Has your advice ever saved a life?
Take advice and be sure
The Savior has always been the protector of those who accept His protection. More than once he said: “How many times would I have wanted to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks, and you will not” (3 Nephi 10: 5; see also, for example, Matthew 23:37; D&C 29: 2. )
The same complaint the Lord brought up in our dispensation after describing the various ways He calls us to keep us safe: “How many times have I called to you through the mouths of my servants, and through the ministry of angels and with me with my own voice and with the voice of thunder and with the voice of lightning and with the voice of storms and with the voice of earthquakes and great hailstorms and with the voice of famines and plagues of every kind and with the loud sound of a trumpet and with the Voice of judgment and with the voice of mercy all day long and with the voice of glory and honor and riches of eternal life and would have wanted to be saved with an everlasting salvation, but you did not want to! ”(D&C 43:25 .)
The Savior's desire to keep us safe is seemingly limitless. And in the way he shows us the way, there is constancy. He calls out in more ways than one so that those who are ready to receive help will hear him too. This always means that he preaches the message through the mouth of his prophets whenever people are found worthy to have the prophets of God on earth. These authorized servants are always charged with warning people and directing them to safety.
A prophet's warning
In the fall of 1838, when the situation in northern Missouri became extremely tense, the Prophet Joseph Smith called on all the Saints to gather in Far West for their protection. Many lived on remote farms or in widely scattered settlements. He also expressly advised Jacob Haun, the founder of a small settlement called Haun’s Mill, to do so. A report from that period states: "Brother Joseph had informed the brothers who lived there through Haun, who owned the mill, that they were to come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not do so."1 The Prophet Joseph Smith later wrote in his story: “To this day God has given me the wisdom to save those who have taken counsel. Nobody who followed my advice has ever died. "2 Then the Prophet related the sad fact that the innocent in Haun’s Mill could have been saved if his advice had been accepted and followed.
We, too, are warned in our day by receiving advice on where to be safe from sin and sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing these warnings is for them to repeat themselves. For example, more than once at general conference, you have heard the prophet say that he will quote a previous prophet, that is, that he will be a second witness, and sometimes even a third. Each of us old enough has heard President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) say the importance of keeping a mother home, and then heard President Ezra Taft Benson (1899– 1994) quoted him, and we've heard President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) quote them both.3
The apostle Paul wrote: “By the testimony of two or three witnesses, every matter is decided” (2 Corinthians 13: 1.) One can see that the warning comes from the Lord by the fact that the law of the witnesses, authorized witness. When the words of the prophets repeat themselves clearly, it must draw our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude for living in such a blessed time.
Seeking the path to safety in the counsel of the prophets makes sense to someone of strong faith. When a prophet speaks, someone with little faith may think that he is only hearing a wise man give good advice. If his advice seems pleasant, sensible, and consistent with what he wants to do anyway, then he'll take it. If not, then he either considers the advice to be wrong or of the opinion that the advice does not apply to him because of his situation. Those who have no faith may think that they are only hearing men who seek influence for selfish motives. He may mock and mock, like a man named Korihor, whose words are recorded in the Book of Mormon: “And so you seduce this people according to the foolish traditions of your fathers and according to your own desires; and you hold them down, yea, as if they were in bondage, so that you can fatten yourselves at the labor of their hands, so that they do not dare to look up fearlessly and that they do not dare to enjoy their rights and freedoms. "(Alma 30: 27.)
Korihor argued the way people have argued wrongly since the dawn of time, namely that if one accepts the advice of God's servants, one is giving up one's God-given right to independence. But this argument is wrong, because it misrepresents reality. If we reject the advice that comes from God, we are not choosing to be independent of outside influence. We choose a different influence. We reject the protection of the perfectly loving, omnipotent, omniscient Father in Heaven, who, like his beloved Son, is only concerned with giving us eternal life, giving us all that he has, and us, as a family to bring back home in the arms of his love. In rejecting his advice, we choose to be influenced by another power that seeks to make us miserable and that is guided by hatred. God has given us agency. It is not the right to choose to be free from influence, but the inalienable right to submit to the power we choose.
On safe ground
Another mistake is to believe that choosing whether or not to take the advice of the prophets means no more than either taking good advice and benefiting from it, or staying where you are. But if we choose not to take the prophet's advice, even the ground on which we stand will change. This soil is then no longer so safe. If we do not take prophetic advice, we will find it harder to take inspired advice in the future. The best time to decide to help Noah build the ark was when he first asked. Every time he asked, the rejection meant that one became less receptive to the spirit. And so his request seemed more and more nonsensical until the rain came. But it was too late by then.
Whenever I have decided not to take inspired advice until later, or when I thought I was an exception, I have found myself putting myself in danger. Every time I have listened to the counsel of the prophets, when I have received confirmation of it through prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I was on my way to safety. And then on the way I found that the way had been prepared for me, that the uneven areas had been smoothed. God has brought me to safety on a path that was prepared with loving care, sometimes for a long time.
The account at the beginning of the Book of Mormon talks about Lehi, a prophet of God. He too had a family. He was warned by God and was supposed to keep the people he loved safe. Lehi's experience is an example of what happens when God gives counsel through his servants. Of Lehi's family, only those who had faith and received confirmation by themselves through revelation saw both the danger and the path to safety. To those who had no faith, the journey into the wilderness appeared not only foolish but also dangerous. Like all prophets, Lehi endeavored until his death to show his family how safe they were.
He knew that the Savior would hold those who he awards priesthood keys to account. Associated with these keys is the power to provide advice that will guide us on the way to safety. Those in possession of these keys need to warn, even if their advice may not be followed.
