Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Sacred Key


I quote I heard yesterday at our stake's Family History Fair inspired a search on the Internet that led me to this story. Some years ago, President Thomas S. Monson and his wife Frances visited Sweden. He tells the following:

"The mission president in Sweden at the time of our visit was Reid H. Johnson, a cousin to my wife. As he and our group were journeying throughout that area, we went to a large Lutheran church. As we walked into the building, President Johnson said, 'I think you would be interested in an experience my companion, Richard Timpson, and I had in this city at the termination of our missions back in 1948.'"

President Johnson said, "We came to this town because we knew that our family history was recorded here and had been lived here. As we entered this large church, we were met by a most hostile keeper of the archives. Upon hearing that we had completed our missions and had a few precious days in which we would like to seek out the records which he maintained in his church building, he said that no one had ever been given the opportunity to peruse those valuable records, far less a Mormon. He declared they were under lock and key, and he held up to view the large key to the vault in which the records were stored. He said, 'My job and my future, and the sustenance of my family, depend upon how well I safeguard this key. No, I am afraid it would be impossible for you to peruse these records. But if you would like to see the church, I’ll be happy to show you through. I'll be glad to show you the architecture and the cemetery which surrounds the church—but not the records, for they are sacred.'"

"President Johnson indicated they were profoundly disappointed. However, he said to the keeper of the archives, 'We will accept your kind offer.' All of this time, he and his companion were praying fervently and earnestly that somehow something would change this keeper's mind, that he would let them view the records.

"After a lengthy journey through the cemetery and looking at the church building, the keeper of the archives unexpectedly said to them, 'I’m going to do something I have never done before. It may cost me my job, but I’m going to let you borrow this key for fifteen minutes.'

"President Johnson thought, Fifteen minutes! All we can do in fifteen minutes is open the lock!

But the keeper let them take the key. They turned the key in the lock and had made available to their view records which were priceless for their genealogical value. In fifteen minutes the keeper arrived. He looked at them and found they were still in a state of wonder over the find which they had discovered.

"They said, 'Can’t we please stay longer?'

"He said, 'How much longer?' And he looked at his watch.

"They said, 'About three days.'

"He said, 'I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t know why, but I feel I can trust you. Here is the key. You keep it, and when you are through, you return it to me. I’ll be here every morning at eight o’clock and every evening at five o’clock.'

"For three consecutive days, those two missionaries studied and recorded for our current use information which could have been obtained in no other way. President Johnson, filled with emotion, explained this experience to us. He said, 'The Lord does move in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.' As he made this statement of testimony to me, I realized that his experience had also blessed the lives of Sister Monson and me, for much of the information he and his companion had obtained happened to be on our family lines.

"I thought of the key which the keeper of the archives gave to those two missionaries. While that key opened the lock which revealed and released to their information the names which they needed, there is a much greater key—a key which each one of us earnestly seeks to obtain and which will open the locks to the treasure houses of the knowledge which we desire to acquire. That key is the key of faith. In this work, no lock will open without it.

"I testify that when we do all we can to accomplish the work that is before us, the Lord will make available to us the sacred key needed to unlock the treasure which we so much seek."

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