Monday, January 25, 2016

Neil L. Andersen on growing strong to survive the storms of life

Elder Neil L. Andersen (1951- ) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return.
"You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.
"How do you prepare for your whirlwinds? 'Remember... 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, ... his shafts in the whirlwind, ... when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power... to drag you down... because of the rock upon which ye are built.' (Helaman 5:12.) This is your safety in the whirlwind."
- Neil L. Andersen, "Spiritual Whirlwinds," Ensign, May 2014, pp. 18-21
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I've seen many trees like the ones Elder Andersen describes—exposed to strong and frequent winds, and grown resilient and stronger in the process. In addressing youth, he explains how much more precious they are to God than any of His other creations; and so He provides opportunities for them to grow and strengthen as well.

The key in this analogy is how to best respond to the "whirlwinds" that will come into our lives, in order to be strengthened instead of swept away. The key lies in the admonition given in Helaman: be firmly planted on the rock of the Redeemer.

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