"Peace Like a River" | Heidi S. Swinton | 2004

The restoration of the gospel is about hope. Heidi S. Swinton speaks of the restoration and how its message should bring "peace like a river" to our souls.

This speech was given on April 30, 2004

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"A few years ago, a film crew and I climbed into a rented green van at the Boston airport and set off up the coast to trace the unfolding of the Restoration. It was March—cold and blustery with sheets of ice and snow. We started in Topsville, Massachusetts, where Joseph Smith’s ancestors settled and had a pew in the church on the commons. Taking each historic site in sequence, we then drove to Sharon, Vermont, the birthplace of the Prophet Joseph. It was a serene, somewhat isolated setting.

Next we went to Palmyra to that grand stand of trees—the Sacred Grove. I had been there several times. With each visit I felt the spirit of that setting. There, young Joseph Smith spoke to the Father and the Son, face-to-face. And reality changed forever. Church President Joseph F. Smith described it as “the greatest event that has ever occurred in the world, since the resurrection of the Son of God from the tomb and his ascension on high” (GD, 495). Think about it. From that moment Joseph Smith knew more about our Father in Heaven and our Savior, Jesus Christ, than anyone alive.

The Restoration is marked by significant settings like the Sacred Grove that string across America. But it is much more than rebuilt cabins, monuments, and places on a map. Joseph Smith described the Restoration as

a work that God and angels have contemplated with delight for generations past; that fired the souls of the ancient patriarchs and prophets; a work that is destined to bring about the destruction of the powers of darkness, the renovation of the earth, the glory of God, and the salvation of the human family. [HC 4:610]

There is grandeur in the Restoration.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught:

The simple truth of the matter is that without the Restoration, the great Plan of Salvation would be forever thwarted . . . and the full blessings of the Atonement . . . would have been lost to almost all of God’s children, past, present and future.

Almost all the work for the living and for the dead falls on the shoulders of the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. Not Adam’s time, or Noah’s time, or Abraham’s time . . . nor Peter’s or Paul’s in the Meridian of Time. Those churches and those efforts ended in disarray and decay, and they ended quickly.

Without the Prophet Joseph Smith, we . . . would be left with fragmented scripture, unrelated doctrine, conflicting opinions, uninspired practices that over time became binding traditions.

This is what existed prior to 1820. [“Quotes by Members of the Twelve During New Mission Presidents Seminar,” Church News, 6 July 2002, 13]

As it falls on our shoulders, our responsibility in the Restoration is sobering. We have work and responsibility that is ours alone. And, increasingly, we are standing alone. In my earlier life, I was a news junkie; but I can hardly stand to watch or listen to the rancor today. Crisis management has become a profession; there are few if any happy endings at the movies; television sitcoms herald what is clearly the underbelly of society; power has become a commodity brokered, sold, and abused; and recent studies show that stress is the reason we are fat. I thought it was the brownies I eat for breakfast.

President Harold B. Lee said,

We have been called to difficult tasks in a difficult age. . . . The converging challenges posed by war, urbanization, dilution of doctrine, and domestic decay surely provide for us the modern equivalent of crossing the plains, enduring misunderstanding, establishing a kingdom throughout the world in the midst of adversity. [Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2000), 214]

No war, threat of terror, disappointment, absence of decency, morality, or civility can penetrate the peace promised by the Lord. That peace came with the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The ancient prophet Elisha understood peace and tumult. When he and his young servant arose early and went forth, “an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15). Can’t you just see the servant thinking..."