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Conference Counsel: Temple covenants key to making sure all is well

By Ryan Comer - | May 18, 2024

Photo supplied, Intellectual Reserve

President Russell M. Nelson and President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency converse during the afternoon session of general conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

I love the stories that are told in the general conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There’s a value to hearing stories that teach and reinforce gospel principles that I can’t quite describe.

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency of the church, shared a story at last month’s general conference that is the exact reason why I love them so much.

“Over 50 years ago, I had the privilege to serve as the president of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. On the morning of June 5, 1976, my wife, Kathy, and I drove from Rexburg to the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple to attend the sealing of a close friend. Of course, with four young boys in our home at the time, our temple trip could be only accomplished with the help of a courageous babysitter. We left our precious children in her care and made the short, 30-minute drive.

“Our experience in the temple that day was wonderful, as it always was. However, after the conclusion of the temple sealing — and as we were preparing to return home — we noticed many temple workers and patrons nervously conversing in the lobby of the temple. Within moments, one of the temple workers told us that the newly constructed Teton Dam in eastern Idaho had collapsed. More than 80 billion gallons of water were flowing through the dam and into the 300 square miles of neighboring valleys. Much of the city of Rexburg was underwater, with homes and vehicles carried away by floodwaters. Two-thirds of the 9,000 residents were suddenly homeless.

“As you might imagine, our thoughts and concerns turned to the safety of our dear children, hundreds of college students and faculty and a community we loved. We were less than 30 miles from home, and yet on this day, long before cellphones and text messaging, we had no way of communicating immediately with our children, nor could we make the drive from Idaho Falls to Rexburg, as all the roads had been closed.

Photo supplied

Ryan Comer

“Our only option was to stay the night in a local motel in Idaho Falls. Kathy and I knelt together in our motel room and humbly pleaded with Heavenly Father for the safety of our dear children and the thousands of others affected by the tragic event. I recall Kathy pacing the floors into the early hours of the morning with worry about her children. Despite my own concerns, I was able to put my mind at ease and fall asleep.

“It wasn’t long thereafter that my sweet eternal companion woke me and said, ‘Hal, how can you sleep at a time like this?’

“These words then came clearly to my heart and mind. I said to my wife: ‘Kathy, whatever the outcome, all will be well because of the temple. We have made covenants with God and have been sealed as an eternal family.’

“At that moment, it was as if the spirit of the Lord confirmed in our hearts and minds what we both already knew to be true: the sealing ordinances, found only in the house of the Lord and administered by proper priesthood authority, had bound us together as husband and wife, and our children had been sealed to us. There truly was no need to fear, and we were grateful later to learn that our boys were safe.”

It’s instructive to me that the statement “all will be well” wasn’t predicated on the situation going exactly the way they wanted it to. It was an eternal reality and President Eyring knew it. Certainly, President Eyring wanted his boys to be safe, but regardless of the outcome, he knew that all would ultimately be well because of the covenants he and his wife had made with God and because they had been sealed as an eternal family.

How is it possible to have that kind of perspective? It’s hard enough when something bad happens, but it can be truly gut-wrenching when something bad happens and one is left to helplessly wait for important questions to be answered.

That perspective comes from making and honoring covenants made in the temple.

Expanding on his story, President Eyring explained some of the blessings that come from attending the temple.

Blessing No. 1: Peace

Said President Eyring: “Perhaps this statement from President Thomas S. Monson best illustrates what Kathy and I felt on that unforgettable night: ‘As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace. … We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the savior when he said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”‘ (John 14:27)

“I have been blessed to feel that peace every time I enter the sacred temple. I recall the first day I walked into the Salt Lake Temple. I was a young man.

“I looked up at a high white ceiling that made the room so light it seemed almost as if it were open to the sky. And in that moment, the thought came into my mind in clear words: ‘I have been in this lighted place before.’ But then immediately there came into my mind, not in my own voice, these words: ‘No, you have never been here before. You are remembering a moment before you were born. You were in a sacred place like this where the Lord could come.’

“Brothers and sisters, I humbly testify that as we attend the temple, we can be reminded of the eternal nature of our spirits, our relationship with the Father and his divine Son, and our ultimate desire to return to our heavenly home.”

Recently, my 9-year-old son told me about a math challenge he was required to pass at school. I think he’s pretty good at math and I had no concerns for him, but he was feeling some anxiety about it. I didn’t feel like I could do much for him, but what I did feel like I could do was remind him of how well he does in math and that I had complete confidence in him. He proudly told me this week that he passed the challenge. It’s good to have reminders to help us remember things that we can very easily forget because of various reasons. The temple helps provide the spiritual reminders we require. When I’m in the temple, I know exactly what my true identity is, what the purpose of life is and what is possible for me. I have the “inner spiritual stillness of the soul” that Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of in his April general conference address, which as Elder Bednar said, enables me “to know and remember that God is our Heavenly Father, we are his children and Jesus Christ is our savior.” The even greater thing is, I don’t have to expend any energy thinking about it. I just know it, like I know that I can see and hear. The peace that this knowledge brings to my life cannot be understated.

Blessing No. 2: Spiritual power

Continued President Eyring: “In recent conference addresses, President Russell M. Nelson taught: ‘The safest place to be spiritually is living inside your temple covenants. Everything we believe and every promise God has made to his covenant people come together in the temple. Each person who makes covenants … in temples — and keeps them — has increased access to the power of Jesus Christ.’

