Come Follow Me: Doctrine and Covenants 109-110
Every passing day we are being blessed by the reopening of sacred temples around the world. As a people, we’ve gone a long while without being able to worship and serve in our temples due to the worldwide pandemic, COVID-19. We’ve had a long time to think about what our lives look like without the temple. Most of us longed to be inside, to receive the sacred blessings that can only come from making covenants with God for the living and the dead. However, my mind has rested heavily on those of us who, despite being able to return to temple worship once more, still find themselves waiting to go inside.
The forces of a worldwide pandemic are only one reason temple attendance might be delayed. Others include being too young, struggling to find transportation, childcare, or being in the process of worthily attaining a temple recommend. These mitigating factors actually include most members of the church at one time or another. I believe that because God wants us to get to the temple, He blesses every effort we make on the road to get there.
In D&C 109, 24-28 we learn that there are physical as well as spiritual blessings that come to us as we worship in the temple. Verse 24 speaks of saints who would, “honorably hold a name and standing” in the temple. To me, this signifies a people worthy of holding a temple recommend. Receiving a temple recommend squarely places us on the road to the temple. Even though all of us experience times when attending the temple is difficult—or even impossible—our temple recommends act as a sign to the Lord of the desire of our hearts.
One of the most challenging phases of life to get to the temple is for the youth. They are totally dependent on the willingness and worthiness of the adults in their lives to get them there. It was during that period of my own life when I experienced one of the most profound temple visits I’ve ever had, and I never stepped foot inside. I was fifteen and had incessantly begged my single mom to go on a snowboarding trip to Salt Lake City, Utah which was being put together by a local Christian church’s youth group in my hometown in southern California. Despite knowing absolutely no one going on this trip, I was absolutely convinced I needed to go. There may or may not have been a cute boy involved who didn’t give me the time of day, but I digress. After wearing my mother down, she finally relented, and I was on my way. As it turned out, the trip didn’t measure up to all my hopes and dreams. I discovered snowboarding was really hard, and some of the bible discussions held each night by the youth group leaders were not always in line with my beliefs. One night in particular, the topic of what happens to us after we die was brought up. Another girl my age asked, “Will we be with our families when we die?” The youth leader said, “No. We will be so focused on worshipping God, we will not worry about our families.” I guess my disagreement shone on my face, and I was asked to share my thoughts. I hesitantly bore my testimony of the eternal nature of families. Every girl in that room started asking me more questions. I answered them, and the youth leader was kind enough to let me, but that night I never felt more alone. In a sea of kids who all worshipped the same Jesus Christ, I felt more out of place than I ever did at school. The next day was filled with some different social events, and the thought occurred to me—I shouldn’t feel alone, I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I’M IN UTAH! Immediately, I left the gathering and took my first-ever cab ride to the Salt Lake City temple. It was magnificent. Alone, I walked the grounds and took the tour inside the visitor’s center. Tears streamed down my face as I watched the presentations and heard the Plan of Salvation presented. I felt so much peace. Peace I could not have manufactured on my own. Although I couldn’t go inside, I was blessed for being there that day.
Many years later I found myself once again unable to go inside the temple. I had two small children and my husband and I had just moved to a brand new city. Our one-year-old baby was sick and would soon end up in the hospital. I longed to go inside the temple. I knew no one who I could leave our children with in that new place, so I loaded my small children in the car and we got out and walked around the beautiful temple grounds. I told my sweet babies how I loved the temple. Although I’m sure they don’t remember what I said, that day I felt peace. Peace I could not have manufactured on my own. God knows our hearts, and He knows and sees our desires to be in the temple when we can’t be.
God wants to find us in His temples. In fact, it is perhaps the greatest purpose of our entire lives to enter the temple and partake of covenants that bind our families together for all time, and bring us back to the presence of our God and Savior. They want us to seek out the path our lives must take that lead us to the temple. A better name for the road to the temple is actually, “the covenant path,” as President Nelson calls it. Sometimes the road to the temple is an easy one, and sometimes it’s hard. When it’s easy, we have temple wallpaper on our cell phones, and we share inspired comments in our church meetings. When it’s hard, we feel adrift. When it’s hard, we might have a difficult time finding ourselves, let alone the temple. President Nelson said, “Ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the covenant path. If you have wandered off, or if there are some things you need to let go of to help your mind and heart be more pure, today is the perfect time to change.”1 Sometimes the path forward isn’t clear and we struggle to know which way to go. As we turn on the light of repentance we can correct our course. Repentance is a gift that pulls us back onto the banks of the covenant path out of the relentless waves of transgression and leads us to lasting happiness and peace.
I know as we strive to become one who honorably holds a name and standing inside the Lord’s house the blessings of heaven will walk alongside us as we make our way to the temple.
1 Nelson, Russell M. “Keep on the Covenant Path!” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/new-era/2019/03/president-and-sister-nelsons-devotional-for-youth/keep-on-the-covenant-path?lang=eng.