Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Talk - Follow the Prophet

One of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter series is Dumbledore. He is wise, calm and often times can be found encouraging and counseling the Hogwarts students, especially Harry. On one occasion he says, “dark and difficult times lie ahead, soon we must all face the choice, between what is right and what is easy.”

We know and have seen many dark and difficult times during our life. Perhaps it was last week with terror acts, perhaps it was yesterday with a family member, perhaps it was over the past few years with wars and natural disasters. And what Dumbledore said was key, because we all have the choice to choose between what is right and what is easy.

It has never been entirely easy to follow the Prophet but we know it is right. Let’s take for example a few stories from the scriptures. Noah, a Prophet called of God to preach repentance to the people was met with ridicule, death threats and mockery. God, using his Prophet tried to preserve not only the temporal life but spiritual life of the people, but they would not listen. Why? Was it just plain easier to follow the crowd rather than follow the right? And, I have to wonder if there were times when Noah thought that too? But rather than giving into the easy, he put his complete trust in God and built the ark and gathered the animals and provisions even on the driest of days. And this is the best part – he and his family were blessed because they put their trust in God and in the Prophet. President Eyring teaches, “The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.

Lamen and Lemuel, who many of us are familiar with, happen to be another example of choosing the easiness of the way through rebellion, murmuring and not taking time to seek answers from God asking if what their father, Lehi – the Prophet, was telling them was truth. Often times, some may follow Lamen and Lemuel’s path and not seek a testimony for themselves if what the Prophet has counseled us to do is right. Joseph Smith taught us that if we lack wisdom, seek God and He will answer us. President Monson has reminded us, “such a personal testimony, is essential if we are to safely navigate the sometimes treacherous paths through life with the adversary attempting to deceive us at every turn. The Prophet is the one sure thing we can anchor ourselves to as temptations and deceptions come our way.”

President Eying said, “Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 25).

I love President’s Eyring’s formula for following the Prophet –

#1-listen to his counsel
#2-through prayer seek for confirmation if what the Prophet said was true
#3-after receiving confirmation – follow the Prophet

Our modern day Prophet, President Monson illustrates this perfectly by sharing the following story of his own life in this month’s Ensign. He says, I served in the United States Navy toward the end of World War II. I was a seaman, the lowest possible rank in the navy. After WWar II ended, and I was later discharged. But I made a decision that if ever I went back into the military, I wanted to serve as a commissioned officer. I thought, “No more mess kitchens for me, no more scrubbing the decks, if I can avoid it.”

After I was discharged, I joined the United States Naval Reserve. I went to drill every Monday night. I studied hard that I might qualify academically. I took every kind of examination imaginable: mental, physical, and emotional. Finally, there came the beautiful news: “You have been accepted to receive the commission of an ensign in the United States Naval Reserve.”

I gleefully showed it to my wife, Frances, and said, “I made it! I made it!” She hugged me and said, “You’ve worked hard enough to achieve it.”

But then something happened. I was called to be a counselor in my ward bishopric. The bishop’s council meeting was on the same evening as my navy drill meeting. I knew there was a terrible conflict. I knew that I didn’t have the time to pursue the Naval Reserve and my bishopric duties. What was I to do? A decision had to be made.

I prayed about it. Then I went to see the man who was my stake president when I was a boy, Elder Harold B. Lee (1899–1973), then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I sat down across the table from him. I told him how much I valued that commission. In fact, I showed him the copy of the letter I had received.

After pondering the matter for a moment, he said to me, “Here’s what you should do, Brother Monson. You write a letter to the Bureau of Naval Affairs and tell them that because of your call as a member of the bishopric, you can’t accept that commission in the United States Naval Reserve.”

My heart sank. He added, “Then write to the commandant of the Twelfth Naval District in San Francisco indicating that you would like to be discharged from the reserve.”

I said, “Elder Lee, you don’t understand the military. Of course they will decline to give me that commission if I refuse to accept it, but the Twelfth Naval District isn’t going to let me off. With a war brewing in Korea, a noncommissioned officer will surely be called up. If called back, I would rather go back as a commissioned officer, but I won’t if I don’t accept this commission. Are you sure this is the counsel you want me to receive?”

Elder Lee put his hand on my shoulder and in a fatherly way said, “Brother Monson, have more faith. The military is not for you.”

I went home. I placed a tear-stained commission back in its envelope with its accompanying letter and declined to accept it. Then I wrote a letter to the Twelfth Naval District and requested a discharge from the Naval Reserve.

My discharge from the Naval Reserve was in the last group processed before the outbreak of the Korean War. My headquarters outfit was activated. Six weeks after I was called to be a counselor in the bishopric, I was called to be the bishop of my ward.

I would not hold the position in the Church I hold today had I not followed the counsel of a prophet, had I not prayed about that decision, had I not come to an appreciation of an important truth: the wisdom of God oft times appears as foolishness to men.1 But the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and His children obey, they will always be right.

