The purposes of LDS General Conference are numerous, the greatest of which are to hear the timely words the Lord would have us hear as spoken and declared by those He has placed in His stead. The messages delivered by His chosen mouthpieces and servants can motivate us to alter our course and/or adjust our attitudes as needed. They can also help us strengthen our resolve to be “fixed in our purpose” in living the commandments and aligning ourselves with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
How Will I Change?
Elder Russell M. Nelson, the last speaker of the 185th General Conference held on Easter this year, prefaced his remarks about keeping the Sabbath day holy by first referencing this very thing: “The question for each of us is because of what I have heard and felt during this conference, how will I change?” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Sabbath Is a Delight“, Apr. 2015 General Conference).
When Elder Nelson said these words, I couldn’t help but look inward with deep introspection. I recalled and reflected on the profound words of counsel, guidance, and admonition that were spoken in General Conference. I took comfort and consolation in all that I heard and felt. To adequately describe it, I was drawn to a particular scriptural passage that recounted two of Christ’s disciples on the road to Emmaus. They had encountered The risen Lord who walked and talked with them and expounded upon the scriptures and all the holy prophets, yet they recognized Him not. Later after Jesus blessed and broke bread when at “meat” with them, then disappeared before their eyes, they finally recognize Him as the resurrected Savior and Redeemer.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:32)
My heart truly burned as each of the messages presented in that great assembly spoke direct truth and touched me to my very core. At the conclusion of the conference, absolutely without a doubt I knew where I needed to make changes in my life. Specific parts of the address given by Elder Nelson entitled, “The Sabbath Is a Delight,” ibid., particularly pricked my conscience. He made these three very bold statements, two of which were questions, all to be seriously considered, contemplated, and evaluated:
- “Hallow the Sabbath day—we are under covenant to do so.”
- “Is the Sabbath day really a delight for you and for me?”
- “What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for Him?”
Hallow the Sabbath Day
Elder Nelson stated, “The Sabbath was given as a perpetual covenant, a constant reminder that the Lord may sanctify His people.” He quoted Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10, 13, 15-16:
And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day;
For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High;
And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours…
Pointing out the Sabbath is not only a day to remember the Atonement of the Savior, Elder Nelson defined it in terms of God’s “gift to us, granting real respite from the rigors of daily life.” He emphasized that while “rest” on the Sabbath is for both “spiritual and physical renewal,” it is not meant as a time for pursuing personal pleasures in casual entertainment and other leisurely pursuits and activities.
Hearing the word “covenant” always gives me pause and sticks out in my mind as something not to be taken lightly, as it implies something binding, everlasting, and eternal. The covenants we make as members of the Lord’s Church innately define who we really are. They bind us in unity to our Heavenly Father and His Son. The sacramental covenant to always remember Christ and take upon ourselves His name is recited on Sundays at every Latter-day Saint Sacrament Meeting across the world. Pondering that, and realizing the tremendous power that can wield in such large numbers of people, capable of influencing the whole earth for good, makes me question who would not want to be part of, or participate in, the Lord’s holy day.
To “hallow” something is to reverence it. None of us have achieved perfection in all things, and certainly I being no exception to the rule, have a long way yet to go in giving the Lord 100% of His just do. Like anyone, my mind can undoubtedly be distracted by more worldly concerns.
Priding myself on being the southern cook that I am, at times I can struggle to be more focused on the Savior than on what I will fix for Sunday dinner, especially if company is coming. Clearly for me there is much needed improvement in this area to keep the Sabbath day holy and with exactness. Borrowing the title of another Elder Nelson address, my status on keeping the Sabbath day holy and “hallowing” it is simply, “Perfection Pending“, (Oct. 1995 General Conference).
Sabbath Day Delight
“Is the Sabbath day a delight for you and for me?” When Elder Nelson asked this question, it brought back to mind much earlier years when my children were very small, and it was more like “Battleship” than “Candy Land.” All the scurrying around and frantic rush in trying to get them ready for church, even today gives me that unnerving feeling just thinking about it. My sympathies lie with young families I assume must still be going through that exact same experience each time Sunday rolls around.
As with anything, where there is a will, there is a way. I believe a strong desire, planning, and preparation are all key in making Sunday a day to look forward to and enjoy. Having everyone’s clothes, shoes, scriptures, and all the essentials laid out and ready to go on Saturday is helpful and smart. It can make the difference between a day that is “dreaded,” and one that is “delightful.”
What Sign Will You Give?
Again there were many inpouring thoughts as Elder Nelson asked what I found to be the most striking question of the day, “What sign will you give to the Lord to show your love for him?” He then stated, “True believers keep the Sabbath Day Holy.”
Members of the Church if not on guard and firm in their beliefs, convictions, and testimonies can easily be caught up in living a life perfectly compatible with the prominent and popular notions of the day. They can be lured into “doing their own thing” and taking things of a spiritual nature quite casually,
I have always been taught that in regards to the gospel, there is a gargantuan difference between confession of belief in it, versus choosing a dedicated and disciple-like commitment to living all its principles in faithfulness. One can go through the motions, act in pretense, and give everyone the wrong impression of being a stalwart member of the Church, yet fail miserably in the eyes of the Lord. The signs and signals we give to others can be completely deceiving. Frankly, the Lord cannot be fooled, as He knows all of our inner thoughts and motivations and sees into each individual heart.
At the conclusion of his remarks, Elder Nelson gave specific examples of what is conducive to keeping the Sabbath day holy, making it joyous and “delightful.” He pinpointed the importance of teaching each other, especially our families, and as parents of children, the correct doctrine of the Church. He named the scriptures, LDS.org, Mormon.org, the Church’s Bible videos, Mormon Channel, Church magazines, the Gospel Art Library, and various other resources that could all be utilized to achieve this. Also notable was his mention of doing family history research on the Sabbath day to identify deceased ancestors who are awaiting the saving ordinances of the temple.
Many in the world have come to think that God and setting aside one day of the week in which to honor Him is too self-restricting and self-sacrificing. They consider it an intrusion into their much revered personal space and time. Those who do try and keep the Sabbath day holy are thought by some to be merely simple-minded and foolish.
Elder Nelson did some comparison. He said, “In paying tithing, we return one-tenth of our increase to the Lord. In keeping the Sabbath holy, we reserve one day in seven as His. So it is our privilege to consecrate both money and time to Him who lends us life each day.” By all estimation, that isn’t much of a sacrifice at all.
It is neither simple-minded, nor foolish, but reveals great wisdom in living the commandments. The Lord declares it so in this scripture, proving He gives great returns on any of one’s investments in Him: “He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:28)