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Book of Life

Book of Life
The pages of the book of life are written as we go through life day by day. There are no revisions; reincarnation does not exist.
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All of us want happiness during the course of our lives. Unfortunately, as we try to obtain happiness there are times when we confuse it with pleasure. Elder James Talmage gave a very good definition of the difference between pleasure and happiness:

“The present is an age of pleasure-seeking, and men are losing their sanity in the mad rush for sensations that do but excite and disappoint. In this day of counterfeits, adulterations, and base imitations, the devil is busier than he has ever been in the course of human history, in the manufacture of pleasures, both old and new; and these he offers for sale in most attractive fashion, falsely labeled, ‘Happiness.’  In this soul-destroying craft he is without peer; he has had centuries of experience and practice, and by his skill he controls the market.

         “Happiness leaves no bad, it is followed by no depressing reaction; it calls for no repentance, brings no regret, entails no remorse; pleasure too often makes necessary repentance, contrition, and suffering; and, if indulged to the extreme, it brings degradation and destruction.

“Happiness is not akin with levity, nor is it one with light-minded mirth. It springs from the deeper fountains of the soul, and is not infrequently accompanied by tears. Have you never been so happy that you have to weep? I have.” [1]

Someone once said, “The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.” I would like to reflect on each of these “essentials of happiness”.

SOMETHING TO DO

Someone once said, “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.”

What are we doing?

Do we feel satisfied with what we are?

Are we constantly blaming Satan for our failures and mistakes?

Are we using the power of choice wisely?

The writer Og Mandino[2] wrote the following:

“Choose to love ... rather than hate.

“Choose to love ... rather than hate.

Choose to laugh ... rather than cry.

Choose to laugh ... rather than cry.

Choose to create ... rather than destroy.

Choose to create ... rather than destroy.

Choose to persevere ... rather than quit.

Choose to persevere ... rather than quit.

Choose to praise ... rather than gossip.

Choose to praise ... rather than gossip.

Choose to heal ... rather than wound.

Choose to heal ... rather than wound.

Choose to give ... rather than steal.

Choose to give ... rather than steal.

Choose to act ... rather than procrastinate.

Choose to act ... rather than procrastinate.

Choose to grow ... rather than rot.

Choose to grow ... rather than rot.

Choose to pray ... rather than curse.

Choose to pray ... rather than curse.

Choose to live ... rather than die.”

Choose to live ... rather than die.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus concluded with the parable[3] of the wise and the foolish man as follows:

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Said Elder Richard L. Evans[4]:  “There is an old man up there ahead of you that you ought to know. He looks somewhat like you, talks like you, walks like you. He has your nose, your eyes, your chin; and whether he loves you or hates you, respects you or despises you, whether he is angry or comfortable, whether he is miserable or happy depends on you. For you made him. He is you, grown older.”

“What gift will we receive at the end of our days? The gift that we each desire. We are our own gift.”

SOMEONE TO LOVE

While teaching the Sadducees and Pharisees, and when faced with the question, “Which is the great commandment in the law”, Jesus replied:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

“This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”[5]

I believe that if we were asked if we love God, we would all immediately answer with a resounding “Yes”, but perhaps we do not always realize what that means. Love should not remain a mere feeling; it needs to be expressed and shown through action. To love God means that we keep His commandments; that we go the extra mile; that we strive to serve in our callings, without coming up with frequent excuses for our lack of action; and that we always give God a broken heart and a contrite spirit for an offering, recognizing and repenting of our faults. As we do so, we show our love by expressing that we need to be close to Him.

Likewise, loving God is closely related to loving one's neighbor. While teaching one of His parables, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”[6] For example, if we do not fast, we are telling God that we do not need to; in other words, that the blessings that He has promised us if we keep that commandment – and which He is willing to grant in abundance out of the love that He has for us – are not important to us. We are also telling Him that we do not love our neighbor enough because we do not give our fast offerings to help them with their needs.

Another way we show our love is by going to the Lord's temple often to feel closer to Him, at the same time helping those who have not had the opportunity to learn of His gospel and make the covenants and receive the ordinances that He has said are necessary to return to His presence.

SOMETHING TO HOPE FOR

Hope is trusting that we will obtain or achieve something.

What do we wish to obtain or achieve?

Do our desires match God's purposes?

Our Father in Heaven defined very clearly what His desires are: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”[7] We have received immortality by divine grace, but to achieve eternal life, we must “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God”[8].

We should always ask ourselves the question, “Do I know Jesus Christ?” This question refers to whether we know His teachings and whether we are applying them in our lives.

We are still writing our book of life. We can correct our course and raise it to a higher level, one that is closer to our Creator. I pray that we may do so in such a way that we will reach the heights that we committed to reaching before our Father in Heaven, and with which He was well pleased.

May we do, love, and have enough hope so our book of life will state that because of the way we live, we know Jesus Christ, and that we will therefore some day have the privilege of dwelling in the presence of our Heavenly Father and His Son forever and ever.


[1] Elder James Talmage (1862-1933). Improvement Era, volume 17, number 2, pages 172-173. A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

[2] Og Mandino (1923-1996), The Greatest Miracle In The World. American essayist and psychologist, considered one of the greatest writers of self-help books in the world.

[3] Matthew 7:24-27.

[4] Richard L. Evans (1906-1971). A member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

[5] Matthew 22:37-39

[6] Matthew 25:40

[7] Moses 1:39

[8] D&C 84:44