Tuesday, June 27, 2017

President Wilford Woodruff on the urgency of latter-day work

Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) was called as an apostle in 1839 by Joseph Smith, and sustained as the 4th president of the Church in 1889.  He served until his death in 1898 at age 91.
"Joseph Smith visited me a great deal after his death, and taught me many important principles. The last time he visited me was while I was... going on my last mission to preside in England....
"Joseph Smith continued visiting myself and others up to a certain time, and then it stopped. The last time I saw him was in heaven. In the night vision I saw him at the door of the temple in heaven. He came and spoke to me. He said he could not stop to talk with me because he was in a hurry. The next man I met was Father Smith; he could not talk with me because he was in a hurry. I met half a dozen brethren who had held high positions on earth, and none of them could stop to talk with me because they were in a hurry. I was much astonished.
'By and by I saw the Prophet again, and I got the privilege to ask him a question. 'Now,' said I, 'I want to know why you are in a hurry. I have been in a hurry all through my life; but I expected my hurry would be over when I got into the kingdom of heaven, if I ever did.' Joseph said: 'I will tell you, Brother Woodruff. Every dispensation that has had the priesthood on the earth and has gone into the celestial kingdom, has had a certain amount of work to do to prepare to go to the earth with the Savior when He goes to reign on the earth. Each dispensation has had ample time to do this work. We have not. We are the last dispensation, and so much work has to be done, and we need to be in a hurry in order to accomplish it.' Of course, that was satisfactory to me, but it was new doctrine to me."
- Wilford Woodruff, discourse delivered October 19, 1896, recorded in Stuy, Collected Discourses, 5:237–38; see also Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:578–79, October 20, 1850

President Woodruff had a remarkable gift for spiritual experiences, and this excerpt discusses some of the manifestations he had in his life. He had quite a few visions and encounters with heavenly messengers. He talks quite matter-of-factly about his visits with Joseph Smith. With the post-mortal perspective, the Prophet conveyed the urgency of the latter-day work, given all that remains to be done in this dispensation:

Each of us might ask ourselves about our own sense of urgency. As we age and recognize how quickly time passes in our personal life, we start to understand how little time we probably have to accomplish our personal goals and desires—not to mention contribute to the work of salvation on behalf of our Father's plan for His children!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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