Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Boiling Point

The Book of Mormon tells the story of a family that was commanded by God to leave Jerusalem and subsequently wandered in the wilderness toward a promised land--somewhat reminiscent of the children of Israel under Moses’ leadership.

I want to focus on one particular part of their journey, the trials this family faced, and their varied reactions to those trials.

At the point in the story I would like to focus, the prophet and patriarch Lehi and his family and in-laws (some 2-3 dozen people potentially) have wandered in the desert for upwards of eight years. Like the children of Israel with Moses, they were told that they are headed to a promised land, but they don’t know exactly where the promised land is and when they will get there. As they travel, the Lord guides them through “the more fertile parts of the wilderness” which I imagine are few and far between on the Arabian peninsula.

At one point in their journey and amidst other trials, their hunting bows break and they are left without a way to get food. Things begin to fall apart. Nephi--Lehi's son--recounts the situation:

And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food.

And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel [Nephi’s older brothers] and the sons of Ishmael [Nephi’s brothers-in-law] did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings in the wilderness; and also my father [the prophet] began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord. (1 Nephi 16:19-20)

I can’t begin to imagine what a trial this was for Lehi, Nephi, and their family. They’ve been walking through the desert “for the space of many days,” living in tents (remember Lehi’s family was very well off in Jerusalem), bearing children (1 Nephi 17:1), walking towards a land that they must trust in God exists, and dealing with all manner of daily trials: weather, sandstorms, ripped tents, lost livestock, sickness, carrying everything they own, etc. Not to mention enduring the incessant complaining and outright violence of their own family members: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael.

Any one of these trials individually is enough to more than frustrate anyone and push anyone to their boiling point. The situation challenged the faith of everyone in the group, including the prophet himself. I believe that we can learn a lot from what happens next. Nephi’s account continues:

Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, having been afflicted with my brethren because of the loss of my bow, and their bows having lost their springs, it began to be exceedingly difficult, yea, insomuch that we could obtain no food. …

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food? (1 Nephi 16:21, 23)

Nephi was experiencing the same trials. He, too, had a family to care for and exhausted mouths to feed. He, too, walked the same distance in the same weather toward the same unknown destination.

Yet Nephi chose not to harden his heart and complain or murmur against God. Rather, he allowed the trials to soften his heart and he chose to rely even more upon the Lord. He was proactive in doing what he could to remedy the situation and then turned in humility to the prophet and to God for guidance and help with how to best deal with this trial.

This story reminds me of an analogy I heard years ago of a carrot and an egg. A speaker at a youth event held up a raw egg and asked what happens to the egg when left in boiling water. The answer: it becomes hard. She then held up a carrot and asked what happens to a carrot in boiling water. The answer: it becomes soft. Both foods in the exact same extreme situation react completely differently.

During trials and tough situations we always have a choice. When we reach our boiling points we can choose to become hardened and embittered and react like Nephi’s brothers. Or we can turn to the Lord and soften our hearts in humility and, like Nephi, allow God to help us through our trials. The choice is ours.

My personal reflection

For me, Nephi is an example of optimism and hope. When I originally started this post, I was in the middle of my program at the University of Oxford. Now, as I actually finish this post a couple years later, we live in Berlin pursuing a dream to live in Germany.

I know that we have been guided along this path and are extremely blessed to learn from such a diverse group of people and experiences. Our experience abroad has been incredible and nothing like we could have imagined.

However, this journey is not all rainbows and butterflies. On the contrary, the program and experience in Oxford was, at times, extremely trying and discouraging. Oslo was born 3 months early as I was trying to complete my capstone. Getting settled in Germany has been a long and patience-trying process. I'm lost, in a way, concerning what career path to follow and how to support my family and my current job situation is far less than ideal. And in general we’re living far from our comfort zones and among a lot of people who have very different beliefs and backgrounds. And all these in addition to the regular trials life throws at us.

But these difficulties are also exactly why this experience is so good for me and for my family. My trials and challenges in life are far from the magnitude of what Nephi and his family experienced, but I am challenged each day with the choice to complain about the things I cannot control, or to do everything I can and then humbly let the Lord make up for the rest, knowing that all things will work together for my good--both temporally and eternally.

