I remember well my first impressions of the temple. I was just a little girl visiting my grandmother. Each day as I woke up, I would look out of her bedroom window and see the beautiful spires of the Manti Utah Temple gleaming in the morning sun. The temple seemed to beckon me. It represented, even then, everything that was pure and safe and worthy in the world.
I remember visiting the Manti Temple hill with my family. In the early days, broad stone steps led up to the temple; to me they represented the journey we must all follow to get to the temple. Each step in our personal journey to the temple is essential, and it is important that we not get discouraged or distracted by the world along the way. Each step prepares us and strengthens us. And always, the temple stands above us, encouraging us to come.
For me, the first step that leads to the temple is faith. This is also the first principle of the gospel. Our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ awakens in us a desire to return to Him. Our faith in His teachings about eternal families leads us to want to secure that blessing. Our faith strengthens our desire to be in the temple, where we can draw closer to Him and become eternal families.
When the Book of Mormon prophet King Benjamin asked his people to gather to the temple, “they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple” (Mosiah 2:6). Then King Benjamin taught them about faith:
“I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, … calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith” (Mosiah 4:11).
Faith allows us to move forward in our lives, even when things become difficult. Faith becomes stronger as we use it. Faith is not only the first step but also the foundation of all other principles of the gospel.
I think the second step to the temple is repentance. Becoming worthy of temple blessings is a process. Staying worthy of those blessings once we have received them is also a process. This process requires faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. After all we can do, we must rely on the love of our Savior in order to be worthy before our Heavenly Father. Every day of our lives we experience weakness in some form or another. Only as we turn to our Savior for forgiveness and strength to do better can we become worthy of His blessings. Repentance is essential to worthiness.
Baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost constitute my third step leading to the temple. We must be baptized into our Heavenly Father’s kingdom in order to enter the temple. When we are baptized we make a covenant with our Heavenly Father that we will keep all of His commandments. In turn, He promises that He will bless us with His spirit. Worthiness to enter the temple depends on how faithfully we keep this covenant.
Each of the subsequent steps leading to the temple represents obedience to God’s commandments. We are supported by our faith and by the Atonement. How easily we climb these steps depends on our attitude.
President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) said, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.”1
And what do we receive when we finally get to the top of those steps? As a child, I thought the prize was just touching the beautiful temple, but now I know that the reward comes when I walk through the doors and feel the love and blessings of the Lord surround me.
It is only through the temple that we can regain the presence of our Heavenly Father, and it is only in the temple that we can secure eternal relationships by receiving ordinances and making covenants. My relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ comes first. My eternal relationship with my family comes next. Who can describe the joy and sweetness of being sealed for time and all eternity to your eternal companion and children? What joy we feel when we are joined with our parents and grandparents!
Other blessings come as well. The temple is the Lord’s university. When I go there I always learn something new. I learn something important for my eternal progression. I learn something about how I can live my life better, how I can solve problems, and how I can serve more unselfishly. I can receive direction and insight into my life because the temple is a place of personal revelation.
The temple is also a place of peace, comfort, strength, and power. Whenever we are in the temple we feel renewed. The temple helps us face life’s challenges with more faith and trust in the Lord.
The temple is a place of service where we do the work for those who have lived on the earth before us. We grow as we unselfishly serve those we have never met.
At times the steps to the temple can seem overwhelming, but we can and must climb them every day of our lives as we strive to be worthy to enter and to keep the covenants we make there. Obedience to the principles of the gospel makes us worthy to enter and keeps us worthy to return again and again. Each time we enter those beautiful doors, no matter which temple we attend, we receive the promised blessings of the Lord.
We can help our children while they’re still young begin to climb those steps as we take their hands and walk with them, helping them to keep the commandments and keep the faith. We climb the steps to the temple together as we teach them the principles of the gospel and bear witness of those principles. We encourage them with our gratitude and joy in our own temple blessings. We are steady in our climb as we are strengthened by the very eternal covenants we want our children to make and keep. With the Lord’s help, we climb those steps together until we reach our eternal goal.
I love the beautiful temples of the Lord. They are a witness that He lives, loves us, and desires to bless our lives. May we all come to the temple.