His was a daily and weekly schedule much like other busy priesthood leaders: He awoke early each morning, helped – a little – get the children to school, ran off to work, put in a full day-plus for his employer, went home, helped with the kids' homework, ate dinner, then went off to a Church meeting.
When he returned, he was bushed – and crawled into bed and fell to sleep.Monday evenings provided time for the family, and nearly every week he and his wife made time to be alone together. Saturdays brought household chores, the children's piano lessons and soccer games, and, perhaps, a few minutes to watch a football game. Sunday brought meetings, dinner, more time with the family and visiting relatives.
Life was good. He thoroughly enjoyed his relationships with others. But he increasingly realized he wasn't making time for himself – and, more important, time to build his personal relationship with the Lord.
He needed time to ponder.
Latter-day Saints everywhere know of Moroni's great promise: if we'll read the Book of Mormon and pray, the Lord will manifest its truthfulness to us. Too often, however, we forget Moroni's plea to "remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts." (Moro. 10:3)
Too often, because we spend our time completing tasks, we fail to invest time in establishing and cementing a relationship with our Heavenly Father. And it is only through the inspiration and guidance that accompany that relationship that we can properly navigate life's journey.
Pondering is fundamental to establishing that relationship.
Nephi, son of Helaman, tirelessly labored in the years just prior to the Savior's birth warning his people to repent. His efforts, largely, went unheeded by the wicked Nephites. He, understandably, became discouraged.
"And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him.
"And it came to pass as he was thus pondering . . . a voice came unto him saying:
"Blessed art thou, Nephi. . . ." (Hel. 10:2-4)
In the verses that follow, Nephi is told of his own faithfulness, that he will be blessed forever and that the Lord will make him mighty in word, deed and works. In fact, the Lord promised Nephi that He would grant anything Nephi asks – knowing that Nephi would not ask anything contrary to the will of God.
The blessing, of course, was not a result of Nephi's pondering; rather it was a result of Nephi's righteousness. Nephi's realization of the blessing, however, came because he set his heart, mind and spirit in a position to commune with the Lord.
Nephi, son of Lehi, also received a marvelous manifestation because of his pondering.
Lehi had been blessed with a great revelation, which has become known as the Tree of Life dream. Nephi wanted to know more.
"For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord. . . ." (1 Ne. 11:1)
Several things in Nephi's actions are instructive: He desired to know for himself the truthfulness of his father's words, he firmly believed the Lord could and would reveal that truth to him, and he took time to ponder.
Nephi's resulting revelation was not only a benefit to him – but a lasting blessing to countless generations who came after him.
President Joseph F. Smith exemplified the same principle.
". . . I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;
"And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world;
"And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;" (D&C 138:1-3)
In a fashion not dissimilar to Nephi, President Smith reflected upon the goodness of God. What followed, of course, is one of the supernal revelations of our dispensation relative to the redemption of mankind.
When the busy priesthood leader found himself, one quiet morning, alone on a river bank near his home, he knew exactly what to do. He took time to ponder – and seek personal revelation from God. And he committed that he would, from that day forward, always make time to ponder the things of God.