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Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional

December 8, 2009





Made Holy in the Body

Philip A. Allred

Religious Education Faculty Member, BYU-Idaho

Phil Allred Photo

 I’m thrilled and somewhat terrified to be here with you today!  You may not believe this, but I think I’ve actually lost more of my hair since learning about this assignment… That actually works in my favor because with the lighting in here all you’re likely to see is a glowing ball on top of my shoulders!


Like you, I truly desire to learn together today, and so I add my prayers to yours that the Holy Ghost will attend to us and teach us. 


During my lifetime I’ve spent a fair amount of time wondering about the future – anxious to know how everything will turn out.  I remember pausing in front of my bathroom mirror when I was in Jr. High – staring intently at my face and body – even posing and flexing as only a 14 year old can.  I wondered what I might look like as an adult – and what she would look like!  I tried to imagine where this body would take me, and what I would do with it.  In those especially turbulent years I had a pervading fear of mortality’s randomness, and a keen and painful awareness of my own failings and weakness.  Perhaps as a cover for those fears, during my adolescence I held romantic notions about the “test” of life.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I sometimes play-acted in my mind how I would bravely stick out my chest as I faced nefarious enemies, boldly refusing to deny my testimony as I died a thousand different deaths.  I figured that if I could land myself in one of these life-or-death situations then I would be assured a place among the greats in heaven.  In my heart of hearts, I worried that unless I had such an epic end, my mortal days would not add up to an invitation to enter the Celestial Kingdom. 


As we begin, I have felt impressed to share with you two experiences I had when I was your age.  As you will see, I had much to learn about the true nature of God’s plan of salvation! 


One night in the Missionary Training Center while preparing to preach the gospel in Japan I had an unusual dream.  I found myself striding down a beautiful tree-lined path.   The sun was setting amid lightly falling leaves and I realized I was walking on a rich-red carpet.  Suddenly I heard the clear notes of royal court trumpets and I had the sense that I’d just passed through one of those idealistic life-on-the-line tests I fantasized about.  I immediately understood that I was ascending up to the throne of God!  As I passed between rows of noble-looking people on either side, I was filled with wonder over what I sensed would be my final judgment.  As an aside, keep in mind that I’m just 19, I’m in the MTC, and I’ve been a fan of King Arthur since I was old enough to know what swords and fair maidens were!  As I climbed the steps on that deep red carpet I saw a jewel-encrusted gold crown resting on a luxurious purple pillow.  I envisioned Heavenly Father taking the Sword of Laban and tapping me on each shoulder as if I were being “knighted”!  I anticipated receiving the keys to some corner of the cosmos and told, “Go and be awesome.”  In that very moment, everything ended abruptly.  In the darkness a clear voice declared, “It’s not like that!”  Sleeplessly, I was left to ponder… so, if the Judgment isn’t like that, what is it like?! 


Even though I asked that night, I didn’t receive an answer to that question immediately—in fact, it has been a significant part of my personal gospel searching ever since.  I’d like to explore with you today what I’ve been learning about how the gospel really works since that dream in the MTC when the Lord kindly, but firmly dashed my romantic and idealistic notions.  


Now, the second experience:   


I’d only been home from my mission a couple days when I stopped in to see my mother who was just finishing up another academic year of teaching Spanish and English at my high school.  As I passed under sagging banners swaying from the ceiling I reminisced about the three somewhat angst-filled years of my life I’d spent there.  Without warning I suddenly found myself nose-to-nose with one of my former teachers.  She had absent-mindedly entered the hallway with a stack of papers in her hands and we nearly collided.  As she looked up into my face she said one of the more memorable things I’ve ever heard.  She said: “You look holy”!  What?! Me… Holy?…  Her unexpected greeting was particularly surprising because she was not a member of the Church, and it had been no secret that she harbored negative feelings about Church as well.  As I recovered from my shock, I was pleased to tell her that I’d just returned from a mission.  I was hopeful that this experience might be a seed to better things regarding the restored gospel for her.  As we parted, I was floored by the implications of her observation.  … Me… Holy… 


