Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastsness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
Toward the end of Nephi’s life and ministry he shared this scripture. I believe it truly gives us an ultimate road map to return to live with our Heavenly Father. The two statements that seem to stand out are “Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ” and “Endure to the End.” Think of the great joy, accomplishment, and reward comes to those who do these things. Certainly you can think of examples in your life who have pressed forward against all odds to accomplish something great.
Pressing forward and enduring to the end is easy to talk about when everything is going your way, it’s when things get tough that it starts to become more difficult. I believe we have to be aware of discouragement and disappointment in our lives that would cause us to give up and quit trying. One great example of urging an entire country to endure to the end was Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
On October 29, 1941, Churchill visited his alma-mater prep school, Harrow, in Northwest London to speak to the students there. This was at a time when the entire country had been ravaged by German bombs and had endured the Battle of Britain. His message, however, was not one of gloom and doom or of giving up. In fact it was quite the opposite and because one of the most famous speeches ever given.
Churchill admonished the young men at Harrow to:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Then he continued, and although this part isn’t as famous, it surely is just as inspiring.
“Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days’ these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
Churchill was known as the “British Bulldog” and I think you can tell by this story that he was as tough as a bulldog. His example is one of the world’s greatest models of never giving up.
However the following is a story of a man who decided on his own not to press forward and endure to the end. He hasn’t gone down in history as someone who was willing to endure to the end. His name was Louis Moses Rose.
In early March, 1836, Rose was under the command of Colonel William Travis in the old Spanish mission called the Alamo. Colonel Travis and his approximately 200 fellow soldiers faced the overwhelming force of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s nearly 1,500 troops. One night before the final battle it was reported that Colonel Travis gathered his fellow defenders together, gave a speech and issued a challenge. He told his outnumbered band of men that he “intended to fight to the death if necessary” but if there was any one of the men who felt like trying to escape the battle he was free to go.
San Antonio, Texas
One by one the men stepped across the line, most likely knowing it meant certain death in a brutal manner. In the end every man stepped across the line except one; Louis Moses Rose. There are many who wouldn’t have blamed Rose for escaping through the Mexican Army’s lines that night knowing that those who stayed had no chance of winning. But he chose not to stay by the side of those who were counting on them.
The story continues that at that moment Colonel Travis reached for his long polished steel sword, pulled it from its scabbard and then deliberately put its tip on the ground. He next pulled the blade across the ground creating a line – referred to as “the line in the sand.” He then asked those outnumbered and out equipped men to demonstrate their resolve to stay and fight by stepping across the line.
The next day the cannon fire from outside the Alamo tore through its walls allowing General Santa Anna’s men to storm the old mission and kill every man there. Each man died a hero having made a stand to fight for something bigger than each one of them.
I don’t judge Louis Moses Rose for his choice, but I know that every other man in that company was offered the same choice and every one of them chose to stand for something they believed in; everyone except Louis Moses Rose.
One individual from our early church history who personified pressing forward and enduring to the end was John R. Moyle. John was a convert to the Church who left his home in England and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley as part of a handcart company. He settled and lived in Alpine, Utah, about 22 miles as the crow flies to the Salt Lake Temple where he was the chief superintendent of masonry during its construction. To make certain he was always at work by 8 o’clock on Monday morning he would start walking about 2 a.m. Monday mornings in order to arrive on time. He would finish his work week at 5 p.m. on Friday and then start the long walk home, arriving there shortly before midnight. Each week he would repeat that schedule for the entire time he served on the construction of the temple. That would be a grand story of dedication, but it was only the beginning of this story for John Moyle.
Once when he was home on the weekend, one of his cows bolted during milking and kicked Brother Moyle in the leg, shattering the bone just below the knee. With only the medical assistance available in that rural area, his family and friends took a door off the hinges and strapped him onto that makeshift operating table. They then took the bucksaw they had been using to cut branches from a nearby tree and amputated his leg just a few inches below the knee. When, against all medical likelihood, the leg started to heal, Brother Moyle took a piece of wood and carved an artificial leg. First he walked in the house … then around the yard … finally, he ventured out about his property. When he felt he could stand the pain, he strapped on his artificial leg – walked the 22 miles to the Salt Lake Temple – climbed the scaffolding, and with a chisel in his hand hammered out the declaration, “Holiness to the Lord.” (Gene A. Sessions, ed., “Biographies and Reminiscences from the James Henry Moyle Collection,” typescript, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 203)
“Holiness To The Lord”
The Salt Lake Temple
To this day you can see John Moyle’s work above the front doors of the Salt Lake Temple where it reads, “Holiness to the Lord.” By pressing forward and enduring to the end his example was also etched into the annals of greatness.
How will you be known and remembered by your friends and family? Are you one who overcomes all odds by pressing forward? Are you one who won’t give up, but endures to the end? The greatest part of Nephi’s words here are this: “Ye shall have eternal life.”
Eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (read D&C 14:7) Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, reserve this great gift to those who obey their commandments, press forward when times are tough and endure to the very end. At the end of that path we are promised the greatest blessing possible … the opportunity to live with God and our families forever. That seems like a deal we should all seek for. I pray that throughout our lives we will never forget Nephi’s inspiring words. I pray we will all press forward with a steadfastness in Christ. I pray we will all feast upon the words of Christ and endure to the end. If we do, I know we will have the greatest of all the gifts of God.