My husband and I love being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are taught that age is irrelevant. Whether young or older, we can be shining examples of faith, each in our own way. We forge ahead trying to follow Christ all the days of our lives.
Facing Challenges “in the Strength of the Lord”
One of the questions in the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the April 27-May 3 Book of Mormon: Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families is: “What does it mean to you to go forth ‘in the strength of the Lord’?” For example, when war threatened the safety and freedoms of his people, a young King Zeniff taught: “In the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle … for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies … And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers; and we did go forth in his might” (Mosiah 9:17-18). They faced their challenges with the faith that God would strengthen and protect them.
Twenty-two years later, their freedom and safety were threatened again. King Zeniff, now an old man, “caused that all my old men that could bear arms, and also all my young men that were able to bear arms, should gather themselves together to battle … and I, even I, in my old age, did go up to battle … we did go up in the strength of the Lord to battle … I did stimulate them to go to battle with their might, putting their trust in the Lord” (Mosiah 10:9-10; 19). Both the old and the young worked together to protect their families, freedoms, and faith. Like these ancient saints, we also need to trust that the Lord will help us plan strategies and find answers for whatever challenges we may face.
A Modern Youth Battalion
Two years ago, President Russell M. Nelson invited youth in the Church, “Are you willing to enlist in the youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel?” (Charlotte Larcabal, “President and Sister Nelson’s Devotional for Youth: A Call to Enlist and Gather Israel,” [devotional given at a special broadcast, June 3, 2018]; ChurchofJesusChrist.org/youth). To participate in this gathering, young people need to stay on the covenant path. Like the people of Zeniff, they need to pray daily for guidance and strength, make personal sacrifices, and reach out to others on both sides of the veil through ministering service, personal missionary efforts, as well as temple and family history work.
As an older person, I can also pray for the youth to learn to grow in their faith. I am impressed with their willingness to serve others, repent, and grow in strength. Recently, I watched the video “Come Unto Christ: 2014 Theme Song” (Youth video , ChurchofJesusChrist.org) and heard young women and young men sing, “Come unto Christ, come unto Him, and by His grace be made Holy again”. I cried as I watched the video and saw Jesus Christ inviting not only the youth but also everyone in the world to come unto Him.
All Are Important in Christ’s Kingdom
Christ’s invitation to “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22) is for all of us. There are no age limits. For example, we see the elderly called to work with and teach nursery-age children in the Primary. People with various challenges serve in temples. Each one of us has a great work to do that has been reserved for us as individuals. There are opportunities to serve for everyone. There is no time to waste no matter our age or circumstances. With the Lord’s help we can live to our full potential.
In the world at large, we would not see these marvelous opportunities afforded to those with challenges and disabilities. We just need to ask, “Heavenly Father what would You have me do?”
Blessings for Following Jesus
Earl and I went to the Lord about a year ago and said, “We want to do what you would have us do. We want to live to our potential, and You are the only one who knows what that is.” For many years, we wanted to serve as missionaries. I told Earl, “Time will pass us by, and it will be too late if we don’t get going on this.” Just so you understand, Earl has Parkinson’s Disease. He is in long-term care, but that doesn’t stop either of us. As President Nelson has said about couples considering whether to serve a mission together, “Of all the qualifications, a desire to serve may be the most important” (Camille West, “Thinking of Serving as a Senior Missionary? New Website Helps You Explore Options,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org Church News, Apr. 17, 2018).
Many things have happened since we turned ourselves over to the Lord. Last year, Earl and I were able to live the dream of being called as a missionary couple who help write articles for Canada.lds.org. I bring Earl home from long-term care every day to help me. He cannot work on the computer, but we can discuss ideas and review our articles. We feel we haven’t missed out because of health issues. Instead, we have embraced opportunities to serve.
We also spend our time at home together doing temple and family history work. For years, I have entered all of the information for both of our families under Earl’s name. I wanted him to feel important and included as we attended the temple. Even now, I always make sure he sees the cards with his name on them before I submit them. Thank goodness we have followed this process over the years.
When Earl was set apart as a missionary, he received a powerful blessing of comfort. He was instructed to be sure he is included in everything we would do as missionaries. Earl was also told that when he crosses the veil, there will be hundreds, even thousands, of people asking, “Where is Brother Earl Steves? Where is he? I have to find him. I have to thank him for what he has done for me!”
What does all of this show us? It doesn’t matter about our age, health, or problems in life. What does matter is how we turn unto the Lord for guidance. Jesus Christ truly knows us and mercifully provides the way for us to do His will no matter how imperfect we are. He knows our heart’s desires and answers our prayers. He is our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, our everything.