Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Time to think about your ancestors

A common excuse for ignoring getting involved in family history is a lack of time. The easy, but not very helpful, answer is that we spend time on those things we value. The truth usually is we spend time on routine, daily responsibilities that we create for ourselves. We manage to be "busy" even if our activities are trivial and non-productive. We fill our "free time" with diversions. An example is monitoring the news. I remember my Grandfather coming home each day from work and sitting in his overstuffed chair and "reading the newspaper." He was a lifetime newspaper man, reporter and editor, and relaxed after a day's work by reading the paper. I am sure he spent more than an hour a day at this one activity. The activity itself was in no way negative. He kept reasonably well informed and had time to relax.

This example, however, illustrates a principle. That principle can be very well illustrated by reference to a well-known hymn:
Improve the shining moments;
Don't let them pass you by.
Work while the sun is radiant;
Work, for the night draws nigh.
We cannot bid the sunbeams
To lengthen out their stay,
Nor can we ask the shadow
To ever stay away.
The rest of the lyrics express this important principle; we accomplish what we spend our time doing. Often those things we spend our time on are those that really matter the least. As the scripture states:
But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late... Helaman 13:38
 Quoting from Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 18, pp. 303 to 305):
What do you suppose the fathers would say if they could speak from the dead? Would they not say, “We have lain here thousands of years, here in this prison house, waiting for this dispensation to come? Here we are, bound and fettered, in the association of those who are filthy?” What would they whisper in our ears? Why, if they had the power the very thunders of heaven would be in our ears, if we could but realize the importance of the work we are engaged in. All the angels in heaven are looking at this little handful of people, and stimulating them to the salvation of the human family.
One thing that has happened since Brigham Young made this statement is that we have a lot more excuses for not being involved in searching out our ancestors. I wonder what he would say to us today? Fortunately, we do not have to speculate. We have the words of our current prophets to remind us what we have to do. Here is an example of what I mean from a recent General Conference talk by Elder David A. Bednar:
The Spirit of Elijah affects people inside and outside of the Church. However, as members of Christ’s restored Church, we have the covenant responsibility to search out our ancestors and provide for them the saving ordinances of the gospel. “They without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:40; see also Teachings: Joseph Smith, 475). And “neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). 
For these reasons we do family history research, build temples, and perform vicarious ordinances. For these reasons Elijah was sent to restore the sealing authority that binds on earth and in heaven. We are the Lord’s agents in the work of salvation and exaltation that will prevent “the whole earth [from being] smitten with a curse” (D&C 110:15) when He returns again. This is our duty and great blessing.
The words may not be exactly the same as those used by President Young, but the message is the same. Perhaps we need to audit the time we are spending on trivial pursuits and focus some of our valuable time on family history.

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