There is nothing more important in my life than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All the blessings that I have now, in one way or another, are a consequence of having accepted the message of the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (they were called the Mormon Missionaries in those days), who taught me 35 years ago. It wasn’t easy for me to join the Church, because I was a catholic, living in a very catholic country, Italy, and most of my friends and family members were opposed to my joining the Church.
It was also hard because it required to decide to follow all of the commandments of God for the rest of my life, and at 20 years of age, it seemed almost impossible. But with faith I took the first steps, including being baptized and becoming a member of the Church, and I never repented of that important initial decisions.
Since then, I have had many opportunities to share the gospel with other people and I have often noticed how the Lord prepares certain individuals to accept the Gospel in their lives. We are not all ready at the same time.
I was baptized in 1985, but the missionaries had visited my family 10 year earlier. However, at that time I was not ready yet. I wasn’t even ready just a couple of years before. To be able to appreciate the message of the restoration, I had to go first through certain experiences in my life.
Similarly, the Lord prepares the world at large and each individual to accept the Gospel. Surely not everybody accepts it, but I believe that the Lord keeps working with all of his children, trying to prepare them to understand the message of the Restoration.
These thoughts were inspired by this powerful article by President M. Russell Ballard titled How the Lord Prepared the World for the Restoration from which I want to share a few paragraphs.
How the Lord Prepared the World for the Restoration
President Ballard writes:
The Lord prepared the world for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ long before the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820. In fact, the Lord’s preparation to restore the fulness of His gospel in the last days began before the earth was created.
In the October 1918 revelation known as Doctrine and Covenants section 138, received by President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918), we learn that the early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and many “other choice spirits … were reserved to come forth in the fulness of times to take part in laying the foundations of the great latter-day work” …
Speaking specifically about the first prophet of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, President Brigham Young (1801–77) observed, “The Lord had his eye upon [Joseph Smith], and upon his father, and upon his father’s father, and upon their progenitors clear back to Abraham, and from Abraham to the flood, from the flood to Enoch and from Enoch to Adam. He has watched that family and that blood as it has circulated from its fountain to the birth of that man. [Joseph Smith] was foreordained in eternity to preside over this last dispensation.”
As we look back in history, we will discover that many revolutions swept across the world preparing people for the Lord’s Church to be restored in the last days.2
President Ballard then continues and describe in details these “revolutions” that had to take place to prepare the World:
The Manuscript Revolution
One of the most important ways the Lord prepared the world for the Restoration of His gospel was a manuscript revolution that grew out of the invention and use of papyrus and parchment….
The Printing Revolution
As I have often taught, the Lord inspired another monumental step in preparing the world for the Restoration of His saving gospel when a German goldsmith, Johannes Gutenberg, adapted printing technologies first introduced in China to produce the printing press in 1439 or 1440….
The Literacy Revolution and the Translation of the Bible
The printing revolution fed and was fed by an increase in literacy and a growing thirst among the common people of Europe to read the sacred words of scripture in their own languages…
The Political and Communication Revolutions
The printing, translation, and literacy revolutions prepared the way for political and technological revolutions that swept across Europe and the Americas between the 17th and 19th centuries. The changing political climate in Europe and America gave people greater freedom to choose their own religious path. Religious freedom was one of many results of the political revolutions that occurred during this period…
Guiding the Smith Family
As we consider how the Lord prepared the world for the Restoration, we should always remember that much of what He accomplished was through the lives of individuals—ordinary men and women who, in some cases, accomplished extraordinary things.
Many individuals and families in countries around the world were prepared to receive the message of the Restoration. These included the Prophet’s parents, Joseph and Lucy Mack Smith, two deeply spiritual individuals who were raised in a culture that taught them to love Jesus Christ and study the Bible…
Recognizing the Lord’s Hand in Our Lives
As the Lord did with the Smith family failures, He is also able to make us strong, teach us new lessons, and prepare us through failures and setbacks for a much different future than we imagine.
As we consider how the Lord’s hand was manifested in the lives of the Smith family, we need to recognize that His hand is also manifested in each of our lives. Looking for the hand of the Lord in our lives takes spiritual sensitivity and, in many cases, time and perspective. Fortunately, patriarchal blessings, personal journals, and personal life histories can provide a lens to see how the Lord’s hand is manifest in our lives…
In a revelation given in 1831, the Lord warned the world, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:21).
Our willingness to obey the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the two great commandments to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, will be enhanced as we look for and acknowledge the hand of the Lord in our lives and His hand in preparing the world for the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is “a marvelous work and a wonder” (2 Nephi 25:17).
The Lord is now preparing the world for His Second Coming, just as He prepared the world for the Restoration of His eternal gospel. Again, His hand is visible not only in the events of historical change but also in the lives of individuals.
To recognize the Lord’s hand in all things and prepare for the Second Coming should be our goals not only for 2020, but for the rest of our lives.
I have been trying to do this for 35 years now, and it hasn’t always been easy, but it has been extremely rewarding, and the source of all that is good in my life.