In his remarks during the 186th Semiannual General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf noted that Church members have been given much. “We are surrounded by such an astonishing wealth of light and truth,” he said. And yet, “I wonder if we truly appreciate what we have.”
President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, offered the first talk during the Saturday morning session of conference, Oct. 1. He began his address to the general membership of the Church by describing his journey with learning to use a personal computer soon after being called as a General Authority in 1994.
“From the start, the computer and I were not on the friendliest of terms,” he said, adding, “My learning curve was more like a brick wall. It took a great deal of time, repetition, patience, no small amount of hope and faith, lots of reassurance from my wife, and many liters of a diet soda that shall remain nameless.”
Now 22 year later, he owns a smartphone, tablet, laptop and digital camera and has noticed the more adept he becomes with technology, the more he takes it for granted.
“It seems to be human nature: as we become more familiar with something, even something miraculous and awe-inspiring, we lose our sense of awe and treat it as commonplace.”
Individuals sometimes take a similar attitude toward doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he said. “Life-changing truths are before our eyes and at our fingertips, but sometimes we sleepwalk on the path of discipleship. Too often we let ourselves be distracted by the imperfections of our fellow-members instead of following the example of our Master. We tread a path covered with diamonds, but we can scarcely distinguish them from ordinary pebbles,” he said.
President Uchtdorf recalled teaching the doctrines of the plan of salvation to his friends as a youth. “When I explained these principles in my own simple words, my heart would overflow with gratitude for a God who loves His children, and a Savior who redeemed all of us from death and hell. I was so proud of this message of love, joy, and hope.”
Every human being carries in his or her heart fundamental questions regarding life — “Where did I come from? Why am I here? What will happen after I die?”
“I am grateful that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has answers to the most complex questions in life,” President Uchtdorf said. “These answers are taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are true, they are plain, they are straightforward, and easy to understand. They are inspired, and we teach them to our 3-year-olds in the Sunbeams class.”
President Uchtdorf testified, “Brothers and Sisters, we are eternal beings, without beginning and without end. We have always existed. We are the literal spirit children of divine, immortal, and omnipotent heavenly parents.”
All spirit children were presented Heavenly Father’s plan to come to earth, receive mortal bodies, and learn to choose between good and evil, President Uchtdorf explained.
“We knew we would sin and make mistakes — perhaps even serious ones. But we also knew that our Savior, Jesus Christ, had pledged to come to earth, live a sinless life, and voluntarily lay down His life in an eternal sacrifice.”
So with faith in His sacrifice, “you and I accepted by our free will Heavenly Father’s plan.”
Mortal life is temporary, President Uchtdorf noted, “but the essence of who you and I are will not be destroyed. Our spirits will continue living and await the Resurrection — a free gift to all by our loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.”
After the Resurrection will come a day of judgment. “That day of judgment will be a day of mercy and love — a day when broken hearts are healed, when tears of grief are replaced with tears of gratitude, when all will be made right,” President Uchtdorf declared.
Despite regrets and even anguish for mistakes, foolishness or stubbornness, all will be satisfied with the judgment of God, President Uchtdorf said. “We will be astonished and overwhelmed by His infinite grace, mercy, generosity, and love for us, His children.”
President Uchtdorf then asked, “My beloved brothers and sisters, my dear friends, does it not fill our hearts and minds with wonder and awe to contemplate the great plan of happiness our Heavenly Father has prepared for us? Does it not fill us with unspeakable joy to know of the glorious future that is prepared for all who wait upon the Lord?”
President Uchtdorf invited those who have never felt such wonder and joy to seek, study and ponder the “simple yet profound truths of the restored gospel.” For those who have felt those things, President Uchtdorf asked, “Can [you] feel so now?” (Alma 5:26).
President Uchtdorf invited members to consider the question he recently noticed on the Belfast Coat of Arms — “Pro tanto quid retribuamus” or “What shall we give in return for so much?”
“What shall we give in return for the flood of light and truth God has poured out upon us?” he asked. “Our beloved Father simply asks that we live by the truth we have received, and that we follow the path He has provided. Therefore, let us take courage and trust in the guidance of the Spirit. Let us in word and in deed share with our fellowmen the amazing and awe-inspiring message of God’s plan of happiness. May our motive be our love for God and for His children, for they are our brothers and sisters. This is the beginning of what we can do in return for so much.”