Sometimes I’m the carrot and sometimes I’m the egg. But I’d like to think that, with the help of the Lord and His Atonement, I’m becoming more carrot-like every day.

Friday, January 27, 2017

"Which Hope Maketh an Anchor": Weathering the MBA

anchor in a storm
Not long ago I came across the following verse in the Book of Mormon:

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” (Ether 12:4)

Faith and hope maketh an anchor to our souls, which make us sure and steadfast.

two people anchored to a tree in a hurricane
When I read this verse recently, the anchor metaphor reminded me of a book my fourth-grade teacher read to us called The Cay. In the story, the main characters are stranded on an island as a hurricane approaches. They tie themselves to a large tree in order to anchor themselves down and not get blown away in the storm.

Losing sight in the midst of trials

Such storms are promised us in our own lives. These metaphorical storms come as a result of many things: large-scale storms such as wars, conflicts, and political unrest and controversy; as well as personal storms such as ill health, employment issues, loneliness and depression, and sin. Through each of these events, we may feel trapped in a hurricane carrying only an umbrella for protection.

As a result of these trials, we may begin to lose sight of that which matters most and get blown away by the gale-force winds that rage around us. The only way to weather the storms is to anchor ourselves through faith in God.

I picture that scene from The Cay when I think of being anchored to the gospel through faith and hope. The pain and difficulty of trials can shake us and skew our perspective. Tying ourselves to the tree--i.e. anchoring ourselves to faith--keeps us stable and helps us maintain an eternal perspective during times when such a perspective is easily clouded from view.

Losing sight pursuing worthy goals: An MBA story

But trials and problems aren’t the only events that can cause us to lose sight of what’s important. Our eternal perspective can become clouded and we can lose our way even when we’re pursuing worthy goals.

As a recent example from my own life, I spent the last year in a rigorous MBA program. As was to be expected, the program was hyper-focused on building businesses and measuring success through profits, company growth, and global impact--all worthy and accurate measures of success in the business world.

Every day I studied with brilliant classmates and accomplished professors. I analyzed strategies of wildly successful business leaders. I was in an environment that applauded significant professional accomplishments.

The experience was incredible and I gained so much from rubbing shoulders with such smart and driven people. But I also found myself easily stressed and concerned about the future and my career. Every minute of every day was filled with a dozen different priorities all pulling me in seemingly opposite directions. Many schools of thought and opinions flooded my mind as I spent countless hours trying to figure out a next career move that would live up to the success of my peers. I often felt inadequate surrounded by such brilliant and successful people.

Mostly I felt tossed about at the mercy of a thousand different factors and could barely keep my head above water, let alone figure out the future. Even though I was pursuing the worthy goals of higher education and providing well for my family, storms raged around me, sometimes clouding my vision of what mattered most.

Gratefully, during these foggy and stormy times I had an anchor which secured me amidst the swirling storms and helped me regain focus on the things that mattered most: Each night I would go home and spend time with my wife, rough house with our two-year-old, eat dinner together with my family, and read scriptures and pray together. And on Sundays I completely stepped away from the business world and focused on church and family time.

These constant and consistent activities centered around the best in life were my metaphorical tree in the hurricane which strengthened my faith and helped me maintain a perspective that helped me see beyond salaries and positions, Uber’s surge pricing model and Steve Jobs' leadership style, and global opportunities and threats. With an eternal, family perspective, I was able to better discern what to focus on and what to ignore, independent of the actions of those around me.

At present, I am still concerned about the future and finding the perfect job. But that concern does not give way to fear because my faith in God gives me hope that everything will work out. And that hope “maketh an anchor” to my soul which helps me become “sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"To Him Is Given the Greater Portion of the Word"

The Book of Mormon tells the story of an ancient prophet named Alma who spent much of his time traveling from city to city preaching the gospel and setting the Church in order--much like Paul of the New Testament.

In the particularly trying city of Ammonihah, the people “reviled [Alma], and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city” (Alma 8:13). As Alma leaves, an Angel appears and tells him to return to the city. Back in the city, Alma meets a man by the name of Amulek, teaches Amulek and his family, and all are converted to the gospel.

