1 And it came to pass when Jesus had said these words, he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?
2 And they all spake, save it were three, saying: We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man, that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom.
3 And he said unto them: Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest.
4 And when he had spoken unto them, he turned himself unto the three, and said unto them: What will ye that I should do unto you, when I am gone unto the Father?
5 And they sorrowed in their hearts, for they durst not speak unto him the thing which they desired.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me.
7 Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven.
(3 Nephi 28:1-7)
At the end of the Savior’s last visit to His twelve disciples as recorded in the Book of Mormon, He asked each of them what they desired. Nine of them wanted to live “unto the age of man” and then to speedily return to His presence. He promised them that this desire would be fulfilled. But three of them had a different desire, and as we read in the passage above, they didn’t dare say it. They wanted to remain on the earth until the Savior’s second coming.
Had they discussed this desire with one another? Probably. Would the Savior have been surprised by the request? No. As He says in this passage, “I know your thoughts.” He knew what they wanted without them having to ask. (See 3 Nephi 13:8, Matthew 6:8.) But He gave them the opportunity to voice their desire anyway, and on this occasion, with compassion, He gave them the blessing which they were unable to bring themselves to request.
As Jesus tells them, one of His apostles—John the Beloved—had desired the same thing. After the Savior’s death and resurrection, Peter had asked Jesus about John’s mission. Jesus had responded, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee” (John 21:21-23)? In an 1829 revelation, Joseph Smith learned that the Savior had asked John what he desired, and John had received the promise that he would “tarry” until the Savior’s second coming in response (Doctrine & Covenants 7:1-3).
I have the following impression after considering both of these experiences: God loves us, and He cares about our desires. Some of our desires are immature, foolish, or even immoral, and an important purpose of this life is for our hearts to be changed, for our will to be aligned with the will of the Father. But there is still room for variation between people with different personalities, different gifts, and different righteous desires. Even though John’s desire was different from Peter’s, and even though the three Nephite disciples had a different desire from the other nine, the Savior recognized all of those desires as honorable, and granted even the desires which these three disciples were embarrassed to verbalize.
Earlier this month, President Russell M. Nelson compared God’s gifts with the process we go through in selecting gifts for our loved ones. Just as we think carefully about their desires as we select gifts for them, our Heavenly Father is also eager to grant us gifts which will fulfill our righteous desires. “What are your deepest desires?” President Nelson asked. “What do you really want to experience and accomplish in this life? Do you really want to become more and more like Jesus Christ? Do you really want to live with Heavenly Father and with your family forever and live as He lives? If you do, you will want to accept many gifts offered by the Lord” (“Four Gifts That Jesus Christ Offers to You,” First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional, 2 December 2018).
Today, I will remember that I can contribute to God’s work in ways that are unique to my personality. I will be grateful for a God who knows my thoughts and who wants to help me achieve the things which I most desire.