The Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families outline of ideas for October 25-31, 2021 brings to the forefront the history of the Nauvoo Temple. This history is filled with faith, sacrifice, sorrow, restoration, and rejoicing. It is reflective of our mortal journey during which we face times of sorrow and great sacrifice, but as we increase our faith, our tears can become tears of rejoicing when we are restored to the presence of our Father in Heaven.
As a youth, I vividly recall studying the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The study guide had a rendering of the Nauvoo Temple on the cover.
I was filled with a childhood dream to go to the Nauvoo Temple then, but my heart was devastated when I learned that the Nauvoo Temple had been destroyed. At that time, the closest temple to me was more than 4700 kilometers away. I shed many tears and carried a heavy sadness in my heart.
The Nauvoo Temple Is Restored
Then came the miraculous day when President Gordon B Hinckley said, “I feel impressed to announce that among all of the temples we are constructing, we plan to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple”(“Thanks to the Lord for His Blessings,” Ensign, May 1999).
I was in awe!
At the cornerstone ceremony, President Boyd K. Packer said: “The temple was destroyed and burned, and the stones of the temple were scattered like the bones had been cremated, and the temple, in effect, was dead. …So the temple died. But now, this day, it has come to a resurrection. The temple stands here again” (R. Scott Lloyd, “Bonding with an Earlier Era,” Church News, Nov. 10, 2000).
The rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple stands as a Testament to the Restoration of all things. It is a witness of the reality of the Resurrection.
Making Binding Covenants with Jesus Christ
The restoration of an edifice is miraculous, but even more important are the covenants that bind us to our Father in Heaven. We learn that just as Heavenly Father can guide the restoration of a building, so He can restore us as individuals. The Lord teaches, “And again, verily I say unto you, I command you again to build a house to my name … that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality, and eternal life” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:55).
It was not the physical structure, but the ordinances and covenants made within the walls of the Nauvoo Temple that mattered most. The covenants made with God provided the Saints with the strength to endure the trek to the Salt Lake Valley. It is those same covenants that can provide us with access to the power of God so we too may be strengthened to endure our mortal journey.
Sarah DeArmon Rich recalled how the endowments she received in the Nauvoo Temple gave her and her family strength to endure the trials of crossing the plains and settling in Utah: “[The blessings of the temple] caused us joy and comfort in the midst of all our sorrows, and enabled us to have faith in God, knowing He would guide us and sustain us in the unknown journey that lay before us. For if it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that Temple by the influence and help of the spirit of the Lord, our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark” (“Reminiscences of Sarah DeArmon Rich [1885-93], LDS Church Archives [address by Carol Cornwall Madsen, “History: A Journey of Discovery” [Brigham Young University devotional, Sept. 29, 1998], 5, speeches.byu.edu).
We do not have to walk this mortal journey alone when we enter into a covenant relationship (a partnership) with God. Heavenly Father’s love for His children is manifest through covenants with Him, beginning with the ordinance of baptism. There is power in a covenant that goes well beyond simply making of an agreement. That promise and agreement when made with God changes everything. It brings eternal perspective and the power to become.
Coming together, uniting, yoking together—that is the essence of covenants with God. We come together and unite. We yoke ourselves to God, and when we do so, there are promises He will keep: for He is a God of truth. We unite with Him and strive to make our interests as one. Our covenants mean we are bound to God, and that means He will not give up on us. As demonstrated in the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5, the Lord will keep trying even when we fail. Repentance means we can try again and again.
Elder David A. Bednar has taught: “We are connected securely to and with the Savior as we worthily receive ordinances and enter into covenants, faithfully remember and honor those sacred commitments, and do our best to live in accordance with the obligations we have accepted. And that bond is the source of spiritual strength and stability in all of the seasons of our lives” (“Therefore They Hushed Their Fears,” Ensign, May 2015; emphasis added).
My bond and my connection to Jesus Christ is my source of spiritual strength and stability. That bond and connection exists because of covenants I have made and continue to honour as well as ordinances I continue to receive including the sacrament. The word bond to me is a powerful one—it’s glue—two things bonded together are not easily separated. It is not a tenuous connection but one of strength like the iron rod.
Holding Firmly onto Righteous Dreams
I am reminded of a boyfriend in my teenage years. When we held hands, I was a bit of a jellyfish not really holding on. One day he said, “Hold my hand so I know you are there.” I needed to apply some pressure and be present in my handholding.
Our grasp, our bond to the Saviour is the same. We need to be present as He is present and then the bond will be sure and certain.
All covenants unite us with Jesus Christ and enable us to receive power from His great atoning sacrifice. The gift of the Holy Ghost sanctifies us and purifies us. One choice at a time, we can become more Christ-like.
A childhood dream was fulfilled when I was able to participate in the ordinances for an ancestor within the walls of the restored Nauvoo Temple. That day taught me that Heavenly Father knows of dreams I have never expressed, and those righteous dreams can continue to be fulfilled. One day I will be restored and resurrected like the Nauvoo Temple.