It took time, but message of love and gratitude sinks in

By Bryan Gentry

Published: Monday, March 28 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Editor's note: One of several readers' memories of general conference.

With some shame I admit that I scoffed for a moment in the October 2010 general conference.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve was speaking in the opening session and said “thank you” to members of the LDS Church who work and serve in day-to-day callings, taking Scouts on hikes or bringing funeral potatoes.

I thought it was a nice message and a nice try to make us feel good. I impatiently waited for the next talk to begin.

Fortunately, general conference isn't over when it's over.

I loaded all of the talks on my iPhone so I could listen to them in my car. I remember listening to Elder Holland's talk while driving down a narrow highway in rural Virginia. Thank you for funeral potatoes? I skipped to the next talk.

Then there was another day, along the same rural highway, going the other direction when I listened to that talk on the verge of tears with a heart full of love.

Somehow, I finally got the message that I had overlooked at first.

“You are individually loved of God,” Elder Holland said, “you are central to the meaning of his work … I am trying to be voice for the very angels of heaven in thanking you for every good thing you have ever done, for every kind word you have ever said, for every sacrifice you've ever made in extending to someone … the beauty and blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The Spirit finally reached me with this beautiful message.

Apostles speak for the Lord.

Through this servant, the Lord was thanking each member of the church for serving in any calling. He was even thanking me.

On this day I heard the message rather than writing it off. What had once been a few sentimental stories became a doctrinal masterpiece about the Lord's love for others and me. I once scoffed, but it is now one of my favorite talks from that conference.

When we say “amen” to the closing prayer, the chance to learn from general conference is far from over. Through the written word, audio recordings and the Holy Ghost, we can keep learning from the talks and prepare to hear the Lord's servants again in the next conference.

Bryan Gentry lives in Lynchburg, Va., where he writes for a daily newspaper. He is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Southern Virginia University. He blogs at bryangentry.wordpress.com.

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