Solace from the Storm – Part 4

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We are responsible to be open to the spirit. Nephi reprimanded his wicked brethren and taught them about the communication from the Lord: “He hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words” (1 Ne. 17:45). If we are past feeling, the Lord might need to speak unto us with the voice of thunder and destruction. If I get to choose (which I – and we all – do) I’ll take the still small voice over a thundering voice. I enjoy thunder but not when it’s directed at me!

It is also through this still small voice that we can know the truth of all things – whether it is the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the reality of the Atonement, or anything else sacred or secular: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3-5).

It is through the power and influence of the Holy Ghost that we have solace through the storms in our lives. The Holy Ghost teaches us truth. Truth is an anchor to our souls. If we are founded upon truth and righteousness and holiness, all which come through prayer and the influence of the Holy Ghost, we will withstand any storms that come our way. Again, it is truth and more specifically, eternal truth, that binds us to the Rock of our Redeemer, even our Savior and Atoner, Jesus Christ.

Alma desired to let all know of the necessity of repentance: “Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth” (Alma 29:2). When we are pure in heart and repentant, we will be protected from that “voice of thunder” that calls all to repentance. This does not mean that we will not need repentance but to those who are already repentant, the voice of the Spirit will come more as a still, small voice than as a voice of thunder and lightning. Even when it does come as a voice of thunder, the righteous will hear the piercing small voice amidst all the tumult.

As we are built upon the foundation of Christ we will withstand the destroying east winds. We will find solace amidst the dust storms and driving winds of mortality. “Yea, when all [Satan’s] hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12).

Solace from the Storm – Part 3

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The Redeemer is our Rock of defense from the storms. As we build upon His gospel, we are strengthened and blessed. I think a story from Elijah’s life will be illustrative of one way the Lord protects us from the storms. Elijah was hiding in a cave in the wilderness because the wicked Jezebel desired his life. As he bemoaned his sufferings and the wickedness of the people, the Lord asked him to go stand out on a mountainside: “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Elijah was asked to stand out on the mountain by the Lord; he experienced a great and strong wind that broke up the rocks, he experienced an earthquake, and he experienced a fire. The Lord was not in any of those but the Lord came as a still small voice. The whisperings of the Holy Ghost were there to comfort Elijah but also to tell him to continue on in his calling as a prophet. As we face storms in our lives, the Holy Ghost will be there to provide comfort if we are listening. It can be difficult to hear that still small voice if we are surrounded by a cacophony of commotion. As piercing as the still small voice is, it can be easy to miss. The more our lives are founded upon righteousness, the better able we are to hear the voice of the Lord.

If the voice of the Spirit does not come (usually) with the voice of thunder, wind, earthquakes, and fire, what does His voice sound like? The Savior said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). The Savior’s sheep know His voice. They recognize it and follow it. We know the Lord’s voice because we knew Him in our pre-earth life. He is no stranger to us just as we are not strangers to Him. However, learning to recognize His voice can take effort. We also need to listen carefully and closely.

Bishop H. Burke Peterson said: “Listening is an essential part of praying. Answers from the Lord come quietly—ever so quietly. In fact, few hear his answers audibly with their ears. We must be listening so carefully or we will never recognize them. Most answers from the Lord are felt in our heart as a warm comfortable expression, or they may come as thoughts to our mind. They come to those who are prepared and who are patient” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 13; or Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 19).

Solace from the Storm – Part 2

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When Moses tried to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free one of the plagues the Lord sent was a plague of locusts. How did the locusts get to Egypt in such large numbers? “The Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts” (Ex. 10:13). With the wind came great destruction.

The east wind was not always bad. When Moses and the Israelites were leaving Egypt they came upon the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army was right behind them, planning on forcing them to return. They were saved by the power of the Lord, “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided” (Ex. 14:21). It was the east wind that blew and parted the Red Sea.The house of Israel crossed over the sea in safety while the armies of Pharaoh drowned in the closing waters.

Sometimes the east wind is used metaphorically to represent the ephemeral lives of the wicked. A prideful, wicked man may try to fill his stomach with the east wind (see Job 15:2) but he will be full of nothing but hot air. Not only will the air fill the wicked with nothing but also it will buffet and blow them about (see Job 27:21). Those who are thus puffed up will, like the ships of Tarshish, be brought down low and destroyed by the strength and scorching heat of the east wind (see Psalm 48:7). Their sails and masts will be broken, their rudders smashed, and they will sink into the depths of the sea (see Ezek. 27:26). Those who do not repent and who “sow filthiness…shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction” (Mosiah 7:31).

How do we protect ourselves from the mighty winds and scorching heat of the east wind? Returning again to the verse in Helamen do we find the answer: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12). Only by building our foundation upon our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, do we find solace from the storm.

Storms will buffet all of us at some point in our lives. Some people seem to live under constant stormy skies while others only experience the occasional bluster. Just like any building, our lives need to have strong foundations in order to withstand the winds that blow. Christ is this foundation.

Solace from the Storm – Part 1

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“Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt” (Hosea 12:1).

When Ephraim follows after the east wind, he receives desolation and lies. What is this east wind that brings such destruction?

This wind is mentioned many times in the Old Testament and twice in the Book of Mormon. In almost every case it brings destruction. The earliest reference to this east wind comes as part of Pharaoh’s dream. In his dream, which was interpreted by Joseph, he saw seven fat ears of corn. After these seven fat ears he saw seven thin ears that were “blasted with the east wind” (Genesis 41:6). What was this east wind like if it “blasted” the ears of corn?

I grew up in the Phoenix area. In the summertime we would occasionally receive massive dust storms called haboobs. They usually occur in July or August, during the “Monsoon Season” (or, more accurately, the summer thunderstorms). These haboobs – these gigantic dust storms – can be felt before they arrive. They can also be seen before they arrive. There is something awe-inspiring about seeing a hundreds-foot tall wall of dust traveling towards you. At first the wall seems to travel slowly; it creeps across the desert toward you, but then it hits. 30 mile an hour winds; micro-dust everywhere. Everything is covered in a fine gritty sand. Breathing the air will fill your lungs with dust particles. All around you the dust storm beats upon you. This reminds me of the verse in Helaman: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12). Satan beats upon us with his mighty winds but if our foundation is strong, we are safe from the storm.

Dust storms like the haboobs I grew up with are probably similar to the east wind talked about in the scriptures. When I read of the wind blasting ears of corn, I think of a dust storm. The driving winds blast the dust and sand into your eyes. The air is thick and gritty with the many particulates; it can be hard to breathe. If you are out in the storm, sand fills your nose and eyes and lungs. Sandstorm air is usually dry and drying. It can be very hot. People who have not lived in the desert may not have experienced hot winds. Sometimes it feels much hotter with the wind blowing than without it blowing. These hot winds can dry and destroy.