General Conference – wow! I wish I had a better command of written word so I could truly express how I feel about it, but all I have words to say is this: I absolutely loved it. It would be hard to express, and probably inappropriate to share every little thing that touched me, but there was one major overreaching lesson for me that I feel inspired to share. I’m going to mention, but not rehash, some of the things from conference that build my lesson, so please click on the links to go to their full address.
It all started with Elder Bednar who said something I’ve heard hundreds of times before, but in a new way. He said we need to build upon the foundation of Christ. Every other time I’ve internalized this statement I think of how important the foundation of Christ is. When Elder Bednar said it he seemed to put an emphases on the word build. I had focused so much on what the foundation was, that I never really thought about what kind of structure I’m supposed to build on that foundation. A big clue was given a few minutes later when he said that the building blocks we should use are the ordinances and covenants we make with our Savior. I realized that clue still leaves a lot of freedom in what we choose to build on the foundation of Christ.
Bigger is always better right? We all want mansions in heaven right? However we need to be careful that we are not building a mansion bigger than the foundation of Christ. How do we do that when he is infinite? We build a mansion bigger than the foundation when we start focusing on ourselves more than our Savior. Elder Gibson gave us a beautiful analogy about the difference between a window where you can see out and a mirror where all you see is yourself. It reminded me of one of my favorite lines from President Packer back in 1986 “Preoccupation with unworthy behavior leads to unworthy behavior.” If the mansion we are building is bigger than the foundation we have extended past of the strength of the foundation and your structure is now susceptible to the weaknesses of structures without foundation. If we are only focusing on ourselves, or even just one part of ourselves, whether that be a strength we are proud of or a weakness we are ashamed of, we have begun to extend our views of ourselves past the foundation of the Savior and we are now exposed to the weaknesses of our own mortal state.
A house too small:
Sometimes we don’t recognize what we have and we live below our privilege. If we are not reaching out to the Savior for more we are building a structure below our full potential. Sister Wixom taught us that the Lord can only teach an inquiring mind. Our faith can reach beyond our current knowledge. In our post conference extended family meeting (which is seriously the best) we talked about how we will receive every righteous blessing we have faith to receive. Sometimes when we get so focused on a certain blessing, or as my uncle referred to it, a 25 cent blessing, we miss the fact that the Lord is trying to send us a 5 dollar blessing. When we insist on the 25 cent blessing the Lord may not be able to grant us the larger blessing. It is hard to learn how to ask with faith for the blessings we righteously desire, without limiting the greater blessings the Lord wants to send us, but when we learn the balance and to welcome with open arms whatever blessings the Lord sends our way we will more consistently be blessed with the $5 blessings. We do not need to be ashamed or timid in building a structure that fills the foundation, that is exactly what the Lord wants us to do! He already paid for our full redemption, the best thing we can do to thank him for that is to use all that he paid for.
We may build a house the right size, but with sub-par construction or without proper maintenance. Such a house, despite the firm foundation, will not withstand the elements. Elder Causse cautioned us against doing so when he talked about taking the things that are constantly before our eyes for granted. Elder Uchdorf talked about why we sometimes try to appear to be more than we really are. We should never tire of the truths of the gospel. There is always something new to learn and feel. If we are not keeping the covenants we have made, whether through outright disobedience or more commonly and dangerously, an apathetic attitude, our home will not maintain the strength necessary to stand in the turmoil of the latter days.
So how do we build a house the right size and quality? That’s the million dollar question. To receive building plans as clear as Nephi’s were when he built a ship we must be worthy of and seek for personal revelation and look to the words of the Lord in through his prophets of all ages. Elder Renlund taught us that a saint is a sinner who keeps trying. Elder Uchdorf also taught us that success with righteous goals cannot always be measured. We may not know beforehand the things we should do or how we should do them, but through faith in the Lord we can build step by step homes that are the right size and are strong enough to withstand far more than we can imagine.
I truly love general conference. I love these men and women who have given all their time, talents and energy to serving the Lord. I don’t begin to understand what a heavy responsibility it is, and I am grateful for the sacrifice and humility they express as they dedicate their entire lives to Him. Although what I gleaned from conference is only a small portion of what was offered, I hope as I reread and study these lessons I will be able to receive a greater understanding of the light and knowledge they were sharing.