Oh, my goodness! My heart is so full. So very full! I want to write this right now while I can still feel it. I have just spent the last five or so hours working on my lesson for tomorrow. Yes, I waited until the very last day. Yes, I don’t do well under that kind of pressure and stress. Yes, I should have done this last week! But I have had such a wonderful, reaffirming, peaceful experience re-reading, researching, and paraphrasing this conference talk. It couldn’t have been a better lesson for me. It couldn’t have spoken more directly to my soul.
This is Elder Hales talk, Coming to Ourselves. [Wouldn’t you know, I still have no tools for wordpress. I would have like to link that . . . but oh well.] [Hey, I did it on HTML!]
He says: “Throughout our lives, whether it’s in times of darkness, or challenge, or sorrow, or sin, we may feel the Holy Ghost reminding us that we are sons and daughters of a loving, caring Heavenly Father, who loves us. At these times we might hunger for the sacred blessings that only He can provide. At these times we should strive to come to ourselves and come back into the light of our Savior’s love.”
I’ve told you before that I had a few dark years. I had years when I never when to church. Never prayed. Never took the sacrament. Never read the scriptures. I had whole years of depression and years of apathy.
The prophet Alma has a scripture meant just for those kinds of times. He says, “Even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you.” [Alma 32:27]
I love that!!
The Savior told His disciples about a son who left his wealthy father, went to a far country, and wasted his inheritance. The word “prodigal” means “wasteful.” [I always thought it meant the traveling son or the returning son.] This son had something of great value and he threw it away–not only the wealth of his inheritance, but the love and companionship of his family. In fact, requesting his inheritance early was an extreme humiliation to his family. It indicated that he wished his father was dead so he could have his money now, that he wanted his inheritance without working for it over the years as a family member, and of course, that he had no desire to be a member of this good family.
So, when a famine arose, the young man took the lowly job of feeding swine. He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the husks meant for the animals.
Away from home, far from the place he wanted to be, and in his destitute condition, something of eternal significance happened in the life of this young man. In the Savior’s words, “he came to himself.” He remembered who he was, realized what he had been missing, and began to desire, the blessings freely available in his father’s house.
Of course we understand this to be a story about ourselves. Going into a “far country” represents Babylon. It’s a story of us going to the earth and perhaps traveling away from what we know to be true and good for us. What happens to us when we leave the Father’s influence and journey to a “far country”? Not all of us have squandered our inheritance, but I believe that that Savior knew enough of us would, that we could learn from his parable. How much did going astray cost? [In verse 14, He spent all]
When the prodigal had spent all and was in want, who in this far country, which is often typified as Babylon, cared about him? (15:15,16) Nobody! How does this apply to us? (Turn to Alma 30:60) It is a very chilling scripture.
And thus we see the end of him who preverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.
But then…these beautiful words: “He came to himself.” It’s always good to remember that when someone is acting the part of a prodigal son, he is not himself, he is not permanently defined by those willful and wayward acts, and his own divine nature is always still hidden inside somewhere, ready for him to “come back to himself”.
I so identify with this story!
This next part is what is speaking so loudly to me. If you read nothing else . . . read this!
[I hope this sentence speaks to you as well.]
Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives us the strength to keep our temple covenants.
So, how do we personally gain that strength? Elder Hales summarizes exactly what we must do. Please listen carefully.
We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life.
You may say that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint! You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for any of us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.
Oh, my gosh!!!!!
It’s that simple and it’s that wonderful!