Saturday, July 22, 2017

Elder L. Tom Perry on life lessons from the faithful pioneers

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1972, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1974. At the time of his passing at age 92, he was the oldest living general authority and the third in seniority among the leading quorum.
"Former United States president Ronald Reagan has been quoted as saying, 'I do not want to go back to the past; I want to go back to the past way of facing the future.' (Quoted in George F. Will, 'One Man's America,' Cato Policy Report, Sept.-Oct. 2008, 11.) His counsel still resonates within me. There is something about reviewing the lessons of the past to prepare us to face the challenges of the future. What a glorious legacy of faith, courage, and ingenuity those noble early Mormon pioneers have left for us to build upon. My admiration for them deepens the longer I live.
"Embracing the gospel resulted in a complete change of life for them. They left everything behind—their homes, their businesses, their farms, and even their beloved family members—to journey into a wilderness. It must have been a real shock when Brigham Young announced, 'This is' (Quoted in Wilford Woodruff, 'Celebration of Pioneers' Day,' The Utah Pioneers (1880), 23.) Before them was a vast desert wasteland, barren of green hills, trees, and beautiful meadows which most of those early pioneers had known. With firm faith in God and their leaders, the early pioneers went to work to create beautiful communities in the shadows of the mountains."
- L. Tom Perry, "The Past Way of Facing the Future," General Conference, October 2009
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

We can learn much about our lives today by looking at the past. Even though circumstances are very different in our world than they were when the Mormon Pioneers first entered the Salt Lake valley 170 years ago, Elder Perry suggests that their "legacy of faith, courage, and ingenuity" will teach us much about confronting the challenges we face today.

As we focus on the pioneer journey to the west, we sometimes forget the sacrifices that preceded that undertaking. So many of the early Church members left behind their whole life, including employment, family members, and possessions, to answer the call to "come to Zion." Most were not "trained" in pioneering skills. But they moved on with faith, learning as they went, and feeling the blessings of divine providence in their efforts—"with firm faith in God and their leaders." Those are lessons we should remember today!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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