The keys are passed down a line that begins with the prophet and then goes on to those who are responsible for smaller and smaller groups of members, closer and closer to the families and the individual members. In this way the Lord makes a stake a safe place. For example, I have sat with my wife in a parenting meeting that our bishop called to warn us of the spiritual dangers that threatened our children. I heard more than the voice of my smart friend. I heard a servant of Jesus Christ who held the keys and who was doing his job of warning and giving us, the parents, the responsibility to act. As we respect the keys in this priesthood line of authority by listening and acting, we attach ourselves to a lifeline that will not fail us in any storm.
Heavenly Father loves us. He sent his only-begotten Son to be our Savior. He knew that we are in great danger in our earthly existence and that the worst lies in the temptations of the terrible adversary. This is another reason the Savior transferred the keys of the priesthood so that those who listen and believe in obedience can go to a safe place.
An open ear
Having an open ear requires humility. You know how Thomas B. Marsh was warned by the Lord. He was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Lord knew that President Marsh and his brothers the Twelve Apostles would be tried. He advised them that it was good to take advice. The Lord said, "Be humble and the Lord your God will guide you by the hand and answer your prayers" (D&C 112: 10).
Then the Lord issued a warning that applies to anyone who follows a living prophet: “Do not exalt yourself; do not rebel against my servant Joseph; for verily I say to you, I am with him, and my hand will be on him; and the keys that I gave him, and also of you, will not be taken from him until I come ”(D&C 112: 15.)
God offers his counsel not only for our safety but also for the safety of the rest of the children we should love. Hardly ever do we feel so wonderfully comforted as when we have been an instrument in the hand of God and have brought another person to safety. We only get this blessing when we have enough faith to take counsel even when it is difficult.
One such example from Church history was given by Reddick Newton Allred. He was on the rescue team sent by President Brigham Young (1801–1877) to bring in the Willie and Martin handcart divisions. On the Sweetwater River near the South Pass, George Grant, the captain, asked Reddick Allred to stay there with some men and wagons and be there to help when the rescue team returned with the handcart pioneers.
Eventually the rescue team found the Willie detachment stuck in the snow. People froze, starved and died. Some of the rescue team kept searching for the Martin division while the rest of the division helped Willie cope with the arduous climb and descent over Rocky Ridge. Shortly after they made camp, Reddick Allred and his men came with much-needed help and supplies.
Allred then waited for Captain Grant to return with Martin's detachment. Week after week passed and there was no sign of them. When the blizzards howled and the weather turned life threatening, two of the men agreed that it was foolish to stay. They believed that the Martin division either hibernated somewhere or perished. They decided to return to the Salt Lake Valley and tried to persuade everyone else to do the same. Reddick Allred was not persuaded to do so. President Young had sent him out, and Captain Grant, Reddick Allred's priesthood leader, had told him to wait there.
The others took several wagons filled with the supplies they needed and made their way back to the Salt Lake Valley. Even more tragic was that they sent back 77 wagons that came down from the valley to help. Some of these wagons drove all the way back to Big Mountain until messengers sent by Brigham Young met them and sent them back the other way.
Finally, more than three weeks after Reddick Allred had helped the Willie division, Captain Grant arrived with the Martin division. These pioneers were far worse off, they had suffered great losses. Captain Grant's rescue team was small and had little provisions left - and they were still 200 miles from the Salt Lake Valley. And again, Reddick was able to bring vital aid and supplies to Allred because he had faithfully carried out his mission even under the most difficult of circumstances.4
Let's go to others
You will often hear and read the inspired counsel of prophets of God to reach out to new members of the Church. Anyone who has as much faith as Reddick Newton Allred will not stop offering their friendship, even if it looks like it isn't needed or that it doesn't work. He'll go on. When some new members arrive at a point where they are spiritually exhausted, believing members of the Church will be there to assist them with kind words and friendship. Then they will feel the same divine appreciation that Brother Allred did when he saw the handcart pioneers struggle towards him, knowing that he could get them to safety because he had followed the advice even when it was difficult was.
While it is not recorded, I am sure Brother Allred prayed while he waited. And I am sure that his prayers have been answered. He knew then that the advice to endure came from God. We have to pray to know. I promise you that such faithful prayers will be answered.
Sometimes we receive advice that we do not understand or that, even after deep prayer and reflection, does not seem to apply to us. Do not put aside such advice; stick to it. If someone you trust gives you what looks like sand and promises you it contains gold, you would do well to hold it in your hand for a while and gently shake it. Whenever I did this with the advice of a prophet, after a while the shards of gold would appear and I was grateful.
It is a blessing that we live in a time when the keys of the priesthood are on the earth. It is a blessing to know where to look and how to listen to the voice that fulfills the Lord's promise to keep us safe. I pray that we will all have humble hearts, that we will listen, that we will pray, and that we will wait for the deliverance of the Lord, which will surely come if we are true to the faith.
FOR THE HOME TEACHERS
Prayerfully prepare and deliver this message using a teaching method that will involve your listeners. Here are a few examples:
Read the account of Reddick Allred, who was faithful and reliable. Ask family members what they would have done in this situation. Ask: How can following the prophet keep us safe? How can our obedience affect the safety of our fellow human beings?
Ask the family how they can manage to heed the prophets' advice, such as dressing appropriately or avoiding questionable media coverage. The brochureFor a strong youth (Item No. 36550 150) offers advice for many of today's challenges.
Read the second paragraph under the heading “A Prophet's Warning” together. Invite the family to remember the last general conference. Ask them about gospel principles that have been mentioned by more than one speaker. Bear testimony that we are blessed to live in a time when the Lord has given us many witnesses of His word.
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