“Some years ago, one of our young married daughters and her husband asked Sister Rasband and me a very important, life-influencing question: ‘Is it still safe and wise to bring children into this seemingly wicked and frightening world we live in?’”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband introduces a common question that might just as well be valid to ask in virtually any time in human history. Regardless of the nature of the culture, this world is inherently and by design a risky and dangerous place. The way I see it, if we are still alive and the work is still in motion, then it is still our duty to bring children into the world. The Rasband’s answer to their children “Yes, it’s more than OK,” was great.
“Fear is not new. The disciples of Jesus Christ, out on the Sea of Galilee, feared the “wind, and the waves” in the dark of the night. As His disciples today, we too have fears. Our single adults fear making commitments such as getting married. Young marrieds, like our children, can fear bringing children into an increasingly wicked world. Missionaries fear lots of things, especially approaching strangers. Widows fear going forward alone. Teenagers fear not being accepted; grade schoolers fear the first day of school; university students fear getting back a test. We fear failure, rejection, disappointment, and the unknown. We fear hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires that ravage the land and our lives. We fear not being chosen, and on the flip side, we fear being chosen. We fear not being good enough; we fear that the Lord has no blessings for us. We fear change, and our fears can escalate to terror. Have I included just about everyone?”
I enjoyed how he put this into perspective. I have always liked this one acronym for F.E.A.R.: “False Expectations Appearing Real.” As a missionary, I tried to train myself to recognize when I was feeling afraid and recognize that these feelings were not from God. I would ask myself if these feelings are not from God then who are they from and why am I feeling them now? What is the adversary trying to stop me from doing, seeing, or experiencing?
There are legitimate reasons for some fear though. We are afraid of rabid dogs for a reason, we feel fear at the edge of high places for a reason, and we feel fear of clowns for a reason (haha, just kidding, or am I?). We are programmed for self-preservation, and there is a wise purpose behind it. That fear meter inside of us needs to be regularly calibrated and used with skill.
“Our desire to ‘always have his Spirit’ with us will push fear aside for a more eternal view of our mortal lives. President Nelson has cautioned, ‘In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.'”
I would say that it is always the case that having the constant influence of the Holy Ghost is necessary for spiritual survival. Is there a time where it has been unnecessary? Maybe in the 90’s perhaps? No, of course not, but I get what President Nelson is saying. Challenges will increase, especially new kinds of scenarios that technology brings about that can catch us off guard.
We need discipline and higher perspective, or we will get sucked into the distractions of our time.
“The Lord said, regarding the scourges that would cover the land and would harden the hearts of many, ‘My disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved.'”
This hardening of the heart is an interesting phrase deserving of much pondering and cross-referencing. I recall the Savior’s parable of the seeds cast upon the different types of soil. The first thing Adam did after leaving Eden was to till the earth, to break apart the soil and prepare it to receive seeds. Breaking the soil of our hearts after transgression can require some effort and perhaps some sweat. It may take more than 10 minutes and require hours, days, or longer.
“First, stand in holy places. […] There is no room for fear in these holy places of God or in the hearts of His children. Why? Because of love.”
There are holy places dedicated as such and then there are places we make holy by the way we choose to treat them. Then there is the holiness inside our hearts that is perhaps the most important holy place of all, the temple of the Spirit of the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:19)
“When we are tentative in our commitments to the Lord, when we stray from His path leading to life eternal, when we question or doubt our significance in His divine design, when we allow fear to open the door to all its companions—discouragement, anger, frustration, disappointment—the Spirit leaves us, and we are without the Lord.”
This is important because many of us feel like as long as we go to church, don’t commit big sins, and are generally friendly people that we deserve the Spirit of God. Elder Rasband teaches here that when we are tentative, or not sure, hesitant, or lacking in confidence in our commitments we open the door to fear. It is indeed an important thing to watch out for in ourselves and our family members.
“This is why we should not be troubled by the turmoil of today, by those in the great and spacious building, by those who scoff at honest effort and dedicated service to the Lord Jesus Christ. Optimism, courage, even charity come from a heart not burdened by troubles or turmoil. President Nelson, who is ‘optimistic about the future,’ has reminded us, ‘If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.’”
I like the reference to the great and spacious building here; I don’t think we can hear it enough in these times because it is so incredibly applicable. His quote from President Nelson is on point as well, we truly “must learn to receive revelation” otherwise we will be unable to “sift” through all of these voices that demand our attention and compliance.
Spencer W. Kimball was one of the prophets of my youth. These past few years, after being called as an Apostle, I have found peace in his first message at general conference in October 1943. He was overwhelmed by his call; I know what that feels like. Elder Kimball said: “I did a great deal of thinking and praying, and fasting and praying. There were conflicting thoughts that surged through my mind—seeming voices saying: ‘You can’t do the work. You are not worthy. You have not the ability’—and always finally came the triumphant thought: ‘You must do the work assigned—you must make yourself able, worthy and qualified.’ And the battle raged on.”
I think we can all relate to what President Kimball experienced. I like the “triumphant thought” he shared and the strength it gave him. He didn’t say that this thought brought permanent victory, because “the battle raged on.”
It’s always good to be reminded of these things; I think that we need to be; if not for ourselves, then those we serve or parent. These words add to the framework of faith that we can construct to help us through the time God has given us to be here, not just to survive, but to create great light amid the great darkness.