For those of you who could not be there, this is a copy of the talk Jared gave in Sacrament Meeting in the Bedford Ward prior to his mission on August 12, 2012.
Time and Season
Bishop asked me to talk about the first verse of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3. It says, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
I am very excited to be at the time in my life where I am able to go and serve the Lord on a mission. All my life, along with all young men in the Church, I have been told by parents, teachers, leaders, and prophets that when we reach age 19 we need to be in a position in our lives where we can go on a mission and serve the Lord. It is the time and season in our lives we need to set aside all other things and serve with all of our strength. A great story about this was told by Elder Neil L Anderson:
"Those who follow the game of rugby know that the New Zealand All Blacks, a name given because of the color of their uniform, is the most celebrated rugby team ever. To be selected for the All Blacks in New Zealand would be comparable to playing for a football Super Bowl team or a World Cup soccer team."
"In 1961, at age 18 and holding the Aaronic Priesthood, Sidney Going was becoming a star in New Zealand rugby. Because of his remarkable abilities, many thought he would be chosen the very next year for the national All Blacks rugby team."
"At age 19, in this critical moment of his ascending rugby career, Sid declared that he would forgo rugby to serve a mission. Some called him crazy. Others called him foolish. They protested that his opportunity in rugby might never come again."
"For Sid it was not what he was leaving behind—it was the opportunity and responsibility ahead. He had a priesthood duty to offer two years of his life to declare the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. Nothing—not even a chance to play on the national team, with all the acclaim it would bring—would deter him from that duty."
"He was called by a prophet of God to serve in the Western Canadian Mission. Forty-eight years ago this month, 19-year-old Elder Sidney Going left New Zealand to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
Sid told Elder Anderson of an experience he had on his mission, "It was evening, and he and his companion were just about to return to their apartment. They decided to visit one more family. The father let them in. Elder Going and his companion testified of the Savior. The family accepted a Book of Mormon. The father read all night. In the next week and a half he read the entire Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. A few weeks later the family was baptized.
A mission instead of a place on the New Zealand All Blacks team? Sid responded, “The blessing of bringing others into the gospel far outweighs anything you will ever sacrifice.”
"You’re probably wondering what happened to Sid Going following his mission. Most important: an eternal marriage to his sweetheart, Colleen; five noble children; and a generation of grandchildren. He has lived his life trusting in his Father in Heaven, keeping the commandments, and serving others. And rugby? After his mission Sid Going became one of the greatest halfbacks in All Blacks history, playing for 11 seasons and serving for many years as captain of the team."
"How good was Sid Going? He was so good that training and game schedules were changed because he would not play on Sunday. Sid was so good the Queen of England acknowledged his contribution to rugby. He was so good a book was written about him titled Super Sid."
"What if those honors had not come to Sid after his mission? One of the great miracles of missionary service in this Church is that Sid Going and thousands just like him have not asked, “What will I get from my mission?” but rather, “What can I give?”
Sid is a great example to all of us young men working towards a mission and also all of you not so young couples who have a goal of going on a mission. We need to make missions and serving the lord as one of our top priorities. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “The Lord wants more missionaries. Every able young man in the Church should serve a mission. Missionary service blesses the life of a young man more than any other thing could during the time and season involved.” That means a lot to me personally to know that serving a mission is the best possible thing I could be doing with my life at this time and makes it easier to put my life on hold and serve the Lord for two years.
Throughout different times in my life I have taken steps and made decisions; such as attending primary classes, being baptized when I was 8, receiving the Aaronic Priesthood when I turned twelve, Sunday school and priesthood classes when I was a teenager, being enrolled in seminary in high school, attending Mutual on Tuesday nights, receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, and going to the temple. These things have brought me to where I am now and are preparing me for the big decisions I will have to make. Without all of these things I wouldn’t be even close to being ready to serve on my mission. All of these events came pretty early in my life but the decision to do them and how I did them will have a lasting effect on me for the rest of my life and have prepared me to make more and bigger decisions in the future. Each step we take and decision we make has to come in the proper order. I couldn’t have received the priesthood before I was baptized, or gone on a mission when I was 12 - these things have to come in the time that the lord has taught and expects from us. The decisions we make when we are young such as the friends we chose can have a major impact on us for the rest of our lives. President Monson said instead of the common phrase terrible teens, he prefers the phrase “terrific teens” - a period when young people have “a time of opportunity, a season of growth, a semester of development—marked by the acquisition of knowledge and the quest for truth.”
We have to understand how important early years can be in deciding our life and that the time to start making good decisions is right now. In one of his conference talks, Robert D. Hales stated: "The Aaronic Priesthood is the preparatory priesthood, given for this preparatory time in your life. How you bear that priesthood now will prepare you to make the most important decisions in the future. These decisions include receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood, going to the temple, serving a mission, getting an education, selecting an occupation, and choosing a companion and being sealed for time and for all eternity in the holy temple. There is a time and season for all of our decisions. Make sure you make decisions in the proper time and season."
He also told a story of the importance of preparing at the right time. He said, "While training to be a jet fighter pilot, I prepared to make such vital decisions in a flight simulator. For example, I practiced deciding when to bail out of an airplane if the fire warning light came on and I began to spin out of control. I remember one dear friend who didn’t make these preparations. He would find a way out of simulator training and then go to play golf or swim. He never learned his emergency procedures! A few months later, fire erupted in his plane, and it spun toward the ground in flames. Noting the fire warning light, his younger companion, having developed a preconditioned response, knew when to bail out of the plane and parachuted to safety. But my friend who had not prepared to make that decision stayed with the plane and died in the crash. Without being in the places where we need to be when we are younger, and doing what we are taught to be doing in that time of our lives, we may not have the spiritual strength to stay on the straight and narrow when times get tough and we could be led away from Christ and lose our way spiritually."
Elder David B. Haight said, "Live so your memories can bless the full length of your life. Live for that glorious day when you will go to the holy temple for eternal blessings and joy. Develop the strength to defer gratification—to understand there is a time and season for everything and a maturing process that is part of God’s plan. Remember that the values and truths of the gospel are ageless and eternal. "
Sometimes it can be difficult and we have to make big sacrifices to make decisions we need to in the proper time and order, and we may think that our timeline doesn’t fit with the Lords, but I know that if we trust in the Lord and do everything he has taught us to do in his proper time and season, we will be blessed and things will work out for us better in the end, and it will always be worth it for us.