In the small town in Idaho where I grew up, football was a big deal. Just like a Hollywood movie, the whole town would come out to watch all the high school football games. Because of my love for football, the expression “Go long” became my motto.
I remember when my children were young, and many more times when they were teenagers, that I called my mother when I was exasperated and overwhelmed and she would say, “Go long, Tonya, go long!” This advice helped remind me to put things in perspective.
In football, as in all sports, it's important to visualize the goal. My mother would remind me to visualize my children sitting next to me in the temple and to make decisions with that goal in mind. We always understood that it was our children’s personal responsibility and agency in making choices throughout their lives, but it was a constant reminder to me that what I was doing and teaching my children was critical and had eternal consequence.
On a recent visit to the temple, I realized that everything we do there is about going long. Its true purpose is about love with consequences that are eternal. There we are shown what love is as we give service to others and we can feel our Saviour's love stronger in the temple than anyplace else on earth. No wonder we are encouraged to go to the temple and then to keep going. Learning to show our love is the “go long” in our Heavenly Father's plan.
We learn to love those whom we serve. In the temple, we're given the opportunity to represent others who did not have the opportunity in this life to receive the temple blessings. The eternal impact of serving others in this way goes longer and brings more blessings than we can imagine as well to those we represent.
Pres Hinckley has said, “Just as our Redeemer gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all men, and in so doing became our Saviour, even so we, in a small measure, when we engage in proxy work in the temple, become as saviours to those on the other side who have no means of advancing unless something is done on their behalf by those on earth”. (Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Volume 2: 2000-2004 (2005), p265)
We’re being taught to love as the spirit of Elijah changes our heart[s] and “turn[s] hearts of the fathers to their children and the heart of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)
Through family history research and temple attendance, we come to know and love our ancestors. In fact, we can feel especially close to them in the temple. I believe our ancestors have a special interest in us and receive the covenants from the temple to be sealed to us as a family. When we do this sacred work for them in the temple, we come to know them and love them. Our hearts are changed as Elijah promised.
Elder Richard H. Winkel, formerly of the Second Quorum of Seventy, has said, “When you come to the temple, you will come to love your family with a deeper love than you have ever felt before”. (The Temple is about Families, Ensign, October 2006) I can attest to that statement and also feel that when you go to the temple, you come to have a deeper love for all mankind, both living and dead. We are shown the 'big picture' that gives us purpose and hope in our day to day lives.
“The First Presidency knows of the importance of temple service and they want us to come unto Christ through temple ordinances. They have written: The ordinances of the temple help us place the Savior at the center of our lives. That eternal perspective gives us greater peace of mind, more purpose for life, and a powerful motivation to live the commandments.
“In the temple, our understanding of the Savior’s mission and our love for him grow.
As a result, we find greater happiness in our lives and a deeper love for those about us.
“Our desire is that you will go to the temple to receive the sacred ordinances and enter into the covenants available there. … Seek also the guidance of the Spirit to help you identify your ancestors; then return to the temple often to receive the ordinances in their behalf. Serving in this way will help protect you and your loved ones from the evil influences of the world”. (Finding Joy in Temple Service, Ensign, October 1994)
The temple is not only a place to learn love through service, but also it is a place where we can feel His love through revelation. Elder Boyd K. Packer has said, 'When members of the Church are troubled or when critical decisions weigh heavily upon their minds, it is a common thing for them to go to the temple; it is a good place to take our cares. In the temple we can receive spiritual perspective. There, during the time of the temple service, we are put ‘out of the world.’ …There is something cleansing and clarifying about the spiritual atmosphere of the temple”. (The Holy Temple, Ensign, October 2010)
In Isaiah 2:3, it reads, 'Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.'
We are taught a higher law, a more perfect way to love when we go to the temple. We are taught His ways and to walk in His paths, not our ways or our paths but His.
Like many of you, I am humbled by the sacrifice that the early pioneers made to build temples. I marvel at how amongst poverty and hardship they would continue this work. Before being driven out by mobs, instead panicking to prepare to leave, thousands of members were in the Nauvoo Temple until the early morning hours, preparing and strengthening themselves spiritually by making covenants. They knew the hardships they would be facing. They understood the protection those covenants gave to both them and their families. They definitely had the 'go long' perspective.
I am thankful for the temple and have come to appreciate it more and more as I attend. I am thankful for our Heavenly Father's 'go long' plan--the plan of salvation that was laid out for all His children to return to Him.