Elder Uchtdorf asked the men of the church: “Are we as priesthood holders living below our privileges when it comes to the sacred power, gifts, and blessings that are our opportunity and right as bearers of God’s priesthood?” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April Priesthood Meeting 2011
I hope all members of the church took notice of Elder Uchtdorf’s concerns about the men of the church. He is telling the men of the church that we’re not experiencing all the sacred powers that God wants us to have. He went on to say: “Brethren, we are faced with a choice. We can be satisfied with a diminished experience as priesthood bearers and settle for experiences far below our privileges. Or we can partake of an abundant feast of spiritual opportunity and universal priesthood blessings.”
Living below the spiritual possibilities the Lord has for his followers isn’t just a problem for the men. Elder Neal A. Maxwell used the image of a fruit-ladened tree to illustrate how both men and women of the church live below their privileges:
“Happily, many of us have already picked and been greatly nourished by the low-hanging fruit from the gospel tree. Yet, on the higher branches, much fruit still remains, unreached for and unplucked.” Neal Maxwell; Whom the Lord Loveth P 7-8.
I equate the low-hanging fruit with the basic activity many active members enjoy. I believe this level of commitment is settling for sacred power and gifts far below our privilege. The abundant feast of spiritual opportunity is found in the unplucked fruit on the higher branches. The low-hanging fruit is nourishing, meeting our basic needs, while the fruit on the higher branches is where the abundant feast of sacred powers and gifts are obtained.
Church members have a choice to make. We can be satisfied with diminished sacred experiences. Or we can exercise faith and reach for the fruit representing an abundant feast of sacred experiences. Unless we exercise faith, we leave the Lord powerless to bless us as he desires.
The Book of Mormon provides the answers to what the higher hanging fruit is and how to pluck it. The choice before each of us is—are we interested in reaching for the higher-hanging fruit?
What I Hope to Accomplish
I hope this book will motivate those who read it to reach for the higher-hanging fruit. I have reached forth, plucked some of the higher-hanging fruit, and experienced part of the feast. I continue to reach for more. The purpose of this book is to suggest what church members can do to live up to their privileges and obtain the sacred powers, gifts and blessings that are available to them. All church members can have a living and vibrant testimony that will create in them a desire to reach for the higher-hanging fruit. This desire can lead to full conversion, and the Lord teaches, “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Writing a book with the goal of inspiring LDS church members to reach for the higher-hanging fruit requires more than having an understanding of gospel principles. I believe it requires having sacred experiences as well, otherwise it is an academic exercise.
Sharing sacred experiences is an important part of the Lord’s way to increase faith in his followers. The Book of Mormon illustrates this principle. Consider the examples of Alma and the four sons of Mosiah, they often testified of sacred experiences to open the hearts of those they taught.
Sacred experiences need to be shared, but shared in meekness, always remembering, “that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit” (D&C 63:64). I hope that what I’ve written will measure up to that inspired counsel in the eyes of my readers, and more importantly, in the eyes of the Lord.
Having said that, I’m concerned that some readers will get the idea that they should have the same experiences as I relate. I don’t think it works that way. The message of the scriptures and this book is to point out the unique path the Lord would have each individual travel. From there, it is in the hands of the Lord how he will manifest the things of the Spirit to each of us individually.