President Nelson begins his remarks by sharing the story of a tribal king he met in Ghana. This tribal king asked President Nelson to teach him more about Jesus Christ. President Nelson shared the Savior’s visit anciently to America by reading with the king from 3 Nephi.
The king then received the copy of the Book of Mormon from which he and President Nelson had just read. Responding joyfully, the king declared the additional knowledge about Jesus Christ he’d received was more precious to him than diamonds or rubies.
President Nelson then turned the king’s response into a question for us all. How valuable is the Book of Mormon to us? He then extended that question by asking three related ones:
We should all consider these questions.
What would your life be like?
Without the Book of Mormon, I’m pretty certain my life would be very different. I’m not sure what church I would have joined or even if I would be a member of any church. Joseph Smith’s father stayed aloof from the churches of his time and place because they didn’t have the truth he sought. Perhaps I would’ve done likewise.
Either way, I imagine I’d still be searching for the truth. A sincere search for truth, after all, lead me to read the Book of Mormon and seriously apply Moroni’s promise. That experience led to my testimony of not only the Book of Mormon but of everything connected with it — the Restoration of the Lord’s gospel, His Church, and the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith.
Without that testimony, I never would’ve served a mission. And had I served anyway, I doubt I would have stayed in the field very long. Within a week of arriving in Guatemala I began a battle with sickness that lasted much of my mission. My testimony was a bulwark support through that adversity.
What would you not know?
Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t know or appreciate many simple truths restored through its pages, especially the Atonement. Where else do we find such clarity of exposition about the Savior’s ultimate sacrifice in both breadth and depth?
Certainly not in the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price speak clearly about the Atonement, but not with the same breadth or depth as the Book of Mormon.
Not understanding the Atonement, I’d probably be like one of my last mission companions before we met. He worried greatly his imperfections would lead others to reject the gospel and that both they and he would be damned for it. I used the Book of Mormon to help him to understand that the Atonement covers not only what we do wrong but also what we don’t do right. Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t have had the understanding to help myself let alone someone else.
What would you not have?
Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t have anywhere near the confidence level I have today. That’s because I never would’ve served the full-time mission which gave birth to my confidence and self-assertion.
As a teenager, I was the introvert of introverts. You could’ve looked in the dictionary for introvert and found my picture. How did I come out of my shell? The Lord sent me where a 30-year civil war had made much of the people introverted. Helping these people come out of their shell so I could teach them the restored gospel helped me to see I could come out of my shell as well.
What opportunities would I have missed if I didn’t have the confidence to assert myself? What friends and other relationships would I never have experienced without that confidence?
President Nelson’s three questions about the Book of Mormon are worthy of our consideration. How would you answer them? I’ve found my own consideration of these questions spiritually satisfying and enlightening. If you will take the time to reflect on your own answers to President Nelson’s questions, I believe you’ll find the same spiritual satisfaction and enlightenment come to you. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
While deciding the topic schedule for this year, I consulted the Internet for a list of holidays. I thought the appearance of a show on or very close to a holiday might spark an idea.
That’s when I saw something I had never before seen. Today, 24 January 2018, is a holiday. Can you guess what that holiday is? OK, I won’t keep you in suspense. It’s Global Belly Laugh Day.
Yes, that’s right. And if you just broke out into gut-busting laughter, then you’ve already got it. But if you were more like me, then you just snickered, smiled, and thought, “Uh, yeah. OK.”
Having just learned about the existence of Global Belly Laugh Day, I of course know nothing about it. So I started looking. And what I found made me think about LDS singles everywhere.
A little background
All these benefits sound like great antidotes to many of the challenges LDS singles face. Yet how many of us actually get enough laughter in our lives? We need to laugh a little more than we do.
Of course, I’m all for seriousness in the proper contexts. But I’m also for balance, and that means including some more laughter in our lives when that context is proper.
A little moderation
And yes, I know what some of you are thinking. You’ve whipped out your sticks or your phone as a prelude to quoting D&C 88:69, which says in part, “Cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.” Or maybe you were heading to D&C 59:15, which in part says, “... not with much laughter, for this is sin ....”
Well, I have just one word for you. Actually, I have two. Whatever, dude.
Seriously, I’m not talking about anything exceeding moderation here. Anything in excess is probably not that great for you. And, yes, that includes laughter.
I can remember times in college when friends and I became so engulfed in riotous laughter that it felt intoxicating. Excess laughter can lead you to forget your propriety. You can say and do some pretty stupid things under the influence of excess laughter.
That’s clearly not what we’re advocating here. We’re promoting an approach like the one taken by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was always one for merriment, but he also knew how to work hard and when it was time for each. His life was far from easy, but laughter provided a good inoculate to the pessimism and negativity that could have clouded his perspective.
The late Elder Joseph Wirthlin understood that approach. His last Conference address “Come What May, and Love It” describes that very attitude. If you’ve never read it, give it a go. This classic might open your eyes to a new way of living.
