This morning before I came to the meeting I wound my watch, and when the meeting closed I took it out to look at the time. I discovered that it had stopped at twenty minutes after ten. I was numb and dumb. I am not sure, when I finish here, that I shall not find my watch completely put out of commission.
Thoughts Stirred By New Assignment
Since nine o’clock last night I have lived an entire lifetime in retrospect and in prospect. I spent a sleepless night. I never closed my eyes one moment, and neither would you if you had been in my place. Throughout the night, as I thought of this most appalling and soulstirring assignment, there kept coming to me the words of the Apostle Paul, that he spoke in explanation of the human qualities that were to be found in the Lord and Savior :
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
One could not have listened to the soul-stirring testimony of President Grant, in bearing testimony as to his feelings when he was called to the apostleship, or his experiences in calling others to similar positions, without realizing that he has been close to his Heavenly Father in this experience. Therefore I shall take the word of the Apostle Paul. I shall come boldly unto the throne of grace, and ask for mercy and His grace to help me in my time of need. With that help I cannot fail. Without it I cannot succeed.
Since my childhood I have looked upon these men as the greatest men on the face of the earth, and now the contemplation of an intimate association with them, is overwhelming and beyond my comprehension.
A Tribute To Father, Mother, And Wife
I thank God today for my parentage. My father and mother are listening, either in this great assembly or on the radio, if perchance they did not get into this meeting. I think perhaps this is my way of paying tribute to the two family names they gave me at my birth, Bingham and Lee. I trust I shall not disgrace those names. I have been blessed with a splendid father and a grand and lovely mother, one who didn’t display often her affection, but showed her love in tangible ways that, as a child, I came early to recognize as true mother love.
As just a high school boy I went away on a high school debating team. We won the debate. I came back and called mother on the telephone only to have her say: “Never mind, Son. I know all about it. I will tell you when you come home at the end of the week.” When I came home she took me aside and said : “When I knew it was just time for this performance to start I went out among the willows by the creek side, and there, all by myself, I remembered you and prayed God you would not fail.” I have come to know that that kind of love is necessary for every son and daughter who seek to achieve in this world: My tribute to my parents.
Last night, when I left here, as my little family with me kneeled down for our family prayers, I tested their faith. I found them true. They have given me their assurance, their strength. They are willing to make the sacrifice and have accepted this as their call, along with me. I have come to know, in these last few years, in my brief service in this Church, that without such help from a lovely, devoted wife, willing to sacrifice and to keep the home, no man can hold a position in this Church and hope to continue to serve as he has been called. To her, likewise, as she listens this afternoon and before you I acknowledge her loveliness, her sweetness, her devotion and sacrifice.
Development Of The Church Welfare Plan
For the last five glorious, strenuous years, I have labored, under a call from the First Presidency, with a group of men in the development of and the unfolding of what we have called the Church Welfare Plan. I felt that I should bear my testimony to you concerning that work as I close. It was on April 20th, 1935, when I was called to the office of the First Presidency. That was a year before official announcement of the Welfare Plan was made in this Tabernacle. There, after an entire half day session, at which President Grant and President McKay were present, President Clark then being in the East — they had some communications with him, so that all members of the Presidency were in agreement — I was astounded to learn that for years there had been before them, as a result of their thinking and planning and as the result of the inspiration of Almighty God, the genius of the very plan that is being carried out and was in waiting and in preparation for a time when in their judgment the faith of the Latter-day Saints was such that they were willing to follow the counsel of the men who lead and preside in this Church.
Strengthened Through Humble Prayer
My humble place in this program at that time was described. 1 left there about noon-time, feeling quite as I do now. I drove with my car up to the head of City Creek Canyon. I got out, after I had driven as far as I could, and I walked up through the trees. I sought my Heavenly Father. As I sat down to pore over this matter, wondering about an organization to be perfected to carry on this work, I received a testimony, on that beautiful spring afternoon, that God had already revealed the greatest organization that ever could be given to mankind, and that all that was needed now was that that organization be set to work, and the temporal welfare of the Latter-day Saints would be safeguarded.
Yesterday morning in the special Welfare meeting in the Assembly Hall, we saw a portrayal of what can be accomplished in one Ward where the Lord’s organization does work according to His plan. With twelve hundred times the kind of demonstration you observed in that Welfare meeting, the present problem would cease to be a problem. We would be living the Lord’s way, for unless we are one we are not His.
God’s will, made manifest
It was in August of that same year that with Brother Mark Austin of the General Committee, I had driven down to St. George and then back across the mountains to Richfield, for an early morning meeting. At that time there was an upturn in business, so much so that some were questioning the wisdom of this kind of activity, and why hadn’t the Church done it before now? There came to me, in that early morning hour, a distinct impression that was as real as though someone had spoken audibly, and this was the impression that came, and has stayed with me through these years: There is no individual in the Church that knows the real purpose for which the program then launched had been intended, but hardly before the Church has made sufficient preparation, that reason will be made manifest, and when it comes it will challenge every resource of the Church to meet it. I trembled at the feeling that came over me. Since that day that feeling has driven me on, night and day, hardly resting, knowing that this is God’s will, this is His plan. The only thing necessary today is that the Latter-day Saints everywhere recognize these men, who sit here on the stand, as the fountainheads of truth, through whom God will reveal His will, that His Saints might be preserved through an evil day.
A Testimony Of The Truth Obtained Through Experience
I bear you my testimony that I know that God lives. I know that He has spoken in this clay. I know that the work that we are now advancing and unfolding has still greater potential possibilities. They will come to the extent that the Latter-day Saints will learn to do what they are told, but not until ; and some of the grandest things yet to come can only come if and when we learn to listen to these men who preside as prophets, seers and revelators.
I ask for your faith and prayers, that as the years come and go I may be the witness that one who is called to this position is expected to be. Will you pray that that might be a fruition of my activity among you. I have loved you. I have come to know you intimately. Your problems, thank the Lord, have been my problems, because I know, as you know, what it means to walk when you have not the money to ride. I know what it means to go without meals to buy a book to go to the University. I thank God now for these experiences. I have loved you because of your devotion and faith. God bless you that you won’t fail, but that with this Church you and it will go on to a glorious future, I pray, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Elder Harold B. Lee
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1941