The Blessings of the Temple
This is an address I gave in my church on Sunday, July 15, 2012. I hope that you enjoy it.
The Temple stands as our own spiritual lighthouse. It beckons the way to safety, it shows us the way to dry land, it welcomes us home. We just need to look towards it.
I once heard someone say,
“The most beautiful thing on the Capitol Beltway is the Mormon Temple. The ugliest thing is everything else.”
How true that is! I’ve driven around both sides of that beltway more times than I can count. From the 495 lanes of asphalt, to the manic drivers under the impression that this is some sort of Nascar race track, to the never ending road construction, it can sometimes prove difficult to find anything redeeming about driving on the Beltway.
When you finally reach exit 33 and manage to catch a gleam of golden spires, what a welcome sight that is! We don’t get the thrill that the southbound drivers see, but it matters little. No matter what we are able to spy out of the corner of our eye of that majestic building, it remind us there is beauty and peace in the world.
Attending the Temple is a great way to put things in perspective for us in this crazy world so full of temporal issues. We learn to put our sights towards the eternity and align ourselves with the things of the Lord.
One might argue you don’t need to get to the Temple to contemplate eternity, because the never-ending road construction on the way is a good enough reminder of that. I’ll admit to sometimes thinking along those lines myself as I’ve never driven on the beltway without orange barrels leading my way. I’m not sure if I can remember a time when the Department of Transportation didn’t use 495 as some sort of storage for construction equipment.
The Temple might overlook the beltway and stand in a city that seemingly embodies the Temporal world, but the grounds of this holy edifice brings you suddenly into a different world. It is a slice of the Celestial that we are so very blessed to have in our lives.
Stopping the crazy East Coast pace of life to step into that Celestial world will help us remember what it is we are working towards. It can help us put aside our many worries as the Lord reaches out towards us in an effort to teach us of his eternal plan.
From the ancient Israelites struggling to our early Saints sacrificing everything they owned in the construction of Temples, the buildings themselves are a testament to faith of the Lord’s people.
Similarly it takes a lot of faith to attend the Temple. I’m often touched by the stories of those that scrimp and save and then travel for days to attend the Temple. I remember a time when there were not so many Temples, even in this great country. How blessed we are that the doors have opened to allow for so many Temples to dot our Earth!
I know it can seem a trek, even here, to get to the Temple, but it is a trek so worth making.
Our children are blessed immensely by living in the shadow of the Temple as well as by our attendance. I relished the opportunity to take my young children to the grounds of the Temple, and it was a wonderful experience to hear them marvel at the House of the Lord. I shared my testimony of Temple attendance with them. It’s a special thing to see their joy in temple trips now that they are in the youth program.
Like many of our children and probably many of you, the first time I saw a Temple, it was a breathtaking sight. I marveled at the splendid beauty of the DC Temple and asked my mother, “What is that building?” She informed me that it was the Mormon Temple here in DC and I remember thinking, “I’ve heard ‘House of the Lord’ but I never knew someone would build a castle!”
I looked at my mother and simply said, “I want to be married there.”
Unlike most gathered here today, I was not a member of the Church at that time. As a child, the extent of my knowledge about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was they existed to build a beautiful white castle in DC.
What a seemingly impossible thing. I even remember my mother laughing and telling me it could never happen. However, the Lord didn’t just make this one thing possible, he pretty much made it impossible to avoid. If we have the righteous desire to follow the Lord’s principles, He will literally do whatever it takes to help you make that desire happen. If you trust in Him, you can surpass any obstacle in your life keeping you from worshiping in His Holy House.
Latter-day Saints are a funny people. We’ll go out of our way on a vacation just to see another Temple. We’ll even forget simple things like, “Oh it’s Monday so the grounds are closed!” in our excitement to see the Lord’s house. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a difficult drive or where we are in the world or even if the building is open, simply seeing a Temple lifts our mood and buoys our spirit.
We live in a world that seems almost designed to bring us down in every way. It can seem as though we are buffeted with hurricane force winds on all sides of us. The Temple can act as the eye, a moment of brief calm in which we can pull together our hope of surviving the next round of buffeting. It is in those days where simply standing on the grounds of a Temple can give us the hope we need to make it through another tough day.
