The following is a transcript of a talk I gave during church service.
I was digging around the other day and found what I thought was an old journal entry that shed a little light on something I was having trouble understanding. I wasn’t able to figure out the exact date, and the name was smeared like it got wet or something. But, from what I was able to make out, it read something like this:
“Things really seem to be coming together. I’ll say, even though I’m not 100% on board with what he says will happen, he assures me that there’s enough room and everything will be okay. It still sounds a little crazy to me, but, yeah, sure, there’s a little part of me that believes him. I don’t know why. I just do. Does that make me a little crazy? Okay, yeah, just a little bit. Now, when the time is right, I’ll go with him and all his other friends. Here’s where this whole thing gets really crazy. He doesn’t even know exactly when, but, he has assured me that I’ll know when the time is right. I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to accept such a strange, off the wall offer because, aside from just not being all there upstairs, it doesn’t seem like he thought this thing through. He says we’re going somewhere kind of special but doesn’t know where it is we’re going or even how long we’ll be gone. Which is part of why I’m a little scared. The other reason? I don’t like the dark. But, he said he’s got a plan. I turned to him the other day and made mention again that I’m not a big fan of the dark. I even asked him what he planned to do about it. That’s when Noah turned to me and said he’s gonna bring some flood lights.”
Brothers and Sisters, I am humbled to be talking to you today about setting our fears aside and simply just believing.
Yeah, sure, that’s easier than it sounds. It almost reminds me of an old song called, “Don’t worry, Be happy”. However, the message is the same: Fear Not, Only Believe.
Fear. We all have fears. But, what are we doing with our fears? Are we being manipulated, or even motivated by them?
For a long time now, fear has been used as a way to get people to do things. People in marketing do this all the time. Subaru, in a nutshell, says that if you buy their car and get into a really bad accident, you’ll live. Anti-smoking and anti-drug campaigns, “This is your brain… this is your brain on drugs.” You get the picture. Fear can sometimes get us to take action.
On the flip side, we sometimes employ fear as a tool. Parents, you know what I’m talking about here. We “motivate” our kids to get their homework done, chores checked off, scriptures studied, and so on and so on. And we do it, scaring them into getting these things done out of fear that we’ll take away their most prized possessions; their cell phones, fidget spinners, and video games.
There is one major problem with fear though. It seldom, if ever, produces real change.
In his April 2017, General Conference address, President Uchtdorf said:
“It is true that fear can have a powerful influence over our actions and behavior. But that influence tends to be temporary and shallow. Fear rarely has the power to change our hearts, and it will never transform us into people who love what is right and who want to obey Heavenly Father.
“People who are fearful may say and do the right things, but they do not feel the right things.”
Let us remember, God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
We should also remember what 2 Nephi 9:39 says that “to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.”
This can be viewed as a map, if you will, that will help guide us to a better way.
When we focus on the things and fears of the world, we dismiss the truth that we really have nothing to fear. God doesn’t want us to fear. This is fairly evident in Isaiah 41:10 which says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee.”
God, like Nationwide, is on our side. Allow me to echo what Uchtdorf said, “He loves us, and when we stumble, He wants us to rise up, try again, and become stronger.”
God is our ultimate motivator!
We also need to remember something else. That is, to coin a military phrase: He’s got our 6.
That should give us all the strength we ever need. In the military, when someone says they got your 6, it means they’re covering your rear sector. We can only see so much, and in the heat of the battle, much like life, we can’t always see everything that’s happening around us. So, someone will cover your blind spots per say. That’s where our Heavenly Father comes in. He’s got our back!
That’s not to say he’s our tour guide. That would kind of go against how things work. He’s not to make our choices for us. If that was the case, why would he give us our agency?
Think about it for a second. How many times have you been on vacation, and were doing some sort of activity where a tour guide was necessary?
I can think of two that, as a scout leader, we needed a guide! Without one, I’m not so certain we would have made it out alive.
On one instance, we went on a wild cave exploration. We had to suit up with pads and helmets to protect ourselves if we were to fall. We were even equipped with lights to help us see where we were going. Up front, ahead of us all was our tour guide. He showed us how to climb over and through things, knowing exactly which way was the safest. He gave no room for error.
The second time we had a guide was when we went white water rafting through the Royal Gorge. This time, things were a little different. Yeah, we had a guide, but this time, our guide was behind us, in the back of the raft. It was by design, as he was the one who would help steer, but it was different. Rather than being out front having us follow each of his steps precisely, this guide helped aid us and point us in the right direction. If we made a mistake, they would help steer us to safety.
Rather than protect us from falling like the cave guide, we were allowed room to make mistakes. Which, in turn, would give us the opportunity to learn from them and, hopefully, try not to make them again.
Yes. You could say fear was being used as a little motivator in both of these situations.
In the first, we were given tools that would help protect us from getting hurt and a guide that, if we followed his every move, would make sure we wouldn’t get hurt or lost.
In the second, we had someone experienced with us helping to guide us and steer us through the rapids. I’m pretty sure some of the youth thought our mistakes would lead us to certain death at the time.
God works much like both of these two examples. He has given us all the necessary tools so that we should not fear.
Satan, well, he just loves himself some fear. He uses our fears, our anxieties, against us in order to manipulate us. He helps us dwell on, even exaggerating the evil in the world.
God, on the other hand, reminds us many times throughout the scriptures to “be not afraid,” to “be of good cheer,” and to “fear not.” In 2 Timothy 1:7 it says, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
He hasn’t given us fear, Satan has. And, I’ll say, he’s given us plenty of things and evils of the world to be fearful of. We are, therefore, to have faith and trust in God to help us overcome those fears.
Uchtdorf says, “We are, therefore, not ignorant of the challenges of the world, nor are we unaware of the difficulties of our times. But this does not mean that we should burden ourselves or others with constant fear…. As His covenant people, we need not be paralyzed by fear because bad things might happen. Instead, we can move forward with faith, courage, determination, and trust in God as we approach the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
In my opinion, Deuteronomy 31:6 sums it up best:
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Remember, He’s got our 6!
Which, should bring us comfort in the face of fear that “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)
God has also promised that “All things shall work together for your good if [you] walk uprightly.” (D&C 90:24)
For me, it’s that key word in there that says “if”. It says nothing in there about crawling over and cowering in the corner out of fear. It says “if [we] walk uprightly”. I’ll take that as an order to stand tall and stand proud knowing Heavenly Father has our back.
He’s proven that to us by showing how much he loves us. So much so in fact that he sent His only begotten Son.
It’s His example that gives us the model to replace fear with faith.
Uchtdorf reminds us, “if we ever find ourselves living in fear or anxiety, or if we ever find that our own words, attitudes, or actions are causing fear in others, I pray with all the strength of my soul that we may become liberated from this fear by the divinely appointed antidote to fear: the pure love of Christ, for “perfect love casteth out fear (1 John 4:18).”
And, he continues by saying, “Christ’s perfect love gives us the confidence to press through our fears and place our complete trust in the power and goodness of our Heavenly Father and of His Son, Jesus Christ.”
The challenge then becomes to “replace fear with Christ’s perfect love. [As] Christ’s love will replace fear with faith!”
He knows us. He loves us. He knows what lies ahead in our future. He has given us all the tools and resources necessary to overcome fear and replace it with faith so that one day we may return to him once more.
Brothers and Sisters, may we head to the words of Christ when he said, “Be not afraid, only believe.” (Mark 5:36) This I say in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.