In the 2005 October General Conference, Sister Susan W. Tanner serving as the Young Women’s General President explained,

When we become other-oriented, or selfless, we develop an inner beauty of spirit that glows in our outward appearance. This is how we make ourselves in the Lord’s image rather than the world’s and receive His image in our countenances.” (Sister Susan W. Tanner, “The Sanctity of the Body,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 13).[2] 

I had seen this happen in other’s lives in the mission field, but up that point I had no idea that such a change was also happening in me! [3]   However preliminary and unfinished it was, I had begun to receive Christ’s image in my countenance – in a literal and discernable way.  Over the years since my teacher’s startling statement, I’ve searched the gospel to understand this dynamic connection between our spirits and our bodies; and, by extension just how that informs our real test of life. 


The following four sentences are my distillations of gospel doctrines and principles relating to our bodies and their spiritual properties.    


  1. Our bodies are figuratively and literally our “book of life” [4} because they are constantly recording and registering our desires, thoughts, words, and actions.   
  2. The resurrection will reunite each spirit with its body in an ultimate fulfillment of the law of harvest, revealing our obedience or disobedience to God’s laws at our final judgment. 
  3. The atonement can cleanse and transform our bodies in the resurrection appropriate to our individual repentance and obedience.    
  4. The gospel enables us to fully bridle these “instruments of our minds” [5} so that we can record holiness in us –line upon line – with the Lord’s personal commandments as our guide. 


As we contemplate each of these statements today, I will lean heavily on the teachings of the modern Prophets.  Their words will both warn and comfort us.  As President Harold B. Less once said, “…this is what the Church is all about—to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comforted” (New Era, Jan 1971).  I’m sure representatives of each camp are among us.  I know I’ve spent time among both groups at different times in my life.  Wonderfully, the Spirit will direct and inspire each of us to appropriately apply these principles so that we are sufficiently enabled to come unto Jesus and become perfected in him.  


Our Body are Records of our Lives


I remember as a child seeing all the creative “you are what you eat” lunch-room posters that humorously portrayed people turning into walking Twinkies or Cupcakes.  Between you and me, all that did was sour my appreciation for the banana in my lunchbox! 


Here follow five Prophet’s statements that teach us about this spiritual recording property of our bodies and attest to the fact that we’re not only what we eat. 


From President John Taylor:

“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)

 From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks… (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)

 Again from Pres. Taylor:

God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).

 From President David O. McKay:

Psychology assures us that ‘We are spinning our own fates, good or evil… Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar…. Down among his nerve cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. (Pres. David O. McKay, quoting William James in Conference Report, April 1956, 7-8.)  

 From Spencer W. Kimball:

There are dark, deep corners, locked rooms, isolated spots, but no act, good or bad; no thought, ugly or beautiful ever escapes being seen or heard.  [Each] one will make the imprint on the individual and be recorded, to be met and paid for.  (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Teaching of Spencer W. Kimball, 155.)

 I’d imagine that we’ve all had experiences with people whose countenance revealed something of their spiritual state – be it “ugly” or “beautiful.”  


I remember being shocked by one man I met in the music-recording industry.  He showed up one day when I was working as a disc jockey at a radio station.  He was hoping I’d play his song on the air, but as we talked, I became unnerved by the darkness in his whole person; particularly in his eyes and face.  He told me that I wouldn’t believe what he’d done to get there.  I thought to myself, you’d don’t have to tell me friend, you’re whole body is blaring it! 


Well did Isaiah say it anciently:  “The shew of their countenance doth witness against them… Woe unto their soul! For they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” (Isa. 3:9-11).  How tragic that this son of God had wasted his precious time on earth misunderstanding the true “recording industry.”  He hadn’t just been recording a song – he was recording himself!  And so are we all.


You know, our scientists are beginning to understand how biochemical changes in our brains take place via our physical senses.  It appears we’re just scratching the surface of how profoundly we are daily creating and changing ourselves.  Just between us, I’d sure love to know what senses I need to engage to pave my mathematical neuropath ways!  I won’t shock you with my ACT score on that one!


