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Stand In Truth

Neill Foote Marriott
October 17, 2023 11:15 AM

"Brothers and sisters. You may feel like right now you’re pulling 4,000 pounds be it financial, physical, relationships, mental or emotional worries, it’s heavy. You, yoked to Jesus Christ, can pull an infinite amount of weight. Yoking to the Savior brings us peace and confidence. It brings us hope and joy. He is steadfast. He will not fail us. He wants us to yoke ourselves to him by diligent effort with love, hope and trust."
Thank you so much. Thank you for the beautiful music, for the beautiful testimony. I love it that sister Robinson said that she knew God loved her. Boy that is a perfect starting point, isn’t it to any choice, any action we make. If we know we are loved by God, it can correct our path. Sister Sanz, I am so grateful that you pray that we would be inspired today about the right path and where it goes and how we find truth.

I know that you just like I, we are bombarded by today’s messages on the internet. Everywhere we look someone has an opinion. There’s a new philosophy, a new style of dress, a new way to talk, to sound like you’re really trendy. As we are bombarded by all of this, have you ever asked yourself what’s true, where is truth? Well, the answer is the Savior is truth. In Ether 4:12, He says His own words, “I am the light and the life and the truth of the world.”

So why do we have to look anywhere else? He is the one. In Mosiah 4:9, we are told that He has all wisdom and all power in heaven and on earth so if we have a being who loves us, who has all truth, all wisdom and all power, where else do we need to go. We need to go to Him.

Now you may be sitting there thinking, “Well I accept that but how does that apply to the class that I’m not doing so well in or to the dating relationship that’s just fallen through or to health problems I may have? How does knowing that the Savior has all wisdom, all power and all truth help me in those situations?”

It’s not that He will instantly fix thing for us. That would weaken us. As we step toward Him, turn our thoughts and our heart toward Him, we will begin to have a clarity. He will begin to let us see solutions to a problem or how to forgive or how to study better. It will come bit by bit. The main thing is that we have a confidence and a trust in Him.

Lloyd Newell on October 2nd, 2022, he is the speaker for Music and the Spoken Word, said, “This truth is independent. It does not change but our confidence in the truth varies according to our connection to God. That is why daily habits are so important.” There are lots of key points in that statement. What is our connection to God? That is where our confidence in what is true begins. How deeply connected are we?

Here you’ve got a slide that shows the ground looking quite strong and firm. A stake, a hammer, a hand. I want you to see in the symbolism that the ground is the Gospel doctrine, the truths of eternity. The stake is your faith. How deeply is your faith grounded in the doctrines in the truth? The hammer and the hand are our effort. President Nelson said the Lord loves effort. How much are we driving our faith deeper into gospel’s side. Effort brings growth and strength to withstand opposition. Here we see a wind blowing a stake. You have grown your gospel sod. You can see in the slide its green and vibrant but there are winds of opposition. Will it blow over your faith, your stake in truth? Remember in 1st Nephi 8:27 when speaks of the mocking and the scorning from the people in the great and spacious building. Can you heed them naught as Elder Bednar has taught in General Conference?

I remember receiving an answer to prayer about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was 22 years old. I had studied with the missionaries for six months and I will admit many questions, many doubts and many moments of disagreeing with the missionaries. I had not prayed honestly. I had had moments of thought that King Benjamin surely must be a wonderful man and a real man. I had wept through the plan of salvation knowing that I had heard it before. Not with these ears. Not on this earth but I had been taught it somewhere. It was as familiar to me as nursery rhymes my mother had taught me when I was a child. I had had those touch points of spirit but I had never prayed honestly.

One night, I knelt down and I said something simple, this had been 52 or 3 years ago now. Something simple as, “Heavenly Father, if this is the true church of Jesus Christ, I’ll be baptized. I just need to know it’s true.” I heard a voice. I can’t say it was an audible voice but I heard it in my mind and in my heart. The voice said, “It is true.” A simple response but I jumped up off my knees and threw my hands in the air and said, “It’s true.” The next morning, I called the mission president and said, “I need to be baptized.”

I went on to work that day and my desk at work faced another secretary’s desk across the room. Her name was Anne. She said to me, “Neill, I’ve heard you talking about this Mormon church. What to you think about it?” And I said, “Anne, I’m going to join it. I’m going to be baptized.” Her face fell a foot. Her eyes squinted shut and she swung in her swivel work chair around to the side and slammed a drawer shut and then put her head down and didn’t talk for quite a while. We went on with our work.