Alma and Amulek then go to try to preach the gospel to the people of Ammonihah. As they contend with some of the city’s top lawyers, the foremost of these lawyers has a change of heart and starts asking sincere questions about the purpose of life. Before answering these questions, Alma first outlines how we learn the things of God and gain spiritual knowledge. Alma teaches:

It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God . . . according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.

And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. (Alma 12:9-11.)

These verses stuck out to me recently as I was reading the accounts of Alma and his missionary work. Alma states that if we give heed to the commandments of God--if we live what we learn, wherever we are on our own pathway--we will receive more. As we go to church, study our scriptures, fulfill our callings and do our home and visiting teaching, live up to the covenants we made at baptism despite the increasing opposition we experience from outside influences, we receive more light and knowledge--it’s an upward spiral: We live according to our understanding, we receive more. We live according to that increased understanding, we receive more, etc. This is the only way we can learn and progress--through accepting and living the Savior’s teachings.

In contrast, if we fail to live according to the light and knowledge we have been given, we lose what we had. As we skip sacrament meeting, as we prioritize other things above studying the scriptures and serving our home teaching families, as we fail to live any of the commandments big or small, our understanding grows smaller and our light grows dimmer “until [we] know nothing concerning [God’s] mysteries, and [we] are taken captive by the devil.”

At least for me, I often don’t think of missing scripture study because I’m too tired as a pathway leading me to captivity by the devil. That’s a pretty big jump in my narrow mind. However, missing scripture study because I’m tired or halfheartedly praying before I go out the door because I’m in a hurry does not move me closer to God and increase my spiritual understanding. And if I’m not moving toward God, then I’m moving away and toward the adversary. There is no middle ground.

We have all sorts of reasons not to live the commandments. If we skip church one week, we probably fully intend on going the following week. If we get too tired to study the scriptures, we tell ourselves that we’ll just do it tomorrow, no problem. If we squirm in our seats as we hear repeated encouragement to go home teaching, we know that we’ll go next month when we’re not so busy.

But these actions--and others such as not living the word of wisdom, breaking the law of chastity, questioning the prophet’s judgement, etc.--put us on a slippery slope downward. And as our light diminishes, our knowledge and understanding we once had will begin to slip away and we will find that regaining that knowledge and understanding is increasingly difficult.

The only way to ensure that we are always progressing and increasing in light and knowledge is to actively live the Lord’s teachings--no excuses, no justifications. As we do so, we will be blessed and see the fruits of our actions, namely increased light, knowledge, and joy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mormon Underwear and Delta Flight 107

“Are you a Mormon?” came the question as I returned to my seat on Delta flight 107 from Frankfurt to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.

A humored, “Yes,” was my reply.  Although I often wear a BYU jacket while travelling to potentially spark this exact conversation, the man’s question still caught me off guard.  I laughed, “I am a Mormon. How’d you know, did you see my jacket?”

“Your jacket? No, I didn’t see—oh, no I didn’t realize you were wearing that jacket but that would make sense! I thought you were a Mormon because when you put your bag in the overhead bin I saw your underwear and thought they were Mormon underwear. Then I watched to see if you and your wife drank wine when dinner came and thought, ‘They have to be Mormon.’ Will you tell me about the Mormon Church? I know nothing about it.”

This man knew of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—perhaps a little more than the average person—and when he saw a few signs that I may be Mormon, he watched for others to confirm his theory.

Be Thou an Example of the Believers

How important are our actions? This man’s best friend is LDS and numerous others of his colleagues and associates in life. Gratefully, he has had only great experiences with members of the Church and thinks highly of us.

But what if his friend picked and chose which commandments he wanted to live? Or what if our interaction had not been so positive because my wife and I decided certain of the teachings of Jesus Christ were not so important on our trip? This man had not seen my jacket but was familiar enough with the Church that he knew my white undershirt or the band of my white underwear were not just ordinary undergarments. What if Alyssa and I had decided to “really enjoy” all of the free benefits of our first-class seats? What if our choice of media entertainment for the flight had been less than exemplary of a disciple of Jesus Christ? Normally no one would know or care what movies we were watching. But this gentleman knew of the covenants we had made and was watching our every action. What would have happened to his image of the Church and of those who profess to love and follow Jesus Christ if we had decided to take a day off from being disciples of Christ?