Our Resurrected Body will be Used in the Final Judgment


The Prophets are saying that our bodies have been recording everything.  In his second letter to the Corinthians chapter 5 verse 10, Paul attests to these modern prophets when he wrote: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). 


Consider how the following three teachings shed light on the fact that these bodies of ours will be instrumental in our Final Judgment. 


From our Church-produced manual Gospel Principles:

There is another record that will be used to judge us.  The Apostle Paul taught that man himself is the most complete record of his life (see Romans 2:15; 2 Cor. 3:1-3).  Stored in our body and mind is a complete history of everything we have done.  (Gospel Principles, 284.)

 From Pres. John Taylor:

Man sleeps for a time in the grave, and by-and-by he rises again from the dead and goes to judgment … it would be in vain for a man to say then, I did not do so-and-so; the command would be, Unravel and read the record which he has made of himself, and let it testify in relation to these things, and all could gaze upon it. It is not because somebody has seen things, or heard anything by which a man will be judged and condemned, but it is because that record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind—that record that cannot lie—will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:78-79).

 From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

When the book of life is opened in the day of judgment (Rev. 20:12-15), men's bodies will show what law they have lived. The Great Judge will then read the record of the book of their lives; the account of their obedience or disobedience will be written in their bodies. (quoted in LDS Church News, 26 June, 1993; from Mormon Doctrine, 97).

 Alma taught his spiritually-struggling son Corianton that our resurrected bodies will carry their record forward into our final judgment. [6]  You remember how this young missionary had strayed from his duties and debauched himself with a local Zoramite siren.  In Alma chapter 40 verse 21 and chapter 41 verses 4 and 13, Alma taught, 

that there is a time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works…. and if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil.  Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, everything to its natural frame…. the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil… [or] good for that which is good (Alma 40:21; 41:4, 13; emphasis added). 

The Apostle Paul put it even more succinctly in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter six verse eighteen:  “he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). 


Think now how profoundly simple and true it is when Alma states in Alma chapter 41 verse 7, that “they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil” (Alma 41:7).  President Harold B. Lee explained, 

We are our own judges of the place we shall have in the eternal world. Here and now in mortality, each one of us is having the opportunity of choosing the kind of laws we elect to obey. We are now living and obeying celestial laws that will make us candidates for celestial glory, or we are living terrestrial laws that will make us candidates for either terrestrial glory, or telestial law. (Elder Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1947, 46). [7]

 Because this is true, we should be taking advantage of this incomparable self-registering gift in our physical bodies because as Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: 

[Godly] attributes and skills are portable, [they] are never obsolete; they will be much needed in the next world.  If we ponder just what it is that will rise with us in the resurrection, it seems clear that our intelligence will rise with us, meaning not simply our IQ, but also our capacity to receive and apply truth.  Our talents, attributes, and skills will rise with us; certainly also our capacity to learn, our degree of self-discipline, and our capacity to work. (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, We Will Prove Them Herewith, 11-12).

When I first came across these prophetic and scriptural statements, I was stunned.  For some reason I hadn’t really connected the dots!  I guess I’d incorrectly assumed some things about the resurrection. [8]   But, being confronted with this doctrine that I will stand in this body before the Lord to be judged, I honestly thought, “Well, so much for that gold crown and those keys to the cosmos!”  I know all too well what I’ve done in this body.  It is easy to see how this reality might engender feelings of defeat and hopelessness in those without a more developed gospel understanding.  However, it is the same gospel that humbles us with these realities that also brings us the “good news” about Jesus Christ as our Savior and Redeemer.  Our next two principles show us how the Lord can help us rewrite our lives – literally. 


