Putting God First

Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) was the thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a dearly loved prophet of God. This year during our Sunday classes, members of the church will be studying his life and teachings:

The 13th President and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The 13th President and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – read the book online here

“T” Benson lived an amazing life. Born into a humble home, the oldest of 11 children (yes, eleven!), he was no stranger to hard work at a very young age. The little farm boy from Idaho would eventually be called to the highest office of the church as an apostle, at the tender age of 44, AND he would be asked to serve the United States as secretary of agriculture under the leadership of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. His life was remarkable as a dedicated man of God, family and country.

When Ezra was only 12 years old he had a pivitol life experience. With 7 children in the family at that point, and 1 on the way, his father was asked by the church to leave his family and serve a 2 year LDS mission to the Midwestern states. Today, married men in the church are not called to serve missions, unless as a president of a mission area, where he would bring his wife and children with him. Only single young men & young women, or retired married couples serve missions now. They all must request to serve before being given a mission assignment {after filling out a lot of paperwork and having a full medical work-up}. However, in the early days of the church, membership was so much smaller, and missionaries were so much harder to come by, fathers and husbands were routinely asked to leave their homes and families for 2 or more years to preach the gospel throughout the USA and in foreign lands. Their stalwart wives stayed behind and somehow “held the fort”. I have pioneer ancestors who did this. I don’t know how the wives managed!! Not only financially, but also emotionally! And yet, their journals record their faith that God sustained them.

Sarah Benson with her 7 children (and 1 on the way) at the time of her husband's mission call to England.
Sarah Benson with her 7 children (and 1 on the way) at the time of her husband’s mission.

Seventy-five years later, President Benson reflected on the blessings that came to his family because his father served a mission:

“I suppose some in the world might say that his acceptance of that call was proof he did not really love his family. To leave seven children and an expectant wife at home alone for two years, how could that be true love?

“But my father knew a greater vision of love. He knew that ‘all things shall work together for good to them that love God’ (Romans 8:28). He knew that the best thing he could do for his family was to obey God.

Here is one of Ezra Taft Benson’s famous quotes, when speaking from the pulpit as a prophet of God:

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives…”

I love that! It rings so true. If we are following what God wants us to do with our lives, then everything will work out right. I have seen this first hand in my life many times. Most recently, through my parent’s mission service.


Eighteen months ago my parents left everything they knew and loved behind … their comfortable home, their friends and family – especially their beloved little grandchildren – and answered a call to serve as missionaries in California. They were supposed to be finishing their mission and coming back home to all us this week, but a couple of months ago they learned there were no senior missionaries to be sent to replace them. The church has seen a 30% decline in applications of Senior Couple missionaries – there is such a desperate, desperate need! Mom & Dad prayed to know what they should do, and God’s answer was to extend their mission service to the max amount of time allowed, another 5 months, bringing them to a total of 23 months when they finally return home. Since they could not come home to us for the holidays, and we would not be seeing them for a lot longer than we expected, we went to THEM for Christmas! 🙂 It was awesome. Just think, if they hadn’t extend their mission, we wouldn’t have had the chance to enjoy sun and palm trees for Christmas, and take the yummy Jelly Belly factory tour! 😉

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Ho ho ho! Having a Jelly Christmas!

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What a blessed Christmas week! It was glorious to be with my parents one on one, to stay in their cozy little condo, to see their mission in action, to meet some of the wonderful missionaries and President and Sister Alba who oversee the Santa Rosa Mission. It was wonderful to get to see Mom & Dad’s joy and enthusiasm, to feel their strong faith in God and their devotion to their mission.


The LDS California Santa Rosa Mission office where Mom & Dad serve
The LDS California Santa Rosa Mission office where Mom & Dad work all week as Senior Missionaires

The past 18 months have been some of the hardest for my family; with Daughter A’s long serious illness, hospitalizations, the physical and emotional toll, and so many myriad challenges one after the next. There were times when I just missed so much being able to have my Mom here to hug me, and Dad here to help me see the big picture clearly and figure out “logical solutions”! And yet, I knew in my heart they were exactly where they were supposed to be. And, sure enough, God was right (of course). Everything kept slowly and surely working out just the way that it needed to. I truly believe we have received extra blessings, miracles and protection because of my parents willingness to leave home and give charitable service. God has taken care of all of us.

One of my best Christmas presents ever was to see how fulfilled my parents are. They just shine! It’s so fun to see them focused on a common goal, working together as a team in the important and exciting time of “the hastening” to spread the good news of the gospel to the world! The impact of their service is infinite. The ripple effect of all the good they are doing will go on and on for generations to come. Priceless.

Mom and Dad have truly put God first in their lives, and everything else has fallen into place. – MoSop


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