"May Christ Lift Thee Up"
Virginia H. Pearce
Virginia H. Pearce is a former first counselor in the Young Women general presidency. She
has earned a Master of Social Work and is a loving wife, mother, and grandmother.
(She is also the daughter of Gordon B. and Marjorie Pay Hinckley)
© 1998 Virginia H. Pearce. All rights reserved.
"My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve
thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and
death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the
hope of his glory and eternal life, rest in your mind forever" (Moroni 9:25).
I hope you won't mind if we delay talking about that verse for a while. I'd like to take
you around the neighborhood, through some friendly streets and alleys, and then finally in
the back door, where we'll meet up once again with Mormon and Moroni.
For our first detour, let me take you back three or four years ago to a spring morning
not unlike this one. I was driving to work down South Temple Street in Salt Lake. The sun
was shining; the world seemed fresh and alive; there were daffodils everywhere and lots of
that vibrant new green that we only see in the early spring. I was feeling good. It was one of
those days when everything seemed to be right in my world. You know the kind of day. I
was overwhelmed with love for my husband—he seemed particularly handsome and good;
my children seemed like they were going to make it in the world. And they were nice
people, too. We were all in good health; in fact, at that moment I felt extraordinarily healthy
and strong. I thought about all of the wonderful people—friends, neighbors, associates at
work—who made my world so good. My thoughts went to the day ahead. Yes, it was going
to be a good one. There was work ahead that I felt I could do—work that was satisfying and
interesting and that might even make a difference. I'm telling you, the cheerfulness in my
car was almost edible!
Yet even as I was reviewing how great my life was, part of me was looking on
saying, What's going on here? None of the hard data in your life has changed that much,
and yet everything seems wonderfully better this morning than it was last week! My
analytical nature surfaced: Maybe the biorhythms are peaking; perhaps there has been a
sudden change in serotonin levels; or maybe I created extra endorphins on my morning
walk. Anyway, even as I looked for ways to explain it (I didn't really care how it happened),
the daffodils were catching the sun, and I was happy. Arriving at the office a little early that
morning—isn't that what you would do on a practically perfect day?—I even had time to
leaf through my scriptures.
Now, let me interrupt this happy picture and take you to a different scene.
This is one a friend described to me. On this particular morning she lay in a psychiatric hospital at
the bottom point of a terrible battle with an emotional illness. The war had exhausted her.
She lay there thinking that she no longer knew herself. All of the talents, characteristics, and
abilities she had developed over her life seemed to have fled. The things she had done in the
past no longer brought meaning. Her husband, children, parents, and friends were in tatters.
Prayer, scriptures, blessings—nothing seemed to help. She said the image that came to her
so forcefully that morning was the picture of a tree stump, cut off at ground level, all of the
living branches gone, a maimed and broken thing.
I have been thinking of my daffodil day—and also of that tree stump. Is there a
symbol, or a sign, or an idea that is so fundamental to life that it would speak to both of
The ankh is a symbol that is common in Egyptian art. It is simple and beautiful. The
ankh is called the sign of life, the symbol of life, or sometimes the key of life. We know
little about its meaning anciently until the period of the Coptic Christians, when we begin to
see it take more of the form and meaning of the cross.
Now, I have told you that on that spring morning I reached for my scriptures, still
thinking of my incredible sense of well-being, and started paging through the Topical
Guide, stopping on the word cheerful. As I read through the sentence stubs, I was surprised
by a pattern:
"Be of good cheer, it is I" (D&C 61:36).
"Be of good cheer, for I will lead you along" (D&C 78:18).
"Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
That touched a chord. Everything about my morning became an expression of
gratitude to the Savior: the spring morning spoke of him, eternal ties and family
relationships spoke of him, my health, strength, work—it all found meaning because of him.
Now to my friend in the hospital. She said, "My mind wasn't working right, and so I
was unable to get the daily reassurance that you depend on to feel good. But even without
that normal reassurance, as I saw the image of the stump, I was aware of the roots.
