Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began his talk by recounting the experience of Alma, who was commanded by an angel to return to the wicked city of Ammonihah and preach the gospel despite his prior failure.
Alma was obedient and returned “speedily” to Ammonihah. By the time he entered the city he was hungry and asked a stranger for something to eat. The man, who was named Amulek, gladly received Alma, saying an angel had told him that a prophet would visit him.
“Now, did Alma just happen upon Amulek?” asked Elder Rasband during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference on Sept. 30. “No, it was no coincidence that he went into the city by the way that would lead him to this faithful man who would become his missionary companion.”
A person’s life, Elder Rasband said, is like a chessboard — and the Lord, by divine design, moves that person from one place to another if he or she is responsive to spiritual promptings.
“Looking back, we can see His hand in our lives.”
Significant events unfold in the gospel and in the Church that further the kingdom of God on earth.
“They are not by accident, but by God’s plan. He who fashioned this world, can calm the seas with His word, and can steer both Alma and Amulek ... to be at the right place at precisely the right time. Likewise, events and associations unfold in each of our lives that further God’s work on earth.”
Most often, taught Elder Rasband, a person’s good works are known to only a few. They are, however, recorded in heaven. The Church leader testified that the Lord moves His faithful followers on that chessboard to do His work.
“The Lord is in the small details of our lives and those incidents and opportunities are to prepare us to lift our families and others as we help build the kingdom of God on earth.”
Elder Rasband said the Lord placed him in a home with loving parents and, later, helped him find his wife, Melanie; He prompted a businessman to give him an employment opportunity. The Lord also called him to serve in the mission field, both as a young man and as a mission president. He called him to the Quorum of the Seventy and, later, as an Apostle.
"Looking back, I realize I did not orchestrate any of those moves, the Lord did, just as He is orchestrating important moves for you and for those you love.”
Elder Rasband challenged members to think of the frequent times that the Lord has acted in their lives. Cherish and treasure such moments.
Elder Rasband spoke of once meeting a sister missionary serving on Temple Square. Sister Aida Chilan reminded Elder Rasband that they had met years earlier at her home in Florida. Elder Rasband had visited her family home at the suggestion of her stake president.
“It became apparent that we were [at the Chilan home] for their daughter, Aida, who had not been baptized. After our visit, and more than a year of teaching and fellowshipping, Aida was baptized.”
After their Temple Square visit, Sister Chilan told Elder Rasband in a letter: “I know with all my heart that Heavenly Father knows each of us and that He continues to place us in each other’s paths for a reason. Thank you for being one of my missionaries. For reaching out to me and finding me five years ago.”
Was it a mere coincidence that the stake president had steered Elder Rasband to the Chilan home, or that they would later meet on Temple Square?
No, said Elder Rasband. Aida’s testimony bears record that this was all part of God’s “divine design."
“We all have similar things happen in our lives. We may meet someone who seems familiar; renew an acquaintance; or find common ground with a stranger. When those occur, perhaps the Lord is reminding us that we are all truly brothers and sisters.”
When a Latter-day Saint is righteous, willing and able, and striving to be worthy and qualified, he or she will progress to places unimagined and become part of Heavenly Father’s “divine design.”