Sunday, May 7, 2017


Thoughts stimulated by – The Inexhaustible Gospel – by Neal A. Maxwell

I never realized while I was deeply absorbed in my career with the Church Education System, that I was usually so preoccupied with preparing and presenting lessons, doing administrative and supervision duties that I seldom took time to ponder about what I was preparing and presenting.

One of the great blessings of having my life extended into the retirement years is that I have a lot of freedom in what I do with my mind. Although I know I spend a lot of time letting my mind wander in fairly meaningless arenas, there are times when I do what I think the Savior admonished us to do, which He referred to as pondering.

One of the little principles I have been pondering of late involves all of mankind for all eternity. When we contemplate the various stages we all pass through during our eternal existence we quickly realize that even for those who are blessed or cursed (I will leave you to ponder on what you think is the best descriptor) with lengthy lives, mortality makes up but a very minute fraction of our individual eternal existences.

Not only does our earthly journey constitute a minuscule part of our eternal existence, but when we think of the billions of Heavenly Father’s children who have paused for various lengths of time on this earth, it doesn't take long before our pondering leads us to understand that only a few of those billions have had the full opportunity to use their agency concerning accepting or rejecting the fullness of the gospel plan while treading the continents of this beautiful globe.

As we examine the verity of the mortal experiences of beings, it would be difficult for us to come to any conclusion other than that He, who will judge righteously, will have an individual measuring device for determining the progress of each of His children. Not to belabor the point (pondering often extends the gestation periods of birthing thoughts), but my brother Fred who passed away after only eight days of breathing this atmosphere, will not have his mortal tests measured with the same yard stick as I, who have had the privilege of almost eight decades and continue to count. The abandoned sewer children of Bogota, Colombia, will not be measured upon the same scale as father Abraham.

I won't even begin to suggest my pondering has led me to a total understanding of the eternal existence of beings, but I have been significantly impressed that the preponderance of all beings undergo the vast majority of their agency tests during stages of life other than that which is called mortality.

I am about to make an abrupt shift in my pondering and hopefully I won't cause any of you to suffer whip lash.

Of all of the billions of Heavenly Father’s children who have or who will spend at least some moments dwelling upon this planet, I definitely know myself better than any other being. Therefore, excusing myself ahead of time, I will present some of those things my ponderings have led me to believe apply to me and to my test during my brief span of mortality.

Since I have been blessed or cursed (you be the judge) with having my mortal span extend beyond the three score and ten allotted on average to my generation, I have had the thought pass through my mind many times about those things I need to be doing to maximize the extended examination I have been given during this phase of my existence.

As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has taught, the closer I can come to arriving at correct understanding of the purpose of my life, the greater opportunity I will have of conducting myself in an appropriate way, which should make me a more worthy servant in the Lord’s marvelous work.

Correct Understanding

I have been blessed with an abundance of opportunity: to listen to a mountainous number of mentors, to exhaustibly study the words of men and prophets and to prepare and present the teachings of the inexhaustible gospel, but with all those gifts I know that correct understanding comes to us most powerfully when the windows of heaven are opened for precious moments and truth consumes our whole being.

With such a foundation, which I pray is continually strengthening, I should be able to see more clearly the path upon which I need to be troding.

Appropriate conduct

President Ezra Taft Benson once said ‘the most important thing we can discover in mortality is the purpose for which we were sent.’

On a personal basis I feel this must begin by correctly identifying the talents which I seem to have brought with me from my previous stage of life. As the Lord declared concerning the gifts of the Spirit, they are diversely given to each of us so that all may be edified as we share our gifts.

After making a correct assessment of my gifts and talents, a major part of my test will be to develop them so that the exercise of those talents will benefit a maximum number of my brothers and sisters.

Though this appropriate conduct, I become enveloped in that wonderful cycle of learning, developing, serving and knowing.

Serving in the Lord’s marvelous work

When Kathleen and I were serving in Colombia, there were several early mornings when I found myself awake long before any appropriate hour. On occasion, I would ponder and perhaps have the boldness to pray about, what kind of an instrument I could be in the hands of the Lord, if I had such an experience as Saul on the road to Damascus or Alma the son of Alma had as they began their missions.

On those mornings when the window of heaven would part briefly, I was always left with the understanding that I had been given sufficient to do the work in the part of the Lord’s vineyard to which I had been called.

It has been important for me in my stewardships over myself, with my family and with those whom I have been called to serve in the kingdom to always remember I have been given sufficient to accomplish the task I have been given.

I must confess that my personal journey has not been one of lacking understanding, nor of knowing the appropriate conduct, nor of having opportunities to serve, but I have had to guard against stagnation when I have trod the same path too continuously. I have had to guard against running too fast toward faintly defined goals and I have had to guard against misinterpreting the importance of my role.

The conclusion of all my pondering is that this is Heavenly Father’s work and His glory and He has dedicated the eternities to bringing it to pass and I should and will be grateful to have been included in laboring in a small corner of His vineyard during my brief span of mortality.



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