37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
Let’s consider for a moment the vastness of outer space. It’s cold, dark, empty, and inhospitable. Now consider the world in its own vastness. In its way it is cold, dark, lonely, and unforgiving. There will be times when we feel alone in our principles and beliefs or that there simply isn’t a place for us to be safe and comfortable. But God is there!
41 [God] comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.
The good news about outer space (and the world) is that God has created entities (“kingdoms”) that do something wonderful to offset the otherwise bleak conditions:
42 And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;
43 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.
44 And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years–all these are one year with God, but not with man.
45 The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.
Did you catch what the sun and planets do that is so wonderful? It’s quite simple but nevertheless wonderful: they give light to each other! In an environment as bleak as outer space there are entities/kingdoms that, even though very distant from one another, they give light in their times and seasons. I remember being taught about various constellations as a boy and being intrigued. As a boy scout I once had the chance to hike to the top of a secluded mountain peak in the middle of the night. The thousands of stars visible from that peak were breathtaking.
For me, the most amazing thing about the stars and other light-giving objects I see in the night sky is that I can’t look at them and not believe in God and his awareness of me. This became even more true for me as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving in the Brazil, Maceió mission.
This was my first trip to the southern hemisphere and I was delighted to be able to take in a totally different configuration of stars in the night sky. No more “Big Dipper”, no more North Star, no more Orion, etc… But there were new constellations like the “Southern Cross”.
Even though there were times in which I missed the familiar northern hemisphere’s night sky, I still experienced the same faith-promoting feeling when presented each night with the stars of the southern hemisphere. Why might that be?
When I arrived in Maceió, AL, Brazil at the beginning of my 2-year, full-time missionary service I conversed with my Mission President. He shared his conviction about the importance of personal righteousness in missionary work. He mentioned a survey or study that had recently been done (this was in 2001) in which new members of the church were asked at what point in their investigation of the church they came to know it was true. Many expressed that they gained a conviction of the truth after having met the missionaries the very first time, which surprised me. How could someone know just by seeing the missionaries once?
46 Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand? 47 Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.
A certain primary song extends the metephor:
I am like a star shining brightly, Smiling for the whole world to see…
Do you know anyone like that? You know, the kind of person who, whenever you encounter them gives off light! In other words, when you see them you “[see] God moving in his majesty and power”! It’s even likely that you are that light-bearing person every once in a while, helping others to see God moving in his majesty and power. What do we need to do in order to be that kind of light more consistently?
Above all else we can live the gospel. Surely there is no more powerful missionary message we can send to this world than the example of a loving and happy Latter-day Saint life. The manner and bearing, the smile and kindness of a faithful member of the Church brings a warmth and an outreach which no missionary tract or videotape can convey. People do not join the Church because of what they know. They join because of what they feel, what they see and want spiritually. Our spirit of testimony and happiness in that regard will come through to others if we let it. As the Lord said to Alma and the sons of Mosiah, “Go forth … that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”
A young returned missionary sister from Hong Kong told me recently that when she and her companion asked an investigator if she believed in God, the woman replied, “I didn’t until I met a member of your church and observed how she lived.” What exemplary missionary work! Asking every member to be a missionary is not nearly as crucial as asking every member to be a member! Thank you for living the gospel.
This message was originally delivered during my time as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Maceió, AL, Brasil.