Gratitude is born in hearts that take time to count up past mercies.
Charles E. Jefferson
I wish to say a few words about that love, that constant, never-failing quality that has the power to lift us above the evil, the conflict, and the trouble of the world in which we live.
When I was a boy, we lived on a farm in the summer. It was in the country, where the nights were dark. There were no streetlights or anything of the kind. My brother and I slept out-of-doors. On clear nights—and most of those nights were clear and the air was clean—we would lie on our backs and look at the myriads of stars in the heavens. We could identify some of the constellations and other stars as they were illustrated in our encyclopedia. Each night we would trace the Big Dipper, the handle and the cup, to find the North Star.
We came to know of the constancy of that star. As the earth turned, the others appeared to move through the night. But the North Star held its position in line with the axis of the earth. And so it had come to be known as the Polar Star, or the Polestar, or the Lodestar. Through centuries of time, mariners had used it to guide them in their journeys. They had reckoned their bearings by its constancy, thereby avoiding traveling in circles or in the wrong direction, as they moved across the wide, unmarked seas.
Because of those boyhood musings, the Polar Star came to mean something to me. I recognized it as a constant in the midst of change. It was something that could always be counted on, something that was dependable, an anchor in what otherwise appeared to be a moving and unstable firmament.
Love is like the Polar Star. In a changing world, it is a constant. It is of the very essence of the gospel. It is the security of the home. It is the safeguard of community life. It is a beacon of hope in a world of distress.
Back in 1984 we participated in the dedicatory services of the Sydney Australia Temple. There were many talks and much music and many prayers to open and close the various sessions. I confess I do not remember much of what was said or sung. But I have never forgotten the words spoken by a man who offered one of the opening prayers. He said, “Dear Father, we thank Thee that Thou hast loved us.” These words, among the very many heard on those occasions, have fastened themselves upon my mind.
Great beyond comprehension is the love of God. He is our loving Eternal Father. Out of His love for us, He has given an eternal plan which, when followed, leads to exaltation in His kingdom. Out of His love for us, He sent His Firstborn into the world, who, out of His own divine love, gave Himself as a sacrifice for each of us. His was an incomparable gift of love to a world that largely spurned Him. He is our great exemplar. We should let love become the lodestar of our lives, with the absolute assurance that, because of the love of God our Eternal Father and His own beloved Son, our salvation from the bonds of death is sure and our opportunity for eternal exaltation is certain. Let that divine love, shed on us, be reflected from our lives onto others of our Father’s children.
As we look across the broad spectrum of humanity at the masses who walk in hunger and poverty and in whose lives are the constant afflictions of disease and misery, let us be generous with our substance to assist. We did a significant thing back in 1985 when we held two special fast days. In a great outpouring of love, our people contributed on those two days more than ten and a half million dollars to help in bridging the gap between life and death for uncounted starving and underprivileged people. The Church continues to have a program, a Hunger Fund, to which we may contribute with love-filled hearts to assist those not of our faith who are in misery in many parts of the world.
Out of a sense of love for the less fortunate among our own, let us observe the law of the fast, going without a little food—which we do not need—and contributing the value thereof and even more to help those who are in desperate circumstances.
Let love become the lodestar of our lives. Surely we are a blessed people. We are blessed with the good things of earth, and we are blessed with the precious things of heaven. The holy priesthood is among us; its powers extend beyond the veil of death. In the sacred houses which we call temples, there is opportunity to do for others that which they cannot do for themselves. As surely as Christ offered Himself a vicarious sacrifice for all mankind, so we can engage in vicarious service in behalf of some of mankind, thus affording them the opportunity to move forward on the road of immortalityand eternal life. Great is this work of love which goes on in these holy houses. Legion are the men and women who, with total unselfishness, labor day and night in this work which speaks of divinity.
Let love be the Polar Star of our lives in reaching out to those who need our strength. There are many among us who lie alone in pain. Medicine helps, but kind words can bring to pass miracles. Many there are who walk in frightening circumstances, fearful and unable to cope. There are good bishops and Relief Society officers who are available to help, but these cannot do it all. Each of us can and must be anxiously engaged. It was said of the Savior, “He went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38.)
Said Isaiah: “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
“Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.” (Isa. 35:3–4.)
Declared Micah: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8.)
And the divine voice of revelation speaks: “Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.” (D&C 108:7.)
Such are the injunctions—these and many more—to reach out to those in distress with a measure of that love which was epitomized in the life and works of the Savior.
It is not always easy to follow the Polar Star of love. It requires a discipline almost beyond the power of many to observe. I think it is the most difficult and also the most important of all commandments. But out of its observance comes a remarkable discipline and a refining influence that are wonderful to experience. It savors of the sweet, all-encompassing love of Christ.
To those of you who live in troubled homes, may I suggest that you let love become the lodestar of your family life. There is too much of shouting, too much of recrimination, so many tears in the homes of some of our people. Love is the only remedy. It is the very basis of marriage. It can be nurtured and strengthened, or it can be starved and weakened. The power lies within ourselves. Bridle your tempers, husbands. Wives, hold your tongues. Revive the wondrous feeling that brought you to the marriage altar.
Love is the very essence of family life. Why is it that the children we love become so frequently the targets of our harsh words? Why is it that these children who love their fathers and mothers sometimes speak as if with daggers that cut to the quick? “There is beauty all around,” only “when there’s love at home.” (Hymns,1985, no. 294.)
The word love is often used in place of the word charityin Paul’s great declaration. I so read it:
“[Love] never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. …
“And now abideth, faith, hope, [love], these three; but the greatest of these is [love].” (1 Cor. 13:8, 13.)
Speaking to us in this dispensation, the Lord has said: “And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify [us] for the work.” (D&C 4:5.)
Few of us see the Polar Star anymore. We live in urban centers, and the city lights affect our vision of the wondrous firmament above us. But, as it has been for centuries, the star is there, in its place, its constancy a guide and an anchor. So likewise is love—unyielding, unchanging, “the pure love of Christ,” as Moroni declared, “and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moro. 7:47.)
I leave with you my love and extend my blessing and pray that there may be peace in your hearts and in your homes, in the name of Him whose life was the supreme offering of love, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
excerpt from a conference talk given by President Gordon B. Hinckley...Let Love Be the Lodestar of Your Life