Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on our journey to higher ground

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1986, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1986 until his passing in 2008 at age 91.
"Those who journey to higher ground love the Lord with all their hearts. We see in their lives manifestations of that love. They seek their God in prayer and plead for His Holy Spirit. They humble themselves and open their hearts to the teachings of the prophets. They magnify their callings and seek to serve rather than be served. They stand as witnesses of God. They obey His commandments and grow strong in their testimony of the truth.
"They also love Heavenly Father’s children, and their lives manifest that love. They care for their brothers and sisters. They nurture, serve, and sustain their spouses and children. In the spirit of love and kindness, they build up those around them. They give freely of their substance to others. They mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. (See Mosiah 18:9.)
"This journey to higher ground is the pathway of discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a journey that will ultimately lead us to exaltation with our families in the presence of the Father and the Son. Consequently, our journey to higher ground must include the house of the Lord. As we come unto Christ and journey to higher ground, we will desire to spend more time in His temples, because the temples represent higher ground, sacred ground.
"In every age we are faced with a choice. We can trust in our own strength, or we can journey to higher ground and come unto Christ.
"Each choice has a consequence.
"Each consequence, a destination."
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Journey to Higher Ground," General Conference October 2005
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

The image Elder Wirthlin conveyed in this talk is based on events in Indonesia in December 2004. An earthquake off the coast caused powerful tsunamis that devastated the coastal regions in countries throughout the area. Safety from the onslaught came only to those who managed to climb to higher ground, out of the reach of devastation. Elder Wirthlin likened that to the spiritual challenges of our time, and the need we have to avoid them by raising ourselves so the "spiritual higher ground" of obedience and faithfulness.

In this segment, near the end of the talk, he summarized some of the ways we can know we are on the higher ground: being filled with the love of the Lord, praying faithfully, studying prophetic teachings, serving eagerly and faithfully in callings, testifying of the truth with growing power, caring for those around us, and supporting others in any way needed. We become true disciples of Jesus Christ. And we seek to be in His presence, feeling His influence as much as we can:

As in every time, we must each choose whether to "trust in our own strength" or to "journey to higher ground and come unto Christ." We make that choice every day, multiple times each day as we move forward in our lives.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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