Somehow, I knew that I still had roots and that there would be growth again someday. I
knew that the time would come when I would look back and see this impaired time almost
like Rip Van Winkle. I knew my mind wasn't working right. But even as I knew that, I could
feel those roots alive—somewhere very, very deep underground."
"Lift up your head and be of good cheer" (3 Nephi 1:13).
"Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you" (D&C 68:6).
Jesus Christ. Our sign of life, our key to life in all of its majestic and meaningful simplicity, is Jesus Christ. He fits every door, every life experience, every death experience that any mortal can possibly encounter.
He is the undergirding of the daffodil days, the root
which teams with the hope of life, even when it has been pruned to the ground.
He stands as the fountain in ancient times as well as today. He is our key to life.
He is the light and the life.
If he is the key, how can we most simply express that key in terms of us, in terms of
what we feel and think and do? Again, the simplicity of his life showed us the way. He said,
"This is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of
my Father" (3 Nephi 27:13; emphasis added).
If I could borrow a simple phrase—not even a complete sentence, but just the heart
of a sentence—to express the key of life in practical everyday language for us, I would use
this phrase, written by Alice T. Clark in her article on humility in the Encyclopedia of
"joyfully, voluntarily, and quietly submit one's whole life to the Lord's will"
(ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 2:663).
This phrase seems to me so basic. Like the ankh, it is beautiful in its clean and
simple design. It cannot be spoken without a deep and complete faith in Christ and his
doctrine. And the speaking of it weds that faith to its partner, agency. When we gathered in
that council in heaven, before the foundation of this world, and heard the plan in all of its
simple beauty, we understood about our need for faith as well as the importance of our
Father's gift to us: agency. And we understood about the central and saving role of our Elder
Brother. I'm sure it seemed wonderful in its simplicity to us then, just as it is now.
Everything since that premortal experience persuades and calls for us to exercise
faith in Christ, using our agency to choose him and his ways.
Scriptural synonyms give rich and deep meaning to this phrase:
"Spiritually born of God" (Alma 5:14).
"To take upon them his name and always remember him" (D&C 20:77).
"To love God with all your might, mind and strength" (Moroni 10:32).
"An eye single to the glory of God" (D&C 4:5).
"For we shall be like him" (Moroni 7:48).
"To offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (2 Nephi 2:7).
I love the picture of the charming little girl on the Mary Engelbreit greeting card, her
heart in outstretched hands and the caption reading "Here!" (used by permission).
Now, I am going to repeat our key-of-life phrase again, and for the next few minutes
We are going to talk about all of the wonderful implications that roll out when we submit our whole lives to the Lord's will: to "joyfully, voluntarily, and quietly submit one's whole life
to the Lord's will."
If, in fact, we do choose to submit our whole lives joyfully, voluntarily, and quietly
to the Lord's will, what are some things that will follow? What will some of the immediate
and natural outcomes be?
We will live our covenants,
because living them is a happy choice.
Covenants are not restrictive burdens; they are offerings joyfully made. We will strive to live covenants
within that glorious cycle of repentance and growth. "I delight to do thy will, O my God:
yea, thy law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:8).
Let me tell you about my friend Pat Pinegar, Primary General President. One day we
were in a meeting together. There was a long and belabored discussion a
bout sexual morality, particularly concerning young people. We were discussing their vulnerability and
the tragic results of sin, but most of all we were talking about how to convince them to obey
the law of chastity. Why would they want to remain chaste, against the flow of the world
and their natural desires? Many voices, lots of ideas, and then Sister Pinegar said, "I don't
understand all of this. It seems so simple. Why don't we teach them to obey just because
they love Heavenly Father?"
Stops you short, doesn't it?
There was an extended silence in the meeting. Sister Pinegar is one who constantly
strives to submit her whole life to God's will. Certainly a life lived with that motivation
would be a covenant-keeping life—and a much simpler life.