When life is bleak, it can be ever so hard to find hope. How blessed we are to have Temples to shoo away the bleak and offer hope at our most distraught times.
I remember when my son had cancer, I couldn’t attend the Temple very often. In fact, I attended only once during the course of that year. While we lived only half an hour from the lovely and fairly new Columbus, Ohio Temple, logistically Temple attendance was difficult.
I was faced with a lot of temporal issues. Some were the typical family needs that sometimes keep us away like childcare, errands, and that sort of thing. Added onto that was the need to daily mix various medications and nutritional supplements to administer through IV pumps. As one might imagine, never did these things ever match up in time schedule, and oftenI had only an hour and a half in between finishing one and starting another. Sleep came in the form of short naps typically interrupted by the blaring of the pump at the end of an infusion cycle.
There were countless doctor visits, the crunching of numbers to check blood cell counts, worry of germs, and many multiple-day hospital stays. There was the care and maintenance of a permanent IV line. Finally, there was a never ending supply of grilled cheese sandwiches to make because apparently that was the only thing that chemo would allow my son to eat.
However, that one day I managed to find a break and slip off to the Temple did more to recharge my spirit with hope that we’d get past that crazy time than any kind words from doctors or visit from a very loving Relief Society president. The heavy weight I carried was lifted for a brief second.
I couldn’t explain fully to the doctors, friends, and even my own family how much the blessings of the Temple gave me hope and carried me through what, for many, is a very difficult time.
The Temple grants us a place for learning and revelation. The two go hand in hand.
During Caramon’s illness, that learning came in the form of a strong testimony of the immense blessing of having our children sealed to us. How grateful I was to that knowledge!
There are countless accounts throughout our scriptures and testimonies of revelations, both large and small, that come from serving in the House of the Lord. Often when we least expect it and sometimes with even less expected revelations.
I think of Zacharias. He and his wife had long given up the hope of a child of their own. One day, he goes to do his work in the Temple and the amazing thing happens. He receives a revelation and that revelation is in regards to a child, John the Baptist. When I read that account, it amazes me how much the Lord loves us and wants to answer our prayers if we are but faithful servants to Him.
We might not all be visited by angels or receive miraculous revelations like Zacharias, but through Temple attendance we can open the doors wide to the Lord’s inspiration in our lives. How sweet it is when we sit in the Celestial Room, seeking an answer to our own prayer, and receive an answer?
Sometimes those answers don’t come right away. I know that countless times I’ll go to the Temple seeking an answer and it will come on the drive home, the next day while reading my scriptures, or through a talk in Church the following Sunday.
President Hinckley referred to “a season of war” in 2001 and after 11 years, we are still very much in that season. We live in a world ravaged by wildfires, earthquakes in diverse places, unexpected derechos and microbursts, tsunamis, and a struggling economy. At a time when many seek for peace, we have only to look towards the Lord and his House.
Walking into the Temple, you instantly feel the difference of the peace of the Lord versus the turmoil of the world. The longer you spend inside the Temple, the lighter your load becomes as that peace takes a hold of you.
In John 14:27, Christ promises us:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Last year, President Monson reminded us,
“As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith. As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation. The temple provides purpose for our lives. It brings peace to our souls—not the peace provided by men but the peace promised by the Son of God.”
I know that your life can seem hard. I’ve walked the road where hope and peace are unattainable. I’ve had nothing to cling to but faith. As I’ve let the Temple be my lighthouse, the Lord has blessed me with the revelation of his eternal perspective.
I am so thankful that we have a Temple so close. Welcome the chance to attend the House of the Lord and let it be a beacon of light for you.
Please, don’t make the mistake of thinking it is too far away from your reach. The Lord wants you there. If he could help one silly little child find a way to this Gospel, He’ll find a way for you.
How grateful I am for our inspired leaders in our congregation and area. Our Bishop has what can only be described as a Christ-like love for each and every one of us. I promise you, he’s more trustworthy than the GPS in your car if you find yourself in need of directions towards the Temple. If there’s a roadblock in your life, let the Bishop know. I’m pretty sure that if you work with him, he’ll be far more productive than the Department of Transportation in cleaning your personal roadway of debris and filling your spiritual potholes.