“Overcome the Cares of the World,” Liahona, April 2021
Even when we are promised great blessings, if we worry about the cares of the world instead of the will of the Lord, we will lose those blessings. This is clearly demonstrated by the experience of a man in the early days of the Restoration.
James Covel had been a minister in another faith for 40 years, but after hearing the restored gospel, he “covenanted with the Lord that he would obey any command that the Lord would give to him through Joseph the Prophet” (Doctrine and Covenants 39, section heading). Through Joseph, the Lord told Covel, “Hearken to my voice, which saith unto thee: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on my name, and you shall receive my Spirit, and a blessing so great as you never have known” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:10).
However, Covel soon “rejected the word of the Lord, and returned to his former principles and people” (Doctrine and Covenants 40, section heading). Speaking of Covel, the Lord said that “he received the word with gladness, but straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word” (Doctrine and Covenants 40:2). Because of his worry over worldly cares, Covel lost the blessing He had been promised by the Lord.
In my own life, I have learned that we must not let the cares of the world distract us from obeying the Lord. I grew up in a wonderful and loving home where my parents taught us well in the gospel, and their love for us reflected Heavenly Father’s love for His children.
At the age of 16, I was invited to work on a ranch in the United States, with the possibility to one day build my own home there. That appealed to me, since my homeland, the Netherlands, is just a small country, crowded with inhabitants.
In fact, my ancestors on my father’s side all felt a similar desire to live in another place. They moved to Indonesia, which used to be a Dutch colony. I could totally understand why. In Indonesia, the weather is nice, the landscapes are beautiful, and space is abundant. My genes contained the same wanderlust that inspired my ancestors. Should I also leave my native land in search of success and adventure?
During that decision-making time, my dad handed me a copy of a letter written to him and his sisters many years before by their mission president, Donovan van Dam. President van Dam asked them to stay in the Netherlands and build the Church there. My dad told me that he had decided to do exactly that. And since the Boom family name was on the letter, it was now my turn to find out what to do.
In the years after World War II, many Church members had emigrated to America and Canada. That was still going on in the 1970s, despite encouragement from Church leaders for members to stay in their own countries and strengthen the Church where they lived. Prayerfully, I also made the decision to stay and build the Church in the Netherlands, not fully understanding what that would mean in the future.
When I finished high school in the late 1970s, the Dutch economy was in turmoil. Unemployment rates were high. All in all, things looked pretty dismal. It was difficult for graduates to decide what to do next.
My father was serving as branch president. Now and then he discussed with me the possibility of serving a full-time mission. Of course, that would be a wonderful thing to do. I had been looking forward to that my whole life.
But I didn’t see how serving a mission could help me provide for my future family. Since childhood I had always had a great desire to one day find the love of my life and to build our family together.
I was 17 at the time, and not knowing what to do next, I started my next level of education. But after several weeks I found that this field of study was not going to make me happy. I had questions about whether it would even provide me with a stable job. I thought about quitting school.
My parents were not happy about this. They told me I could only quit school if I had a job. They probably thought that I would never find one because of the financial crisis. I spent all afternoon on my bicycle, going from one business to the next. Finally a company hired me to work in their warehouse.
Even though I took this temporary position, I had a plan. I was going to be a policeman. Working for the government would be a stable way to provide for my future family and everything would work out.
I remember the day that I went to take the exams to get into the police school. I took the train early in the morning and spent all day doing all kinds of tests. At the end of the day I was called into the office. They told me I passed all the exams and they would love to have me, but because I was 17, I was too young. They told me to try again in a year.
My world was shattered, and all the way home I was thinking, “What next?” At home my dad listened to my frustration and offered to give me a blessing. I expected that the Lord was going to tell me that everything would work out and I would be admitted to the police academy in a miraculous way. Instead the Lord told me that if I would choose to put Him first, I would always have bread on my table and the means to take care of my future family.
In response to my prayers, I received the answer that, for me, putting the Lord first meant serving a full-time mission. I had always intended to do that but had not seen how one step would lead to another. Now I knew that serving a mission was what I was going to do, and I wanted to do it as soon as possible.
Back then, the cost for a mission was 10,000 guilders in old Dutch currency, or about a year’s wages. I carried on working in the warehouse and by the summer of 1981, I had my 10,000 guilders. I had also turned 18. My father, the branch president, told me I was too young for a mission, as did the district president and mission president. At that time, you needed to be 19. But on my 18th birthday I went to the doctor and the dentist all by myself and had them fill in their parts of my missionary application.
Somehow, I managed to get my leaders to interview me and submit my application. Then we waited. I didn’t know that my father, as branch president, had received a letter. The application was returned to him with the notification that I was too young. But he hadn’t wanted to share that with me yet, so he carried it around in his suit pocket for weeks without letting me know. Fortunately, in the meantime he had received another notification. It said that in some situations the Brethren were willing to let young men go earlier when they were well prepared. Soon I was called to serve and was assigned to the England London East Mission. My mission became the blessing of a lifetime.
Three months after I returned from my mission, I did meet the love of my life. A year later we were married and sealed in the London England Temple. The economy was still not in good shape, but I have always been able to have a job and provide for my family. There has always been bread on the table and a roof over our head.
As a missionary, this became one of my favorite scriptures: “Inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land” (Alma 36:1). With that as a guide, I decided to do what my father had done—to stay in the Netherlands and build the Church in my native land.
Today the tiny branch where I grew up is now a wonderful ward where our grandchildren enjoy the company of many friends, gathered in a large Primary. Our sons have good professions and are blessed with bread on the table. I see that my decisions have had an impact on the next generation, who also desire to put the Lord first in their lives.
I am grateful that I learned early in my life that the right decision is to overcome the cares of the world and put Heavenly Father first. He has given me blessings that otherwise I never would have known.