Let me share a growing experience between a man spiritually mature in his understanding and appreciation for the significance of these sacred emblems and a young deacon who was but beginning his association with eternal truths.
"The sacrament never really meant much to me until the Sunday I was ordained a deacon. That afternoon I passed the sacrament for the first time. Prior to the meeting, one of the deacons warned me, 'Look out for Brother Schmidt. You may have to wake him up!'
Finally time time came for me to participate in the passing of the sacrament. I handled the first six rows quite well. Children and adults partook of the bread with no noticeable thought or problem. Then I got to row seven, the row where Brother Schmidt always sat. But I was surprised. Instead of being asleep he was wide awake. Unlike many of the others I had served, he took the bread with what seemed to be great thought and reverence.
A few minutes later I found myself again approaching row seven with the water. This time my friend was right. Brother Schmidt sat with his head bowed and his big German eyes shut. He was evidently sound asleep. What could I do or say? I looked for a moment at his brow, wrinkled and worn from years of toil and hardship. He had joined the Church as a teenager and had experienced much persecution in his small German town. I had heard the story many times in testimony meeting.
I decided finally to gently nudge his shoulder in hopes of waking him. As I reached to do so, his head slowly lifted. There were tears streaming down his cheeks and as I looked into his eyes I saw love and joy. He quietly reached up and took the water. Even though I was only twelve then, I can still remember vividly the feeling I had as I watched this rugged old man partake of the sacrament. I knew without a doubt that he was feeling something about the sacrament that I had never felt. I determined then that I wanted to feel those same feelings...
It had been seven years since John had the experience of first passing the sacrament to Brother Schmidt. Since that time he had watched Brother Schmidt carefully. John continued to gain a greater and greater appreciation for his faith and love of the Savior.
In two weeks John would be in the mission field, but prior to leaving he wanted to do something he had desired for years—have a personal talk with Brother Schmidt.
Saturday evening John went to Brother Schmidt's home. He lived alone. His wife had passed away a few years earlier. As John entered the small but neatly kept home, he felt a special spirit. Pictures of some of the temples were hung neatly on one wall. On another wall was a painting of the Savior kneeling in Gethsemane.
John began, 'Brother Schmidt, ever since I first passed the sacrament to you I sensed it has a profound meaning in your life. Before I leave for the mission field, I want to find out why this ordinance that some seem to take so lightly is so meaningful to you.'
Brother Schmidt didn't answer for a few moments. His eyes seemed to focus on the picture of Christ that hung on the wall before him.
Then he said, 'John, after I joined the Church in Germany, many of my friends deserted me. My family was also upset and for a time I was left almost completely alone. I desperately needed a source of strength and power to help me survive the challenges I was facing. One day I was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants.' Brother Schmidt turned to these verses and read:
'Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. 'And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; 'For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father and live.'
'As I read those verses,' he continued, 'the revelation came to me that the powers of godliness are really manifest in the ordinances of the gospel. I began to see that ordinances are indeed channels of power. That is to say, through ordinances we can literally partake of the spirit and power that emanates from God.
I then began a personal study to learn all I could about the ordinances of the gospel. As I studied I became impressed that the sacrament is one of the most important keys to spiritual growth and strength.
I decided as a young man that, no matter what went on around me, my ability to live the gospel and to have a personal relationship with Christ could be strengthened as I partook worthily of the sacrament.
Sunday after Sunday I went to the sacrament service hungry—hungry to partake of the power of Jesus Christ in my life. Gradually I learned that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness can be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Since then, John, I have tried to make the sacrament a time of total worship—a time to think of the Lord and of my behavior during the preceding week, a time to repent and to make commitments. Now each day of the week, I look forward to the sacrament. To always remember my Savior is a commitment for every day, as well as Sunday.'
John was greatly impressed by what Brother Schmidt had said and asked, 'But Brother Schmidt, don't you ever get distracted by the noises during the passing of the sacrament?'
'John, it isn't always an easy thing to make the sacrament a total worship experience. Sometimes outside influences and distracting thoughts can sidetrack our purpose for being there. But I have found that if I go to a sacrament meeting with a purpose and desire to communicate with the Lord, these distractions can be handled more easily.'
As John walked home, he again remembered that day seven years earlier when he had watched Brother Schmidt. Once again the emotions welled up within him. With a renewed determination, he whispered, 'I want to feel those feelings too.'"
(Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1979).
The power of heaven is awaiting our efforts. May we—you and I—be responsive to this beckoning surge of power that we might be safeguarded from the protruding roots across our paths and the loose rocks or sand that can impede our eternal journey.
May we live on this spiritual plane in close communication with the source of all power, I pray humbly in the very sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
J. Thomas Fyans shared this story at a BYU Devotional (BYU Speeches, 1987-88, p. 136).