Overwhelmed By Love
Today was a terrific day.
General Conference weekends are the only times during the year when I usually take my vacations. Disneyland? Never been. The beach? It’s just a sandy swim. But General Conference? Now that’s something worth taking time off from work! Why? Because it’s the time when we literally get to hear the voice of the Lord through His chosen servants. And to me, nothing deserves greater preparation and respect. So when folks ask me what my favorite holiday usually is I skip right over the traditional Christmas and 4th of July answers; I always say General Conference.
Do you remember when you were a little kid and you would count down the days until Christmas? Once Halloween was over there was just that pesky month of November and the infamous Turkey Day that stood between you, Santa, and a boatload of new toys. In school we would sing songs such as “Up On the Rooftop”, and we would gather with our families to watch the traditional Christmas movies like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. Christmas was a magical time each year when the world seemed a little kinder. Our focus was on the the things that mattered, like family and the Savior, and everything just had that “holiday feeling”.
Well now that I’m adult that’s how General Conferences are to me. I count down the days. I mark them on my calendar. I plan vacation time months in advance. I prepare myself physically and spiritually in every way I know how, and I get ready to hear what the Lord Jesus would have me to hear. I get downright giddy. General Conference is my favorite holiday.
And then it comes! And better than on Christmas when it all just rushed by in a single day, I get to enjoy two full days of flurried spiritual messages spoken by prophets, seers, and revelators. I absolutely love General Conference. From the opening hymn to the final “amen” I feel filled with joy, with the Spirit, with attentiveness, and a great love for these brethren and sisters who have consecrated their lives in such a high degree to the Master.
Like Christmas though, it is only temporary. There are no trees or ornaments to take down when it is over. There is no gluttonous feeling from having eaten to much good. But there is the feeling that a special day, a sacred day even, has passed, and I feel overwhelmed and overfilled with the good food of the gospel. As the organ plays its final strains and the screen fades to black I feel saddened and empty…I know General Conference is over…
This weekend has proven no different than previous conferences. There was history made with the announcement in the changes for missionary age requirements. Two new temples were announced. Beloved brethren were released from their diligent service as Seventies. And the messages were absolutely amazing.
Perhaps I’ve always missed General Conference as it ended because I’ve never had someone to go home to and talk to about it. As a young convert my parents never cared what “the prophet” had said, and as a young single adult there’s no one to come home to and share my spiritual impressions and thoughts with. But for two days twice a year I’ve always felt connected by love, by covenant, and by the Spirit of God with millions of other Saints word-wide. During those moments of Conference I’ve always felt like more of a part the House of Israel than at any other moments in my life. I feel connected with the household of faith, and the household of God. I feel like a part of a family of Saints, and it feels sacred and holy.
Then when the speakers had spoke and the prayers had passed I was once again alone in the world, just another Latter-day Saint plodding through life trying my best to keep my covenants and bring others to Christ.
This weekend I was overwhelmed with love. Love for General Conference. Love for the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Love for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Love for the Priesthood, priesthood keys, and priesthood leaders who serve so selflessly. I felt love for our prophet, his counselors, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Seventy, and the auxiliary presidencies. I felt love for those who sang in the choir, and love for those who were behind the scenes running cameras and translating the proceedings into 93 different languages. I felt love and appreciation for my blessings, my life, my testimony, and the creature comforts of life. I felt love for my fellow Saints. I felt love for the missionaries throughout the world. But most importantly, I felt an overwhelming love for my Savior and for Heavenly Father.
I entered this General Conference with a list of five specific questions I wanted answered. In His mercy, He answered each one uniquely and specifically through different speakers and impressions from the Holy Ghost. I have felt a great love for the Gift of the Holy Ghost and for his constant companionship.
And tonight, for the first time in my life since my full-time missionary service, I left a General Conference and ended up among fellow Saints with whom I could enjoy conversation and impressions from conference. I felt a great and overwhelming love for those with whom I visited, and it was impressed upon me more indelibly than ever before the importance of seeking out a wife and building a family in Zion.
Much could be said about this General Conference, but suffice it to say for me, I’ve felt my Savior’s love, and now desire to just share His love with others.
These verses from the masterful teacher John come to mind:
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Truly, God is love, and as His son I desire to grow to be like Him and share His eternal love with others. I know the messages of this General Conference will help me do just that. This weekend I’ve been overwhelmed by His love. Now, as I return back to the bustle of the world and the burdens of Babylon, I pray that I might just carry that love, even His love, with me and share it with others.
I hope you’ll do the same.