she considered her precious possessions might be broken or otherwise ruined by tiny and careless hands. And then she received the shocking news that her mortal life was in jeopardy and that she might have very limited time left here. She said that at the moment she heard the doctor’s diagnosis, she knew immediately that she would spend whatever time she had remaining with her family and friends and with the gospel at the center of her life, for these represented what was most precious to her. Such moments of clarity come to all of us at one time or another, although not always through so dramatic a circumstance. We see clearly what it is that really matters in our lives and how we should be living. Said the Savior: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” In our times of deepest reflection or greatest need, the soul of man reaches heavenward, seeking a divine response to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this life? Answers to these questions are not discovered within the covers of academia’s textbooks or by checking the Internet. These questions transcend mortality. They embrace eternity.
The plan of salvation, or, in other words, the redemption of fallen beings, is a subject that should occupy the attention of all intelligence that pertains to fallen beings. I do not like the term fallen beings, but I will say, subjected intelligence, which term suits me better–subjected to law, order, rule, and government. All intelligences are deeply engaged in this grand object; not, however, having a correct understanding of the true principle thereof, they wander to and fro, some to the right, and some to the left. There is not a person in this world, who is endowed with a common share of intellect, but is laboring with all his power for salvation. Men vary in their efforts to obtain that object, still their individual conclusions are, that they will ultimately secure it. The merchant, for instance, seeks with unwearied diligence, by night and by day, facing misfortunes with a determined and persevering resistance, enduring losses by sea and by land, with an unshaken patience, to amass a sufficient amount of wealth to enable him to settle calmly down in the midst of plenty in some opulent city, walk in the higher classes of society, and perchance receive a worldly title, or worldly honor, and enjoy a freedom from all anxiety of business, and constraint by poverty, throughout the remainder of his life. He then supposes he has obtained salvation. Descend from the busy, wealth-seeking middle classes, to the humbler grade of society, and follow them in their various occupations and pursuits, and each one of them is seeking earnestly that which he imagines to be salvation. . . From the match-maker up to the tradesman, all have an end in view, which they suppose will bring to them salvation. King, courtier, commanders, officers, and common soldiers, the commodore, and sailor before the mast, the fair-skinned Christian, and the dark-skinned savage, all, in their respective grades and spheres of action, have a certain point in view, which, if they can obtain, they suppose will put them in possession of salvation. The Latter-day Saint, who is far from the bosom of the Church, whose home is in distant climes, sighs, and earnestly prays each day of his life for the Lord to open his way, that he may mingle with his brethren in Zion, for he supposes that his happiness would then be complete, but in this his expectations will be in a measure vain, for happiness that is real and lasting in its nature cannot be enjoyed by mortals, for it is altogether out of keeping with this transitory state.
The Seven Deadly Heresies
I want to state temperately and accurately the doctrinal principles involved and to say them in a way that will not leave room for doubt or question. I shall speak on some matters that some may consider to be controversial, though they ought not to be. They are things on which we ought to be united, and to the extent we are all guided and enlightened from on high we will be. If we are so united—and there will be no disagreement among those who believe and understand the revealed word—we will progress and advance and grow in the things of the Spirit; we will prepare ourselves for a life of peace and happiness and joy here and now, and for an eventual eternal reward in the kingdom of our Father. There is a song or a saying or a proverb or a legend or a tradition or something that speaks of seven deadly sins. I know nothing whatever about these and hope you do not. My subject is one about which some few of you, unfortunately, do know a little. It is “The Seven Deadly Heresies”—not the great heresies of a lost and fallen Christendom, but some that have crept in among us.
Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World
This evening I look into the eyes of beautiful younger women, who dream of lives of accomplishment and happiness. I look into the eyes of mothers, who carry in their hearts anxieties concerning their homes and their children. I look into the eyes of single parents whose burdens are so very heavy, and who, in their loneliness, plead and pray for strength and companionship. I look into the eyes of grandmothers and great-grandmothers whose years are many, who have weathered the storms that have beat upon them and who have drunk deeply from the waters of life, some of them brackish, some of them sweet. I am grateful for the presence of each one of you. I am grateful for the strength that you have and for your loyalty, your faith, your love. . . With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history. I now take the opportunity of reading to you this proclamation: . . . THE FAMILY: A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD . . . May the Lord bless you, my beloved sisters. You are the guardians of the hearth. You are the bearers of the children. You are they who nurture them and establish within them the habits of their lives. No other work reaches so close to divinity as does the nurturing of the sons and daughters of God. May you be strengthened for the challenges of the day. May you be endowed with wisdom beyond your own in dealing with the problems you constantly face. May your prayers and your pleadings be answered with blessings upon your heads and upon the heads of your loved ones. We leave with you our love and our blessing, that your lives may be filled with peace and gladness. It can be so.
