President Thomas S. Monson: The race of life

In his Sunday morning conference address, President Thomas S. Monson spoke of eternal truths, "those truths which will enrich our lives and see us safely home."

Noting that everywhere people are in a hurry, rushing about the business of the day, he asked, "In this fast-paced life do we ever pause for moments of meditation — even thoughts of timeless truths?"

President Thomas S. Monson
President Thomas S. Monson Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

He said when compared to eternal verities, most of the questions and concerns of daily living are really rather trivial. Questions about what's for dinner, or how to decorate the home or in which activities to enroll children "lose their significance when times of crisis arise, when loved ones are hurt or injured, when sickness enters the house of good health, when life's candle dims and darkness threatens. Our thoughts become focused, and we are easily able to determine what is really important and what is merely trivial."

He spoke of visiting a woman fighting a life-threatening disease. Prior to her illness, her days were filled with activities such as cleaning her house and filling it with beautiful furnishings, visiting her hairdresser and spending money on clothes. Concerned that her grandchildren might break or ruin her precious possessions, she invited them to visit infrequently. Then, at the moment her doctor gave a diagnosis of a potentially fatal medical condition, she knew immediately that she would spend whatever time she had remaining with her family and friends and with the gospel at the center of her life, for these represented what was most precious to her.

President Thomas S. Monson
President Thomas S. Monson Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

"Such moments of clarity come to all of us at one time or another, although not always through so dramatic a circumstance," President Monson said. "We see clearly what it is that really matters in our lives and how we should be living."

Further, he said, "In our times of deepest reflection or greatest need, the soul of man reaches heavenward, seeking a divine response to life's greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this life?

President Thomas S. Monson
President Thomas S. Monson Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

"Answers to these questions are not discovered within the covers of academia's textbooks or by checking the Internet. These questions transcend mortality. They embrace eternity."

Where did we come from?

"This query is inevitably thought, if not spoken, by every human being," President Monson said.

"The Lord has declared that 'the spirit and the body are the soul of man' (Doctrine and Covenants 88:15). Thus it is the spirit which is the offspring of God. The writer of Hebrews refers to Him as 'the Father of spirits' (Hebrews 12:9). The spirits of all men are literally His 'begotten sons and daughters"' (See Doctrine and Covenants 76:24).

Why are we here?

"Clearly, one primary purpose of our existence upon the earth is to obtain a body of flesh and bones," President Monson said. "We have also been given the gift of agency. In a thousand ways we are privileged to choose for ourselves. Here we learn from the hard taskmaster of experience. We discern between good and evil. We differentiate as to the bitter and the sweet. We discover that there are consequences attached to our actions."

President Thomas S. Monson
President Thomas S. Monson Photo: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

President Monson said, "The Apostle Paul likened life to a race. To the Hebrews he urged: Let us lay aside. . . the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us' (Hebrews 12:1).

"In our zeal, let us not overlook the sage counsel from Ecclesiastes: 'The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.' (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Actually, the prize belongs to him who endures to the end."

President Monson, speaking of an experience from his youth, said he and his friends made toy boats that they raced on the river. One boat, caught in a whirlpool, capsized. "The toy boats of childhood had no keel for stability, no rudder to provide direction, and no source of power. Inevitably their destination was downstream — the path of least resistance.

"Unlike toy boats, we have been provided divine attributes to guide our journey. We enter mortality not to float with the moving currents of life, but with the power to think, to reason and to achieve.

"Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him guidance to ensure our safe return. I speak of prayer. I speak, too, of the whisperings from that still, small voice; and I do not overlook the holy scriptures, which contain the word of the Lord and the words of the prophets — provided to us to help us successfully cross the finish line."

Where do we go after we leave this life?

President Monson said that Latter-day Saints know that death is not the end, as taught by prophets through the ages. He quoted from Alma 40:11-12, which explains that the "spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body … whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life," and that the "spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow."

Further, President Monson declared, "The answer to Job's question, 'If a man die, shall he live again?' came when Mary and others approached the tomb and saw two men in shining garments who spoke to them: 'Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.'

"As the result of Christ's victory over the grave, we shall all be resurrected. This is the redemption of the soul. Paul wrote: 'There are . . . celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another' (1 Corinthians 15:40).

"It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings are earned through a lifetime of striving, seeking, repenting and finally succeeding.

"Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after this life? No longer need these universal questions remain unanswered. From the depths of my soul, and in all humility, I testify that those things of which I have spoken are true."

President Monson said Heavenly Father rejoices for those who keep His commandments. "He is concerned also for the lost child, the tardy teenager, the wayward youth, the delinquent parent. Tenderly the Master speaks to these, and indeed to all: 'Come back. Come up. Come in. Come home. Come unto me.'

"In one week we will celebrate Easter. Our thoughts will turn to the Savior's life, His death and His resurrection. As His special witness, I testify to you that He lives and that He awaits our triumphant return."

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