“Behold Your Little Ones,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 80
I acknowledge this call to serve with gratitude for the many teachers, leaders, and friends who have touched my life. This call brings with it an increased sense of love and gratitude for goodly parents, my wonderful wife and family, and a marvelous corps of faithful missionaries with whom we served in the Texas Dallas Mission. This call also brings an increased sense of love and appreciation for the life and teachings of the Savior, from which we learn principles that should govern our lives.
Following His Crucifixion and Resurrection, Jesus Christ visited, taught, and blessed the righteous inhabitants of ancient America. The Book of Mormon records those glorious events and stands as another testament of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the reality of His Resurrection. As the Savior taught and blessed those faithful people, He invited them to bring their little children to Him and to set them round about Him. He then knelt and prayed with words so marvelous and great they could not be written—words which filled the souls of the people with inconceivable joy. The sacred record tells us that Jesus said unto the multitude:
“Blessed are ye because of your faith.
“And now behold, my joy is full.
“And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
“And when he had done this he wept again;
“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones” (3 Ne. 17:20–23; emphasis added).
When the Savior invited the multitude to behold their little ones, was He speaking in the collective sense of a group of little children? Or was He drawing their attention, and ours, to the individual nature and importance of each of those little ones—each of those little individuals? I believe that by His example the Savior was teaching us of the individual and tender care we should give to each one of our little children—indeed to each of our Heavenly Father’s children. It may be the lovable toddler or the wayward teen, the grieving widow or the grateful woman for whom all is well. It may even be your own son or daughter or your own husband or wife. Each is an individual. Each has divine potential. And each must be spiritually nourished and temporally cared for with love, tenderness, and individual attention.
The prophet Lehi exhorted his wayward sons, Laman and Lemuel, with “all the feeling of a tender parent” (1 Ne. 8:37). This is the Savior’s way. This is as it should be in our families and in the Church. Moroni was telling us this when he said of those received into the Church by baptism, “They were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God” (Moro. 6:4). Remembered and nourished, one by one, name by name!
The Savior taught us this principle in the parable of the lost sheep. As the shepherd left the ninety and nine and searched until the lost sheep was found, so also are we to go after him who is lost and continue the search until he is found. (See Matt. 18:12–14.) And once found, our work is not done until we bring him safely home, rejoicing. This is the objective of the gospel of Jesus Christ and must be the objective of all the programs and activities of the Church—to bring the children of our Father in Heaven home, and home to stay.
While the Savior taught us the importance of the one, He also taught us of the power of one. He showed us the power and influence He alone possessed as our Savior, Redeemer, and Judge. He was alone in Gethsemane when He offered Himself as the sacred offering in that great atoning sacrifice—a sacrifice which He sealed at Golgotha with His freely given life. Feeling alone there, His painful utterance “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) teaches us that, while the Father was never far from His Beloved Son, the infinite Atonement was, of necessity, wrought by the power of one—one person standing alone—even the Only Begotten Son of God.
The power of one person is apparent throughout the scriptures as we see the influence of an Abraham, of a Joseph, a Moses, of Peter and Paul, of a Nephi, of Abinadi, Alma, and Ammon, and of Mormon and Moroni. There were Sarah and Rebekah and Esther and Hannah, and Sariah and Mary and so many more—even Joseph and Emma. Yes, these were mighty men and women of God; but they were often alone, standing as one, even as each of us on occasion must stand alone in a sometimes hostile world. Yet as these valiant servants of the Lord were not entirely alone, neither will we be, if we are worthy of His companionship and the companionship of the Holy Spirit. The Lord gave this promise to His faithful servants: “For I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). We may be one, but we need not be entirely alone.
The power and influence one person can have is enormous. It was one Sarah Ann Meeks who paid what seemed to be her ultimate sacrifice as she stood alone on the doorstep of her home in far-off England nearly a century and a half ago. Her father met her there with a small bundle containing a few of her belongings and with these words, “You join that church and you must never set foot in my home again.” Unfortunately that was the last she saw of her family. Alone? Very much alone! She could have bowed to that impossible, heart-wrenching rejection. But no—she loved the Lord. She had been touched by the Spirit and knew that the gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored to the earth in its fulness. She knew that she must stand as a witness to the truthfulness of this message. She knew that she could make a difference.
From that one stalwart woman has sprung a progeny of faithful Latter-day Saints difficult to number. Literally hundreds of her descendants have stood as witnesses all around the world testifying to the reality of the Restoration of the gospel—the same message she embraced as she stood alone. One of those descendants now stands here as an especial witness of the Savior Jesus Christ, bearing solemn testimony to all the world that God the Eternal Father lives, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, and that leading The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today is a living and loving prophet of God, serving with all the meaning that sacred title implies.
It is this testimony I leave with you, praying that we will treat each one of our Heavenly Father’s children lovingly, tenderly, and individually, as He would have us treat them; and praying also that we will always be mindful of the power each one of us has to make a difference and to influence the world in which we live. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.