Saturday, August 6, 2011

Smile for the storm clouds!

In light of the way things are going in the world, some thoughts from Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

Within the swirling global events—events from which we are not totally immune—is humanity’s real and continuing struggle: whether or not, amid the cares of the world, we will really choose, in the words of the Lord, to “care … for the life of the soul” (D&C 101:37). Whatever our anxious involvements with outward events, this inner struggle proceeds in both tranquil and turbulent times. Whether understood or recognized, this is the unchanging mortal agendum from generation to generation.

When we strive to keep God’s commandments, “the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Then, even on bad days, we will still “keep our own soul” regardless of external conditions (see Prov. 19:16).

. . . Therefore, though ours is a time of conflict, quietly caring for “the life of the soul” is still what matters most. Though events set up the defining moments which can evoke profiles in righteousness, outward commotions cannot excuse any failure of inward resolve, even if some seem to unravel so easily. If hostilities break out here and there, we still need not break our covenants!

. . . Uncertainty as to world conditions does not justify moral uncertainty, and distracting churn will not cover our sins nor dim God’s all-seeing eye. Furthermore, military victories are no substitute for winning our individual wars for self-control. Nor do the raging human hatreds lessen God’s perfect and redeeming love for all His children. Likewise, the obscuring mists of the moment cannot change the reality that Christ is the Light of the World!

Let us, therefore, be like the young man with Elisha on the mount. At first intimidated by the surrounding enemy chariots, the young man’s eyes were mercifully opened, and he saw “horses and chariots of fire,” verifying “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:17, 16). Brothers and sisters, the spiritual arithmetic has not changed!

. . . Meanwhile, the defining moments in the “life of the soul” continue to turn on whether we respond with self-indulgence or self-denial in our daily, individual decisions, as between kindness and anger, mercy and injustice, generosity and meanness.

Wars do not repeal the second commandment. It knows no borders. Its adherents wear no national insignia, nor do they have skin of a particular color.

We may experience hunger, for instance, but if so, we can still respond as did the widow who used the last of her meal to feed Elijah (see 1 Kgs. 17:8–16). Such sharing amid real deprivation and poverty is always touching. Earlier in his life, a wonderful bishop of my youth, M. Thirl Marsh, repeatedly tried to be hired at the mines during the Depression. Being underage but large of stature, he persisted and was hired, but several friends were not. Apparently, on more than one occasion after his hard day’s work, generous young Thirl shared his earnings equally with these friends until they, too, were hired. No wonder he was such a caring shepherd of the flock later on.

. . . The outcomes of this ongoing process include having “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). No wonder, therefore, this process enables those so converted to “strengthen [their] brethren” (Luke 22:32) and so lift others by being “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Such righteous individuals perform another vital but quiet service to mankind: they become part of the critical mass which can evoke God’s much-needed blessings on all humanity.

Truly converted disciples, though still imperfect, will pursue “the life of the soul” on any day, in any decade, amid any decadence and destruction. This process constitutes being about our “Father’s business” (Luke 2:49; see also Moses 1:39).

Since this full conversion is what is supposed to be happening anyway, stern events and turbulence may actually even help us by causing a resumption of the journey or an acceleration.

Brothers and sisters, amid the volatile and vexing cares of the world, let us, as instructed, care for the “life of the soul.” Thanks to Jesus’ glorious Atonement, the life of that immortal soul outlasts the stretching longevity of any star and hence the short span of passing mortal events, even if grim!

(Neal A. Maxwell, Care for the Life of the Soul, April 2003 General Conference)

The glass truly is half full, my friends.  Yee-haw!

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