Robert D. Hales

Return with Honor

In the service at the time of the Korean War, I flew jet fighter planes on various missions. In our unit we had a motto: “Return with Honor.” That slogan helped us to fly our planes with the greatest possible accuracy and dedicated effort and gave us the determination to return to our home base with a sense of fulfillment after having accomplished our mission. Our motto also reminded us that if we did our very best and did not return, we could return to our Heavenly Father with honor.

This same slogan or motto can be applied to our lives as we progress through this mortal stage toward eternal life, always keeping uppermost in our minds the target we are aiming for—eternal life—which can be achieved by each individual who is willing to follow the plan of salvation. The opportunities are here for us to progress if we will accept the principles of the gospel and follow the eternal plan of salvation. We must first embrace the gospel; then we must learn the laws and commandments and obey them in every aspect of our lives, as we are instructed in D&C 27:15:

“Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.”

We read further in D&C 27:16–18:

“Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which I have sent mine angels to commit unto you;

“Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked;

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also.”

In this life there are seven basic decisions we have to make to prepare us to return with honor to our Heavenly Father in the eternities.

The first is baptism.

The second is to receive the Holy Ghost.

The third is to fulfill our obligations as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The fourth for young men is to accept the priesthood and honorably magnify that priesthood, committing ourselves to obey all the laws and commandments. We must raise our level of commitment if we are to achieve what we are asked to achieve in this last dispensation.

With these four basic steps taken or begun, we are ready to go on to the next three steps. We must go to the temple of God, which is dedicated for the holy purposes of endowments and sealings for the living, and for the work we do for the dead. In receiving our endowments we are instructed how we should live to be worthy of returning to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

We are told before we go to the temple that our temples—our bodies—must be clean. We have been given the Word of Wisdom to help us keep our bodies clean. We are to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and strong drinks. But this is a spiritual law as well, given in order that the Spirit may dwell with us always. When we promise to keep the commandments, we do it so this Spirit may dwell with us and so we can be clean in the temple of the Lord. But most importantly, we take upon us commitments that we will live the commandments of the Lord and that we will always be honorable and strong.

We then are ready for the seventh important step, which is marriage for time and all eternity. There is no price that one can pay in the physical things of the world that is equal to the blessing of going to the temple.

On June 10, 1953, my wife and I had the privilege of being married in the Salt Lake Temple. After President Harold B. Lee, then an apostle, concluded the beautiful ceremony, he had us stand in the center of the sealing room. Looking to the left into the mirrors that reflect off one another to show hundreds of images, he said, “On the left are the eternities you came from, and on the right the eternities to which you are going.” We looked and could see our images. Then he brought our thoughts back to the sealing room where we were and said, “This is like the world. It is but one step to all the eternities.” We were lovingly advised to stay true to the commitments of chastity, to obey the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration whereby we give all of our time, talents, and everything with which we are blessed to the service of the Lord. Then he said, “Make sure you understand that an argument never solves problems. As you stand here today, commit yourselves to having and expressing love and appreciation for each other.” It was a great teaching moment in our lives that we have never forgotten.

May I share with you my testimony. A testimony is our most valuable possession. No one can ever take it away from us. It can go with us into the eternities. We should bear our testimonies frequently to each other, to our neighbors, and to our families that we may all be strengthened. I know that God lives, and I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that in this day we have a living prophet of God who will never lead us astray.

May the Lord’s blessings be with each of us that we may be strong in our commitments to keep the commandments of God and to overcome the temptations of the adversary that we may return with honor when our mission is completed.

[illustration] Illustrated by Preston Heiselt