Friday, December 5, 2008

Places of Safety

For this post I thought I would shift gears a little and focus on the most important part of preparedness, Spiritual Preparedness.

We have all been taught that as part of the last days there is to be a gathering of the saints to places of safety, or places of refuge. It is shown repeatedly in history that before Jesus destroys the wicked he removes his people. A few examples would be at the times of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah or when Lehi was told to flee Jerusalem. My mind is even brought to think of Noah and his family gathering to the ark. Of these places of safety Harold B. Lee has said: “Thus, clearly, the Lord has placed the responsibility for directing the work of gathering in the hands of the leaders of the Church to whom he will reveal his will where and when such gatherings would take place in the future. It would be well before the frightening events concerning the fulfillment of all God’s promises and predictions are upon us, that the Saints in every land prepare themselves and look forward to the instruction that shall come to them from the First Presidency of this Church as to where they shall be gathered and not be disturbed in their feelings until such instruction in given to them as it is revealed by the Lord to the proper authority.”

I have spent hours and hours pondering on this concept and wondering if it could ever come to that in my life time. I ask myself; will I be ready to go if that time does come? I mentioned earlier in my blog that I have felt a change in the tone of the leadership of my church. As I have heard a few of their talks and thought about this concept of gathering to places of refuge I can’t help but wonder if they aren’t preparing us for this time. If not this, then something that could be quite difficult to do. It has caused me to really ponder my testimony of the Prophet. Is it strong enough? Is your testimony of the prophet strong enough? If they asked us to pack up our belonging and leave tomorrow, would we have the faith to go? This is a hypothetical question. I’m not making any predictions. I use this example only because I know it has inspired me to deeply examine my testimony of our living prophet.

It seems we should all have an unshakeable testimony of our prophet and it is obviously very important since the smallest child in our church is taught the familiar saying “Follow the Prophet”. We have had it pretty easy. What has our prophet asked us to do? Read the Book of Mormon before a certain deadline, attend the temple, make sure we get out and vote. We did those things, right? More recently though he asked us to do what we could to support and pray for the passing of Proposition 8. Sadly, and shockingly, we saw a few members fail to follow this commandment. If we fail on something so simple and so in line with an age old gospel principle how can we expect to have faith to follow the prophet when he is instructed to give us hard commandments?

I encourage you to examine your testimony, read the scriptures and find out what they say about the prophets, search the church web site and learn what has been said about following the prophets there.

I would like to share a little of what I have learned that has helped me build my testimony of our true and living prophet of God. In pondering whether or not I would follow the prophet and leave my home the question that kept coming to mind was; “How can I know that he (the prophet) hasn’t gone astray?” I asked Heavenly Father that question and then I turned to the scriptures and two of them brought me the reassurance I needed: Deu. 18: 20 and D&C 64:39-40, not to mention one of the most popular statements taken out of scriptures from Declaration 1 wherein President Woodruff states: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”

In the last several month I have received more witnesses of the importance of following the Prophet. One of the most comforting talks on this subject to me was published in the June 2008 Ensign by our new 1st counselor, President Eyering. In his talk entitled Safety in Counsel he said “The Savior holds responsible those to whom He delegates priesthood keys. With those keys comes the power to give counsel that will show us the way to safety. Those with keys are responsible to warn even when their counsel might not be followed. In our own time we have been warned with counsel on where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time.”
I found it comforting that part of the Prophet’s mission is to “show us the way to safety” this, added to my testimony that the Lord will not allow a prophet to lead us astray, brought me comfort. Once again in another part of the talk he says: “God offers us counsel not just for our own safety but for the safety of His other children, whom we should love. There are few comforts so sweet as to know that we have been an instrument in the hands of God in leading someone else to safety. That blessing generally requires the faith to follow counsel when it is hard to do.”
This statement let me know that eventually the prophet will be required to ask us to follow things that will be hard to do and that it will take faith on my part, but I have to find the faith to do it, not just for me, Elder Eyering teaches, but “for the safety of His other children, whom we should love.” I see these others as being my children and I do love them more than life itself.

Elder Eyering then taught me another important concept that I need to have faith in as well, when he said: “Keys are delegated down a line that passes from the prophet through those responsible for ever-smaller groups of members, closer and closer to families and to individuals. That is one of the ways by which the Lord makes a stake a place of safety.” I need to have as much faith in my local stake leaders when they are acting in behalf of the Lord as my Prophet. Elder Eyering teaches this but the scriptures also say that bishops will be exposed if the have went astray.
The next few paragraphs were again just reassuring us that if we want to be safe we will follow the prophet when he speaks, knowing that he WILL lead us to places of safety.
“Our Heavenly Father loves us. He sent His Only Begotten Son to be our Savior. He knew that in mortality we would be in grave danger, the worst of it from the temptations of a terrible adversary. That is one of the reasons the Savior has provided priesthood keys, so that those with ears to hear and faith to obey could go to places of safety.
There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety, and there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. Those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.
Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice. Then if his counsel seems comfortable and reasonable, squaring with what they want to do, they take it. If it does not, they either consider it faulty advice or they see their circumstances as justifying their being an exception to the counsel. Those without faith may think that they hear only men seeking to exert influence for some selfish motive."
Now whether these “places of safety” will be a physical place or just spiritual steps along our journey in life, I don’t know. I do know this. I like safety and so I add my prayer to that of Elder Eyering’s:
“We are blessed to live in a time when the priesthood keys are on the earth. We are blessed to know where to look and how to listen for the voice that will fulfill the promise of the Lord that He will gather us to safety. I pray that we will have humble hearts, that we will listen, that we will pray, and that we will wait for the deliverance of the Lord that is sure to come as we are faithful.”
I encourage you to read this talk here for yourself. It is amazing! Elder Eyering teaches several other concepts and shares touching stories. I think at this point I will bring this really long post to an end but I am going to leave you with a few links to other recent talks that have helped me solidify my testimony of the prophet as well.

Give Heed unto the Prophet's Words By, Elder Quintin L. Cook
The True and Living Church By, President Eyering

1 comment:

Tammie said...

Oh we are so blessed to have a living Prophet on the earth today! Good Stuff!