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I live in the land of earthquakes: California. We haven’t had a major tremblor in quite awhile, but virtually every spot on the globe is familiar with the shaking and swaying of a quake. Just last week there were earthquakes greater than a 4.0 magnitude in Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Chile, Montana in the U.S., New Guinea, and in the Philippines. By the time you read this, there will have been more.
Yet as frightening as a major quake can be, I find it even more disturbing to witness the shifting of standards and morals all over the world. We all witness the daily shock of just how depraved mankind can become. New reports bring us a steady flow of details about terrorists who slaughter innocents, evil perpetrators of sex trafficking, gang killings, parents abusing children, the list is endless. And, on a smaller scale, we see crumbling virtues and values as pornography, drug abuse, and crime continue.
We see people we thought were emotionally or spiritually steady, succumbing to temptations and addictions, abandoning their testimonies, collapsing under the pressures around them. The world offers many more options than in years gone by, and people seem eager to turn from their faith to try them.
You probably know many people who are actually living in fear, wondering what the future holds, every day feeling as if the world is shifting beneath their feet.
But there are two places where you can hang your hat, two places where you can rest assured there is stability and constancy. The first we can read about in Moroni 9:9, wherein Moroni assures us that God is unchangeable, “the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” In fact, this is one of His characteristics, just as His being all-knowing or all-loving.
The notion that God is changing—or perhaps has an ongoing pattern of learning new things– is false. It’s a message the adversary promotes to undermine our security and faith in God.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell rarely said anything that wasn’t incredibly eloquent. Usually we can’t paraphrase him without diminishing his amazing insights, and he had this to say about God’s consistency:
“There is a vast difference, therefore, between an omniscient God and the false notion that God is on some sort of post-doctoral fellowship, still searching for additional key truths and vital data. Were the latter so, God might, at any moment, discover some new truth not previously known to Him that would restructure, diminish, or undercut certain truths previously known to Him. Prophecy would be mere prediction. Planning assumptions pertaining to our redemption would need to be revised. Fortunately for us, however, His plan of salvation is constantly underway—not constantly under revision.” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 1979).
What a blessing it is to know that God is unchanging, that we can absolutely count on Him. Even if every other structure in your life has changed—and all the people you know—you can rest assured that God will always be there for you, always listen to your prayers, always love you, and always want the best for you.
The second place where you can confidently place your trust is in our living prophets. We read in Doctrine and Covenants 1:38, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” Refusing to acknowledge this key connection is one of the fastest paths to apostasy, as people examine the imperfections of a church leader, and assume therefore he is not called of God.
In 1980, President Ezra Taft Benson, then an apostle, gave a powerful talk titled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,” which included the fact that “the prophet will never lead the church astray.” By following the counsel of our prophet—and even by emulating his optimism and faith in the future—we make perhaps the smartest choice of our lives. It’s easy to play the skeptic and criticize, but how much faith does that take? Anyone can scoff, fault-find, and insist that faith and intellectualism cannot coexist. But by demonstrating our humility and our willingness to follow God and His prophets, we leave that camp behind and make real forward progress. We actually find the stability that helps us live with assurance in this shaky world.
The formula is not complicated. If we place your faith and confidence in these two sources, we can find the peace that eludes so many. Our course will be straight, our path will be firm, our promises will be sure.