Many churches have billboards and signs outside of their meetinghouses that say uplifting messages or quotes. One evening, after a long day of visiting, tracting, and contacting in which the only doors that were opened to us were promptly slammed shut, I saw a billboard that read, “Saved through faith alone.” I couldn’t help but turn and tell my companion, Elder Graham, “Well, wouldn’t that be nice?’
Many people are familiar with the “glass half-empty vs. glass half-full” metaphor. We all identify ourselves with some part of this metaphor. Some say it’s half-full, some say half-empty. Some say that the glass is twice as big as it needs to be, or why isn’t it soda, or even asking where the water came from. We all look at it in different ways. Now, I haven’t had the chance to ask Christ what side He is on, but I’d imagine that instead of worrying about how the water got there or how much is there, He would instead ask, “Who needs this water, and how do I get it to them?”
For us to get from “the glass is half-empty/full” to “who could this water benefit and how do I get it to them” takes a lifetime of work. It takes work to build us up. We have been commended to be like Christ, have we not? We cannot simply express that Christ is our Redeemer and then expect to sit down in Heaven next to prophets like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Nephi who dedicated their lives to the work of spreading the gospel. That’s like walking into a Calculus final and and expressing to the professor that you don’t need to take the test because you know that the number 4 comes after the number 3.
Isn’t that a waste of everyone’s time? You wasted away the semester in idle pursuits, didn’t put in the work, but now expect to get an A in the class simply because you cheer on the university football team on the weekends. And perhaps the worst part of this is that in the Gospel, the professor paid for your tuition.
Now faith is an important building block. Faith is an essential ingredient that is crucial to our eternal well-being. But if you think that just cheering at the football game on the weekends is going to ask you pass the test, you’re wrong. For in James 2:17, it says “Even so faith if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” And in verse 26, “For as the body without the Sprit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
It takes work to sit down in the bosom of Abraham. Sometimes, the work is hard or something that we don’t want to do, but life isn’t easy. I believe that that is a lesson that we have all individually learned. But neither was the life of the Savior’s. He suffered, bled, and died so that you could have the chance to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. Through Christ’s atonement, He made what was previously an impossible goal (heaven), attainable. And just faith or just works isn’t going to get you there. But if you strive and seek after both, the Lord will guide you back to your heavenly home.
I have met a lot of people on my mission, who have told me that this life is about finding happiness. I can tell you that the only way to find true, lasting happiness that will endure through this life and the next is through your family and this Gospel. Through revelation and scripture, we have learned that families can truly be together forever. The tests and trials of this life are not meant to be easy. We all have our individual crosses to bear. But in Doctrine and Covenants 121:7-9, we read: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.”
I am not sure who exactly this talk was meant for. I felt strongly impressed to write it as I did, but just know that whoever you are…I am here for you and rooting for you. By the same token, so is our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. We are all on the same team. You, me, your family, those looking out for you above…everybody. In Doctrine and Covenants 61:36, it says “And now, verily I say unto you, and what I say unto one I say unto all, be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you.”
Don’t give up. Push on and help others to push on as well. Don’t foul out of the game just when your coach needs you to be playing your heart out. I love you all and miss you. I say these things in the name of His Son, my Redeemer, Savior, and perfect older brother, even Jesus Christ, amen.