This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey.
First, an update. Today we’re covering the Sunday Afternoon session of the October 1973 General Conference, and that means we’re wrapping up our sixth GC since starting on this Odyssey. Next week—on September 27th—we’ll start with the Friday Morning Session of the April 1974 GC. Then the week after that—on October 4th—we’re going to be putting the GCO on a one-week hiatus. We’ll be posting that week, but our posts will be in reaction to the October 2016 GC. We’ll pick up again on October 11th with the Friday Afternoon session of April 1974 GC.
Now, back to the last session of the October 1973 GC. I found a definite theme in this section. In The Need for Total Commitment, Elder Burton defined a saint as “not necessarily a person who is perfect” (thank goodness!), “but a person who strives for perfection.”
I believe we must become so immersed in the gospel of Jesus Christ that we become physically as well as mentally more and more like the Lord himself. We must yield our whole hearts to him. What we then do is done not because we are asked to, nor because we are forced to, but because we want to. Neither pressure nor force can be exerted upon us from outside, when what we do is done because it is our own choice and desire. It then makes no difference to us what other men may think, or say, or do. Our hearts being committed wholly to God, what we do is done out of our love for and our trust in him. We then serve God in every way we can because we have been converted.1
In God’s Way to Eternal Life, Elder Brockbank continued that theme:
We can attain perfection by knowing and loving God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind; and by loving our neighbors as ourselves. This leaves no love for the devil or for the darkness of the world.
I particularly liked the end of his statement. One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past few years—although I haven’t managed to turn it into a post yet—is the importance of negative space. Of not doing something. Of not acting. Of simply being unmoved. I try so hard every day and every week to squeeze more of out of my time, to get closer to accomplishing every item on my list. I never make it, but—as I’m slowly starting to get closer—I’m learning again and again that what I don’t do is sometimes the only way to get to what I do want to do.
In any case, both of these statements brought a fresh understand to something (then) Elder Kimball said in the first talk of the session, The Rewards, the Blessings, the Promises. He said,
There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties.
It takes a great deal of commitment to “reach down into the depths of life,” but that is indeed where we can find “the stillness.”