I have a valise which was owned by Robert Redford. (I don’t mean the movie star; I mean my grandfather.) When Grandfather Redford died, Mother and her brothers and sisters gathered together to distribute his personal belongings. Each family member was given a first-choice selection. Unknown to us, Mother prayed that she could have Grandfather’s temple clothes, which he carried in a black valise with the initials R.R. printed on it. Grandfather spent his last years as a temple worker in the Logan Temple.
Mother got her wish.
As a teenager, I thought it strange that Mother would prefer that little black bag to furniture or other items of worldly value. But then I thought of how my mother had taught me the sacredness of the temple long before I could fully understand its meaning. Her attitude about going to the temple and her handling of the temple clothing first caught my attention. Mother was always happy to visit the house of the Lord. What happened inside the temple wasn’t talked about specifically; but I heard parts of the temple vocabulary spoken with great respect, words like sacred, holy, spiritual, pure, celestial, endowments, sealing, the veil.
When I finally went to the temple as a missionary to receive my own endowments, Mother gave Grandfather’s temple clothing to me.
It would be difficult for me to describe my first experience in the temple. It was beyond anything earthly I had witnessed. I didn’t comprehend all that I was taught that night, but the deep feelings instilled in me were sublime. Clothed in the inheritance from my grandfather and accompanied by my mother, I began what was to be a continuum of incomparable spiritual visits to the holy temple. Based upon those experiences, I would like to share with you what I have learned about the temple and what it can mean in your own lives.
It is a symbol of covenants we make with God our Father. It is a symbol of holiness and reminds us of the person we ought to be. It stands as a fixed star to remind us of the path which leads to eventual reunion with our Heavenly Father.
Even the physical presence of the temple has changed people’s lives. I know of a young man who was very much involved in the drug scene during the turbulent 1960s. One night as he and a friend drove through a heavy rainstorm on their way home from a rock festival, he looked out the window of his car, trying to clear his drug-fogged brain. He saw the Washington Temple, beautiful and serene, bathed in brilliant light. It had a startling effect upon him. He couldn’t erase that image from his mind. Upon returning to his apartment, he called the bishop of his home ward and asked what he needed to do to get his life in order so that he could attend the temple. With the passing of time, his sincere repentance brought him to the house of the Lord where, in stark contrast to the counterfeit stimulation of drugs, he experienced the sanctifying power of our Heavenly Father.
It is tangible evidence that we are keeping important commandments of God. A recommend should identify its bearer as a true and faithful Latter-day Saint. To misrepresent our worthiness to our bishop and receive a recommend dishonestly denies us the blessings of the temple. We cannot fool the Lord, who will not honor false credentials. Once we qualify for a temple recommend, we should resolve never to let it expire. We should reaffirm to our bishops each year that we are still worthy to return to the house of the Lord.
One sweet LDS girl was asked by her father to postpone her marriage in the temple so he could provide a lavish wedding in a large church that all his friends could attend. She said, “Daddy, I can’t do as you ask. I have seen how you and Mom have loved each other, and yet you have not married in the temple. I made up my mind as a little girl that I would be married to my husband for eternity and not just for this life. You have had my whole lifetime to prepare to go to the temple with me, and you have not done so. I’m sorry, but I must do what I believe to be right.”
All marriages performed outside the temple are canceled at death. It takes a lifetime to develop a Christlike character and to practice the art of successful marriage. How sad it would be to contemplate the termination of such a relationship which has taken most of a century to nurture. Of course, while marriages performed in the temple are beautiful, the ceremony alone does not guarantee happiness. That will depend on keeping our temple covenants and practicing the principles that govern successful marriage.
In the temple, we can focus on our most important and ennobling thoughts and feelings. The temple is the ultimate house of worship where we may feel closer to our Heavenly Father than in any other place on earth. The faithful are promised that the Lord will be revealed at His temple. This does not mean that everyone will receive a personal visit there, but we can feel His presence.
President Benson tells us: “In the peace of [the temple], sometimes we find solutions to the serious problems of life. Under the influence of the Spirit, sometimes pure knowledge flows to us there. Temples are places of personal revelation. When I have been weighted down by a problem or a difficulty, I have gone to the house of the Lord with a prayer in my heart for answers. These answers have come in clear and unmistakable ways” (Ensign, Aug. 1985, p. 8).
As you receive your endowments in the temple, you receive the privilege of wearing the sacred temple clothing and the garments of the holy priesthood. The garments are a tangible reminder of your covenants with God. It has been said that modesty is the hallmark of a true Latter-day Saint. The temple garment reminds us that virtue sets us apart from the world and, in a special way, makes us one with God.
In the temple, we are instructed in our Father’s plan for His children. The doctrine of the temple revolves around our Savior. We catch a glimpse of our eternal opportunities. We learn of our divine heritage and our Father’s love.
President McKay once taught, “I believe there are few … who comprehend the full meaning and power of the Temple endowment. Seen for what it is, it is the step-by-step ascent into the eternal Presence. If our young people could but glimpse it, it would be the most powerful spiritual motivation of their lives” (in Truman G. Madsen, “House of Glory,” BYU Ten-Stake Fireside address, Mar. 5, 1972, p. 7).
The only way families may have an eternal relationship is through obedience to the ordinances of the priesthood performed in the temple. Family love grows stronger and petty differences can be resolved as families attend the temple together.
We have the glorious opportunity of providing the saving ordinances for our ancestors that they cannot do for themselves. We can identify them from the computer and library files of the Church and prepare them to receive these blessings.
One ward youth group recently participated in an exciting family history activity. With classes taught by family history consultants and help from parents and relatives, these young people were able to clear 485 ancestral names for temple ordinance work, averaging nine family names each. Arrangements were then made for them to attend a temple session and be baptized for their ancestors. Seeing the excitement and interest of the young people, parents and leaders asked to join the group at the temple to perform the endowment and sealing ordinances. They testified of increased spiritual power and feelings of unity as they shared in this temple service for their ancestors.
My young friends, the temple is Heavenly Father’s special gift to prepare us to return to His celestial home. It is more like His heavenly home than any building on earth. Prepare yourself to be worthy to make the temple an integral part of your life—not just a place to be married but a place you will return to often and feel His divine presence.
I know God lives, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that His Church is truly God’s earthly kingdom. May the temple be your goal and a constant reminder of our Father’s love and sacred promises.