Today's meeting was unusual and wonderful. It all started when everyone began to realize that there was no bread for the sacrament. Usually, someone will bring an extra loaf as backup, but today, even the backup plan failed. So after the sacrament song, the 1st counselor got up and cracked a joke about how someone told him he needs to spice up the meeting more. He announced that we'd proceed with the testimonies and then have the last 10 minutes for administration of the sacrament.
He then proceeded to bear his testimony about what he was fasting for that day - a wayward child. It was a tender testimony and you could feel the anguish of his soul. His testimony set the theme of the meeting - everyone seemed to make a remark about a wayward child.
As is usually the case when my heart beats extremely rapidly, I felt prompted to get up and bear my testimony. Thoughts of my parents fasting and praying for my older brother entered my heart and I felt I should share my insights into the topic of wayward children.
As I bore my testimony, I was reminded of those quotes by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and President Packer. I know those quotes had brought much peace and comfort to my parents. I talked a bit about those quotes and the struggle my parents have had with my older brother. Being the youngest in the family, I had a unique insight to their struggle. Every prayer and every fast in our home always included a plea for my older brother. I then bore my testimony of the sealing power of the Priesthood and why temple marriage is so important.
Below are the quotes I referred to above. You can find all of the quotes in the September 2002 Ensign.
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught a more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).
Brigham Young said, “Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang” (quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:90–91).
Lorenzo Snow said, “If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity” (in Collected Discourses, comp. Brian H. Stuy, 5 vols. [1987–92], 3:364).
President Packer said, “The measure of our success as parents … will not rest solely on how our children turn out. That judgment would be just only if we could raise our families in a perfectly moral environment, and that now is not possible.
“It is not uncommon for responsible parents to lose one of their children, for a time, to influences over which they have no control. They agonize over rebellious sons or daughters. They are puzzled over why they are so helpless when they have tried so hard to do what they should.
“It is my conviction that those wicked influences one day will be overruled. …
“We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them” (“Our Moral Environment,” Ensign, May 1992, 68).
The last testimony of the meeting was from one of the members of the Stake Presdidency who lives in our ward. He read a scripture from the Book of Mormon in the context of wayward children.
In 2 Nephi 10:2, it reads, "For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the flesh; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer."
It was a very emotional meeting and everyone's hearts were tender and they bore their testimonies. It will be a testimony meeting I will not forget.