“He also taught that ‘once we make a covenant with God, we leave neutral ground forever. God will not abandon his relationship with those who have forged such a bond with him. In fact, all those who have made a covenant with God have access to a special kind of love and mercy.’

“Under President Nelson’s inspired leadership, the Lord has accelerated, and will continue to accelerate, the building of temples across the world. This will allow all of God’s children the opportunity to receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation and to make and keep sacred covenants. Qualifying to make sacred covenants is not a one-time effort but a lifetime pattern. The Lord has said it will take our full heart, might, mind and strength.”

I’ve written before about the importance of temples. The current number of temples that have been dedicated, are in the process of construction or have only been announced may seem like a lot to those who don’t understand all that happens inside them, but as I learn more and more about their importance, I can’t help but feel like the surface hasn’t even been scratched as far as what is truly necessary. God wants to help everyone, both in this life and for eternity, and he does that by providing “increased access to the power of Jesus Christ” as well as “access to a special kind of love and mercy” made possible through making and keeping covenants in the temple. If you think about all the people on the planet who either don’t currently have access to a temple or limited access based on distance from one, you get just a glimpse of how many more are needed.

Blessing No. 3: Cycle of devotion

Said President Eyring: “Frequent participation in the ordinances of the temple can create a pattern of devotion to the Lord. When you keep your temple covenants and remember them, you invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost to both strengthen and purify you.

“You may then experience a feeling of light and hope testifying that the promises are true. You will come to know that every covenant with God is an opportunity to draw closer to him, which will then create a desire in your heart to keep temple covenants.

“We have been promised, ‘Because of our covenant with God, he will never tire in his efforts to help us, and we will never exhaust his merciful patience with us.'”

Some people may wonder how it is possible to remain spiritually strong as the world moves further and further away from God. There’s a process that helps ensure this that President Eyring outlined, and it starts with keeping and remembering temple covenants. As you do that, the Holy Ghost strengthens and purifies you, which results in a feeling of light and hope, along with the knowledge that covenants with God are opportunities to become closer to him. A desire to keep temple covenants is then produced, and as those covenants are kept, more help comes from the Holy Ghost. The cycle can continue as long as we want it to because, as President Eyring pointed out, God “will never tire in his efforts to help us, and we will never exhaust his merciful patience with us.”

Blessing No. 4: Family harmony

“It is through the sealing covenants in the temple that we can receive the assurance of loving family connections that will continue after death and last for eternity,” President Eyring said. “Honoring marriage and family covenants made in temples of God will provide protection from the evil of selfishness and pride.

“Consistent care of brothers and sisters for each other will come only with persistent efforts to lead your family in the Lord’s way. Give children opportunities to pray for each other. Discern quickly the beginnings of discord, and positively recognize acts of unselfish service, especially to one another. When siblings pray for each other and serve each other, hearts will be softened and turned to each other and to their parents.

“In part, that is what is described by Malachi as he foretold of the coming of the prophet Elijah: ‘He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.'”

Eternal families are possible because of sealing covenants in the temple. How do those covenants help strengthen families? For me, they inspire me to have a better relationship with my family members. I know they aren’t just with me for however long we’re on this earth. The eternal nature of the family relationship makes it more valuable and more worth protecting. I have felt that in my life. I have felt the desire to have better family relationships because I know they are eternal.

Blessing No. 5: Personal direction

Said President Eyring: “Trials, challenges and heartaches will surely come to all of us. None of us are immune from ‘thorns of the flesh.’ Yet, as we attend the temple and remember our covenants, we can prepare to receive personal direction from the Lord.

“When Kathy and I were married and sealed in the Logan Utah Temple, then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball performed our sealing. In the few words he spoke, he gave this counsel: ‘Hal and Kathy, live so that when the call comes, you can walk away easily.’

“Initially, we did not understand what that counsel meant for us, but we did our best to live our lives in such a way that we would be prepared to leave to serve the Lord when the call came. After we had been married nearly 10 years, an unanticipated call did come from the commissioner of church education, Neal A. Maxwell.

“The loving counsel given by President Kimball in the temple to be able to ‘walk away easily’ became a reality. Kathy and I received a call to leave what seemed an idyllic family situation in California to serve in an assignment and in a place that I knew nothing about. However, our family was ready to leave because a prophet, in a holy temple, a place of revelation, saw a future event for which we were then prepared.”

Several years ago, I was struggling with a personal situation that was causing quite a bit of anxiety, and so I went to the temple specifically to try to receive some guidance. As I was in the temple, a thought came to me related to my problem. All of a sudden, I knew what needed to be done to solve it. Looking back, it was such a simple solution. I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t think of it before going to the temple. But the fact is, going to the temple was the catalyst for me receiving it, and I cannot deny it. Personal direction can occur for all who attend the temple and remember their covenants.

Concluding his talk, President Eyring said: “My dear brothers and sisters, I bear witness that there is nothing more important than honoring the covenants you have made or may make in the temple. No matter where you are on the covenant path, I urge you to qualify and become eligible to attend the temple. Visit as frequently as circumstances will allow. Make and keep sacred covenants with God. I can assure you of the same truth I shared with Kathy in the middle of the night nearly five decades ago in an Idaho Falls motel room: ‘No matter the outcome, all will be well because of temple covenants.'”

Contact Ryan Comer at rcomer@standard.net. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rbcomer8388 and on Twitter at @rbcomer8388.

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