I absolutely love how he sought council, listened to Elder Lee, received counsel, prayed seeking confirmation from God and then going forth with faith, even though it wasn’t what path he would have necessarily chosen at that time.

Following the Prophet is complete action. There is no easiness or laziness about it. It is completely a get-up and do sort of lifestyle. Choose to follow the Prophet and you choose the right. Choose to follow the Prophet and you choose safety and guidance. Choose the Prophet and you stand with power, faith, and with an everlasting confidence that comes only from God.

YM when you choose to follow the Prophet and stay away from pornography, serve a full time honorable hard working mission, and become educated in a profession to provide for your future family and yourself, you choose to see miracles in your life and be protected and guided by the Savior and Heavenly Father, you choose power over Satan. You choose control over your life.

YW when you choose to follow the Prophet and prepare for education or mission or becoming a wife and mother you choose to stand on holy ground and be armed against the chains Satan has to ensnare you with. Primary children, when you choose to follow the prophet and are honest and kind, saying your prayers and reading scriptures, obeying your parents, you are protected and guided and are a great example to the other children at school or home or in your extra-curricular activities.

Parents, grandparents and adults, when you choose to remain morally clean, keep your temple covenants, serve in your callings with joy and inspiration, listen and follow the promptings of the spirit, you choose to be inspired, protected and guided by our Heavenly Father, the Savior and the Holy Ghost.

Elder Cook shares an experience and the blessing he received while following the prophet and keeping the Word of Wisdom. He says, “after finishing my education at Stanford Law School, I sought employment at a particular law firm. No members of the Church were associated with the firm, but the firm was made up of lawyers of character and ability. After a morning of interviews, the senior partner and two other partners invited me to lunch. The senior partner inquired if I would like a prelunch alcoholic drink and later if I would like wine. In both cases, I declined. The second time, I informed him that I was an active Latter-day Saint and did not drink alcoholic beverages.

I received an offer of employment from the firm. A few months later, the senior partner told me the offer of the alcoholic beverages was a test. He noted that my résumé made it clear that I had served an LDS mission. He had determined that he would hire me only if I was true to the teachings of my own church. He considered it a significant matter of character and integrity.”

Sister Carol McConkie, during the October 2014 General Conference instructed and testified of the blessings and protection that come from living according to the words of the Prophets.

She says, “We heed prophetic word even when it may seem unreasonable, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. According to the world’s standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right. The Lord honors and favors those who will heed prophetic direction.”

And we see that with President Monson’s and Elder Cook’s experiences.

I add my own testimony of the blessings both temporal and spiritual that come from following the Prophet. Years ago while living in Albuquerque I began to heed the council of the Prophet to attend the temple regularly. I was prompted by the Spirit one day after attending a midnight movie release, getting home around 3 am and rising at 7 to help my kids prepare for school. The Spirit prompted me by giving me the following thought, “Tammy, if you can go to your favorite midnight movie release and still get up early the next morning, you can certainly get up and attend the temple.” I began formulating a temple plan because those words were powerful and piercing. It was the first Saturday of the New Year and I had set my alarm early to rise and prepare to attend the first session of the day. Unfortunately, I have a really bad habit of pressing the snooze button and did that several times until I realized I would have to really hurry to make it to the temple for that early morning session or perhaps not go that day after all. I almost talked myself out of it but remembered I had made a promise to God, so I rushed out the door with only minutes to spare and arrived at the temple a little hurried. As I walked into the temple I was greeted by a sweet sister who informed me that this particular morning was a great morning to be at the temple. Feeling so good about being there, I said, “I know, I’m so happy to be here.” She followed by saying, “you know sister, Elder Russell M. Nelson will be in the session this morning.” Wow, that was a wonderful surprise. As I took my seat in the Endowment room, with only a handful of people, I saw Elder Nelson, not far from me. I thought, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I’m in the same session as Elder Nelson.” And as soon as I thought that thought, came this response, “no, Tammy – you are in the same session as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Wow, that was a powerful spiritual moment and changed the entire session for me that day and my temple service since then. I cannot express to you how grateful I am for heeding the counsel of the Prophet and the guidance of the Holy Ghost and getting myself to the temple that morning and having that profound experience. I know without a doubt that every time we heed the counsel of the Prophet we are blessed.

Sister McConkie says, “When we heed the words of the prophets, we build our homes and our lives upon an eternally sure foundation, ‘the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, . . . that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to . . . misery and endless wo.’ We have a choice. We may choose to ignore, trifle with, trample upon, or rebel against the words of Christ spoken by His ordained servants or we can choose to follow the Prophet and be protected, guided, inspired and blessed.”

Remember, dark and difficult times lie ahead, soon we must all face the choice, between what is right and what is easy. It is my solemn prayer brothers and sisters that we listen to the words of the Prophet, seek confirmation from God and then follow him. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Note: This talk was given by my awesome friend Tammy on 1/18/15 in Arizona. I appreciate her willingness to share it on my blog.)

1 comment:

Thane Walton said...

Thanks Pam and Tammy! You guys are awesome.