Monday, January 4, 2016

Quentin L. Cook on the consecration of steady daily faithfulness

Elder Quentin L. Cook (b. 1940) was called as a Seventy in 1996, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2007.
"In a lecture at Brigham Young University, James S. Jardine, former chairman of the board of trustees of the University of Utah, indicated that when he was a student, he thought 'of consecrating [his] life in one grand, heroic gesture' but came to realize that 'consecration is not a once in a lifetime event; it is a daily devotion.'
"When I was young, I too wanted to prove myself through some heroic gesture. My great-grandfather David Patten Kimball was one of the young men who helped carry the members of the Martin handcart company across the Sweetwater River. That sounded like the kind of consecration for which I was looking. Later, as I visited with my grandfather Crozier Kimball, he explained that when President Brigham Young sent the men on their rescue mission, he instructed them to do everything they possibly could to save the handcart company. Their consecration was specifically to 'follow the prophet.' My grandfather told me that consistent, faithful dedication to one's duty or to a principle is to be much admired. As heroic as it was for David Patten Kimball to help rescue the pioneers, it might be equally heroic today to follow the prophet by not watching immoral movies or by refraining from using vulgar language.
"My mission president put all this into perspective for me and taught that, in some cases, seeking to perform a heroic effort can be a form of looking beyond the mark....
"Some members profess that they would commit themselves with enthusiasm if given some great calling, but they do not find home teaching or visiting teaching worthy of or sufficiently heroic for their sustained effort.
"God uses us 'not according to our works, but according to his own purpose' (2 Tim. 1:9). We are looking beyond the mark if our consecration is conditional or does not involve daily devotion."
- Quentin L. Cook, "Looking Beyond the Mark," Ensign, March 2003, pp. 40-44
Click here to read the full article

This was a very thought-provoking message. What is the real nature of consecration to the Lord, and how is it demonstrated? Does it come in a single, grand, heroic effort? Or is it part of a steady, consistent, perhaps less-spectacular, ongoing pattern of faithfulness?

We have a tendency to glorify and celebrate the "heroic" acts to a degree that it's easy to forget that most of us are never called upon to give that kind of sacrifice. The story Elder Cook mentions of his great-grandfather, David Kimball, is an example. After hearing that three young men had carried the hundreds of handcart pioneers across the frozen stream, suffering exposure that would eventually claim all three of their lives, Brigham Young reportedly "wept like a child" and then stated: “That act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.” (Solomon F. Kimball, “Belated Emigrants of 1856,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1914, p. 288.)  So we are tempted to think that's the way to merit our own eternal salvation! If only I were called on to perform some grand service, I would prove my loyalty and devotion to God!

I love Elder Cook's reminder that the real consecration asked of us is simply to "follow the prophet." We should know his counsel by listening and studying, and then follow his counsel by faithful obedience. It's the simple, steady, consistent performance of our duty, in humble obedience, that the Lord must prize greatly.  That's what will earn the treasured praise, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matthew 25:21, 23).

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