- There seems to be no end to the Savior’s desire to lead us to safety. And there is constancy in the way He shows us the path. He calls by more than one means so that it will reach those willing to accept it. And those means always include sending the message by the mouths of His prophets whenever people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. Those authorized servants are always charged with warning the people, telling them the way to safety.
The Lord follows a pattern for emphasizing the importance of the message that he wants us to hear. Several witnesses are given the same message to share with us establishing a clear understanding of what the Lord wants us to do.
- One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in these general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third. Each of us who has listened has heard President Kimball give counsel on the importance of a mother in the home and then heard President Benson quote him, and we have heard President Hinckley quote them both. The Apostle Paul wrote that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” ( 2 Cor. 13:1 ). One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time.
When we hear counsel from the prophets, we might think it is limiting to our agency. But true freedom comes from living within the bounds that are set up. Choosing not to follow their counsel leads us to bondage and sorrow but freedom and happiness.
- When we reject the counsel which comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.
By not listening to the counsel of the prophets, we lessen our ability to hear the counsel and implement it into our lives in the future.
- The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late.
- Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety.
The keys of the priesthood are important to understand who we should follow. Keys of the priesthood when exercised in righteousness will move us to safety in the storms of life.
- When we honor the keys of that priesthood channel by listening and giving heed, we tie ourselves to a lifeline which will not fail us in any storm.
When we listen to the counsel of the prophets, God can use us to help and warn others of problems that are coming. We can be instruments in God's hands to help others as we heed the advice first in our lives.
- God offers us counsel not just for our own safety, but for the safety of His other children, whom we should love. There are few comforts so sweet as to know that we have been an instrument in the hands of God in leading someone else to safety. That blessing generally requires the faith to follow counsel when it is hard to do.
Because we don't understand why or how the counsel applies to us today, doesn't mean we shouldn't try to follow it. Our lack of understanding does not justify our being unwilling to follow the counsel. Blessings come to us for following the counsel of our church leaders even if we don't understand why today.
- Sometimes we will receive counsel that we cannot understand or that seems not to apply to us, even after careful prayer and thought. Don’t discard the counsel, but hold it close. If someone you trusted handed you what appeared to be nothing more than sand with the promise that it contained gold, you might wisely hold it in your hand awhile, shaking it gently. Every time I have done that with counsel from a prophet, after a time the gold flakes have begun to appear and I have been grateful.
I have been blessed so much in my life for following the counsel of church leaders. I have been used by God to touch the lives of someone in need on multiple occasions. Although I have many opportunities to improve, I have been blessed in those times that I have not questioned the promptings of the Spirit and just asked without knowing why. I have found that in those times I have walked into the water, not knowing why I am out there, the Lord has lit my path once I take those steps forward. I am happy to follow the Savior because I know that when I do, blessings are coming to me and my family in the near future.