With Willing Hands

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by Bonnie

“The meeting that unfolded has to be the worst meeting in the history of the dispensation. From the moment I stood to teach a three-hour session, it was clear to me (and I’m sure to everyone else) that I was on my own. That night I experienced the utter futility of attempting to serve without the power of a presiding authority. Priesthood keys are real. They unlock the power of God to all who serve under their direction. Priesthood power is real. It is not some theological theory. It is the power of God himself.”

Sheri Dew made this observation (The Beginning of Better Days, p.58-59, advance reader’s edition) of a regional conference session she was asked to lead, when, while serving in the General Relief Society Presidency, local authorities suffered a miscommunication and no Stake President stepped forward to preside at the session she was conducting. I have pondered these words a great deal since I read them a few months ago, and it has altered the way that I speak and write online.

I am not called by priesthood authority to write online. I write as a disciple of Christ out of a personal sense of mission. Anything that draws attention to myself becomes priestcraft, and is especially damaging if it distracts people from hearing and listening to those who are called by priesthood authority by taking too much of their time, no matter how nice or popular it may be. It is our hope, as we provide this written forum, that it never substitutes for the careful study of the words of those who are called, but that it provides an opportunity for those who embrace those words to share how it has impacted their lives and to find additional strength to bear witness by associating with one another. As Sister Dew has pointed out, priesthood power is real, and we make it efficacious in our lives when we listen and respond to those who are called.

Last night three women who have been called by priesthood authority spoke to us, as did a member of the quorum of the First Presidency. Their words were the words of servants called in our day, and the same as if God had spoken. I was struck with thoughts both personal and global, as I’m sure were those of you who attended. We’d love to have you share with one another, in that delightful unity that was a thread through all their talks, what most profoundly inspired you.

Personally, I was galvanized to action in my own sphere by Pres. Burton’s framing of her watch: Atonement, Covenants, & Unity. I felt the beautiful unity of her presidency’s purpose as her counselors filled in the details in that structure, gently inviting all to find their part in this great work with tender testimonies. And finally, I was inspired by the picture that Pres. Eyring drew of “what lies ahead.” As he quoted an early saint who responded faithfully to the call to go meet the saints of the last handcart companies, I was also inspired:

Such a unanimity of feeling … What comes next for willing hands to do?

Indeed. For you, dear reader, after hearing the words of those called by priesthood authority, what comes next for your willing hands to do?

About Bonnie

Living life determined to skid sideways into the grave and say, "MAN, what a ride!"

5 Responses to With Willing Hands

  1. jendoop says:

    I have been sick so I drifted in and out of sleep while I watched the conference at home. One big thing to me was Sister Burton talking about ‘fair’. So much of recent politics is talk about fairness. Sister Burton’s talk is very timely. I wrote a blog post about it. The power of the atonement is a real meat and potatoes talk, filling me so much that I could have been sustained on that alone.

    I know I missed a lot, but after hearing Elder Eyring’s talk I don’t feel guilty about that, but am so grateful for technology that allows me to review it again and again and to receive your perspectives on it too.

    Elder Eyring’s talk was very much for me, I love to serve and have tried to tithe one afternoon a week to serving outside my home. His talk reminded me of how much that has enriched my life. At the same time I am not good about knowing when to ask for help in my service. My illness was a good reminder while watching the talk that I need to go to God more often about how much to do and exactly how to do it – I often do too much and neglect myself or my household. Trying to balance all of the good things in my life can be confusing, I am grateful for Elder Eyring’s wise and kind counsel.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I was absolutely overcome when Sister Reeves talked about how she turned away from Heavenly Father in her darkest time. I felt absolutely a kinship to her, because I know I’ve done the same. I have pulled away from my God at the times I’ve actually need Him the most, and I’ve gone back in desperation, begging for forgiveness and immediately receiving it.

    I admit that I adored Julie Beck’s counsel a lot (for the same reasons I love Elder Holland’s and Elder Packer’s), but it was refreshing to hear such beautiful doctrine on the Atonement. I do not struggle with obedience very often, but I do struggle with asking Christ to bear my burdens.

  3. What sweet, humble sisters. I also love Sis. Beck’s no-nonsense approach, but listening to the new presidency was equally as inspiring. My pen was not writing, and it was so dark in our chapel that writing notes would have been hard, so I am grateful, too, for technology to listen and listen again to the talks, then read them in the conference issue of the Ensign. The atonement, faith, and serving one another were themes that stood out to me. That and Pres. Eyring’s reminder to “Keep the Faith!”

  4. Emily says:

    I thought the meeting was wonderful! I loved the focus on the Atonement — that it can remove any type of pain or inequity. We need to remember that. If we feel slighted for any reason, we can use the Atonement.

    I also loved the personal stories from Sis. Reeves and Pres. Eyring. Those would probably be kind of hard to share, yet they opened themselves up so much! I think that makes them connect to the members of the church more. How good it makes me feel that Sis. Reeves is not perfect! She’s had her trials and pains, too!

    I was also recommitted to service after Pres. Eyring’s talk — especially when he said service may not be convenient. Sometimes I think I’ll only need to serve if it works out, but you know, sometimes I just need to make the time and sacrifice something else to be able to serve.

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