That was my first taste of opposition. It didn’t feel good. As I sat there staring stunned at her response, I thought back to why I had made that choice. I remembered that this was the Savior’s true church. I knew that because the spirit had let me know. I remembered studying the Book of Mormon and remembered that feeling that King Benjamin was a real man. I remembered that the missionaries had taught the plan of salvation in the simplest clearest terms that caused me to weep with joy and recognition. When you have opposition, see this wind blowing against the stake, when someone opposing your faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you remember. Remember the Savior, His church. You are a dearly beloved part of it. Remember that last Sunday you reached out your hand with witness to God and any watching that you were taking into you the symbols of Jesus Christ, his flesh, his blood, his characteristics. You were witnessing to God that you would stand firm. Stand firm is that stake in the ground. When winds of opposition come, let’s remember what we know that is true.

Sister Amy Wright in General Conference spoke of the dews of Carmel. Do you remember that? There’s a mountain range near Jerusalem call The Evergreen mountains she taught us. Even though it is very arid land all around there, this mountain area is green, not because it has copious rain. It is green because of tiny drops of dew that condense on the vegetation there and keep it ever fresh and green, as green as the vegetation in that slide. It is those tiny drops of dew that are called daily gospel habits. As we let those distill upon us, we begin to change and become firmer and stronger in the Gospel.

There are two special things that make us extra strong. You know the answer if I asked you. What are the two daily Gospel habits that would keep you strong in the Gospel? I know what you would say. I know that I’m going to say. Scripture study and prayer. We are to learn of Christ, listen to His words. We are to take them in. Now when your president held up his journal, he was going to take notes today. That is exactly what works for scripture study.

My little routine if you want to call it that is I open the scriptures and then I say a short prayer that goes something like this. “Heavenly Father. I’ve opened the scriptures now and I’m going to start to read and study. Wilt Thou help me understand what I am reading and help me apply it in my life?” Or I might say, “Apply it in the talk I am going to give at Ensign College or apply it in the sticky relationship I have with so and so.” What are in those scriptures are treasures that change who we are for the better. The other thing is I have a pencil or pen in my hand. Now I know you probably have a lap- top or a cell phone. For me, as I read, I keep that pencil in my hand. It is intentional. I am going to write down a word or a reference or a thought that comes to my mind as I read. It is very interactive this scripture reading. Have you found that you will be reading, for me the Book of Mormon, and I’ll be reading let’s say about Alma-the-younger. All of a sudden, clearly into my mind, will come a sister I need to contact. Write it down. Or a solution to something that has been troubling me. Write it down. I believe when we open the scriptures it alerts heaven. The angels say, “Look. She’s opening the scriptures. She wants to know something. She’s looking for truth.” Our minds become open. Opening the scriptures is an act of faith. An intention. It says, “Father in Heaven, I’m ready to learn.” So scriptures keep that stake deep in the ground.

You also might memorize a special scripture that you can just keep tucked in your heart and pull out when that Ans of the world or that secretary across the room opposes what you know is right. Pull it out and say it to yourself. One of my favorites is Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God.”

I was a back a little when I joined the church and found in Doctrine and Covenants 90, verse 24, that I am to search diligently, pray always and be believing and all things will work together for good. A little more requirement than just loving God. We can do this. We can search diligently and pray always. The other part of keeping that stake deeply in the Gospel side of your faith is of course prayer. The Bible dictionary has a wonderful definition of prayer. I’m going to read it. It’s on your screen here. “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God, namely, God is our father and we are his children, then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part. Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but is made conditional on our asking for them.”

Prayer is a form of work. We need to ask brother and sisters. There are blessings we need, direction we need, to stay close to the truth but Heavenly Father is waiting for us to ask. Imagine Him with an enormous basket of delicious fruit that will teach us truth and joy. He has it there. We need to reach up and ask. The blessings will come.

President Nelson said the Lord likes effort. Prayer is a form of work. It is mental focus. We need to be able to stay focused. I use, when I have a really thorny problem or something I just cannot work through, I will do kind of what I call a special prayer. I think all prayers are special really but I try to follow a pattern that Joseph Smith gave me when he prayed that first prayer. He was intentional in that he prepared a place. He knew where he was going. He had chosen it because it was quiet and no one would interrupt him. You do the same. Where can you go and lock a door so no one can interrupt you or hear what you’re saying. Then he knelt down. I find that if I kneel down, if I make my body be reverent, my attitude, my thoughts, even my heart start to soften. Maybe it’s reverently the way you dress. Your attitude will be better.

