“Where Following Him Can Lead Us,” Ensign, Feb. 1981, 6
I recall the story of a very voracious reader, a woman who had a study filled with books. Each night she would come home and read from books in her library. She always finished every book she read.
One night she decided to read a book that she had been especially avoiding. She picked the book up and began to read. It was very dull and uninteresting, but she had made a promise she would never read a book without finishing it. She continued, night after night, until finally she read the last page, replaced the book on the shell and made this mental note to herself: “That was the dullest book I have ever read!”
Sometime later she was out with a gentleman friend, and he asked if she had ever read such and such a book. It was that book; she remembered it; and she said, “Yes, why?”
He said, “I wrote it.” Then they talked about the book.
Later that evening, when he dropped her off, she went into her study, pulled the book off the shelf, and read through the long hours of the night. When the first streaks of sunlight shafted across the sky, she closed the book, replaced it on the bookshelf, and made another mental note to herself: “That was the most beautiful book I have ever read.” The difference was that she now knew the author.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord said:
“Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
“Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
“Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C 45:1–5).
We must come to know our Author, and so much is everlastingly at stake whether or not we do.
I suppose in my limited schooling the subject of Jesus Christ touches greatest on my learning. I know more and have read more about him and have served more in his cause than anything else that I have done in my life. I am thrilled to discuss with you my feelings about him.
I believe we should occasionally go back and think about the Savior’s life. Alma said,
“And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and a chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:10–13.)
I suppose to really examine the Savior’s life I need to share what it is he really does for us in our daily lives. Walking in his footsteps will take us to certain places where we wouldn’t suppose life would ever take us. Let me share with you just a few of the places where walking in his steps can lead us.
We so often read about the widow who placed into the treasury her mite, I suppose bitterly embarrassed as she did it for fear that it was such a little bit to be given. Well, I saw a widow come before the bishop at tithing settlement and say, “That is my full tithing, $55.00.” Her income then would have been $550. When you subtract the $55, you’re down to $495. With a sweet, humble attitude she said, “That’s all there was, bishop, but it is a full tithing.” And we talk about poverty at the $4,500 level and now $7,500! I’m not certain we understand. There are those who have poverty of the soul, those who have poverty of the spirit—and then there are those who are rich with the Spirit, as this sweet sister.
When we remember the Savior, we also remember the woman who had an issue of blood—twelve years, suffering every single day. She had gone to many physicians, had spent all of her money and had only grown worse. Then she found out that Jesus would be in the streets. And watching in desperation as he came by—and I’m sure pushing herself through the multitude, thinking in her heart, “If I may touch his clothes, I will be whole”—she finally reached out, touched his garment, and was healed,
The Savior stopped and said, “Who touched me?” The disciples said, “What do you mean, who touched you? There are all these people thronging around.” Turning around and looking on the body of people near him, he undoubtedly noted that this woman stood out as though she were a light globe. If I read correctly between the lines, she felt guilty, and may have thought to herself, “I should have asked.” So she came forward and knelt before him and simply confessed, “Lord, it was I.” And then he said, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole” (see Mark 5:24–34). I love him for that.
I love him for other things, for other places walking in his footsteps has taken me. I love him for a phone call from Idaho. A young couple had just had twins prematurely. One of them was doing fairly well, but the other was brought into the University of Utah Medical Center, just a little over a pound and a quarter. Think of five cubes of butter, if you would, and you’re talking about the size of this little soul. I received a call from Idaho: “He has been administered to, but would you mind dropping by the hospital and giving him a blessing?” I found that about the only hour available that particular day was at 5:00 A.M. I dropped up by the medical center, went into the room, and found the oxygen canopy. I put my fingers—all that would fit—on the forehead of this little soul, gave a blessing, and had the impression from God that one day this boy—six feet tall, two hundred pounds—would be a young ambassador for the Lord.
There are other experiences. Once as I was leaving a conference, a sweet family stopped me. They knew a nonmember man who was having severe problems, and they wondered if we would give him a blessing. We dropped by his apartment. In the living room were two pieces of furniture, a bean bag and a stereo set—and nothing else. A little girl, nine, was taking care of her father because the mother, when she heard her husband had cancer, had abandoned him and the girl and her younger brother. The girl took us down the hallway into his room, and there on the bottom of the two bunks we saw this man, six feet tall, sixty-seven pounds. We administered to him, feeling he would not live. But we felt impressed to bless him with the thing that would be of most worth to him: that his son and daughter would be protected, that angels would walk through this life with them, that they would be protected when he wasn’t there to do it any longer. You can’t buy those kinds of experiences for all the money in the world.
