Our family is leaving our branch in two weeks time to move to the Gold Coast. Following the tradition of every single ward and branch we’ve ever attended, we were asked to give talks in Sacrament.
On Saturday, the day before we were to share our talks, Cam went fishing and then came home and watched a few hours of cricket. I, in the meantime, spent a couple of hours poring over talks and researching my topic of Sacrifice. I don’t generally wait until the night before to begin my preparation, and I didn’t do that this time either, it’s just that that was when I had the most time to sit and think clearly.
After the cricket finished at 8.45pm I had still gotten nowhere. My husband sat on the couch playing on his phone. I asked him how on earth he can pull a talk out of the air without even writing anything down. He very unconcernedly replied, “I dunno”, and then went about his non-talk-writing business. I wanted to smack him over the head with a cushion.
At 10pm I went into our bedroom to dramatically throw myself across the bed and proclaim my lack of inspiration but as I opened the door I pulled up short – the light was out and he was snoozing away. At 12.30am I finally rolled myself into bed beside him, having stayed up hours longer than I’d hoped, but satisfied that I’d put together the talk that Heavenly Father wanted me to share.
Here’s the thing about him being so calm and, to my eyes, seemingly not preparing – he gave an AMAZING talk. He always does!
Who’s with me on this one? How do they do it? Can you do that? How do you do that?
I used to take exactly three weeks to prepare my talk and then the day before I would spend exactly six hours perfecting it before I felt that it was the message that Heavenly Father wanted me to share with the congregation.
These days I don’t have that luxury but I do have more confidence and don’t almost cry anymore when given less than my usual three weeks to prepare.
Here’s the talk that I gave in Sacrament yesterday:
Sacrifice is defined as “the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else more important or worthy.” It comes in many forms and may not always be convenient.
Sometimes it is daily acts of unselfishness, such as a parent towards their child. Sometimes it is going without worldly comforts to save for a house. Sometimes it is leaving family, friends, and home comforts to serve a mission for the Lord.
The Lord requires sacrifices of all of His faithful followers.
Elder Robert K Dellenbach taught that: “Our challenge is to unselfishly sacrifice all that we have been given, including our will. Elder Neal A. Maxwell rightly said: “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.”
Sacrifice is ultimately a matter of the heart. “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.” If we are caring, if we are charitable, if we are obedient to God and follow His prophets, our sacrifices will bring forth the blessings of heaven. “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”
To offer the Lord a broken heart and a contrite spirit is to be willing to repent of one’s sins and have a desire to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and align one’s life with His commandments, thus submitting one’s will.
Why should I submit my will to the Lord? The answer is simple. Heavenly Father is in charge. We are blessed that He is a loving Heavenly Father with a plan of salvation that will bring us eternal joy and happiness. When we submit our will to Him, He can more easily guide us there. He can strengthen us in this life as we prepare for the next.
You have the agency to keep your will to yourself and do as you see fit, but there is no better path for you than the one that the Lord would have you follow.
As I have prepared my talk I have found that there are three values that I have come to link with sacrifice. These values will allow us to come closer to Christ and put our trust in Him, and submit our will. They are faith, obedience and service.
Faith is the first principle of the gospel. It is a principle of action. It is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. As President Gordon B Hinckley said, “Faith represents sacrifice, gladly given in moving forward the work of the Lord.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life.”
One thing that I love about having a three-year-old son is seeing him learn as he grows and the trust he places in me and his dad. He has learned that if we tell him to shut his eyes and hold out his hands that something good is going to happen. When he opens his eyes there is usually a yummy treat in his hands. His faith and obedience have taught him that even though he can’t see what’s coming, it’s worth it to him to do as he has been asked.
Obedience to the commandments of God often requires sacrifice on our part. In this scorching summer heat, as a child I would have begged my parents to let me go swimming. As an adult I understand that keeping the Sabbath day holy is an important factor in demonstrating my obedience to the Lord. As I continue to be obedient in other areas of my life, I continue to feel the Lord blessing my life.
M Russell Ballard taught, “Sacrifice allows us to learn something about ourselves—what we are willing to offer to the Lord through our obedience.”
This is a very important concept. To achieve great things we must be willing to sacrifice much. To be an Olympic athlete, a man or woman must put in extensive hours of rigorous training. They rise early and refrain from taking anything into their body that might harm them. They adhere to strict diets to maintain and encourage their physique. They sacrifice much and are strictly obedient in the pursuit of their goals.
The life of an Olympian is not as easy as the perceived life of a regular 9 to 5 worker who watches the athletes on TV. But to the athlete, their lifestyle is worth it.
Obedience to the laws of God is worth it.
Service is the next value. It is a characteristic of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Mosiah 2:17 reads: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
By serving others, we are serving God himself. Service often requires sacrifice on our part. These two things together can help us to overcome selfishness.
Seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost will help us to find opportunities to serve others. As you devote yourself to serving others, you will draw closer to Heavenly Father.
These three things – Faith, obedience and service are inextricably connected with making sacrifices to Heavenly Father. This is how we serve and love Him. As we make these values our own personal values we will have a deeper commitment to aligning our will with Heavenly Father and going on to eternal happiness. Following the principles of faith, obedience, service, and sacrifice will fill our hearts with love. It will help us to follow the will of the Lord.
I have learned for myself that following the will of the Lord is much better than anything I could possibly plan for myself.
Making sacrifices in order to follow His will is an integral part of the gospel.
We can be powerful instruments in the hands of God if we are willing to sacrifice and put others first, even above our own needs and wants. The Lord will not abandon us if we trust in Him. This story was related by Elder Neil L. Andersen in the April 2007 General Conference.
I take as my subject today something President Hinckley said in general conference in April of 1973.
I had just returned home from my mission. So much seemed ahead of me. Would I be able to consistently make the right choices throughout my life?
Then-Elder Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of meeting a young naval officer from Asia. The officer had not been a Christian, but during training in the United States, he had learned about the Church and was baptized. He was now preparing to return to his native land. President Hinckley asked the officer: “Your people are not Christians. What will happen when you return home a Christian, and, more particularly, a Mormon Christian?”
The officer’s face clouded, and he replied: “My family will be disappointed. . . . As for
my future and my career, all opportunity may be foreclosed against me.”
President Hinckley asked, “Are you willing to pay so great a price for the gospel?”
With his dark eyes moistened by tears, he answered with a question: “It’s true, isn’t it?”
President Hinckley responded, “Yes, it is true.”
To which the officer replied, “Then what else matters?”
What a wonderful example of faith, obedience and sacrifice. This officer knew the cost of his membership in the church but proceeded regardless.
When we overcome our own selfish desires and put God first in our lives and covenant to serve Him regardless of the cost, we are then living the law of sacrifice. May we each be willing to sacrifice ourselves where called upon by the Lord, for this is the way to great and eternal happiness.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.