A hope and promise of happiness is hard to grasp in a moment of sadness. It can exist in the head but struggle to soothe the heart.
There are two basic principles that helped these young men become like the sons of Helaman. Even though the boys’ mothers were not members of the Church and did not understand the words of the Lord, priesthood leaders became like their fathers, and leaders’ wives became like their mothers.
These nine boys—I call them the “Boys of the Lord”—learned that they would be blessed when they listened to the Church leaders, even though they didn’t always understand why. They became like Adam, our first father, who when he made an offering to the Lord was asked by an angel, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” They became anxious to be obedient and to serve the Lord with their whole hearts.
They also learned that attending their Church meetings was very important. President Ezra Taft Benson said in his speech entitled “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright’ ”: “May I now direct your attention to the importance of attending all of your Church meetings. Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way.” As they attended their Church meetings regularly, the boys felt the great love of the Lord and learned how to apply the doctrines and principles of the Church in their own daily lives. They also learned how to participate in meetings with great joy and happiness.
"As we yield our will to His, God will tutor us in the successful use of our moral agency. We will find freedom to be, to feel, and to do."
In ancient times when people wanted to worship the Lord and seek His blessings, they often brought a gift. For example, when they went to the temple, they brought a sacrifice to place on the altar. After His Atonement and Resurrection, the Savior said He would no longer accept burnt offerings of animals. The gift or sacrifice He will accept now is “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” As you seek the blessing of conversion, you can offer the Lord the gift of your broken, or repentant, heart and your contrite, or obedient, spirit.
It may not come like a flash of light (I don’t know how the Lord is going to communicate with you), more than likely it will be the reassurance and a feeling in your heart, a reaffirmation that will come in a rather calm, natural but real way from day to day until you come to a realization that you do know.
The challenge for most of us is that, while we believe these things, the events of that day in 1820 are far away and sometimes forgotten. The wear and tear of daily living often overshadow the things we know; and we fail to heed. Without meaning to, we sometimes fine ourselves doing or saying things that are inconsistent with the voices from the grove, and Jospeh's exsperience there ceases, for a time, to have what Elder Neal A. Maxwell called "operative relevancy" for our lives.
To ensure that I do not forget the things that my eyes have seen and my heart has felt, I carry with me a reminder of the reality of the First Vision. It is a leaf from a 200-year old beech tree. I found it in the Sacred Grove a few years ago. The tree, a s nearly as I can tell, was in the grove on that spring morning in 1820. Perhaps some of the light Joseph saw shone on it and caused it to sink its roots deper into the rocky soil. I keep the leaf in my scriptures, and every time I open them, the leaf helps remind me of what I know.
May we always remember what we know and most surely believe, and may our lives reverently reflect the reality of these things.
Zion is Zion because of the character, attributes, and faithfulness of her citizens. Remember, "the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them" (Moses 7:18). If we would establish Zion in our homes, branches, wards, and stakes, we must rise to this standard. It will be necessary (1) to become unified in one heart and one mind; (2) to become, individually and collectively, a holy people; and (3) to care for the poor and needy with such effectiveness that we eliminate poverty among us. We cannot wait until Zion comes for these things to happen—Zion will come only as they happen.
The mind determines what's possible. The heart surpasses it.
Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again. It makes the thought of being a basher [critical or verbally abusive] repulsive.
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.
That we do a lot may not be so important. That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance--that is essential.