“Shall We Not Go Forth In So Great A Cause?” Overcoming Latter-day Blues
The unfavorable scrutiny of the Church has come under during 2008, added to the financial woes besetting the worldwide economy at this time, have given many of us a sudden feeling of insecurity. It is so disheartening that our message of the true nature of the Godhead is misinterpreted so completely that we are not thought to be Christians by those who should be our allies in fighting for the family.
Tales are rampant among my friends and associates of how Mormons have suddenly become outcasts in the theater industry, and in my own field-publishing, because of our stand on gay marriage. As for the economy, Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal , had the following to say in her first column of the new year: “. . . everything changed in 2008. A new economic era, begun by a terrible and still barely fathomable crash, is here, and many of us sense deep down that things will never be the same, that the past quarter-century’s fabulous abundance-it was the richest time in the history of man.”
When my timid heart quails at such things, I immediately flash to the movie “Joseph” and the closing scene where the prophet is slain and falls out the window. In the original version, this was followed by a black screen upon which was printed the scripture “Shall we not go forth in so great a cause?” The impact was incredible. Joseph gave his life for the Gospel. Many said the church would not go on after his death. But, despite the naysayers, it has gone on to prosper in a way that those first generation members never could have imagined. Knowing what they went through, shall we wince and whine at being misunderstood?
We have outstanding artists, scientists, judges, academicians, writers, performers, businessmen . . . you get the idea. While we have been in the mainstream for some years in most professions, we have not faced much opposition. Perhaps now is the time that the sifting has begun. As the inhabitants of the great and spacious building point their fingers and scorn us, shall we who have partaken of the fruit of the tree of eternal life become ashamed? Shall we choose to be accepted by the world or by the Lord? “Shall we not go on in so great a cause?”
The Gospel will never be taken from the earth again. This is the final dispensation. Each of us has much work to do in our own particular sphere to prepare the earth for the Second Coming of our Savior. It is not the time to hesitate. It is the time to move forward. We must not be apologetic about our beliefs, but assert them in a way that the Spirit can testify of their truth. LDS writer, Orson Scott Card, who has had his share of worldly adulation, was open and candid about his support of the heterosexual family during the debate on Proposition 8. He set a great example for all of us. As we work to excel in our fields, we are building the Kingdom. “Shall we not go forth in so great a cause?”
We know from our modern-day prophets and apostles that the time is coming when we will each have to stand on our own testimony. I am constantly reminded in these times of the conference address by Elder Bruce C. Hafen in April, 2004, that, incidentally, changed my life. Speaking of laying our all on the altar in order to receive the blessings of the atonement, he said, “Some people want to keep one hand on the wall of the temple while touching the world’s ‘unclean things’ with the other hand. We must put both hands on the temple and hold on for dear life. One hand is not even almost enough.” (The Atonement: All For All,” Elder Bruce C. Hafen, Ensign, May, 2004.)
Some of us may not like being at the heart of a controversy that airs repeatedly on the news. I certainly don’t. I hate controversy of any kind. However, modern day apostles and prophets are full of advice for people like us. For instance, in the same conference in which Elder Hafen gave the above statement, President Eyring addressed us about the strength of the Lord. He said, “The restored gospel of Jesus Christ gives us help in knowing how to qualify for the strength of the Lord as we deal with adversity. It tells us why we face tests in life. And, even more importantly, it tells us how to get protection and help from the Lord.” (“In the Strength of the Lord,” Elder Henry B. Eyring, Ensign, May, 2004.) If we have the strength of the Lord with us how can we fail?
Just how do we go about getting that strength? It would seem from President Eyring’s counsel that that strength comes from an individual relationship with the Savior. If we are to have oil in our lamps at this trying time and in the trying times that surely lay ahead, we must develop this relationship so that it is stronger than any other relationship in our lives. I have memorized the following instruction from Elder Holland about creating such a relationship: “[The Savior] is saying to us, ‘Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then when you walk where I am going,’ He says, ‘we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,’ he promises. ‘I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.'” Then later in the same talk Elder Holland says, ” . . . He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.” (“Broken Things to Mend,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, May, 2006)
When I was dating my husband, he was not a member of the Church. How I came to be dating him is a long story, involving tidal waves and weddings. However, the fact was that he was a very sophistocated, very handsome, very ’70’s bachelor. He thought me amusing and a little provincial because of my values, but he never challenged them. Our whole relationship began with a gospel discussion, so he knew from the beginning what he was getting himself into. However, he pursued me undauntingly. When I insisted that he take the gospel discussions, he agreed to do so, with private reservations.
Knowing that he could not be taught by the intellect things of the Spirit, I looked for the humblest elder I could find, and the Lord sent Elder Kevin Van Tassel from the tiny town of Tabiona, Utah. Elder Van Tassel was an answer to my prayers. He taught that sophistocated man of mine with the full power of the Spirit the account of the First Vision. David knew it was true immediately. Spirit speaks to spirit.
We can always have confidence in the Savior and in the Spirit. They will never let us down. “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means, it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46)
Shall we not go forth in so great a cause?