I am reminded of a quote from General Conference a few years ago:
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Way of the Disciple,” Ensign, May 2009

Our actions when we think no one is watching or when we think no one will know the difference truly show who we are and what we believe. No amount of words or outward public showing justify or allow any less than full-time devotion to what we have covenanted to live. If we act different when surrounded by strangers, the things we profess to believe on Sunday have not sunk deep into our hearts. However, if we are truly converted and truly understand the importance of the lifestyle we have chosen, we act in accordance with God’s will in all things and at all times because that is who we are.

“Be thou and example of the believers,” taught the apostle Paul, “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

A lifestyle wholly devoted to God secures for us peace of mind and true happiness. Our conscience will be clear before God and we will experience joy in being an example of the believers and serving those around us.

My new friend and I enjoyed a wonderful conversation about jump rope, various places he’s lived, and of the “Mormon” Church. During the conversation he revealed that he was undergoing chemotherapy for a cancer that he already beat once before. He talked about how awful and painful the treatment is and divulged that he has thoughts of ending his life rather than continue to endure the pain associated with cancer and chemo a second time. We talked long and deeply of the purpose of life, of faith in God, and of the love God has for each of His children, including him.

It was a unique experience and I am grateful for it. But it never would have happened if the members of the Church in his life had not lived their religion and if my wife and I had chosen to forget ours for a plane ride. Although I do not know what has become of my new friend, I hope and pray that our conversation had some sort of positive influence on him.

I leave you with the words of our current prophet, President Thomas S. Monson:

“The Lord is in all of our lives. He loves us. He wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His help. As He guides us and directs our prayers, we will find the happiness here and now that He desires for us.”

May we all be examples of the believers that all may know of His love for them.


Related readings:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Promised Blessings

One of the early prophets of modern times, Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901), once said this of our purpose in life:

--Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, 2012, p. 154

(I’m interested to know what stood out to you in this paragraph, so please let me know in the comments below.)

As I read this paragraph, the phrase, “outside of this there are no promised blessings” jumped out at me. At first, it struck me as odd since, in the context of peace, joy, happiness, wisdom, knowledge, and the power of God, what other blessings are there? But as I thought about it more, and in the context of the chapter title in which this paragraph was found—“I Seek Not My Own Will, but the Will of the Father”—I began to better understand what President Snow meant.

My thoughts are not your thoughts

In life we have ambitions and seek after things that we think will make us happy and are taught will make us happy. A lot of these things are very worthy desires, such as getting accepted into a good school, finding a great job, making money to be comfortable and support a family, being healed from a debilitating sickness, starting a family, trying to close on a house, or [insert  goal or trial here]. We are taught that if we study the scriptures, pray, attend the temple, and serve others, we will be blessed. We fast and pray for specific blessings, events, and knowledge, and study the scriptures for answers to specific issues and questions.

Yet, despite the purity of our intentions, the worthiness of our desires, and the diligence with which we keep the commandments to be worthy of the Lord’s help, none of the specific things for which we strive are guaranteed. We have never been promised wealth (even from paying tithing), entrance to a grad program, or even a family. No matter how righteous we live, we will not, by virtue of our own actions, receive a promotion at work or be healed from a sickness. These blessings all happen according to God’s will, as they work together for our eternal good and salvation. He is the grand author of our exaltation, His Son the author and finisher of our faith and They know what is best in the long run—the eternal long run—and bless us accordingly. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah taught:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

This begs the question, then, why do we even strive for specific blessings and plan our lives if nothing is guaranteed? For one, a lot of times we are given what we seek because that for which we strive does fit in Our Father’s eternal plan for us. Often the Lord will grant us according to our righteous desires if we would but ask. But for another, we came into this world to do the works of our Father and, as a result, receive peace, joy, happiness, knowledge, wisdom, and the power of God. And we will receive each of those blessings as we strive diligently to search the scriptures, pray, serve, and otherwise live as the Savior teaches. This means that sometimes obtaining a job at X company, while a worthy and desirable goal, will not bring us as much peace and happiness in the eternal scheme of things as finding a job at Y company later will. Add the struggle and time given to practice faith in times of adversity (such as unemployment) while X falls through and Y has yet to appear, and we are well on our way to all of the guaranteed, eternally-important blessings.

