I would like to dedicate this article to my beautiful wife, Jenifer. Recently, in a large combined meeting of several congregations from this region, she was asked to give an address. The following are excerpts from the words she offered:
"I have been given the opportunity to share what I have learned in my studies of a scripture we are all familiar with: 'Remember that it is upon the Rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; I'd like to speak with special emphasis on this next part of the scripture -- 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 because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.' (Helaman 5:12, Book of Mormon).
"This brings my heart both feelings of comfort and anxiousness. I know it is nothing new for us to realize that our mortal experience is a time of testing. But the degrees of weather severity spoken of in this scripture certainly make me ponder on my own preparedness. I feel pretty good about the wind but add in shafts, a whirlwind, hail and a mighty storm and all of the sudden I feel more than chilled and not nearly as prepared as I want to be! Just as in preparing for severe weather and the layering that takes place to protect us, in likeness, so should our spiritual preparations be. Our spiritual preparedness is what will protect us and ultimately get us through the storms of life. And honestly, I do like that range of feelings my heart experiences, as it is that second thought, which compels me to act. And isn't that what the gospel of Jesus Christ does for us? It prompts us to be better and I love that.
"Imagine for a moment when you've experienced some severe weather: the rains, the wind, the hail perhaps. You may have even experienced it without shelter coming down hard.
I"f you did have shelter you may have lost electricity. Maybe you even prayed for it to end. Now think when those storm clouds clear and you can see that blue beautiful sky, there's nothing quite like the view. We are humbled. All of the sudden we appreciate what we have a little more. The jacket or other protective gear, the shelter, the electricity and that clear blue sky and sunshine.
"And isn't that just like the storms of life?
"If we were to classify what some of those weather terms might be in our own lives, we might say winds would be: light concerns with coworkers, differences with congregation or family members, miscommunication with a spouse,
"Perhaps whirlwinds could be lack of family unity, selfishness, stress ...
"And shafts in the whirlwinds: termination of employment, unexpected accidents, health complications, a wayward loved one.
"And mighty storms: loss of a child, loss of a spouse, loss of home.
"Thankfully and amazingly these are with purpose. Henry B. Eyring, a current apostle, said 'The Lord doesn't put us through this test just to give us a test: He does it because the process will change us.'
"Thankfully this gospel provides us with directing principles that will help in building our foundation on the Rock of our Redeemer. Ways to live our everyday lives and build our foundations. At the same time, bring us closer to our ultimate goal of returning to our Father in Heaven. I am just certain you have heard these guiding instructions before:
"Prayer personal and family
"Scripture study, both personal and family
"Paying an honest tithe
Robert D. Hales said, 'The reason we pray, study the scriptures, have good friends, and live the gospel through obedience to the commandments is so that when -- not if, but when -- the trials come, we are ready.'
"These principles also do something else very important: They unite us. Unite us in our immediate families, our work and church families. and ultimately, as God's abiding children. And that feels good."
I have truly appreciated a loving, supportive companion during these past four years serving as a Bishop. This has made all the difference in the world as our family strives to be like the wise man that built his house upon the Rock.