I kneel down and then I speak out loud. I believe in prayers in our mind. We’re to always remember the Savior. We can pray as we drive a car in a crowd of people on a road. Walking down the hall at church. Walking down the hall at school. We can be praying in our mind. Praying out loud for me keeps me on task. Otherwise, I tend to pray to Father in Heaven in my mind but I often end up telling him something irrelevant like the price of gas or my haircut or something. Then I have to say I’m sorry Father in Heaven. I lost my train of thought. If I am speaking out loud, I’m not going to say, “By the way I am getting my hair cut tomorrow.” I am going to stay intently on purpose speaking to our mighty Father in Heaven with reverence and awe and humility. Then before I even begin to speak, not like Joseph Smith because of course he saw the Father and the Son. I visualize Heavenly Father standing in front of me a little above me looking down and smiling at me. I’m going to be speaking to Him so it helps me to have my focus directly on Him. That helps. Then I do something actually the brother of Jared did. Let me find this reference. It was in Ether 3, verse 4 and verse 12 and other verses as well. He testified to the Lord as he was communicating with Him. He says, “I know, oh Lord, that thou hast all power.” And then later, “I know, oh Lord, that thou speakest the truth.”

What do you know about the Lord personally? What do you know about Father in Heaven in your own heart? Could you testify to them as you kneel there out loud? I do that and I can tell you that the connection between us becomes close and warm. Often there are tears because as I tell my Father in Heaven what I know and love about Him, I hear it. I hear my own testimony. I feel that He hears it too. In fact, I know He does. That draws me to Him in a trusting, loving relationship. Father to child. After that testimony meeting as it were with the Father, I just pour out my feelings, my worries, my thoughts, directions and need to go, then I listen. Now most prayers are not answered immediately. I think some occasionally are but most take time and so we stay with it. We remember what we asked for. It matters to us.

Elder Richard G. Scott said, speaking of prayer to Heavenly Father, “Sometimes He answers, yes. Sometimes, no. Often He withholds an answer not for lack of concern but because He loves us perfectly. He wants us to apply truths. In time He will answer. He will not fail us.”

Brothers and sisters, every prayer is answered. We just don’t get to choose the time necessarily.

I’ll tell you two quick examples of prayers in my life. One was the two-week answer and one was the 47-year answer. This summer, David, my husband, and I traveled to the east coast for a wedding of a relative. None of my relatives are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Before we left, about two weeks before, I knelt down and said, “Father in Heaven, if there is a time, would thou give me an opportunity to share some truth, perhaps small, but something that can open hearts to Thee. And I need to know when I should say it.” You know, Doctrine and Covenants 100 can tell you what to say, when to say it, how to say it. As we read scriptures, we get courage that we can speak truth.

Sure enough, the first night we were there, a group of us, about 12 of us, moved away from the main body of the party going on, the wedding party, and we were all just chatting. One of them named Lee said, “Well I’ll tell you what. When I die I know it is just going to be a vanishing sort of thing. Something is cleansed and we are gone.” I said, “Heavenly Father, is it now? Should I say something now?” I thought, “Yes, I should.” I said, “Lee, I’m going to warn you. I’m going to say something religious.” Everybody stopped because I’m the, what they call, the Mormon. I’m a little odd with the rest of them. Everybody turned to silence, looked at me and I said, “Lee, I have a different belief about death. I believe that, yes, our body dies but we go right on living. That I will be recognizable as Neill to you. I’m older than you and I will probably die first. When you come from this earth, I’m going to be waiting by the pearly gates and I’m going to say, hi Lee, here I am, there you are, and we know each other.” He looked at me for a minute, he’s kind of a rascal and he said, “Well Neill, who says I’m even going to make it to the pearly gates. I might be (pointing down).” And everybody laughed. But I said, “No, I believe you will make it and I believe that we will know each other because we go right on living.”

Then as a little bonus, Heavenly Father gave this moment. One of the group is a priest in the Episcopal Church. Her name is Beth. She said, “I agree Neill.” I thought, “Hallelujah, a second witness.” She said, “My father was in a coma and we were all gathered around his bed. He couldn’t speak. We knew that his death was imminent. All of a sudden he opened his eyes and he began to point and nod and waive and smile at nothing. We began to look around and then it dawned on us, he was seeing people he recognized and was glad to greet them even though we couldn’t see them.” So she said, “I believe that we will recognize each other and we will go on living. It was a beautiful moment and I believe that Lee and perhaps some others who maybe don’t have any religious feelings had a moment where they thought, “Ah, we go on living. We have a spirit.”

