Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jeffrey R. Holland on developing personal reservoirs of faith

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (b. 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"And so I issue a call for the conviction we all must have burning in our hearts that this is the work of God and that it requires the best we can give to the effort. My appeal is that you nurture your own physical and spiritual strength so that you have a deep reservoir of faith to call upon when tasks or challenges or demands of one kind or another come. Pray a little more, study a little more, shut out the noise and shut down the clamor, enjoy nature, call down personal revelation, search your soul, and search the heavens for the testimony that led our pioneer parents. Then, when you need to reach down inside a little deeper and a little farther to face life and do your work, you will be sure there is something down there to call upon.
"When you have your own faith, you are prepared to bless your family. The single strongest indicator of activity and service, of devotion and loyalty in this Church continues to be the presence of strong family ties. I say that, knowing full well that part of the majesty of this Church is in the individual member. Sometimes that member is a new convert; sometimes that member is the only Latter-day Saint in the family. Some individual somewhere had to plant the flag of faith and start a new generation in the gospel. But the fact is that faith is better nurtured and more protected and longer lasting when there is an entire family to reinforce it. So after standing alone if you have to, work diligently to see that others in your family don’t stand alone. Build your family and see that faith is strong there....
"We must have faith in this work—faith in what all believers are called to do, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in our Father in Heaven. We need to conform our will to Theirs and then make that will rock-ribbed and pioneer strong indeed. If we do that, I know we will be safe and secure in the inexorable onward movement of the Church and kingdom of God on earth."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Faith to Answer the Call," regional stake conference broadcast at BYU, September 12, 2010; see Ensign, July 2011, p. 54
Click here to read the full talk

In this beautiful pioneer-themed sermon, Elder Holland shared some of my favorite stories about the challenges faced by early pioneers—not necessarily in crossing the plains, but also in the settlement of the west.  These include the stories of the Hole-In-The-Rock pioneers and the faith of young Elizabethe Claridge McCune. They are marvelous examples of the love, loyalty, and firm dedication these early Saints had for the faith they had embraced.

Elder Holland then turns the challenge to us. We too have wastelands in our lives to be pioneered, including those deep inside our personal souls. The ability to do this starts with our having a deep "reservoir of faith" from which we can draw in times of need:

The list of suggestions in this excerpt is wonderful: pray more, study more, focus more, enjoy nature, seek revelation, cleanse your soul.

With that reservoir established, and our faith is "rock-ribbed and pioneer strong," we are then prepared to bless those around us, starting with our own families. We can truly carry on the faithful mission started by those previous generations and continue to bless the lives of those near to us, and through them, the whole world.

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