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Elder Bednar Shares the Profound Lesson He Learned from His First Assignment as an Apostle

The following is an excerpt from Elder David A. Bednar's new book, One by One.

The first experience I had on an assignment as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occurred on the weekend following my call to serve, my sustaining in general conference, and my ordination and setting apart. I traveled to a city in the United States to preside at a stake conference and was greeted at the airport by the stake president. As he and I were driving from the airport to the stake center and talking about the conference, I asked him the following question, “President, why do you think the Lord sent the newest member of the Twelve to your stake this weekend?”

He responded, “I really have no idea.”

I then said, “Well, I do not know either. I am new at this. I believe you will know the answer to that question before I do. So, just as soon as you figure it out, please let me know.”

We were approximately halfway to the stake center when the president turned to me and said, “Elder Bednar, I think I may know one of the reasons why the Lord sent you to this stake this weekend.”

I requested, “Please, tell me.”

He explained, “I have a brother who joined the Church five years ago. He is struggling with a specific challenge. Would you be willing to visit with him?”

I replied, “I would be happy to.”

An appointment was arranged, and after the Saturday evening session of conference I went to the high council room, where the stake president’s brother was waiting for me. I entered the room having given no prior thought to what I would say or do. The man stood up. I greeted him and shook his hand. I introduced myself and said, “Two days ago I was ordained and set apart to be an authorized representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the Savior sent me to this stake this weekend to deliver a specific message to you: You can do this. As His servant, I promise you will have His help to face this challenge and overcome it.”

I embraced him. We talked for several minutes. I gave the man my contact information and invited him to update me periodically about his progress. We walked together out of the high council room after a brief but edifying experience.

The stake president may have believed that this divinely orchestrated encounter was intended primarily to bless and benefit his brother. But as I reflected repeatedly on this experience, I realized the Lord had provided me with one of the most impactful learning opportunities I could ever receive. I had been sent to represent and speak for the Lord in delivering a message to the stake president’s brother. And the method of delivery was one by one.

Christ Knows Us by Name

One of the important lessons I have learned during my years of service as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the Lord knows each of us individually and loves each of us infinitely. He knows us one by one and name by name.
As I have traveled throughout the world on the Lord’s errand, I have felt an increasing dissatisfaction with human language to adequately describe the breadth, the depth, the comprehensiveness, and the eternal importance of the things I have been blessed to observe, to learn, and to feel. I do not know and cannot comprehend how God divinely and simultaneously orchestrates so many spiritually vital encounters in the lives of people all over the world. But I know that He does.

“[His] thoughts are not [our] thoughts, neither are [our] ways [His] ways, saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [His] ways higher than [our] ways, and [His] thoughts than [our] thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

I am a witness to an overwhelming abundance of “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). And I joyfully declare God lives, He knows each of us, and He loves us.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell frequently taught that, as we invite Him, the Lord is involved in the details of our lives.

“So it is, amid the vastness of His creations, God’s personal shaping influence is felt in the details of our lives—not only in the details of the galaxies and molecules but, much more importantly, in the details of our own lives. Somehow God is providing these individual tutorials for us while at the same time He is overseeing cosmic funerals and births, for as one earth passes away so another is born (see Moses 1:38). It is marvelous that He would attend to us so personally in the midst of those cosmic duties. . . .
“Be assured that God is in the details and in the subtleties of the defining and preparatory moments of discipleship. He will reassure you. He will remind you. Sometimes, if you’re like me, He will brace or reprove you in a highly personal process not understood or appreciated by those outside the context” (“Becoming a Disciple,” Ensign, June 1996).

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In this book, Elder David A. Bednar offers a compelling look at a pattern the Lord uses to bless His people: He works with us on an individual basis, one by one. Demonstrating that pattern as it occurs throughout the scriptures, in the lives of many Church leaders, and in his own ministry, Elder Bednar invites us to open our hearts to the Lord's love. He also teaches that by ministering as the Savior does, one by one, we can be more powerful instruments in His hands to accomplish His purposes.

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