Treasures the Savior spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount were not of ivory or gold, nor did He mean acres of land or a portfolio of stocks and bonds, said President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency. "The Master spoke of riches within the grasp of all — even joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter."
Speaking Saturday morning, President Monson told of his youthful fascination with adventure books and movies.
"I recall listening to a 15-minute radio program each weekday afternoon," he said. "The program . . . was 'Jack Armstrong, the All-American boy. . . . 'In a voice filled with mystery, there emanated from the radio the message, 'We now join Jack and Betty as they approach the fabulous secret entry to the elephant's burial ground, where a treasure is concealed. But wait; danger lurks on the path ahead.'
"Nothing could tear me away from this program. It was as though I were leading the search for the hidden treasure of precious ivory."
President Monson said that in another time and different setting, the Savior spoke of treasure. He quoted Matthew 6:18-21, the last verse of which teaches, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
President Monson listed all "three pieces of your treasure map to guide you to your eternal happiness," he said. "They are: 1. Learn from the past. 2. Prepare for the future. 3. Live in the present." President Monson considered each segment of the map.
1. Learn from the past. "Each of us has a heritage. . . . This heritage provides a foundation built of sacrifice and faith. Ours is the privilege and responsibility to build on such firm and stable footings."
President Monson related a story written by Karen Nolen, which appeared in the New Era in 1974, which told of a Benjamin Landart, who, in 1888 was 15 years old and an accomplished violinist. Living on a farm in northern Utah with his mother and seven siblings was a challenge; he had less time to play his violin than he would have liked.
"Occasionally his mother would lock the violin up until he had his farm chores done, so great was the temptation for Benjamin to play it," he said.
Four years later, Benjamin was invited to Salt Lake to audition for a place with the territorial orchestra. For him, this was a dream come true.
After the audition, the conductor said Benjamin was the most accomplished violinist he had heard west of Denver, and told the young man to report to Denver for rehearsals where he would earn enough to keep himself, with some left over to send home.
A week later, Benjamin's bishop asked him to put off playing with the orchestra for a couple of years. Before he started earning money there was something he owed the Lord, the bishop said. He then asked Benjamin to accept a mission call.
His mother was overjoyed at the call. However, when discussing how to finance his mission, her face clouded over.
"Ben," she said, "This family has one thing that is of great enough value to send you on your mission. You will have to sell your violin."
The day before he left on his mission, he took his violin from its case and played the music he loved all day until it was too dim to see.
"It will be enough," he wrote in his journal. "Tomorrow I leave for my mission."
Forty-five years later he wrote, "The greatest decision I ever made in my life was to give up something I dearly loved to the God I loved even more."
2. Prepare for the future. President Monson noted how "technology has altered nearly every aspect of our lives. . . ."
"It is necessary to prepare and to plan, so that we don't fritter away our lives. Without a goal, there can be no real success. . . . Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal."
President Monson said, "Wishing will not replace thorough preparation to meet the trials of life. Preparation is hard work but absolutely essential for our progress.
"Our journey into the future will not be a smooth highway which stretches from here to eternity. Rather, there will be forks and turnings in the road, to say nothing of the unanticipated bumps. We must pray daily to a loving Heavenly Father who wants each of us to succeed in life."
3. Live in the present. "There is no tomorrow to remember if we don't do something today, and to live most fully today, we must do that which is of greatest importance. Let us not procrastinate those things which matter most."
President Monson told of a man who opened the dresser drawer of his wife who had just died. He found an item of clothing she had bought nine years earlier, but had not worn, wanting to save it for a special occasion.
"Don't save something only for a special occasion," this husband told a friend. "Every day in your life is a special occasion."
That friend later said those words changed her life. "I try not to delay or postpone anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. And each morning, I say to myself that this could be a special day. Each hour, each minute is special."
"Let us relish life as we live it and find joy in the journey," said President Monson. "The old adage, 'Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today' is doubly important when it comes to expressing our love and affection — in word and deed."
He spoke of visiting in 2002 with a friend in he'd met 55 years earlier while in the U.S. Navy and of the peace and joy that reunion had brought. "One day, each of us will run out of tomorrows," he said. "Let us not put off what is most important."
President Monson concluded his address where he began, quoting again the Savior's words regarding the laying up of "treasures in heaven," as recorded in Matthew 6:19-21.