“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” ().
I also love what Elder Neil A. Anderson says about pressing forward.
“Press forward” implies something more than simply going forward. implies something is preventing your advancement, and you must push through it. To go forward in this life, you must press temptations aside, press through obstacles, press the doubt and the fear under your feet, and embrace the divine qualities of faith, hope, and love.
Another word for something preventing our advancement could be opposition!
I understand what Lehi says to his son Jacob in 2 Nephi 2:11
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one;
We truly would never fill joy or even know what joy is unless there was sadness.
When talking about opposition the first person that always comes to my mind is
I loved Elder Maxwell as a youth and young adult. I will always remember the talk “From Whom All Blessings Flow” in April 1997 General Conference, when he appeared bald because of the chemo therapy treatments he had undergone to put his Leukemia in remission. I remember feeling and thinking “whoa when this apostle speaks about tribulation/opposition he is speaking with authority.” From that time on I became a student of Elder Maxwell and still am.
Some of you might know that as an 18 year old youth, Elder Maxwell served in WWII. He was present at the Battle of Okinawa, this battle, which has been referred to as the typhoon of steel, because of the intensity of the fighting that happened there.
Elder Bruce C Haven, who wrote Elder Maxwell’s biography, told this story.
“While researching for the biography he learned about the conditions at this battle. Heavy rains had turned it into such a mud puddle that even tanks disappeared into the ooze. Disease and dysentery plague the soldiers, what little sleep they got was often while standing up in the mud. Supply trucks couldn’t provide consistent food and ammunition. So the troops were always hungry, and especially they were always thirsty. The water was often to foul and oily to drink. One historian said the only thing that saved the solders was coffee which having been boiled was at least drinkable
In reading the hurriedly written letters home from Elder Maxwell one such letter said, “had a dream the other night, you folks were holding up Carol (his sister) in the window and I was say boo. Boy did that make me blue, it’s rough here, it will be wonderful to bathe again still not smoking, drinking tea, or coffee. Nothing great, but the coffee is tempting sometimes.”
It was at this place that Elder Maxwell had a life-changing experience. Neal’s mortar position was under fire. Three shells in a row had exploded, each closer to his foxhole than the previous one. He realized the enemy had determined his position. The next shell would land on top of him. He prayed “one of those selfish, honest prayers,”asking for protection from the next bomb.
AND here we find this years theme of ASK found in the scripture James 1:5-6
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
Can you imagine it? Can you picture it? An 18 year boy in a mud bog all alone praying to his God to change his life?
Can you imagine or picture a 14 year old boy in a grove of trees all alone praying to his God to change his life?
Both of the lacking wisdom but understanding the if they ASK OF GOD that it will be given to them.
Both asking in FAITH nothing wavering. I hope that we can ponder on that and listen to the spirit when we need to ask of God.
Now back to Elder Maxwell….
In his pocket he carried a copy of his patriarchal blessing that said his life would not be shortened and that he would not be deprived of fulfilling every assignment that was given to him in the pre-mortal existence.
The shelling stopped. He later wrote: “I am sure the Lord answered my prayers. … The following night they began to pour shells in, but almost all of them were duds—either the ammunition had gotten wet or they were not exploding in the very thick, oozing mud. … I felt preserved, and unworthily so, but have tried to be somewhat faithful to that promise that was given at the time.”
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
I would also like to share with you a poem from one of my favorite poets(my Dad) called Gethsemane
Our Saviour sweat great drops of blood
There in Gethsemane.
He humbly asked His Father
“Please pass this cup from me.”
“Nevertheless not my will
But only thine be done.
You are my Father in Heaven,
I am just your humble Son.”
“I will do what I must do,
I understand the Plan.
I know that I must suffer much
As I Atone for Man.”
Our Saviour sweat great drops of blood
There in Gethsemane.
Sometimes I pause and wonder,
How many drops for me?
Elder Richard G. Scott said: “To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all. When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you. That support will generally come step by step, a portion at a time. While you are passing through each phase, the pain and difficulty that come from being enlarged will continue. If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 19; or Nov. 1995, 17).