Who Do You Turn To?
The world is filled with problems. There is discord in government, financial instability, and the erosion of the family unit. The large social problems are accompanied with even more pressing problems in our personal life. The concerns of raising children in a Minefield of immorality, making it safely to a more certain shore of financial security in a sea of debt and wavering markets, or keeping the light in our hearts burning bright when the darkness of depression and doubt threatens to extinguish it. Where do we find relief? What is the solution, the fix to our failing systems and faltering faith?
Let me suggest a solution to all of these problems. Family Scripture Study.
Now before you scoff, I want you to know that I am not being overly dramatic nor am I trying to make light of these problems. I hope to make myself clear on this point. Often when we are faced with over-whelming circumstances, we neglect the simple solutions. Perhaps, we feel that large problems deserve large answers. Other times it is difficult to see how a simple act can bring about a lasting change. Yet, we have seen many an example of such things.
One such example comes to mind from the scriptures among the children of Israel. The deliverance of the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage was preceded by glorious miracles, culminating in one of scriptures greatest recorded miracle, the parting of the Red Sea (big solution for a big problem). But the troubles of Israel did not end there. They faced many challenges in the wilderness and not without some complaint. Each trial was followed by a miracle, water dispensed from rock, manna from heaven, even victory over their enemies. When one of their greatest trials came, though, the solution did not present itself in such a glorious manner.
On an occasion when the children of Israel were complaining against Moses, fiery serpents entered the camp and bit several of the company. As described in Numbers, chapter 21:
…and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.
And the people spake against God, and against Moses…
…And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Nephi gives us some further insight into this event. (quote)
He [speaking of the Lord] sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished.
Many Israelites perished because the simpleness of the task.
I'm sure that many of them were working on their own solution to the problem. Perhaps some were learned in the ways of medicine and the art of healing, relying on their wisdom to save them. Others may have felt that they were strong enough to endure and even overcome the poison, relying on their own strength. Perhaps there were some who had been praying for a cure and were just waiting for a more miraculous solution similar to the ones they had seen before.
When Moses presented the Lord's solution it was not glorious, it was simple. There seemed to be no logical reason why it would work. So how could it work? They missed the point of the task and it cost them their lives. Obviously, the brass serpent in itself could not heal them, but God certainly could. The brass serpent was nothing more than a symbol representing their willingness to listen to the prophet and to turn to God in their troubles.
Likewise, in our day, the Lord has provided us with very simple solutions as a means of safety in an ever more dangerous world. Today the prophet holds up a new standard, Family scripture study and family prayer. We have been asked to once again, through our actions, demonstrate our willingness to listen to the prophet and do the will of the Lord.
He has not asked us to teach our children to be scholars of the gospel. God does not expect every study to go perfectly. He understands the limited attention span of children and the limited patience of parents. He understands that there will be days when the Spirit is strong and other days when the struggle may seem to invite a different kind of spirit.
While we should do our best to bring the right kind of spirit into our Family scripture study and to instill the principles of the gospel in our children through testimony, as Elder Bednar has suggested, "Consistency is a key principle as we lay the foundation of a great work…”
This is an important principle in which to base our family scripture study. Along with consistency, might I add one other suggestion. You fathers who are here tonight. As the priesthood head of the home, take the lead in this activity and all gospel activities in the home. And as you read from the scriptures with your family, bear that simple testimony to your children of who to turn to for their safety.
Not all of us are able to have the priesthood in the home. I myself grew up in a home without that blessing. Do your best to maintain the activities of family scripture study, family prayer and family home evening and you too will have that same security offered to all those who turn to God.
Today, as the surrounding fiery serpents of the secular world threaten to poison us and our families, we are ever in more need of God's solutions. Family scripture study is a means of safety. It will not fix the problems we face in the world or in our personal lives, and maybe that is why it is so often disregarded in the hustle and the bustle of modern living.
However, I would urge you not to let this prevent you from turning to one of the most important activities that will secure your families safety. I am sure many of those bitten Israelites who were weakened by the poison of the serpents thought of Moses’ commandment to look upon the brass serpent as a trivial thing. Perhaps they said to themselves, “Surely, this would have no bearing on my predicament.” Tired and weak, they thought of the arduous task to join the rest of the company in looking upon the brass serpent, and said, "Not today. I'm too tired and really what good will it do?"
As we face our problems, we too may feel overwhelmed. Tired and lacking all energy, adding one more activity to our already busy schedule may seem daunting, to say the least. We too may say, "Not today. I'm too tired and really what good will it do? How is such a simple thing going to solve my problems?”
Today there are more solutions offered to us than problems that exist. We dart from one to the other in hopes of finding that solution that will afford us some relief. I think we often feel that the test in life is determined by how well we are able to fix these problems. But, the central test of this life, the pass or fail if you will, is not in how we solved our problems. The real test comes when the tempests of life are at their strongest and it comes with one simple question: Who will you turn to?
How well we fix our problems matters very little, compared to the source we turn to for the solution.
Brothers and Sisters, I bear you my testimony that the Lord is that source and our willingness to have family scripture study as a lasting constant in our home is the beginning of those simple steps that will turn us from the world and its solutions to the true source of safety. Let us be mindful of the simple tasks that the Lord has given us. Let us concentrate on that duty placed before us and do it, knowing that in the Lord and His solutions there is refuge from the storms. If you will do this, you will be given the strength to endure the "fiery darts" of the adversary and those fearful storms of the world will with time disperse and you with your family will find that new day in the presence of the Lord. In his sacred name, Amen.