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Cover image via George Edward Anderson.
Editor’s Note: Beloved author Ted Gibbons recently passed away after a battle with cancer. We will continue to share his wonderful insights here periodically. This episode of Church history seemed particularly potent as renovations commence on the Salt Lake Temple once again.
On February 14, 1853, a group of Saints assembled on the temple block for the dedication of the site for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. Brigham Young addressed the assembly. His instructions about being obedient and about the things that truly matter are worth a brief review here.
We shall attempt to build a temple to the name of our God. This has been attempted several times, but we have never yet had the privilege of completing and enjoying one. Perhaps we may in this place, but if, in the providence of God, we should not, it is all the same. It is for us to do those things which the Lord requires at our hands, and leave the result with him. It is for us to labor with a cheerful good will; and if we build a temple that is worth a million of money, and it requires all our time and means, we should leave it with cheerful hearts, if the Lord in his providence tells us so to do. If the Lord permits our enemies to drive us from it, why, we should abandon it with as much cheerfulness of heart as we ever enjoy a blessing. It is no matter to us what the Lord does, or how he disposes of the labor of his servants. But when he commands, it is for his people to obey. We should be as cheerful in building this temple, if we knew beforehand that we should never enter into it when it was finished, as we would though we knew we were to live here a thousand years to enjoy it (Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.277, Brigham Young, February 14, 1853).
When the Saints assembled on April 6, 1853, to lay the cornerstones for the Salt Lake Temple, Brigham spoke again, building on the theme he had introduced in February. He spoke about the nature of true obedience and the danger of being too concerned with results.
“Do you suppose we shall finish this Temple, brother Brigham?” I have had such questions put to me already. My answer is, I do not know, and I do not care any more about it than I should if my body was dead and in the grave, and my spirit in Paradise. I never have cared but for one thing, and that is, simply to know that I am now right before my Father in Heaven. If I am this moment, this day, doing the things God requires of my hands, and precisely where my Father in Heaven wants me to be, I care no more about to-morrow than though it never would come (Journal of Discourses, Vol.1, p.132, Brigham Young, April 6, 1853).