They wait quietly, more than 600 teenagers at a youth conference, dressed in their Sunday best. Some whisper or talk quietly, some read from their scriptures or write notes. They have been waiting for more than an hour, and when he finally comes into the outdoor theater, they stand respectfully until he bids them be seated.
This is no rock star or entertainer, no wealthy businessman or well-placed politician. He is a man of God. They know him by reputation. They hear spiritual authority in his voice when he speaks, and finally they feel it in their own hearts, with a surety that rhetoric and logic cannot bring.
He begins with a little humor, some of self-deprecating. He has their complete trust.
By the time he finishes speaking to them, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is telling them that they must prepare to serve the Savior when He comes again. And within their hearts they resolve to be ready.
It is a message that Elder Christofferson carries to teens, young single adults, families, and local leaders in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama over ten days. The opportunity to travel with his party and to help cover the events is one reason for the gap between entries in this blog. (Trouble with an Internet provider—much more mundane—is the other reason.) Now, looking back, I have a chance to reflect on the effects of faith in the lives of those who greeted Elder Christofferson.
On Sunday mornings, chapels in the meetinghouses are filled two hours before he arrives; the congregation spills over into overflow rooms and even tents in the parking lots. He is not the only General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visiting Central America for those few days, so perhaps some come not knowing who they will hear in their Sunday meeting. But it seems that they come more for the word than for the person.
It is evident that they do not come simply as empty vessels waiting to be filled. Many obviously ponder what they are taught. Many take notes, either on paper or tablet computers and laptops. If you ask them afterward what they heard, most will be able to give you a thoughtful analysis of what they have learned. And it will be different in every case, because the Spirit has spoken to the heart of each person what he or she needed to hear.
Will every one of them keep his or her resolve to be prepared to meet the Savior? Or will some fall away?
Human nature being what it is, some may fall away. We all fall short of our own expectations of ourselves, of our own finest resolutions sometimes. Sadly, some of us do it so often that we lose the power to live up to our spiritual privileges. In the end, when He knocks we may be too ashamed to open.
But some will keep their resolve. Some will be waiting in faith, eager for the opportunity to serve Him when He comes, eager to say, “Master, I will.” Watching now as members listen gratefully to an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I can’t help but be awed by the thought of the spiritual force they will be when He comes again.