Enduring to the end
This talk was delivered to missionaries in our branches at the Missionary Training Center on numerous occasions:
- Very grateful to have the opportunity…
- Enduring to the end is a very important aspect of the doctrine of Christ. It is mentioned in the New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and in the Articles of Faith.
- The word ‘endure’ can have a somewhat negative connotation, as it might imply wringing the hands, biting the fingernails, hanging on, grasping.
- This is not the intended meaning of endure in the Lord’s eyes. The Lord would have it mean persisting, remaining valiant, overcoming, accomplishing, succeeding.
- The scriptures and the Lord Himself call the plan of salvation a plan of happiness, and states that men and women are that they might have joy.
- Lehi’s vision provides some great insights regarding this enduring. Two groups of people are described who ultimately reach the rod of iron and follow the rod to the tree of life. The first group is described as “clinging” to the rod, with the rod symbolizing the word of God. Clinging implies perhaps desperation, panic, uncertainty, just hanging on. They do manage to reach the tree, and the scripture says they “tasted” the fruit, with tasting implying taking a small bite, sampling, nibbling at. This group almost immediately notices the detractors in the great and spacious building, and they are ashamed, embarrassed, they fall away, and are lost. The second group is described as ‘catching hold of the rod’. No desperate clinging here, but a purposeful firm grip on the rod. They follow the rod to the tree, continually holding fast to the rod. This group falls to their knees when they reach the tree, in obvious gratitude. They ‘partake’ of the fruit, implying a spiritual feast, savoring the delicious sweetness of the Lord’s fruit. They pay absolutely no heed to the ‘great and spacious building’ or its occupants. This second group provides the standard for enduring to the end. No hesitancy, no desperation, but firm commitment and resolve from beginning to completion of their spiritual journey.
- 2 Nephi 31:20 is also a beautiful portrayal of what the Lord means when he admonishes us to endure to the end. I love the beautiful symbolism contained in this verse:
1) Press forward – in the yoke, in the harness, hard work, straining, diligence, effort
2) Steadfastness in Christ – firm, unmovable, resolute, determined, an eye single to HIM!
3) Perfect brightness of hope – I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me!
4) Love of God and all men – charity, the pure love of Christ, directs my every effort
5) Wherefore, if press forward – double emphasis on work and effort
6) Feasting upon the word of Christ – no nibbles, no sniffs, no small bites, but complete partaking of all the scriptures and prophets have to offer
7) And endure to the end – no kicking up your feet, lounging, retiring
8) Ye shall have eternal life – which is the very greatest of all the gifts He offers us.
- 2 Nephi 31:16 gives a beautiful scriptural definition of what it means to endure to the end. Ye shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the Living God. In other words, enduring to the end is Becoming as the Savior Is, which is the theme of the Provo Missionary Training Center. We are in the process of enduring to the end when we are doing what He did, saying what He said, acting as He acted, emulating His life, following in His footsteps.
- Did Jesus endure to the end? Did He stay true to His purpose and His promises to the end? Did He ‘ease up’, ‘coast’, ‘retire’? No, He stayed in the harness to the very end and beyond. Elder Bednar gives some beautiful examples of this in “The Character of Christ”.
a) Imagine the Savior emerging from the Garden. He has bled from every pore, borne the weight of the sins of all mankind, exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally. Within a few moments, impetuous Peter has severed the ear of the servant of the High Priest. Despite the circumstances, the Savior know reaches outward, heals, shares inspired counsel with his apostles. No coasting or resting, eyes firmly on the Father’s will.
b) He says to the crowd, “I am He whom ye seek. Let these others go their way in peace.” Always looking outward, still focused on serving, blessing, lifting, despite the circumstances.
c) On the cross, experiencing indescribable pain, both from the crucifixion and the weight of the atonement returning, He is still holding fast to the end. He counsels John to care for his mother, he comforts the thief on the cross next to Him, and He asks the Father to forgive the soldiers who know not what they are doing. Eye on eternity, hand fast on the rod, true and obedient to the end. What an example to follow.
- Listen to the words of our wonderful prophet, President Monson, as he shares some thoughts about enduring to the end: “What does it mean to endure? I love this definition – withstand with courage. Courage will be necessary for you to believe. It will at all times be necessary as you obey. It will certainly be required as you endure until that day when you will leave this worldly existence. May we be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe and if we must, stand alone. May be do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that we are never alone when we stand with our Heavenly Father.” Withstand with courage!
- Another beautiful scriptural definition of enduring to the end is found in Mosiah 2:41 “Moreover I would have ye consider upon the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God, for they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual. And if they hold out faithful to the end, they will be received into heaven.” No desperation, no panic, but consistent dedicated service to others and to the Lord, until we draw our last breath in mortality.
- President Gordon B. Hinckley, at age 88, in general conference: “I am an old man… I’m given to meditation and prayer. I would enjoy sitting in a rocker, swallowing prescriptions, listening to soft music, and contemplating the things of the universe. But such activity offers no challenge and makes no contribution. I wish to be up and doing. I wish to face each day with resolution and purpose. I wish to use every waking hour to give encouragement, to bless those whose burdens are heavy, to build faith, and strengthen testimonies.” Beautiful example of withstanding with courage, following the example of the Son of the Living God, of holding out faithful to the end?
- Elder Kevin W. Pearson gives this insight: “When trials and challenges come, we often hear this advise, “Just hang in there!”. Let me be clear — to hang in there is not a principle of the gospel. Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him.” Elder Pearson’s six steps to endure are 1) don’t forget to pray 2) Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him 3) Press forward, lean into the harness, work, effort 4) Study the Book of Mormon every day, every day, every day. Elder Bednar’s promise that if we read and ponder the Book of Mormon every day, we will not stray. 5) Do not allow yourself to be distracted by the vain imaginations and pride of the world 6) Stay by the tree! Pray, read scripture, obey, serve.
- Great example of an elder that endured to the end in his mission service. Our mission president, President Rudd, would interview all missionaries who were approaching the end of their missions. Elder David Kirk was 6 weeks from completing his mission. President Rudd asked about his post mission plans. He stated that he planned to return to the University of Utah and study architecture. Elder Kirk was to end his mission toward the end of September. President Rudd asked if the end of his mission synchronized well with starting the Fall Semester at the university. President Rudd detected just a bit of hesitation as Elder Kirk said, “Yes, things will be work out”. President Rudd felt the need to ask more questions. After lengthy conversation and much effort, President Rudd finally extracted from Elder Kirk that he would forfeit a very large scholarship and automatic entry into the architecture program if he served until his designated end date, as he would then miss the deadlines for the scholarship and architecture program. He said, “President, I was called to serve for two years, and I intend to honor my call. I will serve to the completion of my mission.” President Rudd responded, “No, elder, you will return home in time for your to claim your scholarship and your entry into the prestigious architecture program. You have served faithfully and well. Your offering is complete, and the Lord is well pleased with your service.” Elder Kirk is now at the U of U, enjoying his scholarship and his studies in the architecture program. But consider this young elder’s commitment and devotion. He was willing, in fact he was determined to endure to the end, despite the incredible consequences that would result by so doing.
- Withstand with courage (to the end), stay by the tree (to the end), hold out faithful (to the end), follow the example of the Son of the Living God (to the end), hold fast to the rod (to the end). We are led by a prophet, we are disciples of Christ, we have the truth.