While still serving in the Seattle mission, I received a phone call from my oldest son, Sunbeam, who is a pianist. He said he would have the privilege of performing at Carnegie Hall in New York because he won an international competition. We were so happy and very thrilled for him. However, that evening, while praying with gratitude, my wife recognized that we could not join him for his performance and said to Heavenly Father something like this: “Heavenly Father, I am grateful for the blessing Thou hast given to Sunbeam. By the way, I am sorry that I cannot go there. I could have gone if Thou had given this blessing either before or after this mission. I am not complaining, but I have a little feeling of sorry.”
As soon as she finished this prayer, she heard a clear voice: “Because you cannot go, your son has been given this privilege. Would you rather trade?”
My wife was surprised. She knew children would be blessed through their parents’ faithful work in the Lord’s kingdom, but it was the first time she understood her role with such clarity. She replied to Him right away: “No, no, it is OK for me not to go. Let him have that honor.”
Dear brothers and sisters, it is not easy for us to recognize the love of Heavenly Father when we look around with our temporal eyes, because we see inconvenience, loss, burdens, or loneliness first. On the other hand, we can see the blessings beyond when we look up. The Lord has revealed, “When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” To all those who embark in any service of God, know that you are a solid connection for powerful blessings to those before you and to generations after you.
Today I am grateful to see that many of our family members are faithful on the covenant path but am saddened to imagine any empty seats next to us. Elder M. Russell Ballard said: “If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to ‘walk no more’ with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now.” President Thomas S. Monson encouraged us, “May we ever choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong.”
It is never too late to look up to Jesus Christ. His arms are always open to you. There are generations before us and after us depending on us to follow Christ so that we can be an eternal family of God.
It’s not always easy to look up when your parents are opposed to the gospel, when you are a member of a small Church unit, when your spouse is not a member, when you are still single although you did your best to marry, when a child has strayed, when you find yourself a single parent, when you are physically or emotionally challenged, when you are a victim in a disaster, and so on. Hold on to your faith in those hard times. Look up to Christ for strength, balance, and healing. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “all things shall work together for [your] good.”
I bear witness of Jesus Christ, that He is our Savior and Redeemer. When we follow our living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, we look up to Jesus Christ. As we pray and study the scriptures every day and partake sincerely of the sacrament every week, we gain the strength to always look up to Him. I am happy to be a member of this Church and to be a part of an eternal family. I love to share this great gospel with others. Inviting others to come unto Christ is our purpose, and we can fulfill this purpose by looking up to Jesus Christ.
Watch or read Elder Choi's full talk.