A little indulgence
And if none of those did it for you, find something that will. Laughter has so many positive benefits that life without enough of it isn’t much of a life. Don’t let that be your life! Make the conscious choice to find the humor around you and laugh a little more. When you do, you’ll have more joy in your journey.
I wasn’t surprised to learn of President Thomas S. Monson’s passing. I was surprised he didn’t go sooner. He didn’t look that great when we last saw him in Conference. It amazes me he lasted as long as he did.
But the Lord governs the life span of His prophets just as He governs His Church. And President Monson’s time has come.
Thousands viewed his body in the Conference Center before his Church-broadcast funeral service, also held in the Conference Center. Generous and well-deserved praise reminded us who President Monson was. His body was then taken to the cemetery for a private service with family.
All of this is most appropriate. Somehow, though, I find myself more reflective now than when President Hinckley died. Then I was a little disappointed to see President Hinckley go. I wanted him to stay just a little longer.
Now with President Monson’s passing, I’m relieved his suffering has ended. But I find myself wondering about legacy.
Those who came before
Each modern-day prophet I can remember seems to have a legacy. The earliest prophet I remember is Spencer W. Kimball. He encouraged us to“lengthen our stride” and do more today to forward the Lord’s work.
Then came Ezra Taft Benson, best known for his classic discourses on the Book of Mormon and pride. Though with us briefly, Howard W. Hunter encouraged us to make our temple recommend the great seal of our Church membership.
Then Gordon B. Hinckley wore the mantle, and was he ever versatile! It’s partly why I like the man so much.
We saw accelerated growth in the numbers of full-time missionaries and temples. Particularly impressive to me was not only the reconstruction of the Nauvoo temple but also President Hinckley’s insistence that the dedication be shared with the entire Church. And then there’s the Conference Center and the Orchestra at Temple Square.
Plus, who can forget the 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace? And I rejoiced when President Hinckley announced the Perpetual Education Fund. Having served my mission in Guatemala, I knew first hand how desperately needed that program was.
President Hinckley tried to do more in every way he could. It was as though he was the culmination of the legacy of the prophets who came before him.
The man himself
And President Monson? When I think about his legacy, what comes to mind? Honestly, when I think about President Monson, I simply see a good man.
That may not seem like much, especially by comparison. But what made him a good man? Why do I have that image of him?
Perhaps it’s because he simply loved people and did what he could to serve them. If President Monson had any theme as the Prophet, it would have to be loving service.
The Mormon Channel has placed an excellent biography of President Monson’s life on YouTube. Although produced back in 2013 and very brief, the video does effectively convey the theme of loving service which President Monson exemplified in his life.
Towards the end of the video, we see President Monson reflecting on his own life. He said something that particularly struck me.
That’s a pretty good summary of his life. How many of us would meet that standard if we were called to be measured today? I’m not sure how well I would measure up.
Those who come after
I am sure, however, the Lord’s timing is spot on. As I watched the presentations of the new First Presidency during the gathering in the Salt Lake temple annex as well as the press conference, I felt the sweet, gentle confirmation of the Spirit that Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, and Henry B. Eyring are the men the Lord wants to fill these roles at this time.
I confess I was half expecting President Nelson to call the same counselors who served under President Monson. But surprised doesn’t mean disappointed. President Oakes and President Eyring are each well-seasoned servants who have more than adequate preparation for their new callings.
And I look forward to having a more energetic Prophet in President Nelson. Can you believe he’s 93 and still goes skiing? Whether or not you believe that, certainly President Nelson hasn’t sought his new role. While watching him speak both in the Salt Lake Temple annex and the press conference, President Nelson humbly repeated over and over that this is the Lord’s Church and He is at the head guiding and directing its affairs.
President Nelson also encouraged Church members to stay on the covenant path, which may turn out to be the theme for his tenure as the Prophet. Whether or not that holds true, we’ll always be blessed when we follow the Brethren. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
Life holds many challenges, and LDS singles life is no exception. Whether you never married, are divorced, or are widowed, heartache can cripple you emotionally and obscure your view of a bright future.
But just because you can’t see a bright tomorrow doesn’t mean that bright tomorrow won’t come. Day always follows night; it’s natural law. And it’s always darkest just before the dawn.
It’s easy to believe in that dawn when the light shines over the horizon. It’s harder to believe in the dawn when the darkness is all you can see. How do you resist the call of pessimism to abandon all hope?
You do it with faith. You must have a vision of what you can become. You must believe in that vision and your own ability to realize that vision. And you must have the resiliency to go the distance needed to make that vision reality. You must never say die.
Choose your vision
It takes faith to a have a vision of what you can become. It takes even more faith to believe you can achieve that vision. Where does such faith originate?
It comes from the source of all true faith — the Lord Jesus Christ. His restored gospel teaches us that through Him we can all become something more and return to live with our Heavenly Father. And in what must be the grandest glorification of God, we can also be like Him.
Indeed, the realization of such a vision is a commandment:
Just like every other commandment, the Lord will provide the way to accomplish it.
