Christ’s Image, by Heinrich Hofmann, courtesy of C. Harrison Conroy Co.
Not long ago my wife and I took a road trip to southern Utah with our oldest son, Scott. Scott was born with special needs, but his happy spirit blesses our family.
Scott loves to have our attention. His personality is such that he always asks a lot of questions. But on this occasion, instead of being talkative, he became pensive and quiet. We observed that he was looking out a window, thinking. After a while, he said, “Dad, do you know Jesus?”
That’s a powerful question, which recognizes that part of life’s purpose and the lasting joy we experience in mortality has much to do with knowing Jesus (see D&C 101:36). In our premortal life, we were in His presence and in the presence of God the Father. We undoubtedly shed tears of joy and separation when we left Them after making our choice to come to earth.
Heavenly Father appointed a Savior to redeem us. “As the Lord God liveth,” Nephi said, “there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved” (2 Nephi 25:20).
A Sure Foundation
In the fifth chapter of Helaman we learn something about the powerful foundation of Jesus Christ: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation” (Helaman 5:12).
Before my calling as a General Authority, I owned and operated a commercial construction company for many years. One of the projects we completed was the Portland Oregon Temple. When we began preparing that site to develop the foundation of the temple, Oregon was experiencing torrential rainfall. Nine inches of rain fell in a single day.
To build a structure as significant as the Portland temple required secure anchorage, even down to the bedrock. A common foundation would not have been adequate because the saturated soils would not accept the bearing of the building. So an adjustment was made in the design, and pilings were drilled all the way to “zero resistance”—that is, to the bedrock. It was on that solid foundation that the temple was built. The adjustment was critical.
I submit that now may be the time for you to make adjustments—perhaps minor, perhaps major—in your own foundation so that you can be anchored in such a way that your pattern of integrity and spiritual structural design will never fail. In that way, the wiles of the devil and any seismic motion in your life will have no impact or capacity to destroy you.
How can we build our lives upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ? I’d like to discuss four critical ways we might create or strengthen that sure foundation.
Listen to the Holy Ghost
We must seek the companionship of the Holy Ghost. I think the key element in doing so is to listen. Whether on your knees, in the temple, at church, in the scriptures, or during general conference, listen as the Holy Ghost testifies of Christ and gives you greater clarity about the necessary adjustments you need to make in your life.
“When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
Those are words of the Savior Jesus Christ—our sure foundation—encouraging us to know Him better by listening and responding to the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost gives insightful understanding into the attributes of the Savior, and as we listen to the Holy Ghost and study the Savior’s life and attributes, we will gain an even greater witness of Him.
Nurture Your Faith
Nurture your faith with daily prayer and daily scripture study. And while you’re at it, nurture others.
I am grateful for the clear instruction in the Gospel of John: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). Once again the Savior gives us His own indication for making an adjustment: search the scriptures.
In the book of Helaman, the faithful people of Zarahemla are taught a clear principle. That principle—purifying our hearts and yielding them to God—happens a little at a time. Sanctification requires daily pondering, daily prayer, and daily engagement with the scriptures and the words of the prophets.
The faithful people of Zarahemla fasted and prayed often. As a result they “did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35).
Some 50 years ago, in 1967, I was a missionary in a remote little village called Chacopampa, Bolivia. My companion and I had little experience, but we were faithful, learned from the people, and did our best. Every day we prayed and sought counsel from the scriptures.
Late one evening we got a knock on the door of our adobe home. We opened the door to find Miguel, a faithful brother from the community but not a member of the Church, standing there. We could not easily identify him because his face and body were covered in blood.
We invited him in and could quickly see that he had suffered a severe head wound. We had never seen anything like it before and didn’t know what to do. The closest city with any medical support was 25 miles away, and we had no transportation. I’d had a little first-aid experience, but the two of us had to depend on the Lord for guidance, so we prayed for His help. Then we opened our first-aid kit—for the first time—and found right on top a vial of topical pain reliever to numb the wound. We also found some fine line to sew up the wound. So that’s what we did. We applied the pain reliever and stitched up Miguel’s head.
Miguel appreciated the fact that we depended on the Lord. His life was saved—not because of the preparation or experience of two missionaries but because the Lord guided us and because Miguel’s future in that first branch of the Lord’s Church in Chacopampa was so critical.
Keep the Commandments
Keep your thoughts clean and clear. Know what the Lord expects of you, and as you gain deeper insight into His expectations, be prepared and qualified to follow direction. You will become more like Him as you keep the commandments.
As we ponder and pray, as we nurture our faith and seek the Holy Ghost, and as we faithfully keep the commandments, we can actually receive the image of God in our countenances (see Alma 5:14).
I know that there are temptations all around us. But we must be faithful, and we must strengthen our foundation by worthily partaking of the sacrament each week. There is, in fact, protection in all of the ordinances, and we must participate worthily. I am grateful for 1 John 2:3: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.”
Follow the Prophets
It is our sacred privilege to raise our hands every six months during general conference to sustain President Thomas S. Monson, his counselors in the First Presidency, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. We know that the Lord has prepared these 15 men to lead His Church. I witness that this is true.
When you raise your hand to sustain the Lord’s anointed, what enters your mind and heart? Think about that. Your foundation will not fail when you are diligent in following and sustaining the prophets.
I return to Scott’s question: “Dad, do you know Jesus?”
Yes, I know my Savior. I bear witness that He lives, that He knows you, and that you can know Him as you listen to the Holy Ghost, nurture your faith, keep the commandments, and follow the prophets.
Constructing Our Lives upon the Foundation of Christ
“Ordinances and covenants are the building blocks we use to construct our lives upon the foundation of Christ and His Atonement. We are connected securely to and with the Savior as we worthily receive ordinances and enter into covenants, faithfully remember and honor those sacred commitments, and do our best to live in accordance with the obligations we have accepted.”
To Strengthen Your Foundation
Listen to the Holy Ghost.
Nurture your faith.
Keep the commandments.
Follow the prophets.