What does it mean to you to "endure to the end"?
How dedicated are you to endure to the end?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said "Nothing very valuable can come without significant sacrifice and effort and patience on our part."
We all have long, challenging roads to follow in this life that will require much from us. So why is it important to keep trying, persevering? Is it worth it?
I believe in the words of the Lord found in the Doctrine and Covenants 64:33-34 which state "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind..."
Many scriptures and prophets have told us of the blessings of eternal life, and indicated that we cannot comprehend the glory, the beauty and the happiness available to us in the next life. But we are also told that a price has to be paid in order to receive such great blessings.
There are many examples of those who have endured to the end and paid the price to receive their prize. One such example is found in this poem by Douglas Malloch:
Bill Brown made a million, Bill Brown, think of that!
A boy, you remember, as poor as a rat.
Who hoed for the neighbors, did jobs by the day,
Well Bill's made a million, or near it, they say.
You can't understand it, well, neither could I.
But then I remembered, and now I know why.
The bell might be ringin', the dinner horn blow,
But Bill always hoed to the end of the row.
Bill worked for my father, you maybe recall.
He wasn't a wonder, not that, not at all.
He couldn't out-hoe me, nor cover more ground,
Or hoe any cleaner, or beat me around.
In fact I was better one way that I knew:
One toot from the kitchen, and home I would go,
But Bill always hoed to the end of the row.
We used to get hongry out there in the corn,
You talk about music, what equals a horn?
A horn yellin' dinner, tomatoes and beans,
And pork and potatoes, and gravy and greens.
I ain't blamin' no one, for quittin' on time,
To stop with the whistle, that ain't any crime.
But as for the million, well, this much I know:
That Bill always hoed to the end of the row!
Do we always hoe to the end of our row? Is that the price of great happiness? Sometimes while hoeing in our row we come across big rocks that make us want to quit. These are the rocks of adversity and they are all a part of the package of life given to us to help us grow.
Another example of one who endured, who had quite a difficult row to hoe, is told by a member of the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company, an LDS pioneer group who crossed the plains to Utah under extreme conditions. Frances Webster was sitting in a sunday school class listening to members criticize church authorities for letting the company cross the plains so late in the year, when he arose and said:
"I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Hand Cart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that Company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that Company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that Company ever apostatized or left the church because every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.
"I have pulled my hand cart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there.
"Was I sorry that I chose to come by hand cart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Hand Cart Company."
The price to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay. Was his prize worth the price? Evidently so. His was a rugged path that led to a glorious destination.
What God Has Promised
God hath not promised
Skies always blue
All our lives through.
God hath not promised
Sun without rain
Joy without sorrow
Peace without pain.
But God hath promise
Strength for the day
Rest for the labor
Light for the way;
Grace for the trials
Help from above
by Annie Johnson Flint
God supplies us the strength, the help and the love, but we must supply the faith and the perseverance. For a final example of those who have persevered, paid the price and won the prize, I borrow from a talk given by Elder Jefferey R. Holland, when he was the president of Brigham Young University, Provo. He tells of the trials of the early LDS pioneers in their efforts to build the Salt Lake Temple:
Excerpts from "However Long and Hard the Road"
The work seemed ill-fated from the start. The excavation for the basement required trenches twenty feet wide and sixteen feet deep, much of it through solid gravel. Just digging for the foundation alone required nine thousand man days of labor. Surely someone must have said, "A temple would be fine, but do we really need one this big?" But they kept on digging. Maybe they believed they were "laying the foundation of a great work." In any case they worked on, "not weary in well-doing."
But as Brigham Young also said, "We never began to build [any] temple without the bells of hell beginning to ring" (J.A. Widtsoe [ed.], Discourses of Brigham Young [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1973], p. 410). No sooner was the foundation work finished than Albert Sidney Johnston and his United States troops set out for the Salt Lake Valley intent on war with "the Mormons." In response President Young made elaborate plans to evacuate and, if necessary, destroy the entire city behind them. But what to do about the temple whose massive excavation was already completed and its 8' x 16' foundational walls firmly in place? They did the only thing they could do--they filled it all back in again. Every shovelful. All that soil and gravel that had been so painstakingly removed with those nine thousand man days of labor was filled back in. When they finished, those acres looked like nothing more interesting than a field that had been plowed up and left unplanted.
