By Lauren Madsen
"It's a good problem to have," I told my daughters and husband as we walked out of the temple much later in the evening than expected. "Yeah," one of them chimed in, "It was worth the wait to save ten people!" It is a common sight in Utah for temple parking lots to fill up. Proxy appointments are hard to come by. Baptistries are bustling and the waits can be long. This particular night was no different.
But we saved ten people!
It didn’t matter that we were late picking up our sons from the sitter’s house. It didn’t matter that we had completely missed eating dinner. Our stomachs may have been empty, and the hour late, but our hearts were full. What mattered most as we climbed into the car was knowing we had helped women from our family tree make covenants with God.
On the drive home I thought about my kids and the struggles and temptations they face every day. I thought about friends and family who have left behind what they once embraced. I thought about the challenges we all face in this complicated, contentious, and confusing world. Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s words came to mind, “Heavenly Father’s generous compensation for living in perilous times is that we also live in the fulness of times.” True, we are up against some tough opposition, but as the Lord’s growing army we have His restored gospel and the covenants and blessings of the temple. Elder David A. Bednar promised as we engage in temple and family history work, “You will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.”
In my most recent trips to the temple I have pictured eager spirits lined up next to the youth that will perform their baptisms. In the endowment session I have pictured eager spirits lined up at the veil. In sealing sessions I picture eager spirits at the altar. Picturing these spirits, these actual people who once lived on earth, ignites a fire inside me. Feelings of peace, of confidence, and of being part of something significant, fill me in a powerful way. President Nelson taught, “Satan certainly does not want you to understand that every time you worthily serve and worship in the temple, you leave armed with God’s power and with His angels having ‘charge over’ you.” I often wonder if some of those angels might be the ones we have just completed work for.
As President Joseph F. Smith taught, the Lord can expand our vision beyond this side of the veil. He said, “I believe we move and have our being in the presence of heavenly messengers and of heavenly beings. We are not separate from them. . . we are closely related to our kindred, to our ancestors, to our friends and associates and co-laborers who have preceded us into the spirit world. We can not forget them; we do not cease to love them; we always hold them in our hearts, in memory, and thus are associated and united to them by ties that we cannot break. . . I claim that we live in their presence, they see us, they are solicitous for our welfare, they love us now more than ever.” He went on to say, “When messengers are sent to minister to the inhabitants of this earth, they are not strangers, but from the ranks of our kindred [and] friends.” They can come to us to give messages of love, to warn, and to instruct.
When I think of this teaching, witness the efforts of many hands as I log in to FamilySearch, and serve in the temple, I recognize that all of us, all over the world, are collectively arming ourselves and those on the other side of the veil with covenant relationships. These relationships create a vital connection not only to our Heavenly Parents and Jesus Christ, but to other covenant keepers. For me that connection slowly peels away jealousy, pride, and comparison and I am left with comfort, clarity, and a deeper sense of purpose in my life to make better choices and endure with greater faith. It makes me feel like belting out that catchy song, “We’re All In This Together.” Those on the other side of the veil need us, and we need them.
President Nelson made it clear where our focus should be when he said, “The Lord is hastening His work to gather Israel. That gathering is the most important thing taking place on earth today. Nothing else compares in magnitude, nothing else compares in importance, nothing else compares in majesty.” As we hold the great desire to protect ourselves, our families, and our fellow disciples in these last days, we can thoughtfully consider how we are participating in this work of The Gathering. In evaluating my own efforts I have asked myself: Do my daily decisions indicate to the Lord that I consider His most important work to be my most important work? What am I willing to do to invite the power and protection of God and his angels? What can I do to help encourage others in this work?
Whatever it is we are guided to do in the season of life we are in, we can remember the words of Elder Richard G. Scott, “Anywhere you are in the world, with prayer, faith, determination, diligence, and some sacrifice, you can make a powerful contribution. Begin now. I promise you that the Lord will help you find a way. And it will make you feel wonderful.”
We may be be living in perilous times, but President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. What remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this fight.” As with so many parts of the gospel Of Jesus Christ, the choice is ours. When we make His work our work, He and His angels will protect us so we can accomplish it. And although it may feel at times like the forces of evil are winning, we can be sure that through covenant connections “an unseen pow’r will aid me and you in the glorious cause of truth.”
Image by Brian Kershisnik