 Our Savior Has the Power to Cleanse and Transform our Bodies in the Resurrection


The Apostle Paul taught that through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice there is a way to exchange our sinfulness for His righteousness.  Let us turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verses 19 and 21.  In verse 19 Paul explained to the Corinthians that Heavenly Father won’t impute “[our] trespasses unto [us]” (2 Cor. 5:19) because, as he so beautifully describes the atonement in verse 21: Jesus was “made to be sin for us… that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).  The Greek word translated as “made” (KJV) is genometha, and it means to become, be, be born, be created


Two of our modern prophets offer insight into how we can be made into “the righteousness of God” in spite of all the unrighteousness we have written in our bodies. 


From Brigham Young:

…if we take a course to promote the principles of life—seek unto our Father and God, and obtain his will and perform it, the spirit will become purified, sanctified, cleansed, and made holy in the body, and the grave will cleanse the flesh. When the spirit overcomes the evil consequences of the fall, which are in the mortal tabernacle, it will reign predominant in the flesh, and is then prepared to be exalted… (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7: 287.)

 Again from Brigham Young:

…by obedience to the Gospel of salvation, and the renovating influences of the Holy Ghost, and the holy resurrection, we shall put on the image of the heavenly, in beauty, glory, power and goodness. (Discourses of Brigham Young, 373-74)     

From Joseph Fielding Smith:

If we will just be true and faithful to every covenant, to every principle of truth that he has given us, then after the resurrection we [will] come back into his presence and we [will] be just like he is.  We [will] have the same kind of bodies—bodies that [will] shine like the sun. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Take Heed to Yourselves!, 345.)

 Again from Joseph Fielding Smith:

This idea, which has so often been taught by saying that the holes remain after the nails are withdrawn, is a false doctrine when applied to the atonement for the truly repentant sinner.  (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:332; emphasis added.)

Alma actually uses this same language with Corianton in Alma chapter 40 verse 25 that through the restorative powers of the atonement “then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God.”  How remarkable it will be to stand before the Lord in that kind of resurrected body!  And truly, through the grace of Christ and the power of his Atonement, this remarkable offer remains open to every one of us. 


 Our Savior Will Guide Us to Write Better Things Throughout Our Lives


You know, it wasn’t long after my “you look holy” experience, however, that I painfully realized as the great poet Robert Frost so eloquently put it that I had “miles to go before I sleep.” [9]  There were multiple personal exhibits, of course, but I learned how just how far I yet needed to go in my discipleship and real conversion one terrible night years ago as a young father. 


Early in my married life, one of my toddler sons would not go to bed without several hours of painstaking coddling every night.  All our efforts that worked with our other children were fruitless with him.  As the days, weeks, and months went by I came to dread bedtime and one night I snapped.  After several hours of trying to settle him without success I caved in to the frustration and roughly picked him up, yelled in his face, and tossed him back down onto the bed.  As I strode out of the room broiling with anger, the horror and shame of what I’d done washed over me as I collapsed on the stairs and openly wept.  I felt utterly hopeless and weak – all my worst fears over being a father seemed to be confirmed.  It was awful.  As I groped around in my mind for something, anything, to answer this terrible weakness toward anger and frustration that I had dealt with since I was a child, I felt the gentle tugging of the Spirit.  As I listened with my freshly broken heart, I received a key gospel insight about how to receive the Lord’s help, along with a spiritual invitation.  Wonderfully, my helplessness turned to hope as I began that night to ponder and apply His invitation.


I had come face to face with the crushing truth that Elder Oaks taught so well in his landmark address aptly titled “The Challenge to Become” in the October 2005 General Conference.  He said, “Jesus’ challenge shows that the conversion He required for those who would enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 18:3) was far more than just being converted to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel. To testify is to know and to declare. The gospel challenges us to be “converted,” which requires us to do and to become” (Ensign, Nov. 2000, 33).  While I had testified of and knew and even loved the gospel truths, they had not yet worked their acceptable conversion in me, because somehow I was missing the Savior in all my doing.


