I had to give a talk today in Sacrament meeting on King Benjamin's last lecture. Here it is:
Have you heard of the last lecture by Randy Pauch? He was a 47 yr old computer science professor who was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. He has three small children, and since he was given 3-6 months to live, he knew he would not be around to raise them. He created a Last Lecture, of the things he wanted them to know about him and his core values. It is amazing what perspective is gained when you know you don’t have much time left….the legacy you want to leave behind all of a sudden becomes very important. Anyways, he gave his lecture to his students, (here it is...not sure if this is the original...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo)…Basically he spoke of how important it is to live well, love greatly and find your own passion…which does not include money or things. He spoke of finding joy and such. It was pretty powerful. In fact, I found it through Elijah, who came home desperate to show it to me after his teacher had shared it with him. The media, Oprah and others heard of it, and he has been able to share this last lecture and others with many more people. A book was even written about it…and even though Randy Pauch is probably appreciating that his message is being heard and respected, it seems his biggest concern is that his children hear his message when they are older and can understand it, and have it influence their lives. By the way, he is on his 9th month….
So, what message would you want to leave behind as your last lecture? There are many instances in the scriptures of last lectures. …Many of the prophets gathered their family together to bless them and remind them of the teachings that influenced them the most. Even Jesus gathered his apostles together during the last supper to give them last minute instructions.
King Benjamin also gave a powerful last Lecture. King Benjamin had been a very successful leader. He was a just king, who was respected by his people. He’d led his people to victory from their enemies, he‘d taught his people to respect God, and his commandments. He had righteous sons, who could follow him as king. After he appointed Mosiah, his son, to be his successor, he had his people gathered together so he could meet with them one last time. Instead of giving a message of glory, for his life well lived, he gave them a message of greater importance. He taught them of their need for their Savior. He’d been shown by an angel, that Christ would come soon. He was taught and shared Christ’s mission while on the earth, and that because of Christ all would be saved through their faith. He taught that even if we lived perfectly, we would still be indebted to God, because He gives us everything, even the air we breathe, and blesses us as soon as we do good. We can never do enough to balance the scales…and that is okay. All he wants of us is to keep his commandments and have faith in him.
Then King Benjamin taught we need to become as LITTLE CHILDREN.
Henry B Eyring says of this:
‘For some, that will not be easy to understand or accept. MOST OF US WANT TO BE STRONG. We may well see being like a child as being weak. Most parents have wanted their children at times to be less childish…
But King Benjamin, who understood as well as any mortal what it meant to be a man of strength and courage, makes it clear that to be like a child is not to be childish. It is to be like the Savior, who prayed to His Father for strength to be able to do His will and then do it. Our NATURES must be changed to become as a child to gain the strength we must have to be safe in the times of moral peril.
Here is King Benjamin’s stirring description of what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us: this is found in Mosiah 3:19 and I know you all know this scripture:
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ, the Lord and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
We are safe on the rock -which is the Savior -when we yield in faith in Him, have responded to the Holy Spirit’s direction to keep the commandments long enough and faithfully enough that the power of the Atonement has changed our hearts. When we have, by that experience, become as a child in our capacity to love and obey, we are on the sure foundation.
Elder Eyring teaches the circle of this….if we have faith in the Lord, we will keep His commandments, which will lead us to hear and heed the promptings of the Holy Ghost which will help us keep the commandments and learn more which will increase our faith in the Lord..and the cycle continues until we are totally committed. If we falter on keeping the commandments, our circle is blocked, and until we can repent our growth is stopped, or slowed.
The last few years I have been learning about SUBMITTING TO THE LORD, and becoming as a child. Our society teaches that we need to be independent, strong, and self sufficient… The Lord teaches that we need to submit and be humble. I have been through experiences where I’ve felt I had to make things happen, because I thought I knew what was best, and things weren‘t working out the way they should. I have felt the need to work hard towards goals, and dreams….to have them thwarted by others…I have finally recently realized I am my strongest when I put my trust in the Lord, and let things go to Him. He can make things happen, He can take away fear, He can direct my path. I just need to be intune enough to realize what He does want me to do. Since I’ve become more submissive towards God, I have felt great PEACE IN MY LIFE. I still catch myself getting worked up at times, before I remind myself that I don’t need to. I know the Lord will take care of me and mine better than I can. Now…turning my life over to God, doesn’t mean it is going to be a cake walk. I know I will still face trials and hardship. I know I still have lessons to learn…and sometimes I seem to have to learn the hard way. But, because of the Atonement, Christ can take care of my mistakes, and fill in the gaps of my weaknesses.
