This is my report on the last (Sunday afternoon) session of the October 1971 General Conference. Onward and upward as we continue hearing the words of the prophets. I’m finding that the things they taught are just as applicable today as they ever were.
Clearly, the catchphrase during this conference was “Keep the Commandments.” Our leaders have been begging us to listen, to obey devotedly, as well as to know the will of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and to avoid doing all these to Satan. It’s one or the other. We have to realize that this is the test we came down to pass and to prove.
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of Heber C. Kimball’s resistance to serve in England, mostly because of his personal fear and lack of confidence. But then the light bulb went on. “However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards.”
Isn’t that the question? Are we willing to admit to recognizing the will of our Heavenly Father and putting our complete trust in Him to carry us through the bad stuff and into the glorious reward? We know the commandments exist. We know we have a responsibility. Many of us even know about the Plan of Salvation and the importance of Agency and Choice. Our problem is our willingness to obey the Lord and his servants.
Joseph Anderson (former secretary to the First Presidency, at this time Assistant to the Twelve) said several enlightening things. “We need the humility of prayer, and a determination to learn God’s will and to keep the commandments that he has given. We need faith that our Savior lives, faith in his redeeming sacrifice. In other words, Christ and his teachings should become the center of our lives.” He also testified that there is joy and happiness in keeping the Lord’s commandments. Just the other day this concept was made visually apparent in a photo of Pres. Eyring, who presided over the rededication of the Suva Fiji Temple in the middle of a cyclone. That smile of his is very contagious!
Elder Anderson continued to speak boldly when he stated, “The world needs contact with the heavens in this day and age. The world needs a prophet. Little does the world generally realize that the Lord is revealing his mind and will through his living prophets today.” It just makes me so sad to see so many members of the church turn their backs on our living prophets. They are denying themselves of the promises they made in the Spirit World, as well as the joy of building the kingdom of God. I completely agree with his borrowed quip, “The world needs a bath in Christ’s pure religion.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie defined what it is to obey the commandments. He said, “To worship the Lord is to follow after him, to seek his face, to believe his doctrine, and to think his thoughts … It is to walk in his paths. … To worship the Lord is to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, to center our whole hearts upon Christ and that salvation which comes because of him.” He actually says even more, but even this is overwhelming. I will share with you one thing, however, that I’ve learned over the years: Once you are on the path and moving forward, it’s actually easier to keep going and doing all of these overwhelming things we’re reminded of doing. Yes, we’ll run into glitches. We’re in the middle of a test, right? But when our testimonies are strong we seem to have more built-in drive and we are more likely to be more sensitive to the heavenly help that surrounds us.
Elder Hugh B. Brown closed his remarks with these words, “Let us, then, at this closing session, renew that plea and rededicate ourselves to the unfinished task of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of men.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith (speaking as the prophet) closed the conference testifying to all members of the church with these words: “The First Presidency of the Church is united as one.” I think that is so powerful. Power comes with unity. Power comes from our prophets. Power comes from Jesus Christ, who governs His Church. As members of the only church led by the only God of this world, it is only to our benefit that we obey Him, and obey His servants.
I love these men. I love their messages. I love the gospel. Life isn’t easy, but when I’m down I can look up to these leaders and find a reprieve, a replenishing of spirit, and a sweet rekindling of my precious testimony.
On the Inevitability of Worship Nathaniel Givens
Worshiping the True and Living God Daniel Ortner
Go, Do, Become Michelle Linford
Living by Power—A Woman of God SilverRain
Emulating the Great Exemplar Walker Wright
If Ye Be Willing and Obedient Chastity Wilson