As I’ve pointed out earlier, Nephi was single when he uttered those inspirational words. He went on to achieve great things. We who are single can be just as inspirational and achieve just as great things in our own lives.
Choose your road
Walking that path of faith isn’t easy. But it’s not impossible. And it’s a lot more joyful than any alternative.
The Lord won’t abandon you. He loves you so much He willingly suffered a tortuous death. Love that strong means He won’t stop until you have every blessing you will receive.
Note that I said “will receive.” Great as His love is for you, the Lord will not violate individual agency. He won’t force blessings upon you. That means you have to choose.
You must choose light over darkness. You must choose optimism over pessimism. You must choose confidence over doubt. You must choose faith over fear.
Many are so much more comfortable with pessimism, doubt, and fear that choosing this low road is much easier. But that choice also means accepting darkness and all its attendant disillusionment and despair as your reality.
Don’t sell yourself short or live beneath your potential! Don’t give up on yourself! The Lord believes in you and your potential. He could never lead you into everlasting failure. Everything He has done and continues to do is so that you can become everything you were meant to become.
God never stopped believing in you. Will you not take Him at His word?
Choose your difference
Your blessings are real. They’re not vain imaginations of your yearning soul nor wishful whims of fancy. They are real, and you can achieve them because God has decreed it.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! You and your contributions are far too valuable to sit idly on the sidelines of history. God has reserved you for this time and place because you have goodness which only you can give. Choose to make that difference by leaning on He Who is the difference for all of us.
Darkness may surround you now, but that darkness will not last forever. No trial comes into our lives to stay; sooner or later they all pass. Partner with the Lord and let His strength become your strength. Let His faith become your faith. Let His confidence become your confidence.
Never say die. It’s not over until you win. When you adopt that attitude, you can do the impossible. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
It’s been a long time. I never imagined where my efforts back on 12/12/12 would take me. I started a blog to vent frustration with a woman who summarily rejected me without really knowing me. It was a song I knew all too well.
My blog continued, and I learned some great lessons that first year. For example, the effort I’d adopted as my own personal ministry couldn’t be about me. It had to be about people.
So with the start of a new year in 2014, I moved my blog to a website dedicated for housing the succession of posts I would publish every Wednesday. That was four years ago. And I have a weekly post for every Wednesday since.
In my first post at the new home, I shared the philosophy behind my efforts. It all came down to wanting real. My effort has evolved in those four years. But my desire for real is as strong as ever.
Begin the begin
Four years ago I wanted to help LDS singles conquer the challenges of LDS singles life. That desire has driven my evolution of the past four years.
Today we take the next step in that evolution. Today we jumpstart Joy in the Journey Radio with a regular weekly broadcast.
Four years ago I spoke of turning conventional wisdom on its head by not sending annoying marketing emails to my audience. Now I’m turning conventional wisdom on its head again.
The weekly broadcast will comprise a talk show format. However, unlike most talk shows which feature special guests selected because they’re somehow notable, we’ll feature the average Joes from across the spectrum of the LDS singles community.
I believe that so-called ordinary people have extraordinary stories and perspectives that can uplift and strengthen all of us. Their contribution will make the program more real than any lineup of notorieties you can assemble.
Change the culture
Most of my weekly blog posts over the last four years have generated no comments, but I didn’t care about that four years ago, and I still don’t today. My effort is not about me; it’s about making a contribution that will improve the lives of LDS singles everywhere.
I’ll still work to engage everyone in the conversation we need to have about LDS singles life and changing our culture. That’s why I’ll invite married men and women on the program as well as in the audience.
Four years ago, I cited our need for a conversation about what it means to be single in a family-centered culture. And we need to move the center of our culture towards Christ.
That need is as great today as it was then. What impact will our conversation make if we have it only among ourselves? We must include our married brothers and sisters if we want to see real change.
Called to serve
You may have noticed how I’ve been using plural forms — “we take the next step” and “our journey.” That’s because none of this is about me. It’s about something larger than any one of us individually.
We have the opportunity to make a real difference in each others’ lives. Far too many of us are steeped in negativity and focused far too much on our obstacles. Our focus will always determine our reality. Focusing on our obstacles will yield a reality of obstruction and frustration. Focusing instead on our opportunities will create a reality of opportunity and freedom.
That is real, and that is what I want for all LDS singles everywhere.
That’s why Joy in the Journey Radio exists, to uplift and strengthen LDS singles everywhere. We do that by offering content intended to impart positive energy and improve the lives of singles of all ages and backgrounds.
Because this is about something much larger than me, I can’t do it alone. I’m calling on LDS singles everywhere to contribute to this effort by volunteering. There is so much that needs doing. If you’re sincere about wanting to improve the lives of LDS singles, that willingness alone qualifies you to help. Go now to the contact page of the website to make yourself counted.
I’m still wanting real, and if you want real in your life, come join me. It’s a brand new year and a brand new Joy in the Journey Radio. We will lift and support one another as we journey towards our heavenly home. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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