Really remembering our Savior means more than simply not forgetting him. It means upholding the covenants we have made with him.
Before I moved to Washington, D.C., in 2006, I was studying in Aix-en-Provence, France. After I secured an internship in D.C., I bought a ticket for a flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris to Baltimore via Reykjavik, Iceland. (I was really excited about the layover in Iceland. After all, who has had a layover in Reykjavik?) That meant that I needed to get from Aix-en-Provence to CDG airport.
Aix is in the south of the country, approximately 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Paris. Driving wasn’t an option; it would have taken about nine hours, and I didn’t have a car anyway. Flying could have been a possibility, but it’s expensive, and any time savings is eaten up at security. That left my preferred mode as the best option: the Train à Grande Vitesse, or TGV, one of the world’s fastest trains. It would allow me to get from Aix to Charles de Gaulle in about three and a half hours, in plenty of time to catch my flight without much stress.
All I needed was a ride to the TGV station. Aix’s TGV station is separate from its main train station, about 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) from the center of Aix. There is a bus that travels to the TGV station, but with all the luggage I had, I thought a ride would be the better choice. So I asked an American man in my ward if he would give me a ride to the train station. He agreed and we settled on a place and time for him to pick me up.
At the appointed hour I left my modest dorm room in the Cité Universitaire de Cuques on Aix’s southside and waited for him at the place we had said we would meet. And I waited. And waited. And waited. Then I started sweating. Surely he hadn’t forgotten. Had he?
I finally used some of the few minutes remaining on my mobile phone to call his house. At first, there was no answer. (It was early. My train was to depart at 7.55.) So I tried again. Sleepily, his wife answered the phone. I asked, “Was your husband planning on taking me to the train station this morning?” Her response was one of those gasps created by inhaling rather than exhaling.
Yes, he had forgotten.
He jumped into the car and raced over to pick me up. He said he was fortunate that no traffic signals stopped him along the way. We threw my things into his trunk and off we went. Our journey to the train station went fairly smoothly. We hit some very, very light traffic along the way, but the train was still there when we got to the station.
Now, let me pause to explain the layout of the drop-off area at the Aix-en-Provence TGV station. The sidewalk leads directly onto the platform, with only a glass wall and automatic door separating the outside of the station from the inside. From the car to the train it was literally just a matter steps.
So we quickly got my luggage out of the car. I thanked him for the ride, made sure I had a firm grip on my bags, and started running to catch the train.
Just then the train left.
Long story short, I had to wait about an hour for the next train. I ultimately caught my flight and got to enjoy my layover in Reykjavik. But it definitely wasn’t the stress-free experience I had expected.
Fast forward to 29 February 2008. Susan and I had just gotten married in the Manhattan New York Temple, and we were having a luncheon with friends and family in the meetinghouse portion of the building. Shortly after we started eating, a couple of our guests asked me to introduce everyone at the table. My initial thought was, It’s my wedding. Why don’t you ask Susan to do it? But, being a good sport, I obliged. I began at my left and introduced my family and Susan’s brother and his wife, and then Susan’s sister and her family, and one of Susan’s friends, and two of my friends, and another of Susan’s friends.
So far so good. Then I got to … those people in the corner. Who are those people? What are their names? Oh, no, I’ve completely forgotten their names! Fortunately, I was somewhat quick on my feet and blurted out their relationship to me: “And those are my new mother- and father-in-law.”
That’s right: I had completely forgotten the names of Susan’s parents. No one really noticed my blunder; I was never disowned or anything. And I now know their names very well.
Think about other examples from your own life. Have you ever forgotten your bank card’s PIN or the password for an online account? Isn’t that frustrating? You know how some Web sites give you only three tries and then lock you out? So you completely blow it and end up having to call customer service—always open at the most inconvenient times—to regain access to your account.
Youth, have you ever studied long and hard for a test only to forget much of what you studied when you’re taking the actual test?
Have you ever forgotten an appointment, or a loved one’s birthday, or—the proverbial example—your wedding anniversary?
The point is, forgetting is easy; remembering is hard. And yet, what did we do just a few moments ago? By partaking of the sacrament, we renewed our baptismal covenant. The sacrament prayers remind us that a portion of that covenant is to “always remember him,” our Savior, Jesus Christ, and his atoning sacrifice for us. Indeed, of the three elements of the baptismal covenant referred to in the sacrament—taking his name upon us, keeping his commandments, and always remembering him—it’s the only one repeated in both sacramental prayers. I think that says something of the importance of that element of the covenant.
So, what does it mean to remember? To get the definition of a word, we have dictionaries. In this case, it means, more or less, not to forget. But what does it really mean to us in our lives to remember him? To teach us that, we have modern-day prophets and Apostles.
In this case, we are fortunate that on 27 January 2009 Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve delivered a devotional address at Brigham Young University–Idaho entitled “To Always Remember Him”. In this address, Elder Christofferson spoke of three ways in which the covenant to remember our Savior is meaningful in our lives.
