An immense developmental clue is to be found in these next words: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me”. By being yoked, we can best learn of Jesus’ perfected qualities, though only in our comparatively small ways. If we are meek, through our smaller but similar experiences we will come to appreciate Jesus’ perfected qualities even more. Then our adoration of him produces a desire for emulation of him. The Prophet Joseph, whose own life was lived in a crescendo of self-improvement amid adversity, observed: The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, [he] arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment. The clearer one’s views, the more one sees “things as they really are,” the greater the happiness! Thus, beyond the free gift of immortality, “working out our salvation” includes “working out” the development of these eternal virtues in our lives! Given the tremendous importance of these virtues now and in the world to come, should we be surprised if, to hasten the process, the Lord gives us, individually, the relevant and necessary clinical experiences? We do not usually seek these, however. Yet they seem to come, don’t they, even when we do not remember having signed up for a particular course? Sometimes we find ourselves enrolled again in the same course. Apparently we were only auditing before; perhaps this time it can be for credit! Emerson pleaded, “Give me truths: for I am weary of the surfaces”. While amid so much that is inane, and while surrounded by so many little and superficial things, it is only in the bright light of the restored gospel that we can see the truth as to who we really are and what our possibilities are! As Jacob wrote, we not only see things as they really are, but as they really will be. The Lord loves each of us too much to merely let us go on being what we now are, for he knows what we have the possibility to become!
I encourage you with every capacity that I possess to receive all of the ordinances for salvation and do all you can to have the other members of your family receive those ordinances before departing this earth. You can progress much more rapidly here on earth with your mortal body in this environment of good and evil than you will as a spirit in the spirit world. Compared to the length of a normal life, it doesn’t take much time to receive all of the ordinances essential to exaltation. It does take diligence, understanding, and obedience. It does require you to do all within your capacity to qualify for those ordinances and to receive as many as you are able. Where, for reasons beyond your control, you are not able to receive them all, live worthily and do not disqualify yourself through neglect, indifference, or unworthiness. The Lord will make it possible for you to receive all of the blessings He has promised in His time and place. Whether you intend to or not, when you live as though the Savior and His teachings are only one of many other important priorities in your life, you are clearly on the road to disappointment and likely on the path to tragedy. Is it really wise to forfeit eternal happiness by fulfilling only part of the requirements? I pray that you’ll be moved to make needed changes now.
One of the adversary’s methods to prevent us from progressing is to confuse us about who we really are and what we really desire. We want to spend time with our children, but we also want to engage in our favorite manly hobbies. We want to lose weight, but we also want to enjoy the foods we crave. We want to become Christlike, but we also want to give the guy who cuts us off in traffic a piece of our mind. Satan’s purpose is to tempt us to exchange the priceless pearls of true happiness and eternal values for a fake plastic trinket that is merely an illusion and counterfeit of happiness and joy. Another method the adversary uses to discourage us from rising up is to make us see the commandments as things that have been forced upon us. I suppose it is human nature to resist anything that does not appear to be our own idea in the first place. If we see healthy eating and exercise as something only our doctor expects of us, we will likely fail. If we see these choices as who we are and who we want to become, we have a greater chance of staying the course and succeeding. If we see home teaching as only the stake president’s goal, we may place a lower value on doing it. If we see it as our goal—something we desire to do in order to become more Christlike and minister to others—we will not only fulfill our commitment but also accomplish it in a way that blesses the families we visit and our own as well. Often enough, we are the ones who are being helped up by friends or family. But if we look around with observant eyes and the motive of a caring heart, we will recognize the opportunities the Lord places in front of us to help others rise up and move toward their true potential. The scriptures suggest, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” It is a great source of spiritual power to live lives of integrity and righteousness and to keep our eyes on where we want to be in the eternities. Even if we can see this divine destination only with the eye of faith, it will help us to stay the course.