Very soon after this experience, I found an exciting statement about how to become truly converted by President George Q. Cannon.  His fervent exhortation seemed to confirm what the Spirit had invited me to do the night of my extremity.  Pres. Cannon urged us to be “seeking for [the] gifts that God has promised to bestow” instead of 

[going] along day by day like a door turning on its hinges, without having any feeling on the subject, without exercising any faith whatever; content to be baptized and be members of the Church, and to rest there, thinking that your salvation is secure because you have done this? …If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect.  Have I imperfections?  I am full of them.  What is my duty?  To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. (Millennial Star, 1894, 260-61.) [10]

That night I had come so close to my imperfection and a life-changing accident that I felt sick!  But, the Lord knows exactly each of our weaknesses and capacities as unique children of God.  And so, as I began more earnestly and faithfully to seek for the Lord’s perfecting gifts for me specifically, I learned that He often responds to our pleadings with very specific directions detailing an invitation for us to enter the next phase of our conversion.  As we’ve discussed today, since our bodies are constantly recording and registering, it only makes sense that the Savior will know perfectly what we need to do in order to receive more of His image in our countenances. [11]     


I find it significant that our last two presidents here at BYU-Idaho have both taught about this perfecting process by highlighting the Lord’s use of what has been termed personal commandments.  In a Devotional here in 2004, President David A. Bednar taught us,   

 It is one thing to perform the outward actions of obedience; it is quite a different thing to become inwardly what the commandments are intended to help us become. It is one thing to obey the institutional, public, and shared commandments associated with the Lord’s kingdom on earth—commandments such as the law of chastity, the law of tithing, and the Word of Wisdom; it is an even greater thing to receive and respond to the individual, private, and personally revealed commandments that result from continual and faithful obedience…. Such instructions typically are proactive and anticipatory in nature. (Elder David A. Bednar, “In a State of Happiness,” Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, January 6, 2004; emphasis original)

 And in 2006, President Kim B. Clark quoted Elder Bednar about these personal commandments and further taught that,

 [The Lord] sends us promptings and impressions to raise our personal bar, over and over again.  The impressions that come may be about fasting with a purpose, or forgiving one who has hurt us, or sharing the gospel, or searching the scriptures more diligently, or being more thoughtful and kind to neighbors and friends, or praying with real intent.  They will be what the Lord wants you to do to become a stronger, more effective disciple.  And they will not come just once.  If you are true and faithful, they will come all through your life. (Pres. Kim B. Clark, “God Hath Prepared A More Excellent Way,” BYU-Idaho Devotional, September 5, 2006)

These two presidents of our University have verbalized and illustrated the very same process of literal conversion that the Lord invited me to engage in that awful night of my crisis with my son.  I can tell you that it has been an exhilarating experience for me to receive and respond to the Lord’s commandments to me since then.  I’ve found for myself that these personal commandments are tenderly and uniquely suited to our circumstances because they are designed to write the next and most needful good in us for that particular time in our lives – and they build upon each other over time.  Both Presidents referred to the Lord’s promise in the 59th Section of the Doctrine & Covenants, in verses 3 & 4, those “who have obeyed my gospel” and “are faithful and diligent before [Him] will “be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time.”  Hence our developing happiness is contingent upon the sequential nature of the Lord’s commandments.  Perhaps this helps explain what Joseph Smith meant when he taught that “we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 255; emphasis added.)


Elder Oaks explains that,

 This spotless and perfected state will result from a steady succession of covenants, ordinances, and actions, an accumulation of right choices, and from continuing repentance. (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become” Ensign, Nov. 2000)

 Considering all we’ve been taught today about our incredible bodies, note the crucial role of the Spirit in facilitating these godly changes in us according to President Brigham Young.  He promised that, 

If you cleave to holy, godlike principles, you add more good to your organization… And when you have been proved, and when you have labored and occupied sufficiently upon that, it will become in you… a fountain of revelation.  That is true.  After a while the Lord will say to such, “My son, you have been faithful, you have clung to good, and you love righteousness, and hate iniquity, from which you have turned away, now you shall have the blessing of the Holy Spirit to lead you, and be your constant companion, from this time henceforth and forever.  Then the Holy Spirit becomes your property. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses: 2:134.)