Follow the Lord’s will
Elder Christofferson states that the first way we should remember the Lord is to “seek to know and follow the will of Christ just as He sought the will of the Father.” Elder Christofferson explains:
In the same way, you and I can put Christ at the center of our lives and become one with Him as He is one with the Father (see John 17:20–23). We can begin by stripping everything out of our lives and then putting it back together in priority order with the Savior at the center. We should first put in place the things that make it possible to always remember Him—frequent prayer and scripture study, thoughtful study of [Church leaders’] teachings, weekly preparation to partake of the sacrament worthily, Sunday worship, and recording and remembering what the Spirit and experience teach us about discipleship.
Other things may come to your mind particularly suited to you at this point in your life. Once we make adequate time and means for these matters in centering our lives in Christ, we can begin to add other responsibilities and things of value, such as education and family responsibilities. In this way the essential will not be crowded out of our lives by the merely good, and things of lesser value will take a lower priority or fall away altogether.
As we remember Jesus Christ, our obedience of the commandments—that other part of the baptismal covenant—will transform from rote actions to an integral part of who we are. We will obey his commandments not simply because we’re told to but because our wills have transformed to match his will.
Know you’re accountable—and that the Atonement is real
Next, Elder Christofferson states that we should “prepare to answer to Christ for every thought, word, and action.” Here, Elder Christofferson makes reference to Alma 12:14–15:
For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.
But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.
Elder Christofferson continues:
That judgment, He states, is based on our works. The especially ‘good news’ of His gospel is that He offers the gift of forgiveness conditioned on our repentance. Therefore, if our works include the works of repentance, He forgives our sins and errors. If we reject the gift of pardon, refusing to repent, then the penalties of justice that He now represents are imposed. He said, ‘For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I’ (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–17).
What Elder Christofferson is talking about here is two sides of the same doctrinal coin. One side is expressed in James 2:17–18:
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
The other is stated in Ephesians 2:8–9:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
It is clear that the Lord expects us to work for our salvation, and that his judgment of us will be based to some degree on our obedience of his commandments. After all, part of this same sacramental and baptismal covenants is to “keep his commandments which he has given [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77).
At the same time, it is obvious that we will continually fall short. In those cases we must turn to the Atonement and the Lord’s grace.
However, even in the other cases—when we are doing pretty well, when we’re obeying the commandments—we are still dependent upon the Lord’s grace. After all, it is he who gave us life, it is he who organized his Church and called and inspired prophets and Apostles to teach us the commandments, it is he who gives us the strength and the ability to obey. Even if we perfectly obeyed all the commandments our entirely lives, we would have done so only thanks to the Lord’s grace.
That realization certainly casts the commandment to “always remember him” in a different light.
Elder Christofferson states that the final way in which we should always remember Jesus Christ is to “fear not and look to the Savior for help.” He explains:
In short, to ‘always remember him’ means that we do not live our lives in fear. We know that challenges, disappointments, and sorrows will come to each of us in different ways, but we also know that in the end, because of our divine Advocate [Jesus Christ], all things can be made to work together for our good (see Doctrine and Covenants 90:24; 98:3). It is the faith expressed so simply by President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) when he would say, ‘Things will work out.’ When we always remember the Savior, we can ‘cheerfully do all things that lie in our power,’ confident that His power and love for us will see us through.
Susan and I are learning what this means in our lives right now. We don’t know what the future holds. We don’t know where we’ll be working and how we will support ourselves and our family. We are looking for new jobs. As many of you know, a job search can be a long and difficult process. We are trying our hardest to remember our Savior and, as Elder Christofferson directs, turn to him for help.
All of us in this ward likewise have profound experience with this principle. Whether it is financial difficulties, problems with family members and loved ones, struggles with addiction and other behavior, each of us in this room has had experience with letting go of our fear and turning to the Lord for help. Indeed, it is what has brought most of us here today.
Once again, here are Elder Christofferson’s three principles in review.
- Seek to know and follow the will of Christ just as He sought the will of the Father.
- Prepare to answer to Christ for every thought, word, and action.
- Fear not and look to the Savior for help.
Each sacramental prayer carries the promise that we’ll have his Spirit as we uphold our baptismal covenants. Yet as you explore the sacramental prayers more deeply, you’ll find that the Lord reciprocates each individual promise we make.
He asks us to be “willing to take upon [us] the name of [his] Son.” Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ took upon himself each of our names, individually.
He asks us to “keep his commandments.” In Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 we learn that the Lord binds himself when we obey his commandments: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.”
He asks us to “always remember him.” He always remembers us. Luke 12:6–7 records the Savior’s words:
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
I know that the Lord is there. He lived and died for us, and he has restored his Church in the latter days to help us realize the peace and joy that only his gospel can bring. As we strive to always remember him and uphold the covenants we have made with him, we will gain a deeper understanding of his Atonement and make it effective in our lives. Always remembering our Savior is key to obtaining the great and many blessings he has in store for us, including the crowning blessings of exaltation and eternal families. In short, as we remember him, we will become like him.
This text is adapted from a talk Dustin gave in the sacrament meeting of the Washington DC 3rd Ward on 10 July 2011.
This article appeared on pages 24–27 of Issue 4 | October 2011.