What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: sasha_afisha
Given the insight of historical analysis and the distance of time, it is easy for people in our day to look back on others’ trials and notice what they did wrong. Pursuant to this line of thinking is the tendency to assume that we would have acted a certain way, were we to have faced similar circumstances. But faced with our own trials of faith and commitment, what will future generations say of our own decisions?
Have you ever wondered about your decision to stand with Christ in the pre-mortal realm? The very fact that we are alive today is an indication of our decision to accept God’s plan. But what was that decision like? Did friends and loved ones decide to follow the opposing side? How intense was the struggle? How harsh were the words exchanged? How flattering and tempting were the enemy’s enticements?
We are left only to speculate about why one third of the hosts of heaven decided to reject God’s plan. Reading the stories of the children of Israel, Lehi and his family, or the early pioneers of this dispensation, we wonder with amazement at how many times they stumbled, especially on seemingly easy things. As one example, President Eyring shared this story of Haun’s Mill:
When tensions ran high in northern Missouri in the fall of 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for all the Latter-day Saints to gather to Far West for protection. Many were on isolated farms or in scattered settlements. He specifically counseled Jacob Haun, founder of a small settlement called Haun’s Mill. A record of that time includes this: “Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message.” Later, the Prophet Joseph recorded in his history: “Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel.” Then the Prophet recorded the sad truth that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun’s Mill had his counsel been received and followed. (Henry B. Eyring, Safety in Counsel)
All that had to be done was to follow a prophet’s voice. President Eyring goes on to describe the safety that comes from obeying counsel. Both our physical and spiritual safety and long term security depend upon our willingness to remain faithful to the Lord and follow the man whom He has called as His prophet.
It is one thing to read stories of others’ experiences and think that we would have acted correctly, and entirely another thing to have a living individual give us counsel on what to do, and have to reconcile a potentially conflicting plan with our own circumstances, opinions, ideas, and desires. In our own tests of faith, how will we decide and whose side will we take? What will our posterity say of our own decision when they are afforded the luxury of hindsight? Will they be proud of our choices and recognize our fidelity to the gospel, or will they look at our decision as an opportunity for them to learn from our mistakes?
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said:
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. (Martin Luther King, Jr., via Quoty)
We deceive ourselves if we claim that we would have been counted with the faithful in past trials yet fall short in our own day. Whatever trials come our way, whatever challenges and controversies creep into our midst, it is imperative that we do whatever we are asked by the man whom we sustain as the prophet. We are judged and sifted not by what we claim we would have done in times past, but what we are doing today.