President Thomas S. Monson (Church President: February 3, 2008 - Present)

Occasionally discouragement may darken our pathway; frustration may be a constant companion. In our ears there may sound the sophistry of Satan as he whispers, “You cannot save the world; your small efforts are meaningless. You haven’t time to be concerned for others.” Trusting in the Lord, let us turn our heads from such falsehoods and make certain our feet are firmly planted in the path of service and our hearts and souls dedicated to follow the example of the Lord. In moments when the light of resolution dims and when the heart grows faint, we can take comfort from His promise: “Be not weary in well-doing. … Out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind.”
Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Peace,” Ensign, Mar. 2004, 3

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Many years ago I read a book entitled The Way to the Western Sea, by David S. Lavender. It provides a fascinating account of the epic journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they led their famed expedition across the North American continent to discover an overland route to the Pacific Ocean.

Their trek was a nightmare of backbreaking toil, deep gorges which had to be crossed, and extensive travel by foot, carrying with them their supply-laden boats to find the next stream on which to make their way.

As I read of their experiences, I frequently mused, “If only there were modern bridges to span the gorges of the raging waters.” There came to my mind thoughts of magnificent bridges of our time which accomplish this task with ease: beautiful Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco fame; sturdy Sydney, Australia, Harbour Bridge; and others in many lands.

In reality, we are all travelers—even explorers of mortality. We do not have the benefit of previous personal experience. We must pass over steep precipices and turbulent waters in our own journey here on earth.

Perhaps such a somber thought inspired the poet Will Allen Dromgoole’s classic poem entitled “The Bridge Builder.”

  • An old man, going a lone highway,
    Came at the evening, cold and gray,
    To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
    Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
    The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
    The sullen stream had no fears for him;
    But he turned when safe on the other side
    And built a bridge to span the tide.

    “Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
    “You are wasting strength with building here;
    Your journey will end with the ending day;
    You never again must pass this way;
    You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide—
    Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

    The builder lifted his old gray head:
    “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
    “There followeth after me today
    A youth whose feet must pass this way.
    This chasm that has been naught to me
    To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
    He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
    Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

The message of the poem has prompted my thinking and comforted my soul, for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was the supreme architect and builder of bridges for you, for me, for all mankind. He has built the bridges over which we must cross if we are to reach our heavenly home.

The Savior’s mission was foretold. Matthew recorded, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

There followed the miracle of His birth and the gathering of the shepherds who came with haste to that stable, to that mother, to that child. Even the Wise Men, journeying from the East, followed that star and bestowed their precious gifts upon the young child.

The scripture records that Jesus “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” and that He “went about doing good.”

What personal bridges did He build and cross here in mortality, showing us the way to follow? He knew mortality would be filled with dangers and difficulties. He declared: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
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These events, coupled with His glorious Resurrection, completed the final bridge of our trilogy: The Bridge of Obedience, the Bridge of Service, the Bridge of Prayer.

Jesus, the Bridge Builder, spanned that vast chasm we call death. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” He did for us what we could not do for ourselves; hence, mankind can cross the bridges He built—into life eternal.

I close by paraphrasing the poem “The Bridge Builder”:

  • “You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide—
    Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

    “There followeth after me today
    A vast throng whose feet must pass this way.
    This chasm that has been naught to me
    To that great throng may a pitfall be.
    They too must cross in the twilight dim;
    Good friend, I am building the bridge for them.”

That we may have the wisdom and determination to cross the bridges the Savior built for each of us...
Thomas S. Monson, “The Bridge Builder,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 67

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Does the world in which we live stand in need of the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Almost everywhere one looks there appears an erosion not only of the environment but, even more seriously, an erosion of spirituality and of compliance with eternal commandments. One sees a blatant disregard for the precious souls of mankind.

It is almost as though the faces of many have been turned away from Him—even the Lord—who solemnly declared: “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” The gentle words “Come, follow me,” fall on many with stopped ears and closed hearts. Such seem to be attuned to another voice.

Do you, with me, remember the story from childhood days of that persuasive musician, the Pied Piper of Hamelin? You will recall that he entered Hamelin and offered, for a specified sum of money, to rid the town of the vermin with which it was plagued. When the contract was agreed upon, he played his pipe and the rats came swarming from the buildings and followed him to the river, where they drowned. When the town leaders refused to pay him for his services, he returned to play his pipe and led the precious children away from the safety of their families and their homes, never to return.

Are there Pied Pipers even today? Are they playing alluring music to lead, to their own destruction, those who listen and follow? These “pipers” pipe the tunes of pride and pleasure, of selfishness and greed and leave in their wake confused minds, troubled hearts, empty lives, and destroyed dreams.

The deep yearning of countless numbers is expressed in the plea of one who spoke to Philip of old: “How can I [find my way], except some man should guide me?”
Thomas S. Monson, “That All May Hear,” Ensign, May 1995, 48