Our thoughts are not His thoughts, but as our ways become His ways, we will begin to see all of the promised blessings that come from a continued faithful life. And we will come to understand what is truly important and what doesn't matter so much in the eternal perspective.


Related readings:

But If Not…,” Elder Dennis E. Simmons, Ensign, May 2004
But If Not,” Elder Lance B. Wickman, Ensign, October 2002

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Take Up Thy Bed and Walk

A couple months ago, I had this really weird thing happened to me. One night I was leaning off my bed trying to grab something and all of a sudden my back just seized up and I couldn’t lift myself back up onto the bed. It was as though my lower half was simply disconnected from my upper half and my lower back was in intense pain. I spent the next hour or so trying various means to get my upper body back on the bed so that I could at least lie down and try to sleep off the weirdness and pain. Each movement was excruciating and by the time I was finished, my lower back felt as though it was on fire. Alyssa was no help—she thought I was kidding and so she fell asleep; not that she could have done anything since any sort of movement aided or no felt like a knife was being twisted around in my back.

In the morning, things were no better. I called in and took the first sick day of my entire life (minus those associated with the various emergency room hospital visits the year I graduated high school). Then, after about an hour of effort, I finally managed to half fall out of bed, use my upper body to sideways drag myself to the bathroom, with the humiliating help of my wife hoist myself up on to the toilet, and then crawl back to the bedroom. There was no chance I was getting back up onto the bed so I just laid on our hardwood floor for the better part of the day.

My brothers came over partway through the day to give me a blessing. In 1829, the Lord restored the priesthood—the power of Jesus Christ given to man to act in His name on the earth—so that we may enjoy the same healing blessings that the people in Jerusalem experienced in Christ’s time. My brothers hold this priesthood, given to them by the laying on of hands by those who have the authority to bestow this power on others, and can bless others as Christ did. As in the time of Christ, these blessings work according to God’s will and the faith of those being blessed. My brothers laid their hands on my head and gave me a blessing that I may be healed and go about my responsibilities as normal.

Now, I did not immediately take up my bed and walk; this is not one of those stories (although those stories do happen in our day). But I did slowly begin to regain movement and the pain lessened to the point I could push myself to sit up, then stand, then walk. My walk resembled the shuffle of a ninety-year-old man, but it was certainly progress. In the evening, one of our friends came over for dinner, which we ended up having on the floor since sitting in a chair was not the most comfortable experience. The next day the doctor prescribed me painkillers and muscle relaxants and said that I would probably be 100% in six weeks. That day was the only day I took any medication. The next day I was back at work, and the day after that I was jump roping. The next weekend we had two full days of jump rope.

Some may look at this experience and say that “these things just happen,” or that my situation was not as bad as the doctor prescribed. But I know this was nothing short of a miracle and ascribe my rapid healing to the power of God and the blessing which my brothers gave me. This event is quite small in the grand scheme of things and would not merit a place in the events told in the Bible. But the Lord works miracles of all kinds in the lives of His children; nothing is too insignificant for the Lord to take notice.

The Lord continues to work miracles great and small; it is up to us to have the faith necessary for them, to live worthy of them, and to recognize them when they come.

What miracles have you seen in your life?


