President Howard W. Hunter taught, “Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience” (Ensign, November 1994, p. 88).
On the day Tobias and Jackie were married in January 1997, Tobias, who was in the U.S. Marines, looked great in his dress uniform. Jackie looked beautiful in her dress and was a perfect fit for this proud Marine. He had met Jackie at work before he left to serve his country in the military. The wedding and reception was very nice, as it is always wonderful when the family gets together.
The only thing disappointing that day was that it wasn’t a temple marriage. However, Tobias and Jackie were committed to some day be sealed in the temple when they were both ready and the time was right. With the cares of living life, time seemed to fly by. With his release from the service, they moved home and began to get settled in a life of their own and finally getting to know each other better. In time, with the love and encouragement from family and friends, they made the decision that it was time to prepare to enter the temple. Tobias and Jackie quietly began their journey that would lead them to the temple.
As they were preparing to enter the temple, the Lord blessed them with an unexpected surprise. Jackie became pregnant. Having been married three years, they wondered if they would ever be parents. But now a little one was on his way. The joys of preparation became even more meaningful as now a child would enter the circle of their eternal family. With the temple preparation class completed, a date was set for them to enter into covenants that would make their union and family eternal.
It had been a very mild winter in Utah, and the morning in January 2000 as we all met at the Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah was no exception. While it was chilly, it wasn’t a typical January day. There was a wonderful peace in the temple, as always, and the endowment session went well. There is a special spirit in a temple experience with family members present. The Celestial Room glows a little brighter with the smiles of relatives anxiously waiting for family members to arrive. I thought, as I waited for Tobias and Jackie to enter the room, how much more wonderful it must be as family members anxiously await the arrival of a loved one on the other side. Tobias and Jackie soon arrived, and with tears and smiles, were welcomed by family with hugs and words of expressed love.
As we arrived at the sealing room, a very nervous couple sat down to await the moment they had been longing for. The mothers sat on each side of the couple as the guests gathered into the room. Tobias sat straight up and down-stiff, and Jackie was nervously wringing her hands. They knew what they were doing was right, but there was so much to comprehend, so much to experience. Quietly, Tobias’ mother leaned over and whispered to her son. He looked at his wife, took her hand, and held it until it was time to kneel at the alter. Holding her husband’s hand, Jackie quickly calmed down and while still nervous, was able to enjoy the ceremony. As they knelt at the alter, there was the special Spirit that comes and confirms that what is happening was right. Warmth filled the room, and all present were indeed, “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” (2 Nephi 1:15). They were now an eternal family.
The Lord has always required his people to make covenants and build temples when ever the Priesthood was on the earth. The Lord has always used covenants to teach, train, and prepare His people for the greater blessings of eternity. In the latter-days, temples are again being built by the Lord’s covenant people. Receiving and honoring the covenants within the temple is essential to our eternal happiness and exaltation. As President Brigham Young stated, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, p. 302).
President Howard W. Hunter declared, “All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants.” He also said, “As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . May you let the meaning and beauty and peace of the temple come into your everyday life more directly in order that the millennial day may come” (Ensign, November 1994, p. 87-88).
President Hunter also taught: “Let us be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. Let us hasten to the temple as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow. Let us go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls. The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. It is the house of the Lord. It is holy unto the Lord. It should be holy unto us” (Ensign, October 1994, p. 2–5).
As a people and members of the Lord’s Church, we must make the temple “the great symbol” of our membership as President Hunter asked of us. President Hinckley moved the Church towards the temple in an ever increasing way as temples now dot the earth and the sacred covenants are available to more of our Heavenly Father’s children then ever before. President Monson continues the work of prophets in building temples and leading their people to the Celestial Kingdom. Tobias and Jackie heard the call and made the temple a part of their lives.
Temples are evidence of our Heavenly Father’s love for us. They testify the plan of salvation and of its fulfillment through His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Temples abolish the fear of death and are places of faith, hope, charity, and peace. They are a place of learning, of revelation, a place of spiritual growth. They are places of commitment, of covenant, to be partners with the Father in teaching and preparing His children, both living and dead, for eternal life.
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In these days of difficulty and strife, we need to peace and strength of the temple even more in our lives. If we cannot attend the temple, due to distance, health, or worthiness, may our memories be quickened with the Spirit of past attendance and may our hearts be encouraged and prepared with hope of future experience. May the temple become “the great symbol of [our] membership” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, p. 238) and the supreme mortal experience” for each of us.