Dear brothers and sisters, when I served in Asia, people sometimes asked, “Elder Gong, how many people live in the Asia Area of the Church?”
I said, “Half the world’s population—3.6 billion people.”
Someone asked, “Is it hard to remember all their names?”
Remembering—and forgetting—are part of everyday life. For example, once, after looking everywhere for her new mobile phone, my wife finally decided to call it from another phone. When she heard her phone ring, my wife thought, “Who could be calling me? I haven’t given that number to anyone!”
Remembering—and forgetting—are also part of our eternal journey. Time, agency, and memory help us learn, grow, and increase in faith.
In the words of a favorite hymn:
We’ll sing all hail to Jesus’ name,
And praise and honor give. …
Ye Saints, partake and testify
Ye do remember him.1
Each week, in partaking of the sacrament, we covenant to always remember Him. Drawing on the nearly 400 scripture references to the word remember, here are six ways we can always remember Him.
First, we can always remember Him by having confidence in His covenants, promises, and assurances.
The Lord remembers His everlasting covenants—from Adam’s time to the day Adam’s posterity “shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy.”2
The Lord remembers His promises, including promises to gather scattered Israel through the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and promises given to every member and missionary who remembers the worth of souls.3
The Lord remembers and assures nations and peoples. In these days of motion and commotion,4 “some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God,”5 who guides “the future as he has the past.”6 In “perilous times,”7 we “remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men.”8
Second, we can always remember Him by gratefully acknowledging His hand throughout our lives.
The Lord’s hand in our lives is often clearest in hindsight. As Christian philosopher Søren Kierkegaard put it: “Life must be understood backward. But … it must be lived forward.”9
My dear mother recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She gratefully testified of God’s blessing at each major juncture in her life. Family histories, family traditions, and family ties help us savor remembrance of things past while providing future patterns and hope. Priesthood lines of authority and patriarchal blessings witness of God’s hand across generations.
Have you ever thought of yourself as your own living book of remembrance—reflecting what and how you choose to remember?
For example, when I was younger, I really wanted to play school basketball. I practiced and practiced. One day the coach pointed to our 6-foot-4-inch (1.93 m) all-state center and our 6-foot-2-inch (1.88 m) all-star forward and said to me, “I can put you on the team, but you’ll likely never play.” I remember how kindly he then encouraged, “Why not try out for soccer? You’d be good.” My family cheered when I scored my first goal.
We can remember those who give us a chance, and a second chance, with honesty, kindness, patience, and encouragement. And we can become someone others remember when they most needed help. Gratefully remembering the assistance of others and the Spirit’s guiding influence is a way we remember Him. It is a way we count our many blessings and see what God hath done.10
Third, we can always remember Him by trusting when the Lord assures us, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”11
When we fully repent, including by confessing and forsaking our sins, we ask with Enos, as our guilt is swept away, “Lord, how is it done?” and hear the answer “Because of thy faith in Christ”12 and His invitation to “put me in remembrance.”13
Once we repent and priesthood leaders declare us worthy, we need not continue to confess and confess these past sins. To be worthy does not mean to be perfect. Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness invites us to be humbly at peace on our life’s journey to someday become perfected in Christ,14 not constantly worried, frustrated, or unhappy in our imperfections today. Remember, He knows all the things we don’t want anyone else to know about us—and loves us still.
Sometimes life tests our trust in Christ’s mercy, justice, and judgment and in His liberating invitation to allow His Atonement to heal us as we forgive others and ourselves.
A young woman in another country applied to work as a journalist, but the official who assigned jobs was merciless. He said to her, “With my signature, I guarantee you will not become a journalist but will dig sewers.” She was the only woman digging sewers in a gang of men.
Years later this woman became an official. One day a man came in needing her signature for a job.
She asked, “Do you remember me?” He did not.
She said, “You do not remember me, but I remember you. With your signature, you guaranteed I never became a journalist. With your signature, you sent me to dig sewers, the only woman in a gang of men.”
She told me, “I feel I should treat that man better than he treated me—but I do not have that strength.” Sometimes that strength is not within us, but it can be found in remembering the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When trust is betrayed, dreams shattered, hearts broken and broken again, when we want justice and need mercy, when our fists clench and our tears flow, when we need to know what to hold onto and what to let go of, we can always remember Him. Life is not as cruel as it can sometimes seem. His infinite compassion can help us find our way, truth, and life.15
When we remember His words and example, we will not give or take offense.
My friend’s father worked as a mechanic. His honest labor showed even in his carefully washed hands. One day someone at a temple told my friend’s father he should clean his hands before serving there. Instead of being offended, this good man began to scrub the family dishes by hand with extra soapy water before attending the temple. He exemplifies those who “ascend into the hill of the Lord” and “stand in his holy place” with the cleanest of hands and the purest of hearts.16
If we have unkind feelings, grudges, or resentments or if we have cause to ask forgiveness of others, now is the time to do so.
Fourth, He invites us to remember that He is always welcoming us home.
We learn by asking and searching. But please do not cease exploration until you arrive—in the words of T. S. Eliot—“where [you] started and know the place for the first time.”17 When you are ready, please open your heart to the Book of Mormon, again, for the first time. Please pray with real intent, again, for the first time.
Trust that early or faint memory. Let it enlarge your faith. With God, there is no point of no return.
Prophets ancient and modern implore us not to let human foibles, faults, or weaknesses—others’ or our own—cause us to miss the truths, covenants, and redeeming power in His restored gospel.18 This is especially important in a church where we each grow through our imperfect participation. The Prophet Joseph said, “I never told you I was perfect; but there is no error in the revelations which I have taught.”19
Fifth, we can always remember Him on the Sabbath through the sacrament. At the end of His mortal ministry and the beginning of His resurrected ministry—both times—our Savior took bread and wine and asked that we remember His body and blood,20 “for as oft as ye do this ye will remember this hour that I was with you.”21
In the ordinance of the sacrament, we witness unto God the Father that we are willing to take upon us the name of His Son and always remember Him and keep His commandments, which He has given us, that we may always have His Spirit to be with us.22
As Amulek teaches, we remember Him when we pray over our fields, our flocks, and our households and when we remember the needy, the naked, the sick and afflicted.23
Finally, sixth, our Savior invites us to always remember Him as He always remembers us.
In the New World, our resurrected Savior invited those present to come, one by one, to thrust their hands into His side and to feel the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet.24
The scriptures describe resurrection as “every limb and joint shall be restored to … their proper and perfect frame,” and “even a hair of the head shall not be lost.”25 That being so, please consider how it is that our Savior’s perfect, resurrected body still bears the wounds in His side and the nail prints in His hands and feet.26
At times in history, mortal men have been executed by crucifixion. But only our Savior, Jesus Christ, embraces us still carrying the marks of His pure love. Only He fulfills the prophecy of being lifted up upon the cross that He might draw each of us, by name, to Him.27
Our Savior declares:
“Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.”28
He testifies: “I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.”29
I humbly testify and pray that we will always remember Him—in all times, all things, and all places we may be in.30 In the sacred and holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.