It was interesting, because he got and basically said, "I had the impression in the car ride up here that I needed to speak on something different than the other things I had prepared, and it was all confirmed right now, with the intermediate hymn was just sang." We'd sung "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy." So he went on to explain why.
The hymn has a bit of a story. It talks about the lighthouse, which of course is God, beckoning us home. Now, in a storm, or at night, that light is essential, but the problem is it only tells you generally where you are. Also necessary are the lower lights that the hymn talks about, lights along the shore that accompany the lighthouse. What the captain of the ship needs to do is align the lighthouse and the lower lights, and then and only then will he be able to get the ship safe to port. As the hymn says, we are the lower lights. God is constantly there. But are we?
He told a story of something that had happened to a member of the 12 some time ago in Apia, Samoa. The apostle traveled to another island one day and held meetings all that day, and thus had to come back to the main island, Apia, by boat at night. That part of the ocean can be fairly dangerous, with plenty of reefs, and so of course they counted on the lighthouse. When they approached the island, the lighthouse was there, sure enough, but there was a problem.
There were no lower lights.
The crew debated and they attempted to, very cautiously, get back to port, but kept hitting reef after reef. At the end they decided to simply turn around and took the long way around the island, to other side, where they went by land back to where they needed to be - a process that took many more hours.
The next morning, they learned what happened. Two priesthood holders had been sent to turn on the lower lights at something like two in the morning. They waited, and waited. Three in the morning, but still no boat. They kept waiting. Still nothing. And, understandably, they fell asleep at their posts.
Elder Holland explained that everyone had a good laugh and no one was hurt. But years and years later, despite the best efforts of friends and family, those two priesthood holders still could not forget, ever, that they had fallen asleep when the Lord needed them.
So Elder Holland compared this to hastening the work of salvation. There are people looking for those lower lights. They need our help. But we need to be there for them. We can't be shining in some other spot, or worse yet, asleep. We need to be aligned with the Lord's light and ready to receive those who are struggling out at sea.
The Lord's work is hastening. By 2020, he said, the base line number of missionaries in service will be 100,000. And we'll never again talk of temples by the tens or twenties, but by the hundreds. He shared with us 1 Peter 3:15:
15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
This work of salvation is not easy. God never wished for us to be saved easily, and does not offer cheap grace. But it is worth it, and it can be done.
I had the very special experience of being able to see those I'd worked with in Rumiñahui - Andres and Jhon Sanchez. They got baptized after I left the sector, and so that was the first time I'd seen them as real members of the church. They seemed very happy and were very happy to see me, too. I know this work is the most important thing I can do in my life, and I know the Lord is preparing many people to listen to his gospel. Look for those opportunities to share it. You can save lives. Love you all!
|Elder Holland with all of us. I can't even see myself, but oh well.|
But here I am shaking his hand! He explained afterwards that that was his way of interviewing us. Just looking into our eyes. Woah.