I love General Conference. I cherish these two days every six months to gather with my family and listen to the messages delivered by the Lord’s prophet, apostles, and other appointed leaders. Their talks inspire me and cause me to reflect and bring me closer to the Spirit that I can receive revelation that is unique to me.
I grew up with General Conference being semi-important. We typically had it on the radio while working in the yard or the garage on Saturday. Priesthood Session was a tradition with my dad in the evening. Sunday, we watched with bingo. I learned early on that the Saturday sessions were just warm-ups. When I got into the mission field, I discovered that this was far from the truth. I cherish every session of Conference.
Some of my best experiences with General Conference are the times I ponder, reread, and reflect upon the talks delivered over the weekend.
This October’s General Conference is no exception. I soaked up every minute that I could over the weekend. Some things were hard to hear while others were enlightening and much needed. As our prophet delivered his messages, I was especially attuned to listen to what he would say.
To open up General Conference, we are treated to an initial address from the prophet. His remarks centered on the work of the Lord amidst this pandemic that we are currently in. Whenever he spoke of the temple, our ears perked up to hear if he would address reopening all temples worldwide, but that did not occur, unfortunately.
“Unusual times can bring unusual rewards.”
We felt President Nelson’s love during his opening remarks. He has sincere love and empathy for all of God’s children on the earth at this time. There is no desire to see anyone suffer in any way. I know that he prays for us and is concerned for our welfare.
His early emphasis was on the power and gift that technology is. Not only in the church, but in our lives in general, we are blessed with these great tools to stay connected, to learn, and to share the gospel. He addressed the teaching with the statement that,
“Although most missionaries have had to find new, creative ways to do their work, many missions have reported doing more teaching than ever.”
Along with missionary work, this has been an opportunity to reach out and support the human family. According to him, there have been “ 895 projects in 150 countries.” Troubling times already provide us more chances to give and serve others.
“I pray that we as a people, are using this unique time to grow spiritually. We are here on earth to be tested, to see if we will choose to follow Jesus Christ, to repent regularly, to learn, and to progress. Our spirits long to progress. And we do that best by staying firmly on the covenant path.
“Through it all, our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, love us! They care for us! They and Their holy angels are watching over us. I know that is true.”
As we choose to put God first in our lives, then we see a multitude of blessings poured out upon us. Prophets have promised this for millennia. During his talk, I bolded and highlighted the phrase Always put God first.
Embrace the Future with Faith
In the Women’s Session of General Conference, President Nelson spoke of the greatness that the future would hold for each of us. He told the sisters, “You have not only the numbers but the spiritual power to change the world.” I have seen this in my own home. It has been a delight to have home church during this time. My wife has embraced it and has made it a great joy and blessing for our family.
He lovingly reiterated the love that he and our Heavenly Father have for the women of this church.
“I love you, and I assure you that the Lord loves you and sees the great work you are performing. Thank you!”
There is a genuine meekness to his message. On looking to the future, he reassures each of us with the Lord’s statement that “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). He then continued to speak of spiritual and emotional preparation by referencing Captain Moroni.
- Areas of safety
- Prepare minds to be faithful to God
- Never stop preparing physically and spiritually
He shared some promises with the women of the church that are as applicable to the sisters as they are to all of us.
- “As you continue to follow the counsel of those whom the Lord has authorized to guide you, you will feel greater safety.”
- “When the Holy Ghost is with you, you can teach truth, even when it runs counter to prevailing opinions.”
- “Having places of security to which you can retreat will help you embrace the future with faith.”
- “I promise that as you increase your capacity to receive revelation, the Lord will bless you with increased direction for your life and with boundless gifts of the Spirit.”
- “I promise you that the future will be glorious for those who are prepared and who continue to prepare to be instruments in the Lord’s hands.”
- “I promise that as we create places of security, prepare our minds to be faithful to God, and never stop preparing, God will bless us.”
These promises can be a powerful guide for each of us.
President Nelson reiterated his love for the Book of Mormon, “Few things build faith more than does regular immersion in the Book of Mormon.” This sacred record points our minds and our hearts to Jesus Christ. It witnesses of Him.
He is optimistic. There is much to be excited about in the future. Sometimes things seem bleak and difficult for us to see beyond the dense trees in front of us, but if we “embrace the future with faith,” then we will be able to see things of grandeur.
Let God Prevail
In his Sunday morning remarks, President Nelson shared with us his recent discovery of the meaning of Israel, Let God Prevail. He shared with us his love of learning of the House of Israel and the Gathering, and this little nugget of wisdom helped to expand that learning.
In this talk, he draws upon our agency. Each of us is gifted with freedom of the will. We have the power to act and react to the circumstances around us. It is how we respond to the events in our lives that shape us and develop us. We can choose.
President Nelson invites us to call upon this power of agency to make good choices. He shares the lesson of choice with these words,
“We can choose to be of Israel, or not. We can choose to let God prevail in our lives, or not. We can choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives, or not.”
It is up to us as to what we will do with this ability to choose and whether we will be willing or not.
He then speaks of the importance of the Gathering of Israel and calls it “the most important work in the world!” Whether we are willing to participate in it or not is up to us, but we are invited and charged to do so.
He related a story of his granddaughter and shared the word myopic with all of us. One of the most significant challenges that I see in my life and in the lives of those that I know is that we tend to be very nearsighted. This nearsightedness is one of the most significant causes of us becoming frustrated with God and struggling with our faith. We tend to fail to see the blessings that God has in store for us if we will just hold onto our faith.
His invitation was that we become inclusive as members of the church. He stated that skin color does not matter in our eternal progress.
“I assure you that your standing before God is not determined by the color of your skin. Favor or disfavor with God is dependent upon your devotion to God and His commandments and not the color of your skin.”
We need to invite all. We need to love all. We need to care for all.
By putting God first, we can do more.
“When your greatest desire is to let God prevail, to be part of Israel, so many decisions become easier. So many issues become nonissues!”
The world and Satan want to distract us from the things that are most important. They want to bring out our myopic nature. They want us to forget where we came from. If we fight off those urges, then we can have so many issues become nonissues.
His invitation was for each of us to study what God has promised for Israel. We are to then ponder them, discuss them, and live to see them come to pass.
He then closes with another promise by stating that,
“The world and Satan want to distract us from the things that are most important. They want to bring out our myopic nature. They want us to forget where we came from. If we fight off those urges then we can have so many issues become nonissues.”
As I have acted on his promises from the past, I have seen these blessings come to pass in my life. I look forward to executing on these new invitations and seeing how they impact my life. I invite you to do the same.