Saturday, January 22, 2022

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on living with faith in God

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940 - 76 years ago today!) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot's wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord's ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind....
"To yearn to go back to a world that cannot be lived in now; to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future; to miss the here-and-now-and-tomorrow because we are so trapped in the there-and-then-and-yesterday—these are some of the sins, if we may call them that, of ... Lot's wife."
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "Remember Lot's Wife," BYU Devotional, 13 January 2009
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This is, for me, one of the most memorable of Elder Holland's many remarkable speeches. In addressing an assembly of BYU students, he spoke about what he identified as the second shortest verse in all the scriptures: "Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:32). He explained that in the original story in Genesis 19, when Lot's family is fleeing God's destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, his wife disobeyed the Lord's instruction to "look not behind thee;" but her greater problem was that in her heart, she wanted to be back in Sodom enjoying the pleasures of the city. At least one aspect of the sin she committed was to doubt that God could give her something better than what she had already experienced. A parallel danger is to focus too much on the trials and hardships, forgetting the promises of "good things to come."

Faith in God reminds us to look forward, not backward. It is anticipation and expectation of the good to come, trusting in God's promises and the ultimate deliverance He will provide. We must remember, as Elder Holland emphasized on another occasion, that He truly is the “high priest of good things to come” (Hebrews 9:11).

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
December 3, 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment

// Customization to close archive widget on first view - DK 3/15