Some time ago I presided over a stake conference in Momostenango, Guatemala. Prior to the conference, I was surprised when stake president Francisco Rosales recommended that the Saturday meetings be held in the morning instead of in the afternoon, when these meetings are usually scheduled. When I asked the reason for the change, President Rosales said it was safer for the people to travel early in the morning so they could return to their homes before dark.
He explained that many of these Saints would leave their homes at about 3:00 A.M., often in the rain, and walk two to three hours down the mountain trails to get to their small meetinghouses. There they would climb into the back of a small pickup truck and travel another two hours, standing up, to the stake center for the conference. After the Saturday meetings they would return to their homes the same way. On Sunday they would repeat the process. During the two days of conference, they traveled as much as 16–20 hours.
Brother Daniel Ixcoy Torres and his family are among these faithful Saints. They walk four hours every Sunday, round trip, to attend their Church meetings. Brother Ixcoy says his family does this “because we have made a commitment to God to obey the commandments and because it is important to partake of the sacrament each Sunday.” Brother Ixcoy’s 18-year-old son, Pedro, says it is a blessing for them to accept callings in the Church and obey instructions from their leaders.
What shining examples of commitment to the gospel are these wonderful Saints!
The scriptures tell us to “commit [our] way unto the Lord” (Ps. 37:5). How might we become more committed to the gospel? What can we learn from the Savior regarding commitment? What principles help us understand the importance of being committed to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?
The Perfect Exemplar
There is no better example of commitment than Jesus Christ. His love for His Father was perfect, and He was committed to doing the Father’s will in all things. He proclaimed, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). This desire not only guided His mortal life but led Him to make the ultimate sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross.
The Savior knew who He was, which further enabled Him to be fully committed to the Father and to His plan of salvation. He was the eldest spirit child of Heavenly Father (see D&C 93:21). He was the Father’s Only Begotten Son on the earth (see Moses 1:6). He knew Heavenly Father’s plan and His own divine role in it: “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. … In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally” (Ether 3:14).
How can we follow Christ’s example of commitment? We can love Him and Heavenly Father and likewise say, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). We can learn more about who we are: beloved children of Heavenly Father, with the potential to become as He is. And we can seek to better understand our own role in Heavenly Father’s plan and our responsibility to do our part, however small, to help Him “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). To be committed, we must learn our duty and then “act … in all diligence” (D&C 107:99) to honor our commitment and fulfill our obligation to our Father in Heaven.
Understanding the Savior’s role in our lives also helps us strengthen our commitment to Him. After King Benjamin taught his people about Jesus’ ministry, His suffering, His Atonement, and His teachings, he asked the people if they believed the words he had spoken. “And they all cried with one voice, saying: … We know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us” (Mosiah 5:2). They then declared, “We are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days” (Mosiah 5:5). Similarly, as we learn more about what the Savior has done for us and strengthen our testimony of Him, we will feel a deepening sense of commitment to Him.
Faith in Jesus Christ is of utmost importance in being committed to Him. Those who are committed to the Lord trust in Him and do what He requires of them, even when they do not immediately understand the purpose of what He requires. Adam showed this kind of commitment after he and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden. “And [the Lord] gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord” (Moses 5:5). Later an angel appeared to Adam and asked why he was offering sacrifices. Adam’s reply reflected his commitment: “I know not, save the Lord commanded me” (Moses 5:6). He was committed to obeying the commandment of God even though he did not know the reason for the commandment.
The angel then told him the reason: “This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth” (Moses 5:7).
Adam had put his trust in the Lord, and because of his faithfulness and obedience, he “was filled” and was blessed with the ability to prophesy (see Moses 5:10). We are likewise blessed when we have faith in the Lord and commit to following Him in all things.
Staying True to Our Principles
When we are truly committed to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we stay true to our principles no matter what our circumstances may be.
Rebecca was 16 years old when her parents were called to preside over a mission in a foreign land. Consequently, for two years she attended a school where there were few Latter-day Saint students. One of the most popular athletes in the school asked her to attend various school activities with him. Even though she would have been the envy of many girls if she had dated this boy, she politely told him no. What gave this young woman the courage and strength to decline his invitation? She said: “After hearing a Young Women lesson on dating and temple marriage when I was about 12, I made a commitment to date only boys with high standards who could take me to the temple. I honored the commitment I had made and don’t remember the decision being difficult, because the answer to such an invitation was already formulated in my mind. I was just living up to a promise I had made to myself.” Rebecca had been taught the importance of the Lord’s plan for eternal marriage, and she was committed to following Him. The Lord blessed her for her faithfulness, and years later she did meet a fine young man and was sealed to him for time and all eternity in the temple.
We Are Eternally Indebted
Because of His love for us, God the Father sent His Son. Because of the Son’s love for His Father and for us, He atoned for our sins and made possible the Resurrection and eternal life. We are eternally indebted to Them. As we love the Father and the Son, and as we know we are Heavenly Father’s children and come to better understand His plan, we will strengthen our commitment to Them. And as we “commit [our] way unto the Lord [and] trust also in him,” He shall bring to pass the desires of our hearts (see Ps. 37:4–5).