It really is wonderful how quickly the Church gets the General Conference address up online. As soon as Thursday after the Conference the full text of each talk was available, and I have started something that has not only helped me spiritually, but has helped me in my job as well. I work tech support and sit at a computer all day, taking calls and resolving issues. So, I have a tab open on my internet browser with gc.lds.org, and I have been reading through the talks and highlighting and adding notes and comments. It’s been great, I feel the spirit of the Lord and it has helped me retain that spirit during my (sometimes) stressful job.
The first talk that really drew me in and spoke to me, is actually the first talk that I was reading, the first talk of Saturday Morning’s session by Elder Quentin L. Cook, which he titled, “Can Ye Feel So Now.” This was a wonderful talk, full of prophetic warning and counsel. His message, as many during this conference seem to have been, was directed to those who have once accepted the Gospel of Christ but who may not know be as diligent or firm in their commitment as they once were. He takes as the core of his message a verse from Alma, as he spoke to members of the ancient Nephite church, “If ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” Essentially, Elder Cook is asking, as Alma did before, ‘If you have once been converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are you now still converted? Are you now still living up to all of the covenants that you made at baptism? Are you now as excited about the Gospel as you were when you came out of the water?’ That is the question that we each need to ask ourselves honestly and regularly.
Elder Cook states, “We are all aware the culture in most of the world is not conducive to righteousness or spiritual commitment.” The world we live in is not an easy place to live and enjoy the blessings of the Gospel of Christ, it is and it will be increasingly more difficult to live the standards and keep the covenants we have made. He shares a conversation he had with a young 15-year-old-boy, who told him that for most of the commandments and standards of the Church society agrees and understands the purpose, even as they choose to disobey. He talks about the Word of Wisdom, cigarette smoking, drug use, and alcohol consumption, and says that the world does acknowledge that these are not good for you. But, with immorality and chastity the world does not see anything wrong with disregarding the commandments. We need to be the ones standing up and speaking out and living these commandments.
As I was thinking about this situation in the world around us and reading Elder Cook’s words, I had the thought that it is no longer enough to simply tell our youth to avoid such evils. With the prevalence of such apathy toward the commandments of God in the world, it is no longer possible to go through life without being confronted with pornographic images or other such evils designed to tempt us into breaking the commandments we know were given by a loving Father in Heaven. I highly doubt that any of our youth today will be able to live their whole lives without once coming into contact with this type of immorality. And so, we need to move beyond just helping our youth avoid temptations, we need to help them know and understand what to do when faced with such temptations. We need to help them know how to respond, and how to repent of such sins, if they find that they do give in to temptation.
Elder Cook’s makes the point that repentance is okay, and necessary for each of us. Naturally, we all seek to avoid sin, to not need repentance, but we know that we are none of us perfect, that we will all make mistakes in this life and need Jesus Christ and his Atonement. He says, “Youth who have been exposed to immoral images at a very early age are terrified that they may have already disqualified themselves for missionary service and sacred covenants. As a result, their faith can be severely impaired. I want to assure you young people, as Alma taught, that through repentance you can qualify for all the blessings of heaven. That is what the Savior’s Atonement is all about.” We all have the opportunity and obligation of repentance, foremost for those great and grave sins that can so easily take over our lives, but also for all of our daily sins and shortcomings.
And I think that is what this talk was ultimately about. It was a reminder that we need to do more, we need to do better, we need to be more committed to the Gospel of Christ. If we cannot “sing the song of redeeming love”, if we are not absolutely filled with the love of God in our lives, if we are not, at this moment, completely sure of our standing before God, then we must evaluate our lives and find out what is keeping us from ‘feeling so now.’
And he provides the method for recovery, for helping us find the place where we can ‘feel so now’ “Immersion in the scriptures is essential for spiritual nourishment. The word of God inspires commitment and acts as a healing balm for hurt feelings, anger, or disillusionment.” We need to fill our lives with the word of God, whether that be in the Standard Works, in General Conference addresses, or in the personal revelations that come to us directly via the Spirit. And he uses the word ‘immersion’, it is not enough to browse, peruse, or casually read the scriptures, we need to immerse ourselves therein, allowing the word of God to completely cover us and overwhelm us. This Gospel of Jesus Christ is so extraordinary that it must permeate our entire lives and change who we are. If we have felt that excitement, if we have felt that love of God in our lives at one point, but do not feel so now, we need to take the steps necessary to gain that feeling again.
It was a wonderful General Conference, providing us with amazing messages like this one. Messages that have both general and personal application. Messages with invitations to be a little better than we are, to draw a little closer to our Father in Heaven, to be a little more perfect. That is the opportunity that lies before us, but it requires a greater effort on our part. I am glad that I have this opportunity to immerse myself in LDS.org even at work, and I am grateful for the spirit that fills my life. I hope that I can do a little more, listen a little more closely and become a better person – a better Priesthood holder, a better husband to my wife, and a better father to my son.