Cheesecake and Elder Ballard

Listening to the words of the prophets may not always be convenient. But their counsel is inspired of God, and it always works if we heed it with faith.

Several months ago, I had the chance to meet Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at a luncheon because of a scholarship I had won.

As I entered the ornate Ambassador Room on the tenth floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, one of the directors asked me if I would share a few words at the end of the meal, right before Elder Ballard spoke. I agreed.

A beautiful lunch was served, starting with a spinach salad topped with strawberries and mandarins. Then a large chicken cordon bleu was placed in front of each of us with potatoes and asparagus.

Finally came the cheesecake. I hadn’t seen a slice of cheesecake that thick in a year and a half since being at BYU! A strawberry drizzle patterned the empty side of the plate, and chocolate shavings on top gave the dessert an elaborate look.

As Elder Ballard and everyone else at our table picked up their spoons to start their cheesecake, the director stood up and announced that a few speakers would now share some remarks. Without time to even try the cheesecake, I pushed my dessert aside and jotted down a few notes to prepare for my turn.

A few others spoke, and then I was introduced and I shared some remarks of gratitude for the award. Afterwards, everyone clapped and Elder Ballard stood up to speak.

Now, I know enough to not eat while an apostle is speaking, so I glanced towards my cheesecake with longing and hoped that Elder Ballard would give us at least a few minutes after he spoke so that I could try my dessert.

But those minutes never came. Right after he finished speaking, he invited us out to the hallway for a photo, and through the open door into the Ambassador Room, I could see my full slice of uneaten cheesecake sitting on the table, calling to me.

Then the shaking of hands commenced and formalities were exchanged before Elder Ballard wished us well and announced that he had to leave for his next meeting.

The rest of us lingered for a minute in the hall, chatting. I tried looking for an excuse to go back into the dining room to at least taste my cheesecake, but a secretary was inside packing up her purse and I couldn’t see any graceful way to walk past her and casually grab a bite of the dessert.

My chance was gone.

As we drove home, the image of the beautiful cheesecake remained planted in my mind. It called to me from across Temple Square, and in my mind’s eye, I could almost see the waitress beginning to clear off the tables…

I saw her grabbing my untouched plate of dessert, preparing to throw it away, but then suddenly she changed her mind, packing it in a box instead to give to her son after school, just like my own mom had done after her work parties so many times.

I sighed with content and leaned back in my seat, knowing that my cheesecake would go to a good home!

Now, my friends: what have you sacrificed recently to show the Lord that you are willing to listen to His prophets?

Will you, like me, fret about your cheesecake and let yourself be distracted from the great blessing it is to have living apostles speak to us, or will you latch onto their words, ignoring the wafting temptations of strawberry drizzle and chocolate shavings?

I hope you have strength to choose the latter!

Listening to the words of the prophets may not always be convenient. But their counsel is inspired of God, and it always works if we heed it with faith.

May we remember the parable of the cheesecake and put first in our lives what is truly important! As we do so, our lives will be less complicated and we will find great contentment and peace.

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