Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Never Leave Him

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Never Leave Him, by Neil L. Andersen
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Have you experienced times of trial when you looked up to God for help and found only silence? Left feeling alone, what did you do? You may think of Joseph Smith and his similar experience in Liberty Jail where he prayed, "O God, where art thou?" (D&C 121:1) In his time of trial, he learned that he wasn't alone after all.

But there was still that time of trial.

As I rode home from work today, I listened to a Radiolab episode podcast titled, "In Silence" (link). This is an exploration of times of silence that Abraham and Noah may have experienced when they were asked to do hard things. The questions raised were interesting, but I was left unsatisfied because I know the answers and the presenter didn't! He was asking why these prophets would be willing to do what they did, but he asked from a standpoint of one who doesn't understand and appreciate the roles that prophets play/played; the faith component was definitely lacking (for a start to an answer, see Heb 11:7, 17-19).

What do we know that others may find troubling in these times of silence? Elder Andersen has an answer:

The Lord has not left us alone in our quest to return to Him. . . As we follow the Savior, without question there will be challenges that confront us. Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality.

Despite the promise that we aren't left alone, we aren't guaranteed that the road will be easy. In fact, Elder Andersen warned of "two words [that] signal danger ahead: the words are offended and ashamed." He then gave counsel to choose not to be offended or ashamed, citing encouraging examples from history.

The idea that we actually have a choice if we'll be offended or ashamed likely sounds strange to many others in the world. "As disciples of Christ, we stand apart from the world." We've been given much by way of knowledge and understanding. Elder Andersen recited some questions that may sound humorous if we forget the times we asked similar questions:

Some ask, “Do I have to be so different from others?” “Can’t I be a disciple of Christ without thinking so much about my behavior?” “Can’t I love Christ without keeping the law of chastity?” “Can’t I love Him and do what I want on Sunday?” Jesus gave a simple answer: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

In discussing our differences from others—even those of other faiths who love Christ—it's important to remember what we've been given, and what is required of us:

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having a witness of His reality not only from the Bible but also from the Book of Mormon; knowing His priesthood has been restored to the earth; having made sacred covenants to follow Him and received the gift of the Holy Ghost; having been endowed with power in His holy temple; and being part of preparing for His glorious return to the earth, we cannot compare what we are to be with those who have not yet received these truths. “Unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3).

NOTE: The scripture quoted uses the word required, not expected (despite its frequent misquoting).

When we examine the lives of the great ones who have gone before (think of Abraham and Noah from earlier), we realize that while much was ultimately required of them, they had been given much (they were prophets, after all), and they performed beautifully.

Was it easy for them? No. Was it worth it for them? Yes!

While things likewise won't always be easy for us, it will be worth it, and we can find comfort in knowing that "the Lord has not left us alone in our quest to return to Him."

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