06 December 2008
In Loving Memory
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
June 11, 1917-December 1, 2008
Each time an apostle passes away, it causes me to reflect on my testimony. The bittersweet passing of Elder Wirthlin is no different.
I was baptized in 1996 and introduced into a new-to-me order of priesthood authority. Bednar and Uchtdorf and Eyring will be household names for Jonas as he grows up; as for me, I went my first 14 years of life without so much as hearing "Hinckley."
For the first 8 years of my church membership, I did not experience a single change in priesthood leadership.
The First Presidency consisted of President Hinckley, President Monson, and President Faust.
My "Original 12" were Packer, Perry, Haight, Maxwell, Nelson, Oaks, Ballard, Wirthlin, Scott, Hales, Holland, and Eyring.
My first bishop was called right before I was baptized and released after I went to college.
Any other bishop I had at BYU was released after I had long-moved into another ward.
In 2004, Sister Hinckley passed away, which became my first experience with losing a beloved Church leader, followed by two very quick passings of Elder Haight and Elder Maxwell. I enjoyed nearly a decade of the exact same leadership without any challenge to my faith in the appointment of new apostles or prophets. Even today, I find myself occasionally thinking the prophet is President Hinckley and that he will waltz out with his cane at the next General Conference. The deaths of these extraordinary church leaders estranges me from the Church for a (very) brief moment. These were the leaders and the church family I was "born into." How could they be gone?
I find it surreal that Jonas never lived during President Hinckley's lifetime and will not "know" my prophet in this life. He will never hear Elder Wirthlin's funny stories in person or find a dictionary while listening to Elder Maxwell speak live. And yet, Jonas will still receive the same message. The gospel is eternal. As each apostle passes on, one by one, I realize I am getting older and must constantly reaffirm my testimony of the Savior, of His Church, of Joseph Smith, and of the living prophets. It is a blessing for these men (and women) to return Home and a greater blessing for me to reevaluate and strengthen my testimony of the gospel. I know they were called to be apostles and the gospel remains steady as they continue to their next mission. The new apostles are taking up where they left off, and I'm grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who ensures the gospel remains on the Earth to guide His children. The gospel is beautiful and provides endless opportunities for growth. I can only imagine the love HF must have for us to secure these learning experiences and allow peace into our hearts.