When I was a missionary in Florida in the early 1970s, I wrote a story that has had a life of its own. I titled my story Find Me. It told of two boys who were friends in the pre-existence. One came to earth as a member of the Church and the other didn’t.
Before they left the presence of the Father, the second boy asked the first boy to find him and bring the gospel to him. In the story I was the first boy and I told of finding Paul, the second boy, and fulfilling my promise. I may have been taking a certain amount of license in writing this story, but this idea resonated with missionaries around the world as my story became famous as it was transmitted on the so called missionary grapevine.
I have always felt that the charge Jesus gave to his apostles to “Go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) applied to us today, and to me particularly. I also have accepted the Doctrine and Covenants invitation (section 4, verse 4) which states, “For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thurstedth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul.” Thus, it is incumbent upon the Elders and Sisters in this dispensation to find those who are seeking the gospel.
Perhaps there is another side to this challenge. What of those who are seeking to find the truth? What is their responsibility? What is their scriptural charge?
I am reminded of the parable of the pearl of great price that is recorded in the book of Matthew. Here, Jesus told of a merchant man who was seeking goodly pearls. Apparently he found one “pearl of great price, and went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46). Jesus said that the
is like this merchant man. How is
that? How is the Kingdom like this
man? Kingdom of Heaven
Jesus taught in parables so those who would hear might hear, and those who would see, might see. Those who did not want to hear or see would not be held responsible for their blindness or deafness. The point is that the merchant man was seeking. After seeking, and we are not told how long he had been seeking, but when he found what he was seeking, he was willing to give all he had to obtain it. Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is like that.
In that same chapter of Matthew are several other great parables. All of them compare the
to the object
of the parable. Jesus was trying to
teach something very important. He said
it was like “unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he
hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that
field” (Matthew 13:44). Again, it is
important to focus on the fact that the man was searching for the treasure, and
when he found it, he acted, selling all that he had to obtain it. Kingdom
In the great vision that was shown to Lehi, and later to Nephi, Lehi reported that he “saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood” (1 Nephi 8:21). It is of note that these people were trying to get on the path, not yet pressing forward on the path. Once they got on the path they encountered the mist of darkness and were dependant on the rod of iron for safety.
The first message is that there are “numberless concourses of people” trying to get on the path.
I have always been struck by the common theme expressed by new converts. Almost universally they say that they have been looking for this gospel all of their lives. Many tell of their individual searches that truly resemble the parables of Jesus. They were seeking and searching for the treasure. Most had to make significant sacrifices once they found the treasure in order to obtain it.
Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants was written in March of 1839 from the Liberty Jail following a bitter winter. The Prophet Joseph gave instructions to the scattered church regarding seeking reparations for their sufferings and losses. He concludes that there is a “duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart” (D&C 123:11). Of course that duty is to carry the gospel to them, the pure in heart, and to the entire world.
The Apostle Paul told the Romans that all who “call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Romans 10:14-15). Thus, the imperative is in place to us to both send and to preach.
But the Prophet Joseph said, “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12).
I am struck by the phrase in Doctrine and Covenants section 132 wherein the Lord states, and this is in reference to the New and Everlasting Covenant and exaltation in his Kingdom, he says, “For strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it” (D&C 132:22 emphasis added).
This adds to the scriptural charge to find them, the challenge for them to find it. Still, why is it that so many in this world are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it? Does that seem fair? Why are some born into the truth, or why are some able to find it early in their lives? And yet it seems that others must search their entire lives to find the truth?
We recently listened to a presentation by Apostle Jeffery R. Holland where he said that in some parts of Africa, right now, you can stand on a street corner and say that you want to talk to them about religious truths and you will immediately have 200 people stop and listen to you. That seems fantastic to us. These people are truly “pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which (leads) unto the tree.”
It is my hope and desire that we can help them get on the path, hold to the iron rod, and eventually get to the place where they can partake of the fruit of the tree of life, which fruit is described as “being most desirable, above all other fruit.”
This is why I am going on a mission.