I recently had a beautiful experience leading 36 or so of our youth in a composition of “Fear Not” (link below) for our stake conference. The song is both a prayer for protection and a pledge to help each other stand on a firm foundation, a reminder that the difficult conditions in our world spiritually and physically can be overcome through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our last practice was Saturday evening, and we would be performing the following morning, but being a busy night for youth, only a quarter of our group came. Our stake president and his counselors were preparing to leave the church building, having just finished an evening adult session of the stake conference, but the president, noticing the practice and seeing we were light on numbers, waved his counselors over and all three of them joined in to bolster our youth. What a blessing this was!
I had been pondering what final thought I could leave with our youthful chorus members, and seeing our stake presidency there, I recalled opening my journal the day before and reading a remarkably similar story of a dear friend, surrounded by his stake presidency as he re-established his spiritual foundation.
My friend related that he had stopped coming to church for many years. This all changed one day when he turned on the TV and flipped through some channels, pausing on one just in time to see President Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints looking him in the eye, and saying, in essence, “We need you. This church and it’s mission will simply not be the same without you. If you have left your church activity, we ask you to come back.” The sincerity of the prophet’s eyes and the timing of the message touched him deeply. He realized the Lord was calling him back.
He made needed adjustments in his life and got a temple recommend but could not bring himself to go back to the temple until one day, he had a day off work. He received a strong impression to be back in the temple that day. His wife asked him if he was sure, and he assured her of the need he felt to go, but he reached a chapel in the temple feeling unprepared and inadequate after having been absent from the House of the Lord for nearly 20-years. As he sat there, his stake president unexpectedly arrived and sat next to him, and then the stake president’s counselors arrived as well. He turned to his stake president and said, ‘I just don’t think I can do this!’ His stake president assured him that he could, and after pondering, he added, “And you need to be an ordinance worker.”
This faithful man became a dear friend when I met him in his very early days of service as a temple worker. Recent years have left my friend with a condition that compromises his physical balance, but he comes, determined to lift others while he has capacity to do so. At a very sacred place in the temple, after assisting our temple guests, he unexpectedly beckoned to me and as I stood by him, he took me by the arm to steady himself. It was a privilege and honor to walk together arm-in-arm through the temple until we got to a place where he could securely rest.
To my youth chorus, I continued, “My friend is full of love and is determined to help anyone shaken from their foundation and so he reaches out and blesses others. I know he has saved others. I see the love our stake presidents have for each of you to come and be with you now. They also serve with the desire to firm the foundations of the hearts of those around them. And the beautiful thing is, I see that same love emanating from each of you. Consider in ‘Fear Not’ where it quotes my favorite verse from ‘How Firm a Foundation’:
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!How Firm a Foundation, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint Hymn 85
To our youth, I continued, “It has been a great privilege and honor to serve you! The light you carry has strengthened my foundation. You are a blessing to me.”
It is a privilege and honor to serve those who read these words. I plead with you with words another dear temple worker friend of mine shared with me just a few days ago. He is 91 and looks forward to the day he will be reunited with his wife who departed this life 4-years ago. He told me he thinks of words from his friend, Bruce R. McConkie, when he turned to him, called him by name and said, “We need to get on the path, and stay there.” There are too many blessings to gain from getting on and staying on the path and too many casualties if we abandon our posts.
May the Lord bless each of us as we determine to stand on and help others acquire a firm foundation!