On this Day in Church History President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Nauvoo Pioneer Memorial Park (April 18, 1997)
As I stood on the banks of the Mississippi I was humbled and inspired by the thought of the early Saints. In just seven years they transformed Nauvoo from an empty swamp into a developed and populated city, even rivaling Chicago.1 Then, in a mass exodus, they made their way westward, carving the “Mormon trail” with their own sweat, blood, and tears.2
“The miracle they accomplished is something I never quite get over,” said President Hinckley at the dedication of the park.3
I often ask myself: how did they do it? Against all odds and unwavering persecution, the Saints kept going. Kept working. Kept building. They never gave up. Why?
I believe what made the difference was their faith. Not only their faith, but their willingness to open their hearts to God. Their willingness to follow Him.
I have also found this to be true in my own life. When my heart is shut and I feel far from God, my life doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I feel stuck. Like I am just going in circles. It’s only when I open my heart and mind to Him that miracles start to happen. Life doesn’t become easy, but suddenly doors open that weren’t open before. Opportunities present themselves. Ideas begin to flow.
I have seen it time and time again. If I show God that I am willing not only to listen to Him, but also to do what He asks, good things come. He blesses me and my family. Challenges still come, and come they always will, but I don’t feel alone in them. I feel like I am on the right path. The right path for Him and for me.
That’s what William Clayton describes in his famous pioneer song, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” At the time he wrote the song, he was homeless.4 He had left his home in England to immigrate to Nauvoo and now he was being forced to leave Nauvoo, as well.5 Despite his trials he writes in the song, “Happy day! All is well.”6
He wrote that because he knew the best path to be on, the only path to be on, was the one God had put him on. This path demands hard work and sacrifice, but it also yields the best rewards. Just look at all the Saints accomplished as proof.
God can show us how to make more out of our lives. His way is the way that leads to true happiness.
How has God made more out of your life?
1. “President Hinckley Continues to Share Pioneer Message,” see section “Nauvoo, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska,” Ensign, July, 1997.
2. “Mormon Pioneer, An American Exodus,” National Park Service, nps. gov.
3. “President Hinckley Continues to Share Pioneer Message,” see section “Nauvoo, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska,” Ensign, July, 1997.
4. Carol C. Madsen, “Our Heritage of Hymns,” see “Among the band of homeless refugees was William Clayton…,” Ensign, November, 1975.
5. “Clayton, William, Biography,” Joseph Smith Papers, josephsmithpapers.org.