How important is the Sabbath Day?
Over two hundred years ago, a company of men and some women arrived in the barren dry valley of Salt Lake. The prophet Brigham Young was among this company. Arriving on a Saturday, the men wasted no time and immediately began preparing to plant. The pioneers were filled with expectation and urgency to begin the development of this new soil. They had left their families in Winter Quarters after enduring a brutal winter of disease, hunger, death and poverty. The urgency of developing this new home as soon as possible was critical to the survival of their wives and children.
Brigham Young arrived on Saturday. Under the pressured circumstances, one might assume that the brethren did not rest the following day, observe the Sabbath and hold meetings. Their very survival was at risk. With a late season already at hand, these pioneers faced the very real possibility of missing their chance to begin the badly needed crops.
Did these brethren consider skipping this one Sabbath? It was only one out of hundreds they had and would have the chance to observe before the end of their lives. President Kimball relates the story:
“The next day, Sabbath services were held both in the morning and in the afternoon. There was no hall of any kind in which to meet. I suppose that in the blistering heat of that July Sunday they sat on the tongues of their wagons and leaned against the wheels while the Brethren spoke. The season was late, and they were faced with a gargantuan and immediate task if they were to grow seed for the next season. But President Young pleaded with them not to violate the Sabbath then or in the future.
Imagine how tempting it must have been for our pioneer forefathers to break the Sabbath day. Their survival depended upon the food they could grow and harvest. Yet their leaders counseled them to exercise faith in the promises of the Lord and to respect the Sabbath day. Church members are the beneficiaries of that heritage and of the promises of the Lord to those who are faithful. We must always remember who we are and that we are different from the world. (President Spencer W. Kimball)
In my own home, my father impressed upon us from an early age the difference between this “day of rest” and every other day. For instance, instead of a special or elaborate dinner, our meals were simple and quickly fixed. We were continually reminded that our food was to be “prepared with singleness of heart.” (D&C 59:13) At times it was difficult to remember. However, I came to know that every individual who works to consecrate that Sabbath and reform his/her thoughts and actions according receives strength to overcome temptation, power to endure trials and wisdom to avoid deception. (Isaiah 58:13-14) I believe an individual’s spiritual maturity can be analyzed based on their approach to the Sabbath. (Exodus 31:13, Ezekiel 20:12)
May we reconsider some of the activities, conversation and even traditions that have moved us away from consciously keeping the Lord’s day, HIS day. In closing, I would like to quote the words of President George Albert Smith:
Much of the sorrow and distress that is afflicting and will continue to afflict mankind is traceable to the fact that they have ignored God’s admonition to keep the Sabbath day holy. (George Albert Smith)