There are many times in our lives when we can be inspired by reflecting on the actions of others. As I look back over my life I realize that I have been strengthened and blessed as I recalled the lives of people chronicled in the Old Testament. Many of them I now think of as heroes and heroines because their examples help me as I face the diversities of life.
As a young woman who had grown up in a small farming community, I was exposed to worldly temptations and experiences when I went away to college. I was strengthened as I recalled the story of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego who remained true to their teachings and refused to defile their bodies with the king's food and wine or to bow before golden idols. These fine young men were examples of the blessings that come to those who are obedient. They were protected and saved, and Christ stood by them as He does each of us now when we follow Him in keeping the commandments. I have drawn on their examples as I have taught my own children and the youth of the Church.After our marriage, my husband and I left familiar surroundings and moved far away. It was difficult to bid farewell to family and friends and I reflected on the story of Rebekah, as she left home and family to marry Isaac. I knew that she was blessed by the Lord, and great blessings have come to us also as we have raised our children in the mission field. They have been the singular example of the gospel in their classrooms at school, answering questions from friends and teachers about their beliefs as they stood as witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
When our children arrived I was blessed to have my mother with me. What a great help and assurance it was to draw upon her experiences. I have thought of Eve and wondered who helped her as she bore children. Were angels nearby to watch over and guide her? I had doctors and nurses to attend to my needs. My own children are now having babies and I am not always near to assist them. I have faith that as with Eve, angels may also attend as these precious gifts from heaven are delivered.
As a mother of a growing family I was often weary and exhausted from the work of preparing meals and washing dirty dishes. I kept a picture of "The Gleaners" nearby to remind me of Ruth as she gleaned in the fields to provide food for her and Naomi, and I considered the blessings of our age.
There are new members of the Church and early members of my own ancestors who recognized and embraced the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because their families rejected these same truths, they have had to do as Ruth did as she followed Naomi, accepted her people and her God. It is difficult to be rejected by family because of embracing the gospel, yet great blessings will come even as they came to Ruth who was privileged to have Jesus descend from her. I have drawn upon this story as I meet those who are contemplating the cost of joining with the Saints today.
Whenever I am asked to give a talk, teach a lesson or stand as a witness of God in teaching the gospel to others I think of Esther and the courage it took for her to stand up for her people. Giving a talk in sacrament meeting, teaching a lesson in a class, or discussing our beliefs with those who are not members of the Church doesn't seem as frightening as what she faced to save her people. Yet perhaps my small contribution will help someone follow the iron rod and hold on a little tighter.
The things that I experience today are not so different than those experienced by earlier sons and daughters of God. They, too, had their trials and challenges and I can learn and be inspired by the way they handled each experience.