Being Steadfast and Immovable
15 July 2018
In Helaman chapter thirteen, we are introduced to one of the most important figures in the Book of Mormon: Samuel the Lamanite. It was to him that God gave the task of delivering many great prophecies, including the birth of Jesus Christ and the eventual destruction of the Nephite people if they did not repent. Samuel did indeed have himself a great audience to whom he delivered these prophecies, but he was not received with open arms.
Rather, after being rebuffed in his initial efforts, he was moved to more dramatic methods. He climbed the wall around the city and, from this vantage point, delivered his great message. Once again, he was not greeted warmly. Anything that people could throw or aim at him was sent his way. God protected him so that he was not injured, but among those in the city were people who took this as a sign not that he was on a divine mission, but that he had a demon and needed to be killed.
In the grand scheme of things, little has changed since the days of Samuel the Lamanite. Anyone who preaches the gospel is in danger of the slings and arrows of unbelievers. In far too many cases, the slings and arrows were literal. Even more cases exist where people have turned a blind eye to these slings and arrows, or even made the case for them.
There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about the church today. Some of it is indeed the result of people not knowing better. But at the same time, much of it is also the result of mockery, ridicule, and even deliberate falsehood. It is no exaggeration to say that there is a cottage industry in place devoted to creating material that deliberately misrepresents who we are and what we believe in, often for nothing more than the personal gain of the creators. Couple this with how small the church is compared to the rest of society, and there’s a very real chance that you’ll find yourself having to be a Samuel unto someone else… or even a large group of someones. Ever had an entire internet forum on you at once? Been there, done that.
Oh, and let’s not forget everything that can take place in life even when we aren’t as Samuel. Injury. Illness. Hardship. Misfortune. All are a part of mortal existence. All will have to be overcome in turn.
To quote Sister Ellen W. Smoot:Now we are here. Even though we were instructed regarding the difficulties we would encounter on earth, I doubt we understood or could have known how demanding and trying, how tiring and even sorrowful at times this mortal existence would be. We have no doubt all, at some point, felt that what we were experiencing was just too hard to bear. Yet the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When [we] joined this Church [we] enlisted to serve God. When [we] did that [we] left … neutral ground, and [we] never can get back on to it. Should [we] forsake the Master [we] enlisted to serve it will be by the instigation of the evil one, and [we] will follow his dictation and be his servant.”
Perhaps someone at work forgot about the fact that you don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tea while planning a mandatory lunch event. Perhaps a neighbor wants to know where you go every Sunday. Perhaps you’re in history class and the inevitable section about the founding of the church comes up, one that is almost always written in a way to whistle past several graveyards. Perhaps you’re on an internet forum and someone takes the opportunity to lean on you for information. Perhaps a minister or professional author is gunning after you personally for punching a hole in their latest work. There are many, many situations that can come up, from the small to the large, from the mundane to the egregious.
So how, then, are we to be as Samuel? For starters, when remembering Samuel, also remember the wall itself. What is a wall made of? How is it built?
In explaining the 2008 Mutual theme of being steadfast and immovable, the combined Young Men and Young Women general presidencies issued the following statement:What does it mean to be steadfast and immovable? To be steadfast is to be firmly fixed and not subject to change, to be firm in belief and determination, and to be loyal and faithful. Likewise, to be immovable is to be unyielding and incapable of being moved or diverted. Being steadfast and immovable in the gospel of Jesus Christ is committing to follow Him, thereby always abounding in good works.
Again, turning to Sister Smoot:We cannot abandon our faith when challenges come our way. We will not turn away; we will not retreat; we will not become discouraged. We will move boldly and clearly forward and be an example for all those around us in modesty, humility, and faith. Being steadfast and immovable is a personal quest that has eternal rewards, for if we do so, “Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life.”
You see, a good wall needs a good foundation underneath it. Otherwise, it won’t hold. If it doesn’t collapse under its own weight, it’ll give way at the slightest sign of resistance. This is why under-mining walls was such a successful tactic once upon a time: get up underneath that foundation and weaken it, and let the wall come down on its own. As Sister Smoot noted, “Yes, at times we are beset by troubles and pain and grief. But we must not surrender.”
What can be done to strengthen our own personal foundations? The simple truth is that warm fuzzies, in and of themselves, aren’t always enough. We can’t simply say “I feel that…” and presume it to be enough. Nor can we cling to the testimony of a parent, missionary, or church leader.
As Young Women general president Elaine Dalton noted in a Conference talk:Several years ago I was given a photograph of three sheds, two of which were leaning on the third and smallest shed. The accompanying caption read: “You need to be strong when you are the last one to take a stand.” You too need to be strong. As you are faithful and righteous, others will look to you for support and strength.
So then, how does one get started on building that foundation? To begin with, you need to understand and know who you yourself are. Who are you as a person? Make an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, what you already know and what you don’t know.
Then, from there, we need to better know and understand the gospel. Read the scriptures. Study the instructional manuals. If needs be, read LDS.org and Mormon.org start to finish. As Elder W. Craig Zwick put it: “An underlying foundation of scriptural strength comes when we ponder and pray for guidance.”
