Today—A Day of Eternity

George I. Cannon


“Behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation. … This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; … the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:31–32.)

These words are as applicable today as when expressed by Amulek centuries ago.

Many years ago I clipped an article out of a newspaper. It tells about an elevator boy who was whistling a merry tune on his way up on the elevator one morning. “Why so happy?” a grim-faced, scowling rider asked him.

The boy replied, “I’ve never lived this day before.”

The writer of the article comments: “This boy was wiser than his years. The only life we can live is today. Yesterday is behind us. However golden the hours, they cannot be lived again, but only remembered. Tomorrow is before us, and however sweet its expectations, the clock must take its patient course before we can test our hope against reality. We can live no more than one day at a time.” (Roy Pearson, Words to Live By.)

Elder Richard L. Evans shared this meaningful thought in “The Spoken Word”: “It sometimes seems that we live as if we wonder when life is going to begin. It isn’t always clear just what we are waiting for, but some of us sometimes persist in waiting so long that life slips by—finding us still waiting for something that has been going on all the time. … This is the life in which the work of this life is to be done. Today is as much a part of eternity as any day a thousand years ago or as will be any day a thousand years hence. This is it, whether we are thrilled or disappointed, busy or bored! This is life, and it is passing.” (Improvement Era, Jan. 1967, p. 65.)

Today is a day of eternity. I hope each day we are thankful for life, for knowing that we are sons and daughters of God and that the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is upon the earth. I hope we will have a desire and a determination to make each day a good day.

How can we do this? Here are some suggestions. I encourage you to add others.

Each day let us nourish our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us follow the inspired message from the Lord’s living prophet, Ezra Taft Benson to read daily from the Book of Mormon and make a study of this book a lifetime pursuit. (Ensign, May 1988, p. 51.) We can go to our Father in Heaven in individual prayer. We can kneel each day as a family. How very important it is that we do this. As we attend our meetings on the Sabbath and partake of the sacrament worthily, we can have our Father’s Spirit with us every day.

Let us live daily the great saving principle of repentance. We will become more humble and teachable.

Each day will be a good day if we will think of the Savior and make Him the center of our lives, for He is “the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.” (Ether 4:12.) Following the Savior will help us to be honest. I would like to tell you about a twelve-year-old boy in the Philippines who is following the Savior.

Julius had gone to school without eating any breakfast, and during class his stomach began to make funny sounds. During recess he hurried to a nearby barbecue stand. He took two sticks of meat, ate the food, and went back to class.

When he returned, he discovered he had not given the pesos for the food. Without hesitation he ran back and paid for his snack. When he arrived back at the classroom, he found a very angry teacher. He had forgotten to ask permission to leave. She wanted to know what he had been doing. He told her everything. Then she put her arm on his shoulder and, facing the class, said, “Class, I want you to be honest like Julius.” She asked him why he returned the money when he could have kept it.

He answered, “Because I believe in being honest.”

“What is your religion?” she wanted to know.

Without hesitation, he said, “I am a Mormon.”

“Oh,” she responded, “no wonder.”

Julius is making each day a good day by always being honest.

Following the Savior will help us to be morally clean. We will respect our bodies and not tamper with drugs, alcohol, or pornography or in any way destroy the great miracle of life which the Lord has given to each of us.

Recently I listened to the words of a stalwart young teenager who told about how some young people in his school have not kept the standards of the Church and have used some of the destructive substances we have been warned against. Friends who know he is a Mormon have asked him why he doesn’t partake of these harmful things. He explained: “I am happy to know that I have not disappointed the Lord and dishonored the priesthood he has given me. Remember, you can lie to yourself, and you can lie to others, but you can never lie to the Lord. He knows what you are doing. … To help us along the way, a good guideline is to imagine that Jesus is right beside you all the time. Ask yourself, ‘Would Jesus be doing this?’ or ‘Would He get into this situation?’” (talk given by Brandon Williams, Alamosa Colorado Stake conference, 25 Aug. 1991.)

As the Savior becomes the center of our lives, we will be more loving and giving. He has taught by precept and example that if we would truly find ourselves, we must first lose ourselves in serving and helping others.

I believe one of the best ways to make each day a good one is to help build the kingdom of God. What a blessing it is for each of us to be leaders in righteousness. President Spencer W. Kimball has said, “Membership in the Church is a call to leadership.” Let us be good leaders in our homes (this means both children and parents), leaders in our neighborhoods, our schools, our communities, and the Church.

Each day can be richer and more meaningful if we can be happy with ourselves. Some of the most undesirable feelings are those of envying, coveting, and wishing that we were someone else. We should be grateful for who we are and what we are, and for the talents we have been given. We should be supportive of and grateful for the talents of others, always looking for those divine qualities which are in every person we meet. It is important that we be ourselves and like ourselves. Someone has said, “A bee may not be an eagle, but it can sure make honey!”

Here is another suggestion: Don’t worry about those things which you cannot change. If something can be done, do it. If nothing can be done, don’t worry about it. Several years ago, I read an article written about Elder LeGrand Richards. He had just turned age ninety-three. Someone asked him what his secret was for living such a long, happy, and useful life. He said, “I have a verse that has been part of my philosophy throughout my life. Here it is:

“For every worry under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, hurry and find it,
If there be none, never mind it.”

I have one more suggestion. I share this counsel from President Ezra Taft Benson: “If we want to keep the Spirit, we must work. There is no greater exhilaration or satisfaction than to know, after a hard day of work, that we have done our best. … Ours is a gospel of work—purposeful, unselfish and rendered in the spirit of the true love of Christ.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988, pp. 483–84.)

Each day we live is a day of eternity.

Let us make each day a good day by

Nourishing faith

Growing through repentance

Following the Savior

Serving in the kingdom

Being happy with ourselves

Not worrying

Working diligently

I pray, with Alma, that each day we would “humble [our]selves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that [we] may not be tempted above that which [we] can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

“Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that [we] shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in [our] hearts, that [we] may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” (Alma 13:28–29.)

Today, my heart is full of gratitude as my service as a Seventy comes to a close.

I am grateful for my good wife, Isabel, who has so lovingly and unselfishly served by my side and whose example has shown me how to make each day a good one. I express thanks to our children and their eternal companions and our grandchildren for their support, steadfastness, and righteousness.

I have learned from the examples of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve the meaning of discipleship to the Savior.

With the Quorums of the Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric, I have shared the joy of brotherhood.

To all the members and missionaries with whom I have been privileged to serve in Asia, the Philippines, Micronesia/Guam, Great Britain, and the Southwest Area of the United States, I say thank you. You are examples of making every day a good day.

Above all, I express my gratitude and love to my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the life, light, and truth of the world. I leave my witness that He is our Savior and Redeemer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.