Sunday, July 1, 2012

That the Lost May Be Found

"As you seek to live the gospel and doctrine of Christ, the Holy Ghost will guide you and your family."

In the most recent General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk entitled, "That the Lost May Be Found," in which he talked about how many people today are becoming lost and confused in the widening gap between the teachings of God and the shifting trends of the world. "Everyone loses his or her way at some point, to some degree. It is through the promptings of the Holy Ghost that we can be brought safely back onto the right path, and it is the atoning sacrifice of the Savior that can return us home."

Figuring your own purpose in life and then knowing where to go and what to do to be happy can be a difficult task in current world situations. Fortunately the Lord has given us prophets and apostles and also the Holy Ghost through whom He speaks that we may know what brings true and lasting happiness. The prophet Joseph F. Smith taught that, "There can be no happiness separate and apart from the home." "It is our homes and families that need reforming in this increasingly materialistic and secular world," said Elder Ballard. "A stunning example is the growing disregard for marriage here in the United States."

Elder Ballard goes on to talk about the growing number of children born to unmarried parents, the divorce rate, and the issues surrounding those who are less educated and have lower incomes. "Opposite of what many had thought," said Elder Ballard, "prosperity and education seem to be connected to higher likelihood of having traditional families and values." One very interesting thing that Elder Ballard discussed was the cause and effect of the correlations described above.

"The real question, of course, is about cause and effect. Do some sectors of our society have stronger values and families because they are more educated and prosperous, or are they more educated and prosperous because they have values and strong families? In this worldwide Church we know that it is the latter. When people make family and religious commitments to gospel principles, they begin to do better spiritually and often temporally as well.

"And, of course, societies at large are strengthened as families grow stronger. Commitments to family and values are the basic cause. Nearly everything else is effect. When couples marry and make commitments to each other, they greatly increase their chances of economic well-being. When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket. And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly safety nets are required."

I think that's a very interesting thing to think about, yet one that I believe few really do. The family breakdown is truly causing a host of societal and economic ills and few seem to understand the correlation. However, we can reverse the trend. "Inequities are resolved by living correct principles and values," taught Elder Ballard. "The most important cause of our lifetime is our families. If we will devote ourselves to this cause, we will improve every other aspect of our lives. . . ."

So where can we look and to whom can we turn in this world of changing and shifting values, where that which brings true and lasting happiness is looked down upon and laughed at? Elder Ballard taught, "The Church is a mooring in this tempestuous sea, an anchor in the churning waters of change and division, and a beacon to those who value and seek righteousness. . . .

"The Church stands as an example of heart turning and as a catalyst for good in the world. Among Church members who are married in the temple and who regularly attend Sunday meetings, the divorce rate is significantly less than that of the world, and families remain closer and are in more frequent communication. The health in our families is better, and we live several years longer than the population average. We contribute more financial resources and more service per capita to those in need, and we are more likely to seek higher education. I point out these things not to boast but to testify that life is better (and much happier) as hearts turn toward family and as families live in the light of the gospel of Christ"

Families are where it's at. Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives as equal partners, marriage first, then family. This is the natural order of things and what will bring us lasting happiness in this life and in the world to come. The Savior seeks those who are lost. He teaches that "none of us will ever be so lost that we cannot find our way again through His Atonement and His teachings."

Elder Ballard is an apostle of God. He teaches that which God would have us know. God loves each of us and desires our lasting happiness. As we seek to live the gospel, He will guide us through His Holy Spirit. What is lost can be found.