When the Utah War threat had been removed, the Saints returned to their homes and painfully worked again at uncovering the foundation and removing the material from the excavated basement structure.
But then the apparent masochism of all this seemed most evident when not adobes or sandstone but massive granite boulders were selected for the basic construction material. And they were twenty miles away in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Furthermore the precise design and dimensions of every one of the thousands of stones to be used in that massive structure had to be marked out individually in the architect's office and shaped accordingly. This was a suffocatingly slow process. Just to put one layer of the six hundred hand-sketched, individually squared, and precisely cut stones around the building took nearly three years. That progress was so slow that virtually no one walking by the temple block could ever see any progress at all.
And, of course, getting the stone from mountain to city center was a nightmare...toiling and tugging and struggling to pull from the quarry one monstrous block of granite, or at most two of medium size.
The arrival of the railroad pulled almost all of the working force off the temple for nearly three years, and twice grasshopper invasions sent the workers into full-time summer combat with the pests.
The journals and histories of these teamsters are filled with accounts of broken axles, mud-mired animals, shattered sprockets, and shattered hopes.
...right in the middle of this staggering effort requiring virtually all that the Saints could seem to bear, [President Brigham Young] announced the construction of the St. George, Manti, and Logan Temples.
"Can you accomplish the work, you Latter-day Saints of these several counties?" he asked. And then in his own inimitable way he answered:
Yes; that is a question I can answer readily. You are perfectly able to do it. The question is, have you the necessary faith? Have you sufficient of the Spirit of God in your hearts to say, yes, by the help of God our Father we will erect these buildings to his name? . . . Go to now, with your might and with your means and finish this Temple. [Anderson, Contributor, p. 267]
On 6 April 1892, the Saints as a body were nearly delirious. Now, finally, here in their own valley with their own hands they had cut out of the mountains a granite monument that was to mark, after all they had gone through, the safety of the Saints and the permanence of Christ's true church on earth for this one last dispensation. The central symbol of all that was the completed House of their God. The streets were literally jammed with people. Forty thousand of them fought their way on to the temple grounds. Ten thousand more, unable to gain entrance, scrambled to the tops of nearby buildings in hopes that some glimpse of the activities might be had. Inside the Tabernacle President Wilford Woodruff, visibly moved by the significance of the moment, said:
If there is any scene on the face of this earth that will attract the attention of the God of heaven and the heavenly host, it is the one before us today--the assembling of this people, the shout of 'Hosanna!' the laying of the topstone of this Temple in honor to our God. [Anderson, Contributor, p. 270]
Then, moving outside, he laid the capstone in place exactly at high noon.
In the writing of one who was there, "The scene that followed is beyond the power of language to describe." Lorenzo Snow, beloved President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came forward leading 40,000 Latter-day Saints in the Hosanna shout. Every hand held a handkerchief every eye was filled with tears. One said the very "ground seemed to tremble with the volume of the sound" which echoed off the tops of the mountains. "A grander or more imposing spectacle than this ceremony of laying the Temple capstone is not recorded in history" (Anderson, Contributor, p. 273). It was finally and forever finished.
Later that year the prestigious Scientific American (1892), referred to this majestic new edifice as a "monument to Mormon perseverance." And so it was. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat. The best things are always worth finishing. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" (1 Corinthians 3:16). Most assuredly you are. As long and laborious as the effort may seem, please keep shaping and setting the stones that will make your accomplishment "a grand and imposing spectacle." Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Dream dreams and see visions. Work toward their realization. Wait patiently when you have no other choice. Lean on your sword and rest a while, but get up and fight again. Perhaps you will not see the full meaning of your effort in your own lifetime. But your children will, or your children's children will, until finally you, with all of them, can give the Hosanna shout.
Let us learn from those before us who have persevered and received the prize for which the paid. Let us look on our lives as a series of problems to be solved, and with faith and perseverance, solve them.
The price is so little for the prize which is so great.
(photo by Ken R. Young)