As in this world of ever-expanding turmoil we face an uncertain future, many of us are left wondering if the times that were foreseen by Paul are upon us: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led astray with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Corinthians 3:1-7)
In 2008 Spring General Conference we were told by two separate modern-day apostles that we are in the times foreseen by Paul. (See Elder Oaks, “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament,” and President Packer, “The Test”). In case any of you were in doubt, hard times are upon us, not only in our families, but as a church, when we stand true to the revelations of our prophets.
One night a few years ago, as we were discussing this, my husband David said, “I think it is interesting that the Lord promised to steer the Jaredites as they journeyed, but he also told them the journey would not be easy.”
Ether 2:19 “And behold, O Lord, in them there is no light; whither shall we steer?”
Ether 2: 24 “For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.”
Ether 2:25 “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.”
If we feel without “steerage” in our lives, we need only remember that the Lord is in charge, through his prophet and apostles. We know from prophesy that times will be hard, but we also know that we will be delivered, for He has promised it.
When we pray, do we cry unto the Lord as the brother of Jared continually did? He continually supplicated the Lord as a child to a parent. In the matter of the stones that he crafted, he knew that he did not have the power to make them shine with light, but he was very certain that if the Lord touched them with his finger, they would. He had grown through his trials to a state of such confidence that he knew if he did everything in his power, the Lord would complete the task using His infinite power.
Trials, such as those we are facing as a people, bring spiritual blessings that cannot be measured using earthly standards. Remember, Mahonri Moriancamur saw the Savior. His faith was so great he could not be kept on this side of the veil.
Ether 3:14 “Behold I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I m Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.”
This marvelous scripture took my breath away as I read it, and I could not even imagine the way it must have felt to the brother of Jared. I was prompted to turn to the seventy-sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants where I knew I would find in detail the blessings that I would receive at the end of this rough ride over the seas of earth life, if I would keep the Lord’s commandments.
The brother of Jared was clearly blessed with the gift of faith, as his brother came to him in the beginning of their troubles at the tower of Babel and asked him to pray for their family and friends. However, as Mahonri proceeded, he grew through grace. As each prayer was answered, his confidence in the Lord grew until it was such that he trusted the Lord to carry him across the sea to an unknown destination in a boat that would not even allow him to know whether he was under the water or on top. Have you stopped to think how much trust that would take?
As the perilous times continue, I imagine many of us will find that our lives are not turning out as planned. We need to turn the steerage over to the Lord. The father of a friend of mine was Elder Franklin D. Richards, a General Authority at the time I was first married. He made a statement at conference that I have never forgotten: “There is no such thing as inexhaustible wealth, only unquenchable faith.”
For some of us, it may be a daily thing to fight our fright. We must trust our Heavenly Father that all things will work together for good for those who love the Lord. (Doctrine & Covenants 90:24). My precious nephew lay dying from melanoma cancer at age 23 when he reminded his parents of this scripture. He knew his death was a certainty, but for him it held no horrors. His faith was perfect.
We learn from our experiences to have this kind of faith. In 1979, my husband and I received sacred experiences and revelations that led us to leave the place where we were living, where we had a secure economic future, to a small town half a continent away where David was to start his own law practice. We followed the Lord’s direction. It proved to be an extremely difficult task. The town was very anti-Mormon and it took years of downright poverty before David was able to earn money at his practice. But the Lord always blessed us. Clients paid in oak logs that we used to heat our home. Other clients paid in beef that we stocked in our freezer. I learned to garden, can, and sew. Always, when our backs were against the wall, the Lord came through. Sometimes, money came unexpectedly in the mail. Another time our Stake President handed David a check for a thousand dollars, which he said was for “future legal services.”
It is impossible to describe how strong our faith grew in our extremities. We depended upon the Lord for our daily welfare. My husband’s faith grew so strong, that he was able to heal me through the Priesthood so that I could bear more children the day after the doctor had told me it would be impossible.
Looking back at our sixteen years in that town, I can now see that every blessing that we now enjoy came as a result of following the Spirit and making that move.
The Lord will have a tried people (see President Howard W. Hunter, “The Lord Will Have a Tried People,” Ensign, May, 1980). It is only through faith strong enough to withstand the greatest trials that we will learn those lessons necessary for our individual salvation.
That is why we must let the Lord steer.
G.G. Vandagriff is the author of seventeen books, including the award-winning The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War. Her most recent publication is Lord Trowbridge’s Angel.