Have you ever compared our covenant with Christ to a marriage covenant? Just as a husband and wife become ONE with each other through the covenant of marriage, the Savior and a faithful follower become ONE with each other through the covenant of the gospel. Spouses renounce all other loyalties, and put each other first. One who covenants with Christ surrenders all competing claims on his allegiance, and puts God first. A bride takes her husband’s last name and becomes heir to his property. Those who covenant with Christ take upon themselves Christ’s name and become heirs of His glorious kingdom. Spouses pledge fidelity to one another. Covenant-keepers pledge enduring faithfulness to Christ. They are continent, committed, and converted. “May the joy of our fidelity to the highest and best within us be ours as we keep our love and our marriages, our society and our souls, as pure as they were meant to be” (Jeffrey R. Holland). I want more than anything to endure to the end as a faithful covenant-keeper with Christ, and remain faithful to my sacred marriage covenants. This guarantees a multitude of Reasons to Rejoice now—and throughout eternity.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF LIFE? Before we came to earth, we lived as spirit children of Heavenly Father. We gathered together in a great council in heaven where Heavenly Father presented His plan for us to come to earth, obtain a physical body, gain experience to progress toward perfection, and ultimately realize our divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. A Savior would atone for the sins of all mankind, making it possible for us to repent and become clean again. In that premortal realm, we chose to accept Heavenly Father’s plan and Jesus Christ as our Savior. Because of the Savior’s Atonement and Resurrection, we can return to God’s presence and progress to live the kind of life He lives. We shouted for joy at the opportunity to come to earth, progress through experience, and prove that we would be faithful to our premortal promises. This is the greatest of all Reasons to Rejoice!
At a family gathering of children, teens, and adults, we gave each a wooden clothespin with instructions to squeeze tightly with thumb and ring finger—pinching it in that position for two long minutes. The beginning was easy, but soon we were in agonizing pain, struggling to endure to the end. We talked about what this activity taught us. What does it mean to endure to the end? Is there a difference between simply enduring and enduring WELL? An insightful discussion followed. We decided that enduring well means never giving up, even when things get tough. Enduring well means facing our trials with courage. Enduring well means having a positive attitude—no grumbling! Enduring well means pushing through fatigue. Enduring well means being faithful to our covenants with God. We promised to encourage each other when tempted to quit, and help each other finish strong. We agreed to place our trust in God’s promise: “Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C 121:7,8).
Our Sunday school teacher reminded the class that things we want to last a long time must be treated with extraordinary care. I thought of the special care we give clothing worn on special occasions or fine china adorning our holiday tables. Likewise, our marriages deserve special attention if we want them to last. Our teacher counseled us to implement the following suggestions:
- Delight in the happiness of our spouse.
- Celebrate each day together as a treasured gift.
- Listen patiently to each other.
- Be kind, respectful, courteous and generous.
- Forgive freely.
- Be honest.
- Be grateful.
- Be faithful.
There’s nothing surprising in this list. But do we DO them? By striving each day to treat our spouse with delicate care, our marriages will be enhanced and preserved through the eternities.
The words shown above are completely true. I have wondered why members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are striving to be faithful, should come under fire because they have flaws? It is a mystery to me that people who strive to behave badly and succeed are tolerated by our society; whereas, people who strive to keep the commandments and fail, are condemned. “The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other…We are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves” (Joseph B. Wirthlin). We should not be discouraged in our feeble but earnest efforts to emulate the attributes of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The call to discipleship is a call to continue, to never give up trying to be like Him. This I promise to do!
As a child, did you ever race across the playground to be first in line—to be the leader? Throughout our lives, leadership is celebrated with positions of popularity, promotions, and power. Don’t get me wrong. Leadership IS important. We need good leaders in families, societies, churches, governments, and businesses. Be we also need good followers. Follow-ship is the unsung, underrated cousin of leadership, mistakenly associated with weakness. When I think of follow-ship, I think of counselors of presidencies or members of committees. I think of assistants, deputies, students, and aides. They are all indispensable, giving input and feedback, offering creative ideas and solutions. They learn when to stand up, speak up, and when to step back and submit to the leader’s decision. Follow-ship is strength, not weakness. We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, must learn to follow. We embrace His plan, follow in His footsteps, and obey His commandments in faith. The Savior expects us to be diligent leaders—but He also expects us to be faithful followers. He has promised, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).