Good morning brothers and sisters. My name is Mark Fisher and I have lived here in California for nearly four years. I have four children and I have been married for nearly 20 years. My journey started on my mission to Veracruz, Mexico around the turn of the 21st century. It was there that I learned the huge impact the Savior would have on my life, the life of my converts, and the other missionaries I served with. What particularly impacted me was the readiness by which the people of Mexico accepted making covenants. It almost felt as if it was something predetermined.
Today my talk is what the “promised land” means in the scriptures and in our personal lives. In Helaman 7, Nephi, expressed great remorse due to the fallen state of the people due to tyrannical governance by the Gadianton robbers. His remorse made more acute by the fact that only a few years before, the people were living happy worthy lives full of blessing. Nephi exclaimed his desire to live in the time of first Nephi, to rejoice in the original promised land to start anew to build a civilization with better foundation of the Rock of Salvation.
Since then, the Nephites would return to the covenant path, only to ultimately reject the truth. This vacillation in covenant keeping is reminiscent of the tribes of Israel in their relatively constant state of disbelief despite all the miraculous blessings received that led to their persistent periods of liberation.
My impression is that God has been waiting until these latter days to bring to pass His greatest work among people of a higher order. In 3rd Nephi, Chapter 16, the Savior cited Isaiah when He said the modern people will break out in joy thanks to their redemption as a branch of Israel. I believe this passage refers directly to the people in this room. He was aware of you when He visited with your ancestors and by your presence now, you have shown your loyalty to Him.
It is important to remember that you were promised the inheritance offered to your father, Lehi. God committed with him since he was a branch of Israel. This shows us that God never forgets His flock that commits to Him despite the passage of centuries. The Savior said that the gentiles would bring Lehi’s children back into the fold due to their commitment to Him. He added that this land would be for Lehi’s children not just for their possession but protection from ultimate conquest.
During my mission I was witness to the recovery and re-consolidation of the ancient Israel. I felt the bonds being reforged through a modern faith reinvigorating an ancient one. With God, nothing is by accident as it related to His work.
One person comes to my mind when thinking about this.
One day we were on the street half lost wondering where to go next. Out of nowhere, I felt an instant impression to follow a shaded alleyway next to some small block houses. It was there we found sister Gloria (woman in the picture above). Without a doubt, she was waiting for something that was lacking in her life. Previously, she had a little girl with a LDS returned missionary that abandoned her and the child. Despite this complicated history that could have led to great dissolution she radiated a marvelous light.
I felt my own light turned on when relating the plan of salvation with her. She had a humility that washed over me making me feel her sincere light. Not long after, she was baptized. Her readiness to accept the light of truth felt purposeful as if God were preparing her path. Each time I think of her my gratitude surfaces. The light of Christ was already in her and all she needed was the spark to light it. I felt at the time and still do now that she was prepared in advance of our arrival by powers outside of our understanding.
All of this makes me wonder that if the promised land represents a new beginning, what should it mean for us in the fullness of times?
Our promised lands come in many forms. They could be a new start, or a simple promise completed thanks to diligent application of faith. The importance is not what but how we get there. The Savior has many promised lands for us. He is just waiting for us to employ faith, perseverance, and consistency in obeying His laws.
Promised lands can even be actual physical locations the Lord sees fit to place us. Whatever the case may be, how can we get there if we do not have the spirit of light and truth?
I am grateful that God has blessed me to recognize profound truths in my life by following straighter paths. Because of that, I find myself here full of faith and love only because the Savior has given me a small portion of His light. That light is my promised land. To know Him better and to follow Him I feel a guiding hand that leads me to profound truths that shape my life and that of my family. But sometimes, we must suffer first before we can be edified with His understanding.
The first Nephi in the Book of Mormon was a perfect example of someone who followed the voice of the Lord to miraculous ends, such as colonizing a promised land for people committed to the Lord. But before that came to fruition, Nephi suffered a great deal. Going against his own good nature, he had to kill a man, resist the constant defiance of his two brothers and their families and finally construct a large ship for journey on the high seas without any carpentry skills. All one big act of faith based on privation and suffering. But thanks to Nephi’s faith, an entire civilization was established.
Finally, is not the greatest promised land the one where all our families are reunited in the next life? Or maybe it is simply recognizing that we have already received our promised land?
Because of our covenants, God and his Son have promised to give us all that they have. These blessings are saved for those that follow the voice of truth with faith and confidence. Because of this faith, we obtain a present and future with the right blessings that only God knows are best for us. The greater degree we align with Christ, the greater measure of the right circumstances prevails in our lives. And only through faith can we understand the truth behind our own state of being in this life.
We are the only limiting factors in all of this. It is us that prevents a fuller measure of faith and blessing. Once we realize that through our Savior we can gain real liberation from our fallen realities, our states become higher and higher in alignment with His. Maybe we have already achieved our promised lands and we are not aware of them. But only through Him can get to the places we need to be.