Monday, June 4, 2012


This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Sacrifice, by Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We've had a great string of lessons in the eight- and nine-yr-old class my wife and I teach at church. The flow of the lesson material and underlying story arc we've been traversing seem easy for the children to grasp, understand, remember, and apply in their lives.

We've been studying the lives and efforts of Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah from their days of antagonism through their missionary efforts and sacrifices. The lesson yesterday was on the Anti-Nephi-Lehies: the people who were converted to the Lord and covenanted to no longer shed the blood of anyone, even in defense of their own lives.

That's a strong commitment to a meaningful covenant.

The Covenant Rock, part of an object lesson.

Among the "controlled chaos" that I usually maintain when I teach these enthusiastic learners were distinct moments where certain class members seemed to really "get it" on a personal level. As I asked them to try to apply the lesson material to their own lives, I saw them "get it" in the way their smiles changed as they tilted their heads slightly to one side and got a knowing look in their eyes.

One girl—who made sacred baptismal covenants in the waters of baptism just hours later—restated something I had said in the lesson back to me, but with more meaning and power because she had internalized it: "When I keep my covenants, it doesn't matter what happens to me because God will be with me!"

Another boy excitedly told me that he had decided to do something he was asked not to do during the lesson (hit a classmate with his tie) and when he thought of the "covenant rock"—part of an object lesson (pictured above)—he decided to refrain and try sitting reverently instead. (In fact, I overheard him excitedly tell a few other people about his "covenant rock" experience in the next hour.)

In summary, we had a good time in our lesson. However, after it was all said and done, I wondered what I sacrifice as part of the covenants I have made. Luckily, I read Elder Oaks' talk on sacrifice today!

In addition to the expected LDS sacrifice categories of church service, full-time missionary service, and parenthood was something that stood out to me. Elder Oaks recounted the response when a Christian minister asked President Hinckley about the lack of a cross on one of our temples:

President Hinckley replied that the symbols of our Christian faith are “the lives of our people.” Truly, our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen.

I'm usually not faced with deciding if I'll give my life to keep sacred covenants (as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies did), but I can live my life as a symbol of my Christian faith—as a symbol of my sacred covenants.

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