Preparing for Last Saturday, I was coming home early in the morning. It was still dark. As I came over a bluff on Redwood Road in Taylorsville, Utah, I saw the elegant Jordan River Temple shining brightly.
I thought how beautiful it was and then I realized how for only the second time in my life, I cannot go there.
The first time was back in 1976. I was a full-time missionary servicing in the Bristol England mission. We went to the temple while in the old mission home in Salt Lake City and we went to the London temple on the way home. However back then the policy was that for those two years you focused on saving the living. I must admit I never really missed the temple.
This time was different. I miss going to the temple. The peace. The holiness. The love. And so much more that is felt within the House of the Lord. Even having a current temple recommend and being so close to a temple isn’t any help.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut the doors of the temple. Worldwide, temple work for the living and the dead has come to stop. I don’t know if this is a “sign of the times” or just a blip along human history. But I do know that I can prepare for the day the doors are opened again.
Pray for the day: The only all-powerful hand that can stem the pandemic tide, is the hand of the Lord. Each of our prayers should contain a sincere request to stop the virus, heal those who are sick, hasten the day we can join together to take the sacrament, and continue gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.
Fast for the day: In Mark 9 a story is told of a sick child. When Jesus comes, he heals the child, but “his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Maybe this one of those times when prayer isn’t enough. Our urgent pleas need to be refined and boosted by our sincere fasting.
Do Family History work for the day: The Lord has blessed us with the Internet and the ability to prepare names for the temple from our homes. Since we are home bound, why not use the time to build a supply of temple names so when the doors open, we can go again and again saving our kindred dead.
Stay worthy for the day: This might seem like a slam dunk. If I was worthy before COVID-19, why would I not be afterwards? Ponder this counselor given to the Apostle Peter, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:31-32). Wouldn’t it be sad that when the doors are open, I can’t go because of my own choices?
One final thought. In the past 40+ years, I don’t know how many times I attended the temple. I went with youth to do Baptisms for the Dead. I went with my ward. In fact, before moving into our new home in West Valley City, we met many ward members for the first time in the temple. I received my endowments in the Provo temple in July 1976. I went with my beautiful wife to the new Jordan River temple to be sealed in February 1982. I have done the work for my ancestors, providing them with the blessings of eternity. I have done the same for countless brothers provided by the temple. But this whole experience has taught me to never again take for granted the blessings of the temple service. I am committed to do so and I encourage you to make the same commitment.