In Alma chapter 18, Ammon confirms the remarkable addition capacities of the Holy Spirit.  Alma 18, verse 35 reveals that “a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.” [12]


Amazingly, as we more fully immerse ourselves in discipleship by continually striving to incorporate the Lord’s public and private commandments into our lives, we find our bodies becoming more and more holy as temples for the Lord’s Spirit.  This is why the Apostle Paul beseeched us - in his epistle to the Romans, chapter 12 verses 1 and 2 – to “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God…. Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…”


It is so exiting to realize how the gospel’s public and personal commandments allow the Lord to really transform us.  Elder Packer has suggested the Word of Wisdom is “only incidentally to keep us healthy” – and reminded us that the promise associated with this principle is “personal revelation.”  Therefore, he continued, “If you will keep your body in a worthy, receptive circumstance, you will be prompted, even have angels attend you” (CES Fireside for Young Adults, 2 Feb. 2003). Keeping our bodies in this spiritually tuned state enables us to receive his personal commandments.[13] 


Combining our best efforts and following His tutoring directions, think on the goodness is recorded in us when we worthily and mindfully partake of the Sacrament?  Think of the godliness that is registered in us when we attend to the sacred, saving ordinances of the Lord’s temples? [14]  In fact, notice how the power of godliness comes to us through the Melchizedek priesthood as taught by the Lord in D&C 84:19-22, which reads, 

therefore in the ordinances [of the Melchizedek] priesthood], the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.

Two great prophets from dispensations past illustrate how literal that promise is.  In Mosiah chapter 13 verse 5 – remember how Abinadi’s “face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses’ did while in the mount of Sinai” because of  “the Spirit of the Lord [that] was upon him.”  Clearly the “steady succession” of faithful obedience by these two sons of God had transformed their bodies.  By the way, in our study of the books of Moses and Exodus, we discover that Moses’ lustrous condition was not attained through a single climb up the mount.  Rather, we can document no less than twelve separate ascents up Sinai logged by the Prophet.


Though it is truly sacred to me, I have felt the Lord’s approval in sharing one final experience with you. 


Nearly a decade later after my terrible night with that son (he lived through it by the way), he and I participated in a 20-mile day-hike in preparation for our Ward’s 50-mile super-activity.  You’ll see us in the photograph displayed.  As the day went along, it became agonizingly apparent that my 12 year-old was physically and emotionally unprepared for the ordeal.  I must tell you that he was complaining and murmuring to rival the Israelites with Moses.  Normally when he would act this way, I would start to feel all kinds of mental and physical turmoil and tension that I knew could boil over at any time.  Yet, mile after mile as we trudged along with his frustration and pain reaching greater and greater heights, I was amazed to notice my own feelings becoming deep, profound, and poignant. I felt a refining, purging and purifying power infuse in me a sanctifying love for my son.  Because we were so slow, the group had gone ahead and it was just the two of us.  As we slogged through the last five excruciating miles, it broke my heart to see my son struggle so much as I tried to help him in any way I could.  It was during those final terrible yards that my dear son tearfully thanked me for staying with him.  As I heard him thank me, I felt an overwhelming sense of love for him.  Here was my son thanking me for staying with him!  He had no idea that I could no more have left him and gone ahead with the others than I could have sprouted wings.  Leaving him was simply not in me – not any more. 


Then I knew that the Lord had worked a miracle in me.  In those intervening years, the Savior had fashioned me into a true father to my son as He took “the stony heart out of [my] flesh” and “put a new spirit within [me]” (Ezekiel 11:19).  By following his personal commandments his grace had become infused into my whole soul.  His healing and converting powers were enabling me beyond my previous natural capacities to be what my son needed me to be. 


I have learned that life isn’t as mysterious and random as I worried as a youth.  Instead, I have found that the Lord is willing to lead me along, line upon line, grace for grace.  How exciting the gospel of Jesus Christ is!  There is a perfect brightness of hope for me and for you because of the redeeming and refining gospel principles and ordinances, directed so lovingly and individually by our Lord who holds the divine authoring and finishing powers (see Hebrews 12:2; Moroni 6:4).   


