This week has been a difficult one for me. I’ve struggled to know what to post realizing that much of this week’s experience centered on events best recorded in my private journal. As I’ve pondered how I could share my experiences, I remembered as a youth having my dad come home from a meeting for priesthood leaders in the upper room of the temple. He reported that the prophet warned that a flood was coming, a flood of personal tribulation, a flood of wickedness and filth. Dad said he had been counseled to fortify our home and family against these floods by building a foundation that would endure the storms of life. This week I thought again of how prophetic those words were.
President Nelson echoed that theme in his Oct 2021 conference address as he spoke of the tremendous, lengthy effort being made to fortify the foundation of the Salt Lake Temple. He challenged us to sure up our own spiritual foundations, recognizing the part the temple plays in that process.
This past week I realized—that even serving at Adam-ondi-Ahman is not enough to keep that prophesied flood from cresting in the lives of dear friends and family. Their reality left me temporarily feeling that I could scarcely keep my nose above the swirling roar. I thought it was instructive that this week we studied Noah’s experience with the Flood. It was a tender mercy that is was my week to study and lead the discussion today. Darrel and I lead our scripture study on Tuesday. Together we shared the concepts in D&C 88:71-141. They clearly remind us that God’s plan for the earth and His children is so much bigger than any mortal circumstance we may be in. Our study provided needed perspective.
This week I have developed a greater love Noah and the difficult time in which he lived. As far as tribulation and wickedness, he lived in a raging flood for over a century before the rains descended. Yet he found favor with God and was preserved by Him.
We learn from the Prophet Joseph Smith that Noah was the angel Gabriel, who appeared to Mary and told her that she was to be the mother of God. “Noah…stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood…He was the father of all living in his day…”
Mark E. Peterson taught, “Noah was one of God’s greatest servants, chosen before he was born…He was no eccentric, as many have supposed. Neither was he a mythical figure created only in legend. Noah was real!…Let no one downgrade the life and mission of this great prophet. Noah was no near perfect in his day that he literally walked and talked with God…Few men in any age were as great as Noah. In many respects he was like Adam, the first man. Both had served as ministering angels in the presence of God, even after their mortal experience.”
As I sought to work through several multiple challenging situations that all crested this week, I discovered an article in this month’s Liahona that was most helpful.
My efforts to restore my emotional and spiritual footings lead me to Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s April 1991 General Conference address.
I want to share parts of his message that spoke directly to my heart. He spoke of times when our faith is scorched by deep disappointment or wrenching circumstances that can result in weariness. He reminded that there is much that causes weariness as we struggle with the effects of the “natural man” whether it be in ourselves or in those we love and associate with. Unlike others we might carry, the natural man is heavy, and he is not our brother! “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him … because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14.)
Elder Maxwell counseled that in such times we can avoid the wearying burdens of self-pity and hypocrisy if we move forward with faith. Serving, studying, praying, and worshiping are four ways we continue to move forward in perfecting that which is lacking in our faith. Elder Maxwell concluded, “If we cease nurturing our faith in any of these four specific ways, we are vulnerable.”
I feel I understand the principles of serving, studying, and praying pretty well, but I have to admit that as I pondered a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what I should know/do to properly worship. My study of “how to worship” suggested that any act of obedience is a form worship. In fact, emulation is the truest form of worship. Therefore, seeking to be more like the Savior in any area is a form of true worship. For those struggling to understand what true worship looks like, I recommend Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s article in the December 1971 Ensign entitled, “How to Worship.”
Elder Maxwell reminded in his conference address that the faithful are sustained by divine determination at times…He cautioned, “We must not naively expect Christ to come to us—instead of our going to Him. Truly He waits “all the day long” with open arms. There are no restrictive “office hours.” But we have to muster the faith to arise and go to Him!”(Luke 15:18.)
This counsel worked for me this week. As I sought Him, I felt Him reach back in very recognizable ways. Each clear morning for weeks, I’ve noticed an extra bright star on the eastern horizon an hour or two before dawn. This week I felt an urgency to learn more about it. The result made that star feel like a comforting, old friend in the early hours when I was awake in the darkness of night. The symbolism I found spoke volumes to me. In a nutshell, it’s common name is Raselhague. It is really two stars that shine as one. They mark the head of the constellation of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer who is depicted as holding a large serpent. Ancient Greek star lore includes that Ophiuchus was a physician who had a potion that offered mortals eternal life.
Elder Maxwell also taught that fully formed faith has several, distinct facets. Faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ includes not only faith in Their existence but also in Their redemptive capacities…Faith also includes trust in God’s timing globally and personally! Real faith is a painful developmental process. As things unfold in full view, faith may include being merciful to others. Elder Maxwell reminded, “We certainly do not criticize hospital patients amid intensive care for looking pale and preoccupied. Why then those recovering from surgery on their souls? No need for us to stare; those stitches will finally come out. And in this hospital, too, it is important for everyone to remember that the hospital chart is not the patient. Extending our mercy to someone need not wait upon our full understanding of their challenges! Empathy may not be appreciated or reciprocated, but empathy is never wasted.”
Our fast today was more specific and sincere than usual. Best of all, we were able to sit privately together at Tower Hill, discuss our impressions and conclude our fast with humble prayer.
Elder and Sister Schwitzer will be arriving tomorrow. It will be wonderful to have them here. The Walkers were unable to come in January. We love the spiritual strength the GA’s bring and the inspired counsel that often feels like it was prepared just for us.
We appreciate your faith and prayers in our behalf! Sincerely, Darrel and Karen
P.S. Darrel passed his HAM radio operator course. He is now a licensed operator. I also finished my barn quilt and took it to a quilter in Jamesport!