Scripture references:

2 Ne 26:13 Christ works miracles among men according to their faith
Mormon 1:13 miracles cease because of iniquity
Mormon 9:15-19 God has not ceased to be a God of miracles
Moroni 7:27, 29, 35-36 miracles have not ceased because Christ ascended into heaven
D&C 35:8 the Lord will show miracles unto those who believe

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tower Defense in Times of Peace

The Savior often taught in parables because stories help us relate to and understand His teachings. In the 101st section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord gives a parable about workers in a vineyard:1

In this parable, the workers do most everything that the Lord asks them to do. They plant the olive trees, they build a hedge, and they even get started on the foundation of the tower upon which one of them is supposed to keep watch. However, as the construction of the tower wears on, the workers began to doubt their Lord’s counsel. “It’s a peaceful time,” they reasoned together, “why should we build a tower to warn against enemies? We have none.” They even came up with a wise use of the money their Lord would save in not building the tower.

But all their reasoning did not save them from the enemies against which the Lord warned. Despite peaceful times and their money probably doing well in their investments, enemies came and destroyed the vineyard.

Where did the workers go wrong? These were hard-working men whom the Lord trusted to accomplish His work.

“Let us reason together”

The workers second guessed the counsel of their Lord and Master and began to lean unto their own understanding. “All is well in Zion,”2 they reasoned, and concluded that they knew better than their Lord. Do we second guess the Lord when His prophets give us counsel? Do we sometimes think we know better than they, making judgment calls from our limited knowledge rather than trusting the Lord who is omniscient?

Certainly, thinking for ourselves is no sin; on the contrary, we are expected to do many things of our own free will and bring to pass much righteousness. But when we do not understand, we should not use our own judgment alone, or even the judgments of our peers, but seek the counsel of our priesthood leaders, search the words of the prophets, and seek understanding of the Lord through prayer. “Come, saith the Lord, . . . and let us reason together that ye may understand.”3 Only in this way will we remain on the path of safety.

Let’s now explore two reasons why building a tower and a defense in times of peace is a good idea.

 “Wo be unto him who is at ease in Zion”

The workers thought that protection against enemies in a time when there were no enemies did not make sense. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,” the Lord told the people in Isaiah’s time, “neither are your ways my ways.”4 The Lord knew that enemies would come if not protected against. Our cars, businesses, and homes have locks and alarms, not to physically prevent the efforts of people who attempt to rob us each night, but to discourage people from even trying. Our country has an army and navy, not because terrorist groups try to fly bombers in every day, but because they may very well try if we didn’t have those protections in place.

I think it interesting to note that the parable never actually states that the workers decided not to build a tower, but “while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord. And the enemy came by night…”5 Their failure to act immediately when given a commandment led to the destruction of the vineyard.

The same applies to building our own foundation for our own spiritual protection. We are counseled often to study our scriptures daily, to counsel with the Lord daily, to serve, spread the gospel, avoid any unclean thing, be examples, hold family home evening, eat together as a family, attend our Church meetings and serve faithfully in our callings. At times when temptations seem distant and when school is too hard and too busy, basketball season is getting exciting, or a deadline looms close, we may begin to reason that the Lord’s counsel through His servants is good, but unnecessary for us at that particular time. We may think that there are no enemies close by and that continuing to build our foundation is extra and unnecessary effort. Nothing could be further from the truth. As is taught in this parable, if not protected against, enemies will come.

“Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!”6

"When the devil shall send forth his mighty winds"

Perhaps an even more pertinent reason to build up a hedge and tower is to protect against enemies that will come regardless of our protections. We live in a world that is ever spiraling downward. We live in an age where avoiding the influences of the adversary is impossible. We may think that the daily temptations which we encounter on the internet and through other activities do not affect us. However, if not protected against, these small, daily temptations will chip at us almost undetected, until it is too late and the enemy has broken down our hedge and destroyed our vineyard. “Remember,” taught Helaman, “. . . that ye must build your foundation [upon Christ], that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds . . . it shall have no power over you.”

Trust in the Lord

For me, the overarching principle taught in this parable in the Doctrine and Covenants is taught in Proverbs:

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all they ways acknowledge him, and he will direct they paths."

Trusting in the Lord always is the only path to safety and eternal life. Building upon His rock is gives us the only sure foundation, “a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail.”7

Let us act in all diligence when the Lord commands, without slothfulness. Let us reason with Him and gain understanding though meaningful prayer with Him. And let us gain the eternal rewards and blessings that He wishes to bestow upon us through our faithfulness.