Last night the world lost one of the greatest men ever to live on Earth. LDS Church President and Prophet, Seer, and Revelator Gordon B. Hinckley passed away. There is no man to have lived in my short lifetime that was a greater exemplar of faith, love, honesty, integrity, and Christ-like living.
It is difficult to put into words how I feel personally about the man. I never had the opportunity to meet him or shake his hand. The closest I got to him was in 1998 when he spoke in Edmonton, Alberta. I was serving as a missionary at the time in Calgary and our Mission President allowed us all to travel to Edmonton for the occassion. I can vividly remember the spirit he carried and brought into the conference hall where the meeting occurred. I cannot remember what specifically President Hinckley spoke about, nevertheless, I know that I was in the presence of a holy man, a man who literally spoke with our Savior, even Jesus Christ.
President Hinckley was one of the longest serving President’s of the Church in Mormon’s short history. He oversaw the largest expansion of Church membership and temple growth. He made the Temple and provident, Christ-like living the cornerstone of his service. It was during his tenure that the Lord revealed his plan to make Temple ordinances more readily available to members throughout the world with the plan of building smaller temples that could built in areas with smaller LDS population. This program allowed more members to receive the saving ordinances and perform such work for their kindred dead.
President Hinckley has been one of the anchors of the LDS faith over the last half-century. Having been an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ since the 1960’s, he has had a major role in every major decision since then. He also largely ran the Church in the late-70’s and through the 80’s when President’s Kimble and Benson had severe health problems that limited their activities. What a great and wonderful man, he was a kind and loving person and touched millions upon millions of people’s lives for good.
Now, President Hinckley’s death is only sad for those of us whom will miss him dearly, but it is certainly not sad for him. Pres. Hinckley has returned to that God whom gave us life and he returned in glory and honor. I am reminded of the closing remarks of Book of Mormon Prophet Enos, in his final statement he said the following:
27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father.
Indeed, President Hinckley is rejoicing and will continue to rejoice. He will see the Savior’s face with pleasure and will obtain a place in the mansions of our Father. He has been faithful and dedicated in the service of the Lord and will be saved in his courts on high.
Yet, the greatest reason to not mourn, but to rejoice in the passing of President Hickley is that he is reunited with his beloved wife Marjorie. What a blessing it is to be sealed with our spouse for time and all eternity, not just “till death do us part.” He has rejoined his wife in heaven, there to be by her side throughout all eternity; is there any greater blessing that one can imagine that being able to spend eternity with the one that you love.
I have a great testimony that President Hinckley was indeed a Prophet of God, on the paralell of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and Peter of old. Can one think of a more important time than this in which we now live where the need for a Prophet of God was greater? The world has changed immensly over the last 200 years, more so than any period in its previous history. We face new challenges and evils everyday, how can it be that God has abandonded us to our own devices and own wisdom? The reality is that he has not. God loves us the same as he has people of old. He continues to reveal his will, to teach us the way to follow, and how to traverse these perilous times. What a great blessing it is to live on the earth in a time when the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth, when the great gathering of Israel is commencing, and when we have Prophets to teach us the mind and will of God.