Lessons from Death, Part 8

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As much as fathers love their children and miss them terribly if they die, mothers are often more distressed by the deaths of their children. There is something special about carrying the child for 9 months then approaching the gates of death to bring forth a new child through the doorway of life; this act and service creates a special bond between mother and child. If this bond is shattered by a premature death, even though the break may be only temporary, mothers are often devastated. Joseph Smith offered these words of comfort to mothers who have had their children sealed to them: “‘Will mothers have their children in eternity?’ Yes! Yes! Mothers, you shall have your children; for they shall have eternal life, for their debt is paid…. Children … must rise just as they died; we can there hail our lovely infants with the same glory—the same loveliness in the celestial glory.” (Source).

That’s another wondrous blessing of the gospel – we mourn those who die but we do not mourn without hope. In the acute and even chronic pain of separation, as overwhelming the grief may be, with the blessings of the gospel, there is always a beacon of hope in the darkness. This beacon may appear dim and distant but it is there to comfort us in our darkest hours. We can see this beacon as we let our faith break through the wall of despair. Eventually this beacon will grow brighter until we are able to embrace once again the source of the light as we cross from this life to the next and are reunited with our loved ones.

Sometimes the light of these loved ones blesses in this life in our times of sorrow. In the October 2000 General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales spoke on suffering but more specifically on experiences that help us overcome suffering. He missed the April 1999 and October 2000 General Conferences due to multiple surgeries. I remember parts of his talk vividly – some of what he said resonated strongly with me while I watched and listened to him, an apostle of the Lord. As he was suffering, in pain in the hospital, Elder Hales reflected on the blessings of the gospel.

“On a few occasions, I told the Lord that I had surely learned the lessons to be taught and that it wouldn’t be necessary for me to endure any more suffering. Such entreaties seemed to be of no avail, for it was made clear to me that this purifying process of testing was to be endured in the Lord’s time and in the Lord’s own way. It is one thing to teach, ‘Thy will be done’ (Matt. 26:42). It is another to live it. I also learned that I would not be left alone to meet these trials and tribulations but that guardian angels would attend me. There were some that were near angels in the form of doctors, nurses, and most of all my sweet companion, Mary. And on occasion, when the Lord so desired, I was to be comforted with visitations of heavenly hosts that brought comfort and eternal reassurances in my time of need.“(Hales, Nov. 2000 Ensign, Online Source).

Sometimes angels visibly comfort us in our dark hours. As members of the Church we are entitled to the ministering of angels as we live worthily. These angels are not always seen but sometimes they are; when they minister unto us they provide great comfort and hope.

Link to part 7 of this essay.

Blessings of the Aaronic Priesthood, Part 4

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The Aaronic Priesthood also holds the keys to repentance and baptism. Priests can baptize. They cannot, however, confer the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirm someone a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Baptism without confirmation is incomplete, just as the Aaronic Priesthood without the Melchizedek Priesthood is incomplete. A bishop, whose office is part of the Aaronic Priesthood, helps people repent if they have more serious sins.

As stated earlier, the Aaronic Priesthood is a prepatory priesthood. It prepares those who bear it for the Melchizedek Priesthood, which is the priesthood of higher ordinances, administration, and governing. Elder Hales spoke of these preparations:

“The Aaronic Priesthood is…given for this preparatory time in your life. How you bear that priesthood now will prepare you to make the most important decisions in the future. These decisions include receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, going to the temple, serving a mission, getting an education, selecting an occupation, and choosing a companion and being sealed for time and for all eternity in the holy temple. There is a time and season for all of our decisions. Make sure you make decisions in the proper time and season. All of these life-altering decisions will be made in a very busy, relatively short period during your 20s—during what I call the ‘Decade of Decision.'”

He continued:
“While training to be a jet fighter pilot, I prepared to make such vital decisions in a flight simulator. For example, I practiced deciding when to bail out of an airplane if the fire warning light came on and I began to spin out of control. I remember one dear friend who didn’t make these preparations. He would find a way out of simulator training and then go to play golf or swim. He never learned his emergency procedures! A few months later, fire erupted in his plane, and it spun toward the ground in flames. Noting the fire warning light, his younger companion, having developed a preconditioned response, knew when to bail out of the plane and parachuted to safety. But my friend who had not prepared to make that decision stayed with the plane and died in the crash.
In the decade ahead, your time for preparation will be limited. As you are Aaronic Priesthood bearers, it is important that you prepare now. You must develop your own preconditioned responses for the important decisions you will make in the next decade of your life. You must know what to do and when to do it when each decision presents itself. Remember that making no decision at all could be just as deadly as making the wrong decision. Many of the decisions you make or don’t make will have eternal consequences.” (Hales, Ensign, May 2007).

Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship

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Elder Robert D. Hales spoke on Christian courage at this past General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a conference held semiannually from Salt Lake City, Utah and broadcast to church locations, homes, and computers worldwide.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his talk.

When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage.

Through the years we learn that challenges to our faith are not new, and they aren’t likely to disappear soon. But true disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.

Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage…. True disciples speak with quiet confidence, not boastful pride.

By arguments and accusations, some people bait us to leave the high ground. The high ground is where the light is. It’s where we see the first light of morning and the last light in the evening. It is the safe ground. It is true and where knowledge is. Sometimes others want us to come down off the high ground and join them in a theological scrum in the mud. These few contentious individuals are set on picking religious fights, online or in person. We are always better staying on the higher ground of mutual respect and love.

You can read the rest of his talk here.