Seeking to walk in the Lord’s footsteps recently brought me in contact with a young man and his father. The young man and a friend were up hiking in the lower foothills near Cody, Wyoming. The friend jumped across a high-power line that was down, but the young man got tangled in it and was electrocuted. The friend turned and ran all the way back down to where the father lived—and it wasn’t a short distance—and told the father that his son had been electrocuted and that he was dead. The father, who was not a young man, ran all the way back up, taking about fifteen minutes. When he got up to where the boy was lying across the wires, he somehow removed the boy from the wires with a board or a large branch. Then he picked his son up in his arms and held him, saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ and by the power and authority of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood, I command you to live.” The dead boy opened up his eyes in his father’s arms and was taken to the University of Utah Medical Center, where he recovered.
The Lord will not only give us great experiences, but he will change our lives as well. I recall the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three of the Hebrew officers who were called before King Nebuchadnezzar because they refused to worship his image. In the king’s wrath he said to them, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, … ye [will] worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace” (Dan. 3:15).
Now, can you comprehend the kind of pressure he is putting on these three fine young Hebrew lads? It’s not just a little pressure, a little temptation, but their lives are really hanging in the balance.
And so they responded in this manner: “Oh, Nebuchadnezzar, … our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us.” And then here it is: “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image” (Dan. 3:16–18).
I believe for someone to have that kind of an influence over three young men, as he does over my life and your lives, he must be providing something substantial to which we can anchor our souls. We think of the declaration so often quoted from Peter: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). And Thomas: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). I appreciate that.
And we think of the Prophet Joseph, and Hyrum, Willard Richards, John Taylor, and others whose lives hung in the balance, Willard Richards said to the Prophet Joseph, “Joseph, if you are condemned to die, I will die in your place.”
Joseph said, knowing something that many did not know at that time, “But Willard, you cannot do that.”
Willard Richards said, “Yes, Joseph, but I will” (see History of the Church, 6:616).
These things help us to understand the kind of men enlisted in the service of the Master. And they help us see what he will make of us if we will let him.
Jesus truly is our Maker.
When the Savior taught some extremely hard doctrine, the disciples two by two began to veer off, and they never walked again with him. Finally, all that were left were the Twelve Apostles, and he said to them, possibly with a heavy heart, “Will ye also go away?” And Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67–69).
Would you think about that? To whom shall we go if not to him? Where in all the world? In whom could we put our trust? Where could we find the peace that surpasseth understanding? Where, when we’ve gone to the very limit, to the mountain too high and too wide to get across, where can we go when we need to be on the other side, except to him?
Now, I suppose we should think how this affects you and me. If we hope to walk with him we need to live a Christlike life. President Harold B. Lee said, “I came to a night, some years ago, when on my bed, I realized that before I could be worthy of the high place to which I had been called, I must love and forgive every soul that walked the earth, and in that time I came to know and I received a peace and a direction, and a comfort, and an inspiration, that told me things to come and gave me impressions that I knew were from a divine source” (Improvement Era, Nov. 1946, p. 760).
I wonder if in that hour he didn’t know that he would be the prophet, seer, and revelator of this church. I think, like him, we must love and forgive every soul that walks the earth—a wayward son, a husband, a wife, maybe a divorced former companion, maybe someone who has offended us bitterly. If we would be Christlike, we must love and forgive every soul that walks the earth. Then are we entitled to that peace.
Elder James E. Talmage said that the cost is always the same for every single one of us as we accept Christ and him crucified. The cost everlastingly and always will be the same. It is, simply, all we have. If we are going to be truly his disciples the price could never be less than all we have. Some of us may say, “I’ll go so far, and that’s all the farther I can go.” With such an attitude I don’t believe we will qualify as true disciples.
Listen to the words of a modern prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball: “Come to the watered garden, to the shade of pleasant trees, to unchangeable truth.
“Come with us to sureness, security, consistency. Here the cooling waters flow. The spring does not go dry.
“Come, listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the word of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p. 11).
That’s it, of course. We need to come to the point where we find him and know that he is the Captain of our souls. If we can accept him and strip the pride from our beings and serve our fellowmen, then we walk in his steps.
“Look unto me in every thought,” the Savior said; “doubt not, fear not.
“Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen” (D&C 6:36–37).