Sunday Will Come
Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come. I testify to you that the Resurrection is not a fable. We have the personal testimonies of those who saw Him. Thousands in the Old and New Worlds witnessed the risen Savior. They felt the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. They shed tears of unrestrained joy as they embraced Him. After the Resurrection, the disciples became renewed. They traveled throughout the world proclaiming the glorious news of the gospel. Had they chosen, they could have disappeared and returned to their former lives and occupations. In time, their association with Him would have been forgotten. They could have denied the divinity of Christ. Yet they did not. In the face of danger, ridicule, and threat of death, they entered palaces, temples, and synagogues boldly proclaiming Jesus the Christ, the resurrected Son of the living God.
That’s Life (Enduring Well)
It is a wonderful plan but each day obstacles in our lives get in the way and sometimes keep us from accomplishing our objectives. We all have crises that we will face over our time on earth. Some are large and some are small. A small crisis may be running out of gas on a busy road. A large crisis may be the loss of a loved one, a crippling accident, or a family crisis. Some crises we bring on ourselves through disobedience to the laws of God or man. Some come upon us through no fault of our own. I suspect most of us have experienced both self-inflicted challenges as well as some that could be termed the ‘bad bounces’ of life. Anyone who has ever played a game in which a ball is involved knows all about bad bounces. They are part of the game. They are not predictable in either their size or frequency. Everyone, over time, has them. While they are not always welcome, the best players are able to take advantage of these bad bounces and turn them into opportunities to score. In order to return to Heavenly Father and stay true to our desire to live with him again, we must find a way to work through these obstacles and discover what is really important to us in life. Let me give you a couple of examples of real life that may be helpful. . . Sometimes we forget that in the pre-mortal life two plans were brought forward. One was the plan of God, the Father, which was to be executed by his son, Jesus Christ. The other was Lucifer’s plan. The Father’s plan was based upon the principle of agency, which meant we would have choices and problems in our life. Lucifer’s plan was based without agency, meaning there would be no challenges. Sometimes we must be reminded that you and I fought alongside the Savior in defense of the Father’s plan. We won! Lucifer and his followers were expelled, and we, as a consequence, were given the opportunity to experience the life that we fought for in the pre-mortal life. The Father’s plan also included the Atonement, which Jesus Christ has purchased for each of us that has lived or will ever live. Our job is to face our challenges, as difficult as they may seem, and endure them well. By doing this the Atonement has meaning in our lives and we will fulfill the Lord’s mission statement to us for immortality and eternal life with God the Father.
The Women in Our Lives
I witnessed a very interesting thing the other day. The General Authorities were in a meeting, and the presidency of the Relief Society were there with us. These able women stood in our council room and shared with us principles of welfare and of helping those who are in distress. Our stature as officers of this Church was not diminished by what they did. Our capacities to serve were increased. There are some men who, in a spirit of arrogance, think they are superior to women. They do not seem to realize that they would not exist but for the mother who gave them birth. When they assert their superiority they demean her. It has been said, “Man can not degrade woman without himself falling into degradation; he can not elevate her without at the same time elevating himself” How very true that is. We see the bitter fruit of that degradation all about us. Divorce is one of its results. This evil runs rampant through our society. It is the outcome of disrespect for one’s marriage partner. It manifests itself in neglect, in criticism, in abuse, in abandonment. We in the Church are not immune from it. . . The women in our lives are creatures endowed with particular qualities, divine qualities, which cause them to reach out in kindness and with love to those about them. We can encourage that outreach if we will give them opportunity to give expression to the talents and impulses that lie within them. In our old age my beloved companion said to me quietly one evening, “You have always given me wings to fly, and I have loved you for it.” I once knew a man who has since passed on but who insisted on making all of the decisions for his wife and children. They could not buy a pair of shoes without him. They could not take a piano lesson. They could not serve in the Church without his consent. I have since witnessed the outcome of that attitude, and that outcome is not good. My father never hesitated to compliment my mother. We children knew that he loved her because of the way he treated her. He deferred to her. And I shall ever be profoundly grateful for his example. Many of you have been blessed likewise.