Monday, March 25, 2019

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the importance of the modern dispensation

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.
"Latter-day Saints need to remember that we who live now are being called upon to work out our salvation in a special time of intense and immense challenges—the last portion of the dispensation of the fullness of times during which great tribulation and temptation will occur, the elect will almost be deceived, and unrighteous people will be living much as they were in the days of Noah. It will be a time of polarization, as the Twelve foresaw in their declaration of 1845. Hardness of heart in many will produce other manifestations of hardness and coarseness. Civility will be one casualty of these conditions, and a lowered capacity to achieve reconciliation, whether in a marriage or between interest groups, will be another.
"Therefore, though we have rightly applauded our ancestors for their spiritual achievements (and do not and must not discount them now), those of us who prevail today will have done no small thing. The special spirits who have been reserved to live in this time of challenges and who overcome will one day be praised for their stamina by those who pulled handcarts.
"Those who were righteous in other ages, when the gospel light was snuffed out, will one day commend the current members of the Church who so live that the gospel light increased in its incandescence.
"Those of ancient Israel who saw many signs and yet episodically relapsed will one day praise those in this dispensation who have believed 'because of the word' without being compelled to be humble. (Alma 32:14.)
"The Lamanites who were righteous in earlier times, especially, will praise their present posterity whose righteousness is bringing a blossoming of their seed.
"Thus the contemporary righteous will earn the esteem of their admired predecessors. Finally, if we are faithful, even the righteous of the city of Enoch will fall upon our necks and kiss us, and we will mingle our tears with their tears! (Moses 7:63.)
"Let us, therefore, notwithstanding our weaknesses, be reassured that the everyday keeping of the commandments and the doing of our duties is what it is all about."
- Neal A. Maxwell, Not Withstanding My Weakness [Deseret 1981], pp. 17-18

This is a fascinating excerpt from Elder Maxwell's compelling and inspiring writings. He acknowledges that today, we live in "a special time of intense and immense challenges," an era "during which great tribulation and temptation will occur." In the midst of those challenges, there are "special spirits who have been reserved to live in this time of challenges."

Elder Maxwell then proceeds to give better context to those of modern times, recognizing a series of other groups and individuals in the history of the world who have faced their own challenges. In light of all of those, to consider that the survivors and conquerors of our modern day will be honored and respected by so many is quite a tribute. But it should even more be sobering to our time as we strive to be faithful to the challenges we face. We must never neglect "the everyday keeping of the commandments and the doing of our duties."

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

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