One of my all-time favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is 3 Nephi 19:2-3:
And it was noised abroad among the people immediately, before it was yet dark, that the multitude had seen Jesus, and that he had ministered unto them, and that he would also show himself on the morrow unto the multitude.
Yea, and even all the night it was noised abroad concerning Jesus; and insomuch did they send forth unto the people that there were many, yea, an exceedingly great number, did labor exceedingly all that night, that they might be on the morrow in the place where Jesus should show himself unto the multitude.
I came to love this scripture on my mission! The people stayed up all night long, gathering their family and friends and working to get everything done so they all could attend this great event that was about to take place. It even says that they “labored exceedingly,” so that they could be there first thing in the morning, ready to be taught at the feet of the Savior. These people wanted to be there so badly that they were willing to sacrifice their sleep and energy so that they could make sure to be available at the appointed time.
We make sacrifices like this all the time to be where we really want to be. What are some of the things in our culture that are common for people to be willing to stay up at night or sacrifice the equivalent of their time and energy for? Here’s a few I thought of:
- To be at the opening night of a new movie that everyone is raving about.
- To get the best seat possible at a sports game, parade, etc.
- To get a 10-page research final paper finished, so we can turn it in on time to our class.
- To get a front row seat at a concert of our favorite music artist or celebrity who is touring the city.
The Lord expects us to be where He expects us to be.
I’m sure if the Savior were coming tomorrow, that would be the talk of the town. And every one of us would do anything to be there. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.
But what about the less obvious ways when we have the opportunity to be taught at his feet? How about church? Are we willing to make those same sacrifices in order to make sure we are able to attend and fully participate in church, to partake of His sacrament, and be taught by those whom He has called to teach us? I love the painting above because it makes me realize that every time we partake of the sacrament at church, we are being ministered to by the Savior himself. He’s the one who instigated it and it is done under the authority of His priesthood. He is there.
How desirous am I to read His words in the scriptures? Am I willing to sacrifice to gain access to that? I think of William Tyndale and all those who sacrificed so much to make the scriptures available to us. Does reading Christ’s written word matter to me just as much as hearing his spoken word was to the people back then? Is it any different?
What about early morning seminary, or institute? Are we willing to do anything necessary to make sure we are able to be there, bright and early, rain or shine? To learn about and grow closer to Christ through these inspired programs? He is there.
General conference comes to mind. How important is that to us? Do we jump at the chance to rearrange our schedules and put in some extra work in the days and nights before so that we can be free to listen to the counsel of our living prophets without distraction? Surely, He is there. The Savior may not be physically present before our eyes at church, or at general conference, stake conference, or in seminary, etc. etc. etc. But knowing what we know – that He is the head of this church and that He has called servants to teach us, it really isn’t any different than if he were there in person. “Whether by mine own voice, or by the voice of my servants, it is the same,” He said. Whenever I read these verses, I ask myself, “Am I as excited and motivated as the people in this chapter were to be taught at the feet of the Savior?”
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I think it’s also interesting to note that later on in this same chapter, when the people arrive early in the morning, all ready and eager to be taught by Christ, He actually doesn’t appear to them immediately. But that doesn’t shake their faith. Instead, the people divide themselves into groups and are taught by the 12 disciples whom Christ had called the day before. Later on, because of their faith, Jesus himself appears to them, and they end up sharing with Him one of the most sacred experiences recorded in scripture.
I think this teaches a true principle. Sometimes we have to first show our faith in the smaller things before Heavenly Father will give us greater blessings we seek for. How do we show our faith? By being willing to sacrifice, such as being willing to “labor exceedingly” all through the night (or whatever sacrifice is required of us) in order to attend church, watch general conference, or be where he expects us to be. After we exercise faith in following His servants, He will open the windows of heaven and pour out more blessings than we ever could have dreamed of, and in due time, we will be able to see His face and know that He is.
(Other photos by Mormon Newsroom)