Knowing, Loving, and Growing


In 2016 the Tabernacle
Choir at Temple Square came to visit the
Netherlands and Belgium. And since I was involved
in that exciting event, I had the opportunity to
enjoy their performance twice. During their performance
I was thinking about what a tremendous
undertaking it was to move a
choir of that size. My mind was drawn to
the big gong, which was difficult and probably
costly to ship over in comparison with the
violin, the trumpet, or other instruments you could
easily carry under your arm. But looking at the actual
involvement of this gong, it was only hit a few times,
whereas the other, smaller instruments were involved
for most of the concert. I reflected that without
the sound of the gong, the performance would
not be the same, and so the effort had to be
made to move this big gong all the way across the ocean. Sometimes we might feel
that we are, like that gong, only good enough to play a
minor part in the performance. But let me tell you
that your sound is making all the difference. We need all instruments. Some of us learn
easily and do very well in school, while others
have artistic talents. Some design and build
things or nurse, protect, or teach others. We are all needed to bring
color and meaning to this world. To those who feel they
do not have anything to contribute or believe that
they are of no importance or consequence to anybody,
to others that might feel that they are on top of the
world, and anybody in between, I would like to
address this message. Wherever you are on the
path of life, some of you might feel so overburdened
that you do not even consider yourself on that path. I want to invite you to step out
of the darkness into the light. The gospel light will
provide warmth and healing and will help you understand
who you really are and what your
purpose in life is. Some of us have been
wandering on forbidden paths, trying to find happiness there. We are invited by a
loving Heavenly Father to walk the path of discipleship
and to return to Him. He loves us with a perfect love. What is the way? The way is to help each
other understand who we are by ministering to each other. To me, ministering is
exercising divine love. In that way, we
create an environment where both the giver
and the receiver obtain a desire to repent. In other words, we change
direction and come closer to and become more like our
Savior, Jesus Christ. For instance, there is no need
to constantly tell our spouse or children how
they can improve; they know that already. It is in creating this
environment of love that they will be
empowered to make the necessary changes in their
lives and become better people. In this way repentance becomes
a daily process of refining that might include
apologizing for poor behavior. I remember and still
experience situations where I have been too quick to
judge or too slow to listen. And at the end of the day,
during my personal prayer, I felt loving
counsel from heaven to repent and to become better. The loving environment first
created by my parents, brother, and sisters and later by my
wife, children, and friends has helped me to
become a better person. We all know where
we can do better. There is no need to
repeatedly remind each other, but there is a need to love
and minister to each other and in doing so provide
a climate of willingness to change. In this same environment, we
are learning who we really are and what our role will
be in this last chapter of the world’s history
prior to the Second Coming of the Savior. If you are wondering
about your part, I would like to invite
you to find a place where you can be alone and ask
Heavenly Father to make known to you which part to play. The answer will probably
come gradually and then more clearly when we have
set our feet more firmly on the covenant and
ministering path. We are experiencing some
of the same difficulties that Joseph Smith
confronted while he was in the midst of a war of
words and tumult of opinions. As we read in his
own account, he often said to himself:
“What is to be done? Who of all these parties are
right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be
right, which [one] is it, and how shall I know it?” With the knowledge he found
in the Epistle of James, which states, “If any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that
giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall
be given him,” Joseph at length came to the determination
to “ask of God.” We further read that it was
the first time in his life that he had made such
an attempt, for, amidst all his anxieties,
he had never, as yet, made the attempt
to pray vocally. And so it can be for
us the very first time we address our Maker in a way
that we have never done before. Because of Joseph’s attempt,
Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to
him, calling him by name; and as a result, we have a
much clearer understanding of who we are and that
we really do matter. We further read that in
his tender teenage years, Joseph was persecuted
by those who ought to have been his
friends and who were supposed to have treated him kindly. And so we might
expect some opposition as we are living a
life of discipleship. If you currently
feel you are not able to be part of the orchestra
and the path of repentance appears difficult to you, please
know that if we keep at it, the burden will be
taken from our shoulders and there will be light again. Heavenly Father will never
leave us when we reach for Him. We can fall and get up, and
He will help us brush off the dirt from our knees. Some of us are wounded, but
the first aid kit of the Lord has bandages big enough to
cover all of our wounds. So it is that love,
that perfect love that we also call charity or
“the pure love of Christ,” which is needed in
our homes, where parents minister to their
children and children, to their parents. Through that love, hearts
will be changed and desires born to do His will. It is that love that is
needed in our dealings with each other as children
of our Heavenly Father and as members of His Church
that will enable us to include all the musical instruments
in our orchestras so we will be able
to perform gloriously with the angelic
choirs of heaven when the Savior comes again. It is that love, that light
that needs to shine and brighten our surroundings as we
go about our daily lives. People will notice the light
and will be drawn to it. That is the kind of
missionary work that will draw others to “come
and see,” “come and help,” and “come and stay.” Please, when you have
received your witness about this great
work and our part in it, let us rejoice together
with our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith, who declared, “For I
had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it,
and I could not deny it.” I testify to you
that I know who I am, and I do know who you are. We are all children of a
Heavenly Father who loves us. And He did not send us here to
fail but to return gloriously to Him. That we may all
come to understand our part in this
great ministering work so that we will become more
like Him when He comes again is my prayer in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen.

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