The privilege to work is a gift

In the words of Elder David O. McKay (1873–1970) when he was in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Let us … realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that power to work is a blessing, that love to work is success” (in Conference Report, October 1909, 94; emphasis in original).

Work is therapy for the soul. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of work. I believe that much idleness we experience comes from misunderstanding the Atonement of the Lord. We cannot simply sit around and do nothing and expect to be successful in spiritual or temporal things. We need to do all that is in our power to accomplish our goals, and the Lord will make up the difference.

Remember the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley: “The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner” (“Our Fading Civility,” Brigham Young University commencement address, 25 April 1996, 15).

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Lessons Learned in the Journey of Life,” Liahona, May 2001, 35

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Choosing Christ’s living or suffering

We will end up either choosing Christ’s manner of living or His manner of suffering! It is either “suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16–17), or overcome “even as [He] … overcame” (Rev. 3:21). His beckoning command is to become “even as I am” (3 Ne. 27:27). The spiritually settled accept that invitation, and “through the atonement of Christ,” they become and overcome! (see Mosiah 3:18, 19).

Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame’,” Ensign, May 1987, 70

The true discovery of America is before us

I just got back from Disney World. While at the American Adventure pavilion at EPCOT I noticed this quote, which I had not read before:

I believe that we are lost here in America, but I believe we shall be found. And this belief, which mounts now to the catharsis of knowledge and conviction, is for me — and I think for all of us — not only our own hope, but America’s everlasting, living dream. I think the life which we have fashioned in America, and which has fashioned us — the forms we made, the cells that grew, the honeycomb that was created — was self-destructive in its nature, and must be destroyed. I think these forms are dying, and must die, just as I know that America and the people in it are deathless, undiscovered, and immortal, and must live.

I think the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfillment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our own democracy is still before us. And I think that all these things are certain as the morning, as inevitable as noon. I think I speak for most men living when I say that our America is Here, is Now, and beckon on before us, and that this glorious assurance is not only our living hope, but our dream to be accomplished.

I think the enemy is here before us, too. But I think we know the forms and faces of the enemy, and in the knowledge that we know him, and shall meet him, and eventually must conquer him is also our living hope. I think the enemy is here before us with a thousand faces, but I think we know that all his faces wear one mask. I think the enemy is single selfishness and compulsive greed. I think the enemy is blind, but has the brutal power of his bling grab. I do not think the enemy was born yesterday, or that he grew to manhood forty years ago, or that he suffered sickness and collapse in 1929, or that we began without the enemy, and that our vision faltered, that we lost the way, and suddenly were in his camp. I think the enemy is old as Time, and evil as Hell, and that he has been here with us from the beginning. I think he stole our earth from us, destroyed our wealth, and ravaged and despoiled our land. I think he took our people and enslaved them, that he polluted the fountains of our life, took unto himself the rarest treasures of our own possession, took our bread and left us with a crust, and, not content, for the nature of the enemy is insatiate – tried finally to take from us the crust.

I think the enemy comes to us with the face of innocence and says to us:
“I am your friend.”

I think the enemy deceives us with false words and lying phrases saying:
“See, I am one of you — I am one of your children, your son, your brother, and your friend. Behold how sleek and fat I have become — and all because I am just one of you, and your friend. Behold how rich and powerful I am — and all because I am one of you — shaped in your way of life, of thinking, of accomplishment. What I am, I am because I am one of you, your humble brother and friend. Behold,” cries Enemy, “the man I am, the man I have become, the thing I have accomplished — and reflect! Will you destroy this thing? I assure you it is the most precious thing you have. It is yourselves, the projection of each of you, the triumph of your individual lives, the thing that is rooted in your blood, and native to your stock, and inherent in the traditions of America. It is the thing that all of you may hope to be,” says Enemy, “for –” humbly– “am I not just one of you? Am I not just your brother and your son? Am I not the living image of what each of you may hope to be, would wish to be, would desire for his own son? Would you destroy this glorious incarnation of your own heroic self? If you do, then,” says enemy, “you destroy yourselves — you kill the thing that is most gloriously American, and in so killing, kill yourselves.”

He lies! And now we know his lies! He is not gloriously, or in any other way, ourselves. He is not our friend, our son, our brother. And he is not American! For, although he has a thousand familiar and convenient faces, his own true face is old as Hell.

Look about you and see what he has done.

From “You Can’t Go Home Again,” Book VII, by Thomas Wolfe (1940).

Faith in the future

I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives….

One of my favorite books of the New Testament is Paul’s too-seldom-read letter to the Philippians. After reviewing the very privileged and rewarding life of his early years—his birthright, his education, his standing in the Jewish community—Paul says that all of that was nothing (“dung” he calls it) compared to his conversion to Christianity. He says, and I paraphrase: “I have stopped rhapsodizing about ‘the good old days’ and now eagerly look toward the future ‘that I may apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me.’” Then comes this verse:

This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:13–14]

…Paul knows it is out there in the future, up ahead wherever heaven is taking us where we will win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Jeffrey R. Holland, “Remember Lot’s Wife,” BYU Devotional, 13 January 2009

It would be easy to become discouraged and cynical about the future—or even fearful of what might come—if we allowed ourselves to dwell only on that which is wrong in the world and in our lives. Today, however, I’d like us to turn our thoughts and our attitudes away from the troubles around us and to focus instead on our blessings as members of the Church. The Apostle Paul declared, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

None of us makes it through this life without problems and challenges—and sometimes tragedies and misfortunes. After all, in large part we are here to learn and grow from such events in our lives. We know that there are times when we will suffer, when we will grieve, and when we will be saddened. However, we are told, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
How might we have joy in our lives, despite all that we may face? Again from the scriptures: “Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.”….

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.
President Thomas S. Monson, “Be of Good Cheer,” April 2009 General Conference, (italics added)