Sunday, March 29, 2015

Harold B. Lee on holding on to testimony

President Harold B. Lee (1899-1973) was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1941. He served as a counselor in the First Presidency from 1970-1972, then as Church president from July 1972 until his passing less than 18 months later in December 1973.
"Testimony is as elusive as a moonbeam; it's as fragile as an orchid; you have to recapture it every morning of your life. You have to hold on by study, and by faith, and by prayer. If you allow yourself to be angry, if you allow yourself to get into the wrong kind of company, you listen to the wrong kind of stories, you are studying the wrong kind of subjects, you are engaging in sinful practices, there is nothing that will be more deadening as to take away the Spirit of the Lord from you until it will be as though you had walked from a lighted room when you go out of this building, as though you had gone out into a darkness."
- Harold B. Lee, address to LDS Student Association and Young Adults, 4 November 1972; see The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 139

This is another truly classic excerpt from the teachings of President Lee. The imagery he chooses to describe how fragile testimonies are is memorable and compelling:

It takes all three activities to "hold on" to testimony: study, faith, and prayer. If we neglect either of those things, our testimony will struggle. The word "recapture" is very descriptive; the testimony will flee and fade if we don't take the action to recapture and retain it—"every morning of your life."

Then President Lee warns of "deadening" activities that will actively diminish the light of testimony:
  • If you allow yourself to be angry
  • If you allow yourself to get into the wrong kind of company
  • You listen to the wrong kind of stories
  • You are studying the wrong kind of subjects
  • You are engaging in sinful practices
We might consider things in our own day, over 40 years after President Lee spoke, that would fall into the same category.

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