And as always, actually live the church’s teachings. Anyone can talk a good game. But as we are so warned in James chapter 2, no matter how much we may profess our faith, if our lives do not reflect what is required of anyone who calls upon the name of Christ, our professions of faith are meaningless. As we are commanded in 3 Nephi 18: “Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world.” How often did Jesus condemn the Pharisees for their hypocrisy? So will others do to you if you do as the Pharisees. To further quote Sister Smoot, “Lucifer is doing all that he can to divert us from those things of first importance. One of his most effective tools is to convince us that it is impossible to stay centered on spiritual things when the demands of life are so pressing.”
To further quote from the combined general presidencies message: Each of us can be determined and unyielding in our obedience and worthiness. We must strive to be completely faithful in praying, studying our scriptures, paying our tithing, living the Word of Wisdom, attending our meetings, being pure in our thoughts and actions, honoring the priesthood, and being kind to our families and friends.
Sister Dalton goes further, explaining:Being steadfast and immovable means being obedient. One of the reasons you are here on the earth is to see if you will exercise your agency and “do all things whatsoever the Lord … shall command” (Abraham 3:25). When you renew your covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament, you covenant that you will always remember the Savior and keep His commandments.
So you have the foundation. What will you make the wall of?
The 13th Article of Faith gives us an idea – 13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
As we make our way through this life, we won’t just be laying the foundation of our faith and our being. We’ll also be building our walls up, piece by piece, with our experiences and what we choose to fill our minds with.
As Elder Zwick observed: I found that when we’re earnest in creating a life plan for ourselves, we need to allow the Lord to be the architect of that plan. When the Lord is the architect, long-term benefits result and connect us to additional opportunities and experiences that accelerate our capacity for growth.
Later, in the same piece, he noted: We grow when we have to overcome pains of endurance—that’s perseverance. Impressive results may not come every day or even every week, but we need to hang in there.
Yes, there are many, many instances where growth is dependent upon exertion and overcoming. For example, a 2013 meta-study of *nineteen* assorted studies and manuscripts examining the link between physical activity and bone density found that the more active a young adult was, the more likely they were to have built up bone mass and density. In other words, the more active you are, especially when young, the better it is for your bones. (Bielemann)
As you overcome, as you endure, as you study, and as you explore who and what you are, you’ll be building and strengthening both the foundation the wall is on and that wall itself. There are people whose walls – the metaphorical whole comprised of their understanding of who they are, their knowledge of what is being discussed, and in the case of religious matter their personal testimonies – are so heavy and fortified that they cannot be breached or undermined; instead, their opponents merely break themselves against the stone.
But will you have to do all this alone? Well, how often are walls left to their own defense? Whenever possible, avail yourself of your friends, your family, members of your congregation, or others who have been there and done that. Learn from them and their insights well ahead of any situation where you might actually need it. If possible, find individuals who are known for being steadfast, especially when facing challenges and challengers; they can be your biggest allies in learning how to do – and be – the same. From the presidencies, in further explaining how to be steadfast – We have great examples around us who are steadfast, immovable, and abounding in good works. Many of us see our parents cheerfully keeping their temple covenants. We see missionaries throughout the world who are strictly obedient and faithful in their service. Leaders, advisers, brothers, sisters, and friends can also exemplify these qualities.
Again, we cannot rely on the testimonies of another in lieu of our own. But the light provided by these people can help guide the way for you to develop your own testimony, and once you have that you can indeed set out to learn, grow, and develop. In fact, you may be surprised how many people around you are willing and eager to help you grow and develop. As Sister Smoot puts it: That we may finish gloriously, that we may focus our energies on those things of first importance, and that we may yet meet on the other side of the veil and embrace each other with the triumphant knowledge that we have remained steadfast and immovable is my hope and prayer for you.
So what happens when we endure? When we work at becoming more steadfast and immovable against all that life has to throw at us? As the combined presidencies statement concludes:As we build on the sure foundation of the Savior Jesus Christ, we too can be the recipients of such a great blessing. We can have a mighty change of heart, be sealed unto eternal life through the ratifying power of the Holy Ghost, and eventually receive all that the Savior has.
Brothers and sisters, I’ll leave you with the exortation of King Benjamin, as we read in Mosiah 5:15Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Works Cited:
Smoot, Ellen W. “Steadfast and Immovable”. October 2001 General Conference. www.lds.org/general-conference…
“Steadfast and Immovable” Liahona, January 2008www.lds.org/liahona/2008/01/st…
Dalton, Elaine S. “At All Times, In All Things, And In All Places”. April 2008 General Conference.www.lds.org/general-conference…
Elder Zwick, W. Craig. “Ponder, Pray, Perform, Persevere”. New Era, May 2007. www.lds.org/new-era/2007/05/po…
Bielemann, Renata M.; Jeovany Martinez-Mesa; Denise Petrucci Gigante. Physical activity during life course and bone mass: a systematic review of methods and findings from cohort studies with young adults. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2013; 14: 77www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/artic…