Mormons have been warned from the time of Joseph Smith that they would need to be able to stand steadfast when opposition visited. In the early days of the church opposition manifest itself in many ways. Church history chronicles how the saints dealt with opposition in their day. The Book of Mormon repeatedly portrays the kind of opposition Nephite church members encountered. One example that is applicable in our day is found in Mosiah 29 where “many of the rising generation…did not believe the tradition of their fathers…And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. “
In our day, some of our young people (and old as well) are leaving church activity and hardening their hearts. They have their reasons just as the people at the time of Alma had. Mormons honor personal agency, therefore we should respect the decisions of those who decide to abandon their faith. However, some of those who leave then choose to destroy the faith of others and create dissension in the church, just as dissenters did in the days of Alma.
In 1978, nearly 40 years ago, Elder Neal A. Maxwell spoke at BYU and warned students and faculty about what we experiencing today:
“Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency.”
The purpose of this post is to help those who sincerely desire to know what to do as the mighty winds of opposition press in on their faith. As Elder Maxwell said, each of us will be required to decide whether or not we will follow the First Presidency.
My experience is that the Book of Mormon is the key to knowing what to do. In Helaman 5:12 we read:
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
This verse teaches that we must build our foundation on the rock of our Redeemer, if we do, we will be safe. How does one do that? Once again, the Book of Mormon shows the way. Read how Enos did it. The answer is found in four short verses.
2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.
3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
The key isn’t praying all day and into the night unless the Spirit aids you. The key is in wrestling and crying unto the Lord in mighty prayer for your own soul. The answer may not come by a voice speaking to you. It didn’t for me. My answer came after wrestling and crying unto the Lord for about two weeks. When the answer came it was unmistakable and inoculated me against all the challenges of our day. That was 45 years ago. In that time, I have read extensively and understand all the challenges church history and doctrine can bring to bear on a church members testimony.
I may not like some of things about the church and some of the teachings of the First Presidency, I might not even like them personally, but I know Jesus Christ is the head of the church. He works through imperfect mortals to do His work. He is also my friend.
Keep your eyes on and align your hearts with the First Presidency. Seek to have an Enos like experience. If it be God’s will, you can have an Enos like experience, if not, He will provide you with the kind of experience that is suited for you. The channels of communication at some level can will opened to you, so that your faith will be sustained when mighty storms, horrific winds and rain are pounding your faith with gale force, threatening your spiritual well being.
I hope you will decide to give your all to know for yourself that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and works through his chosen servants.