141. The Return
[For Elders K and T and their fellow-servants]
This little piece is a "tender mercy" received almost as a brief, kindly interruption to the more intense effort required for "What of Me?" My morning Book of Mormon study brought me to Alma 17--the joyful reunion of Alma and the Sons of Mosiah following the latter's mission to the Lamanites. This coincided with the announcement of the return, very soon, of two missionaries from our ward serving in Argentina, where I labored 50 years ago.
141. The Return
Whence come these men of joyful mien (1)
A grander vision in their eyes?
What have they done, what have they seen
That make them look quite oversized?
These are the Servants of the Word,
Who have returned from foreign shores.
These are the Elders of their Lord,
Who give reports unto their Wards.
These are the happy men.
We marvel at the change God wrought,
In untried youth who learned Christ’s Way.
They’ve served to teach all those who sought,
To learn His truths so far away.
Their clothes are patched, their shoes quite worn,
And yet their steps are quick and firm.
Within their hearts new fires burn
As they prepare for Christ's return.
These are the fervent men.
Their parents greet them with a kiss
As mark of many prayers fulfilled.
For two long years they’ve sorely missed,
Those whose reports make their hearts thrill.
On Earth below and Heaven above,
Saints’ prayers and fasting for the right,
Kept safe and strong these whom they loved
'Til Christ returned them to their sight.
These are consecrated men. (2)
(1) "mien": (noun) "air, bearing, or demeanor, as showing character, feeling, etc"
(2) See Elder Christopherson and Elder Maxwell quotes below on consecration.
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I would like to be very clear here, as I believe I have been previously. The Lord's children serve Him in many different ways, and in many different places, and such parables as the "Laborers in the Vineyard" [Matthew 20:1-16], the "Parable of the Talents" [Matthew 25:14-30], and other inspired sources assure us of this truth. Thus, those who are not capable of formal proselyting, or who go on service missions, or who accept callings in their home wards, may earn "the joy of their Lord" just as much as those who go abroad or serve domestically. Service, study, and consecration of whatever one's time and talents are to the Lord are what are important. To one degree or another, every Saint may seek and obtain a "sound understanding" of the gospel and the Lord Jesus Christ if they search the scriptures diligently combined with their prayers and fasts (to the degree they are capable). In this regard, "Come Follow Me" is transformational--a work of epic proportions and eternal value.
"And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched he scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God."
D Todd Christopherson, "Reflections of a Consecrated Life", Ensign, November 2010
"A consecrated life is a life of labor. Beginning early in His life, Jesus was about His Father’s business (see Luke 2:48-19). God Himself is glorified by His work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children (see Moses 1:39). We naturally desire to participate with Him in His work, and in so doing, we ought to recognize that all honest work is the work of God. In the words of Thomas Carlyle: 'All true Work is sacred; in all true Work, were it but true hand-labour, there is something of divineness. Labour, wide as the Earth, has its summit in Heaven.”
Neal A. Maxwell, "Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, May 2002
"We tend to think of consecration only as yielding up, when divinely directed, our material possessions. But ultimate consecration is the yielding up of oneself to God. Heart, soul, and mind were the encompassing words of Christ in describing the first commandment, which is constantly, not periodically, operative (see Matt. 22:37). If kept, then our performances will, in turn, be fully consecrated for the lasting welfare of our souls (see 2 Ne. 32:9)."