Friday, March 4, 2011

Farewell Talk 30 January 2011

I am so grateful to have been able to watch those girls grow. I am even more grateful to call them my friends.  A song from my favourite Church group says, “I want to live my life more like a child.”  You girls, all the Primary children, you have helped me to grow so much, I want to be like you. You inspire me to do better and to be a better example of Christ.
In the Sunday morning session of this past General Conference, President Henry B Eyring gave a talk entitled “Trust in God, then Go and Do”.  At first I thought to approach my own talk by asking the question, “Why did President Eyring consider this topic important for members of the Church to hear?” But after a little thought, I realized that because I trust President Eyring, I don’t really need to know why he chose the topic he did.  All I need to know is what I am to do and what changes I can make, to incorporate his counsel into my life.  President Eyring made this goal very easy for me.  In his talk he said, “I am to build trust in God and His servants enough that we will go out and obey His counsel.”   That is our responsibility – to increase our trust in God and then do what He asks of us.  With that in mind, the question I asked myself became, “How can I increase my trust in Heavenly Father and my obedience to His commandments?”
President Eyring spoke of Nephi’s trust in the Lord despite the seemingly impossible task he was given.  Nephi’s response to his father, Lehi, is very familiar to us, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”   President Eyring told us, “That trust comes from knowing God.”   The first step to building trust in God is to establish and strengthen a relationship with Him.  Communication is a key element in maintaining a good relationship.  We communicate with Heavenly Father through prayer and He speaks to us through the Holy Ghost and the scriptures.  In one of his talks, John Bytheway said, “If you want to talk to God, pray.  If you want God to talk to you, read your scriptures.”   When we combine our sincere prayers with daily scripture study, we will come to know our Heavenly Father in a very personal way.  For instance, an earnest prayer, spoken by someone seeking to know God, will sound less like a list of “please” and “thank you”, and more like a conversation one would have face to face with a loving parent.
Another way we can further our relationship with God is to visit the temple as often as we can.  There, we learn more of Him and feel His presence more strongly than anywhere else.  Our prophet, President Monson, has said, “I think there is no place in the world where I feel closer to the Lord than in one of His holy temples.”   In my short time working at our temple, I have had many opportunities to experience that closeness with Heavenly Father.  There is one morning, in particular, that I remember.  I was able to spend about an hour in the Celestial Room and during that hour I was almost always alone.  I spent my time in prayer and scripture study, specifically scriptures to help me prepare this talk.  It is the most precious memory I have, because I could feel that my Father was there with me.  I felt His love and His trust in me.  It seemed that I could speak to Him as if He stood right beside me.  I have never felt so safe or so happy in my life.  The temple is truly the best place to learn about God and strengthen our relationship with Him.
The trust of other people can inspire our own trust in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  In his address, President Eyring recited some of Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision and bore his testimony of Joseph Smith as a true prophet.  He said, “Because I have a testimony that He [Heavenly Father] called that unlettered boy as an apostle and prophet, I trust His apostles and prophets today and those they call to serve God.”   I mentioned before that because I trust President Eyring, I want to follow his counsel.  I know that he trusts Heavenly Father completely; so I want to increase my trust in God, because I want to follow his example and I believe his promise that it will bless my life.
There are many stories in the scriptures that tell of prophets and good men, who show their trust by placing their very lives in the hands of the Lord.  {I would like to highlight one example from the Book of Mormon.  It is Helaman’s account of 2000 young men who fought for “the liberty of their fathers.”   Helaman describes them as “firm and undaunted.”   When the rest of the army was about to give up, Helaman’s son kept fighting and “they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness.”   Those young men knew how important it was to be obedient.  They learned from their mothers to trust in God.  Alma 57:27 says “and they do put their trust in God continually.”   Trusting Heavenly Father is not a one-time event; it is the work of a lifetime.  We need to be continually nurturing and building up our trust or it will slip away.} It may seem impossible to have the kind of faith and trust that men like Nephi, Alma, and Moroni had.  But if we strive to follow their examples and do our very best to live as they lived, to be more like Christ – we can have faith and trust as strong as theirs. 
In General Conference, October of 1995, Elder Richard G Scott said, “To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning.”   We cannot increase our trust in God without obeying his commandments.  When we trust Him, we obey Him; and when we obey Him, our “power to trust Him will grow”.  {President Eyring shared a story that touched me greatly.  It was about a woman who was a member of his branch when he was growing up.  This woman, a convert to the Church and the only member in her family and the city she lived in, was called to be the branch Relief Society President.
She had no handbook to tell her what to do.  No other member of the Church lived near her.  She only knew that the Lord cared for those in need and the few words in the motto of the Relief Society: “Charity never faileth.” 
It was in the depths of what we now call the Great Depression.  Thousands were out of work and homeless.  So, feeling she had her errand from the Lord, she asked her neighbours for old clothes.  She washed the clothes, pressed them, and put them in cardboard boxes on her back porch.  When men without money needed clothes and asked her neighbours for help, they would say, “Go to the house down the street.  There is a Mormon lady living there who will give you what you need.” 
The Lord did not run the city, but He changed a part of it for the better.  He called one tiny woman—alone—who trusted Him enough to find out what He wanted her to do and then did it.  Because of her trust in the Lord, she was able to help in that city hundreds of Heavenly Father’s children in need.
We can be like that sister.} If we magnify our callings, give service (in whatever form), and trust in the Lord, He will do His work through us, and through us He will bless the lives of His children.  We will become instruments, for Him to use according to His will.  I believe Ammon when he said that it is a great blessing to be “made instruments in the hands of God.”  Once he had been converted, Ammon did not hesitate to obey the Lord’s commandments and do all that he could to serve his brethren.  He worked tirelessly to bring souls unto repentance.  For the next 18 months I will be doing the Lord’s work.  I could never do that with my own strength, knowledge, or anything I possess.  But with the Holy Ghost, with the Saviour’s example, and with my Father’s love, I know that I can do anything.  And by serving Him, my trust in Him will grow.  President Eyring said this, “You show your trust in Him when you listen with the intent to learn and repent and then you go and do whatever He asks.  If you trust God enough to listen for His message … you will find it.  And if you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you.”
Yesterday, I took a moment to ask myself why I trust Heavenly Father.  This was my answer: I know He loves me.  He knows me and He has a plan for me.  I am no scholar, I don’t know the scriptures very well, but I know my Father.  I know He listens to my prayers and answers them.  I have seen and felt His hand in my life; I know He is protecting me and watching over me always.  Because He loves me, and I love Him.
Brothers and sisters, I know that if we trust in God, if we do whatever He would have us do, if we honour our covenants and obey His commandments, He will bless us.  We will be living the kind of life that will make it possible for us to be as He is and to live with Him forever.