Another thing society teaches us is how important it is to develop self esteem. King Benjamin taught the opposite. It is dangerous for us to think too much of ourselves. He even taught that leaders, and kings were no better than anyone else. We all depend on God for everything. Even our talents and abilities. While I was learning the lessons of submitting to the Lord…I also realized that the Lord gave me my talents, and my weaknesses. I have a situation in my life that has been very difficult for me. It has shown me my weaknesses in many ways. Other people and circumstances seem to halt any improvements in this situation. One day I was very discouraged because things had been at a standstill for too long. I started to really get down on myself….if I was better at this and that, I could make things happen….I was relying on other people whose strengths were my WEAKNESSES…and I felt like if I could just overcome my weaknesses, I could get things done…because those people weren’t working on my timetable. This was all happening about the time I was preparing my lesson for Sunday school on King Benjamin….and I was reminded, by the Spirit, that I didn’t really have to rely on my own strengths…I needed to rely on the Lords. He could work it all out better than any of us. I’d known from the beginning, that what I was doing was acceptable to the Lord…so I could trust in him…not my own strength or the strengths of others…to succeed. So, instead of trying to make things happen, I FOCUSED ALL MY ENERGY on PRAYING for a solution. I also did get a little more persistant with the things I could do. Right away I got results. I also got answers of why I was having so many problems…and they were things pretty much out of my control…that I couldn’t have known without extra help. Quickly things fell into place for us to make the next step in our process. This was such a great lesson for me. This situation had nothing to do with my spirituality or eternal welfare. It would benefit my family in the long run…but wasn’t necessarily high on the scale of important things. But it was important to me and my family…and the Lord was there for me when I was ready to ask for assistance. The Lord knew all the circumstances regarding my situation and the problems involved. He knows where the answers were we were seeking, and exactly the people who could help us…and He cares enough about me….and all of us…to help us through whatever situation we face. Just because we are faithful and righteous we do not have the easy road…but we can find peace and forgiveness and answers because of the atonement.
Elder Bruce C Hafen had a great talk on this subject….of excellence and success. He stressed that even in the gospel sometimes we wonder why we are having problems when we are doing all we can to keep the commandments and live the gospel. Sometimes we think the gospel is going to relieve all our trials, and take away our pain. He told of two examples:
I recently talked with a young woman who had unselfishly worked hard at being a good wife and mother through several difficult years of marriage. But now the marriage was breaking down. Her husband had developed emotional problems that seriously threatened the spiritual and at times even physical survival of the woman and her children. Surrounded by many questions, she asked the one that haunted her the most: “How could this have happened when I have tried so hard to do everything the church has taught me to do?
Then I talked to a man who had recently joined the church and found shortly after his conversion that he had a terminal Illness. He too had done everything within his power to live as he should, making many sacrifices because of his whole hearted acceptance of the gospel. With his newly found hopes for life now cut so bluntly short, he could not make sense of it. He wondered aloud, “what have I done wrong?’To these people the high-sounding goal of excellence is not so much a source of motivation as it is a source of frustration and discouragement. They have worked as hard as their circumstances allowed, but the rewards they thought were supposed to accompany great effort somehow eluded them. Not only were they confused about not being rewarded; their failure to achieve had produced feelings of total personal failure.
I think many of us have had similar situations….maybe with marriages failed, or children falling away, or ill health…
He goes on to say:
I cannot help wondering what we are doing to each other in the Church these days, as we subtly but continually reinforce in one another the assumption that tangible and visible rewards and success are promised those who do what is right or even those who work their hardest. Where does that assumption come from? It certainly is not taught in the gospel.
On the contrary, the gospel teaches that the lone and dreary world of mortality is soaked through with adversity and trouble---not to torture us, but to teach us.
The gospel promises rewards, but not worldly ones. Instead of seeking personal achievements and goals, we need to find the experiences God wants to bless us with and learn from them…..
Elder Boyd K Packer says:
It is the misapprehension of most people that if you are good, really good at what you do, you will eventually be widely known and well compensated…the world seems to work on that premise. The premise is false. It is not true. The Lord taught otherwise. You need not be either rich or hold high position to be completely successful and truly happy….we want our children and their children to know that the choice of life is not between fame and obscurity, nor is the choice between wealth and poverty. The choice is between good and evil. That is a very different matter indeed.
Ultimately, our success in life is going to be determined by our relationship to our Savior, our love and devotion to Him…and it is likely no one else will know the greatness of that but our Savior the great judge….and each of us, individually. And if we love him everything in our lives will work towards our good…not the best it can be.. But the best for our eternal salvations.
And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold our faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of neverending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. Mosiah 2:41
I do believe that even though things aren’t always great, and we will come across trials, we will recognize the great blessings in our lives. Through some of my greatest trials I have received my greatest blessings. I do know the Lord is constantly blessing us for the good we do.
Before King Benjamin left his people, the greatest gift he felt he could give them was his own testimony of the Savior, their great need for Him, and the blessings He would bring to their lives…if they were faithful. I know King Benjamin’s message left a big impact on his people, because we learn that three years later, when AMMON and his brothers find Lemhi and his people, one of the first things he tells them is about King Benjamin’s last lecture. It is the greatest news we can receive. I know Our Savior lives, and that through him we will find our greatest joys, and comfort. I know He has saved us all and is working towards each of our eternal success…if we let Him in.