Sunday, October 2, 2016

Neal A. Maxwell on heeding the counsel of prophets

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Prophets have a way of seeing more deeply and more distantly than the rest of us. They can, under the direction of the Spirit (to refer to an episode in the Old Testament), see a thundercloud when it is no larger than a man's hand. (1 Kings 18:44.) Their mortal sense of anticipation is sharpened by the divine, fully developed and perfected anticipation of God Himself....
"Prophets as well as those who follow them have sometimes even had to wrench free of a whole society... Drawing people away from destruction and sadness is one of the great duties of prophets, and it calls for the cardinal virtue of followership....
"Staying close to the prophets will be vital since, in some ways, the last days in this last dispensation may come to resemble the first days in this dispensation. The middle period through which the Church has recently passed has been essentially a pleasant period—full of growth, understanding, and even some acclaim from the world. But the last days, although they will be characterized by much growth, will also be characterized by much tribulation and difficulty. There will be both wonderful and awful things....
"We cannot fully respond to the divine invitation, 'Come follow me,' unless we are willing to follow the Brethren. And it will be most helpful to us all if we renew and reassure ourselves by noting how it has always been the case—that the Lord has raised up men as His prophets who have just the cluster of talents needed for a particular time. It is no different in the culminating days of the dispensation of the fulness of time. The Lord measured and ordained these men before they came here. Knowing perfectly the conditions that would obtain, He has sent, and will send, men to match the mountains of challenges that are just ahead of us."
- Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, pp. 116, 121-2
There are some wonderful insights in this excerpt.

  • Prophets, with a divine gift of seership, can see "more deeply and more distantly"
  • Sometimes prophets are told to "wrench free" of society, and they have the important task of helping us pull away from the dangers and sadness of the world.
  • One of the great things for us to learn is "the cardinal virtue of followership"
  • The Church has been through a period of relative peace and building; but the future will be more like the early beginnings with persecution and trials, with both "wonderful and awful things." The need to follow prophetic counsel is more critical than ever.
  • Following prophetic counsel is a required step in following the Savior.
  • The Lord raises up prophets with a "cluster of talents" to help "match the mountains of challenges" of the time. What an insightful phrase; together, they collectively can accomplish exactly what He needs and what we need

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