Friday, February 24, 2017

Elder Neil L. Andersen on being solidly grounded in times of spiritual tornadoes

Elder Neil L. Andersen (b. August 9, 1951) served as a Seventy beginning in 1993, and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2009.
"With all the wonderful blessings that are ours in living in this beautiful world, ours is also a time of spiritual tornadoes.... These tornadoes come out of the modern day sky with increasing frequency and test our spiritual foundations. With more opportunities, more time, more freedom, and more privilege come more temptation, and more chance of spiritual destruction from the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life. (See Matthew 13:21; Luke 8:13-14)
"To weather these storms in this environment the Lord has instructed us by His prophets that we must become grounded, rooted, established, and settled in spiritual things. (See Ephesians 3:17; 1 Peter 5:10; Colossians 1:23; 2:7) Christ himself speaking to His disciples said, 'Settle this in your hearts, that you will do the things which I shall teach and command you.' (JST Luke 14:28) Grounded, rooted, established and settled.
"My message today is that we must deepen our faith. Our motives must be real belief. In the environment in which we now live and in which we will live, a simple desire to follow the traditions of our parents will not be sufficient to protect us. There must come into each of our lives a firm conviction that there will be no lasting happiness except in keeping the commandments of God. It will not be sufficient to spiritually live without deep-rooted, powerful testimonies, for the winds and tornadoes of the world will surround us like never before....
"What does it mean to be grounded, rooted, established, and settled spiritually? It means to see 'things as they really are.' (See Jacob 4:13) It means having an eternal perspective, and realizing those things that will shape our lives over much more than the next five, ten, fifteen, or fifty years, but shape and mold our spirits eternally, for our spirits live forever. It is having a faith that is not a generalized feeling but reflects specific experience with interlocking principles. Being grounded and rooted means being able to look forward and backward from this life. A hundred years from now, how will my decisions affect me? A thousand years? A million years? The difficulties that are now mine, how meaningful will they be in a future state?
"This perspective of seeing the spiritual all around us, seeing the purposes of life, does not come merely because we want to believe these things. If we have not grounded and settled these things deep within the foundation of our soul, when the tornadoes come we will find ourselves carried away."
- Neil L. Andersen, "Grounded, Rooted, Established, Settled," LDS Business College devotional, January 14, 1998
Click here to read the full article

I recently came across this talk by Elder Andersen, given when he was serving as a Seventy before his call to the Twelve. I loved his examples and analogies as he discussed the destructive power of tornadoes, and then considered the "spiritual tornadoes" of our time and the different but equally devastating destructive influence they can have if we are not prepared for their onslaught.

I believe it was Elder Neal A. Maxwell who, in a 1981 BYU devotional, first brought together adjectives from the teachings of Peter and Paul to discuss the hope for each of us to be "grounded, rooted, established, and settled" in our gospel maturity. That kind of spiritual anchoring and stability becomes the key in resisting the force of spiritual tornadoes:

Elder Andersen specifies some of the evidences of one who is "grounded, rooted, established, and settled" as:

  • having deep-rooted, powerful testimonies
  • seeing things as they really are (the spiritual perceptiveness to understand truth)
  • having eternal perspective on life and the events that befall us
  • having specific, detailed, reinforced faith
  • seeing life in the context of time both backwards and forwards
  • knowing that events and circumstances might seem serious, but being able to keep the long-term perspective of what their true impact will be
Being grounded and settled happens "deep within the foundations of our soul." We would be wise to carefully examine our souls and consider how we can strengthen our spiritual moorings.

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