The gospel of Jesus Christ affirms that matter what we have done in our past – what ungodly and unworthy things we have recorded in us through our weakness and sin, the Lord desires us to come unto Him now and be converted that he may heal us and fashion us after his own perfect image.  Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf from our general conference last April beautifully invites each of us to know that, 

The first step on the path of discipleship begins, luckily enough, in the exact place where we stand! We do not have to prequalify to take that first step. (Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” General Conference, April 2009)



[1] Title Reference: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2: 134. 
[2] President David O. McKay has spoken of this phenomenon in terms of radiation. “Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she is. Every person is a recipient of radiation… It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us…. If we think noble thoughts, if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people.”  (Conference Report, April 1963, 129).  In a later General Conference talk Pres. McKay further explained, “Every man has an atmosphere or a radiation that is affecting every person in the world. You cannot escape it. Into the hands of every individual is given a marvelous power for good or for evil. It is simply the constant radiation of what a man really is. Every man by his mere living is radiating positive or negative qualities. Life is a state of radiation. To exist is to be the radiation of our feelings, natures, doubts, schemes, or to be the recipient of those things from somebody else” (Conference Report, October 1969, 87).
[3] See 3 Nephi 9:20 where the converted Lamanites “knew it not.”
[4] Quoted in LDS Church News, 26 June, 1993 from Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 97.
[5] See Elder Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of our Mind and the Foundation of Our Character,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, 2 February 2003.
[6] Elder Oaks memorably defined “the Final Judgment [as] not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become” (Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32; emphasis added).
[7] See D&C 88:20-32; also note Elder Melvin J. Ballard’s statement about the differences between different gloried resurrected bodies: “Those who come forth in the celestial glory with celestial bodies have a body that is more refined.  It is different.  The very fiber and texture of the celestial body is more pure and holy than a telestial or terrestrial body, and a celestial body alone can endure celestial glory.... When we have a celestial body, it will be suited to the celestial conditions, and a telestial body could not endure celestial glory.  It would be torment and affliction to them” (Melvin J. Ballard, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, 1949, 256). 
[8} Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has written, “The doctrine of restoration is sobering for those who may have believed that Christ’s atonement and their resurrection would somehow bring something more than was deserved…. no one should fallaciously assume that the restorative powers of the Resurrection would restore one ‘from sin to happiness’” (Christ and the New Covenant, 242).
[9}]From “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
10] President Cannon’s further statement bears reading.  “If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind.  Am I an envious man?  It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not.  So will all the gifts of the gospel.  They are intended for this purpose.  No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’  He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them” (Millennial Star, 894, 260-61).
[11] C.S. Lewis brilliantly conceived this “adding to” aspect of the gospel in architectural terms: ¨Imagine yourself as a living house.  God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.  He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense… What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. (Mere Christianity, 205.)
[12] See also D&C 88:40, 50.
[13] Note the discernable physical and spiritual influence of living a spirit-directed healthy life-style on Daniel and his companions in Nebuchadnezzar’s worldly court as recorded in Daniel 1:8-20; consider also the counsel of President David A. Bednar: “[Our bodies] are temples and the Spirit of the Lord should dwell therein and shine through. And, may I quickly add, it is impossible for the Spirit to shine in and through our physical bodies when we are dozy and dull from foolishly going to bed at 1:30 a.m. or 2:30 a.m. or later night after night after night (see D&C 88:124).” (Elder David A. Bednar, “Ye are the Temple of God,” Ricks College Devotional, January 11, 2000).
[14] Consider the literal implications of Nephi’s teaching that “it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23); we can see more helpfully how the gospel directs us to faithfully and mindfully engage in outward acts not exclusively as a means of obtaining Divine favor, but to be able to combine the inherent registering properties of these good and godly acts with Christ’s grace which cleanses and perfects our natures beyond our personal mortal powers - editing, overriding, and adding to, as it were.