"People need spiritual anchors in their lives if they are to remain steadfast and not drift into the sea of temptation and sin."
If you suffer from worry, from grief or shame or jealousy or disappointment or envy, from self-recrimination or self-justification, consider this lesson taught to me many years ago by a patriarch. He was as saintly a man as I have ever known. He was steady and serene, with a deep spiritual strength that many drew upon.
He knew just how to minister to others who were suffering. On a number of occasions I was present when he gave blessings to those who were sick or who were otherwise afflicted. His was a life of service, both to the Church and to his community.
He had presided over one of the missions of the Church and always looked forward to the missionary reunions. When he was older, he was not able to drive at night, and I offered to take him to the reunions. That modest gesture was repaid a thousandfold.
On one occasion, when the Spirit was right, he gave me a lesson for my life from an experience in his own. Although I thought I had known him, he told me things about his life I would not have supposed.
He grew up in a little community with a desire to make something of himself. He struggled to get an education.
He married his sweetheart, and presently everything was just right. He was well employed, with a bright future. They were deeply in love, and she was expecting their first child.
The night the baby was to be born, there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick.
After many hours of labor, the condition of the mother-to-be became desperate.
Finally the doctor was located. In the emergency, he acted quickly and soon had things in order. The baby was born and the crisis, it appeared, was over.
Some days later, the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at another home that night.
John’s world was shattered. Everything was not right now; everything was all wrong. He had lost his wife. He had no way to tend both the baby and his work.
As the weeks wore on, his grief festered. “That doctor should not be allowed to practice,” he would say. “He brought that infection to my wife. If he had been careful, she would be alive today.”
He thought of little else, and in his bitterness, he became threatening. Today, no doubt, he would have been pressed by many others to file a malpractice suit. And there are lawyers who would see in his pitiable condition only one ingredient—money!
But that was another day, and one night a knock came at his door. A little girl said simply, “Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.”
“Daddy” was the stake president. A grieving, heartbroken young man went to see his spiritual leader.
This spiritual shepherd had been watching his flock and had something to say to him.
The counsel from that wise servant was simply, “John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.”
My friend told me then that this had been his trial—his Gethsemane. How could he leave it alone? Right was right! A terrible wrong had been committed and somebody must pay for it. It was a clear case.
But he struggled in agony to get hold of himself. And finally, he determined that whatever else the issues were, he should be obedient.
Obedience is powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure-all.
He determined to follow the counsel of that wise spiritual leader. He would leave it alone.
Then he told me, “I was an old man before I understood! It was not until I was an old man that I could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little medicine, no hospital, few instruments, struggling to save lives, and succeeding for the most part.
“He had come in a moment of crisis, when two lives hung in the balance, and had acted without delay.
“I was an old man,” he repeated, “before I finally understood! I would have ruined my life,” he said, “and the lives of others.”
Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise spiritual leader who counseled simply, “John, leave it alone.”
And that is the counsel I bring again to you. If you have a festering grudge, if you are involved in an acrimonious dispute, “Behold what the scripture says [and it says it fifty times and more]—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay” (Morm. 8:20).
result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is
an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary
knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.
A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a
thought evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the
understanding of others as the result of thought, and as he develops
a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal
relations of things by the action of cause and effect he ceases to
fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast,
Is not puffed up--is humble and teachable. Does not seek attention. Praises others. Does not murmur, and never belittles. Does not treat spouse with a "holier" or "smarter-than-thou" attitude. Doth not behave itself unseemly--is courteous, well mannered, reverent, respectful, and mindful; is clean, neat and considerate of other's property and feelings. Is not crude or indecent or improper. Seeketh not her own--is tender hearted, caring, sharing, sensitive, compassionate, generous, and united; sacrifices by putting desires of spouse first; considers money ours and not mine; thinks we not I; listens; Seeks to please God and others; is not demanding, controlling, or manipulative; does not blame; says I'm sorry; does not withhold affection. Is not easily provoked--is forgiving, patient, calm, gentle, respectful; is a peacemaker and does not get angry; is not irritable or vengeful; is not abusive in word or deed; does not swear or quarrel. Thinketh no evil--is not judgmental, but respectful and trusting, pure and obedient; does not think evil of others by gossiping or finding fault; is modest in thought, dress and speech; is not deceitful, cruel or dishonest; avoids inappropriate music, pornography, and dirty jokes. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth--has a temple recommend and wants an eternal marriage; stays close to the Spirit through regular scripture study and prayer; is responsible; is not light-minded. Beareth all things--is bold and patient with affliction and trials (this does not mean that abuse victims should silently bear cruelty, or follow a spouse disobedient to God); is grateful; does not insult others; is not defensive, irritable, touchy or grouchy; is not weary in well doing; is easily entreated or approachable and willing to listen empathetically and communicate without any contempt. Believeth all things--sees the eternal potential of spouse like Johnny Lingo saw in Mohana for those of you who remember that story; makes the least of the worst and the most of the best; shows by actions that there is a firm belief in eternal families; holds fast to the iron rod. Has goals, dreams, a vision and plans for a happy successful life together. Is cheerful. Hopeth all things--is an optimist and looks for the best; praises and builds up; expresses and shows affection. Spouse is best friend. Continues courting throughout marriage. Is not a pessimist, nagger, or faultfinder. Endureth all things--doesn't complain or murmur; is steadfast; accepts responsibility and is industrious, for the man a provider; shows initiative. Charity never faileth.
Jesus said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” I testify that that is God’s truth. Christ is everything to us and we are to “abide” in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever. For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him, the Savior of us all, and to this His Church, which bears His holy name. He is the vine that is our true source of strength and the only source of eternal life. In Him we not only will endure but also will prevail and triumph in this holy cause that will never fail us. May we never fail it nor fail Him.
Repeatedly, he cries out for an encounter with the Lord. He doesn’t want theology, he wants theophany. Job begs God to come into the dock so that he might prove his own innocence. (See Job 16:21; Job 23:3–4; Job 31:35.) Job vows to entrust his life into the hands of God, who prefers honesty to hypocrisy: “Let me alone, that I may speak, and let come on me what will. …
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
“He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.” (Job 13:13, 15–16.)
We sense Job’s powerful integrity and genuine depth of feeling for the Lord—qualities seemingly absent from his coldly “correct” friends. Yet we also sense a measure of pride, even arrogance, that he, Job, a mere man, was prosecuting a case against the Almighty. No wonder Job stands condemned by the Lord in the final chapters of the book as one “that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge.” (Job 38:2.)
But while Job is condemned for attempting to instruct the Lord (see Job 40:2), he is also approved in the end. His comforters, by contrast, are only condemned. The Lord says: “My wrath is kindled against thee [Eliphaz], and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.” (Job 42:7.)
How has Job spoken the thing that is right? Perhaps it has been his speeches of repentance. Or perhaps it has been his refusal to pretend he understood what he didn’t understand; he has kept his integrity. He has steadfastly looked to the Lord for answers, pleading for revelation rather than accepting the pat human answers of his comforters.
President Joseph F. Smith emphasized: “We frequently look about us and see people who incline to extremes, who are fanatical. We may be sure that this class of people do not understand the gospel. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, that it is very unwise to take a fragment of truth and treat it as if it were the whole thing” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 122).
Let me repeat and reinforce this first great blessing associated with being a steadfast and immovable disciple of the Savior: such a follower of Christ consistently is focused upon and striving to understand the fundamental and foundational doctrines of the restored gospel.
Second, as we become more spiritually mature and increasingly steadfast and immovable, we are less prone to zealous and exaggerated spurts of spirituality followed by extended periods of slackness.