So brothers and sisters, that was a two-week answer and I knew it, I felt it.

The 47-year answer would take longer than the seven minutes or so I have to speak with you but I will tell you quickly.

I have been praying and David too, ever since I was baptized, that my parents could hear the truth and could hear my testimony. They very kindly, they are strong Protestants, said, “We are happy for you Neill but please do not talk any more about your church.” I think I had been a bit over-bearing the first week or two. I know I had been and they just said, “Please don’t, don’t.” I had a few more times where a brick wall came up so I didn’t.

I had the opportunity in 2017 to write a little book about my journey, my spiritual journey and why the church was necessary and how my feelings were and how I applied it. I prayed about it and I knew there was some woman somewhere that needed to hear my testimony. By the time I was in the second chapter, I knew who the woman was. It was my mother.

The book by a miraculous way was printed and ready before her 93rd birthday and I flew to Louisiana to give her this gift and finally jump over that gap that had been created for 47 years. I handed her the book. My mother was a formidable personality. She was very very strong and very clear and wonderful. But I handed her the book and I said, “Happy birthday mother.” She looked at it. She looked at the cover. It had my name at the bottom and she said, “Well, this is lovely. I’ll read it later.” She put it on a shelf. I was like, oh (exasperated). We left back to Utah. We continued to communicate for about six weeks. I called her one day and got up my courage and said, “Mother, have you had a chance to read that little book?” Long pause. Then she said, “I have read it. I’ve read it all. It is wonderful. I love you.” That was a little bit rare too. We hung up. I stood there with the cell phone against my heart and just wept. A prayer had been answered. Mother died two weeks later.

Heavenly Father’s timing is exquisite. If we will pray in faith for what we know is right, the answer will come. So these two things, scripture study and earnest prayer, bring our faith to a depth in the Gospel that only one other thing can bring deeper, that is being yoked to Christ by covenant.

All of you see this yoke. They aren’t used too much any more. Two beasts of burden are put through the hoops of the yoke and then they pull a heavy load. You stepped into the Savior’s yoke when you were baptized. Even more firmly when you received your temple endowment.

President Nelson has told us your time in the temple will surely change your life. I testify is does. The Savior says, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.”

Now why does He say that? He says that because we are not enough brothers and sisters. All on our own. Alma tells us we are nothing. That doesn’t mean we’re not infinitely valuable but our power is so small to withstand all of the bombardment, we have to seek out and live by truth. We are bound by great power when we take upon us the priesthood ordinances of baptism and in the temple. As we do so, we step into that yoke with the Savior and He pulls us forward.

Our former bishop is a rancher. He loved Belgian horses. He had Belgians. He said they were the grittiest most determined horses. They can pull huge loads. If they are pastured together, trained together, live together, their trust deepens and they can throw themselves against the collar of the yoke and pull mighty weight. Lets watch this video about what it is like to be yoked. Think of you being yoked to the Savior.

Brothers and sisters. You may feel like right now you’re pulling 4,000 pounds be it financial, physical, relationships, mental or emotional worries, it’s heavy. You, yoked to Jesus Christ, can pull an infinite amount of weight. Yoking to the Savior brings us peace and confidence. It brings us hope and joy. He is steadfast. He will not fail us. He wants us to yoke ourselves to him by diligent effort with love, hope and trust. So we must do as those Belgian horses did. We must stay close. We must get accustomed to Him and be familiar with Him and feel His love and always remember Him.

I know that great things are ahead as we yoke ourselves to Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

About the Speaker

Neill Foote Marriott

Sister Neill Foote Marriott was born and raised in Louisiana. She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and graduated with a degree in English literature and secondary education. When 22 years old she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A year later Sister Marriott married David C. Marriott in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of eleven children, grandparents to forty-four, and have two great-grandchildren.

Sister Marriott has served in a variety of Church callings. From 2002 to 2005, she and her husband served together as mission leaders of the São Paulo Interlagos Mission.

From April 2013 to 2018 Sister Marriott served as the second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. A year later she and Brother Marriott were called as missionaries in the Portugal Mission until the covid pandemic caused their return to the states. They now serve in the Provo Temple. Sister Marriott loves living in Wallsburg, Utah among pastures, cows and wonderful neighbors. She's a wanna-be farmer at heart and is proud of her thriving potato patch.
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