Preparation for Power

by Robert Marcum

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    It was a warm but very pleasant summer evening. Bob and his friend Phil had just finished eating their charcoal-broiled hamburgers. As Bob leaned back in his lawn chair, he saw a sudden commotion in a neighbor’s yard a few houses away. At first he ignored it, but as the noise increased it bothered him more.

    Almost at the same moment he and Phil stood up to get a better view. As they did, they heard a yell for help.

    Before they realized it, they were running at full speed down the block toward the neighbor’s home. As they ran into the carport, their neighbor Ken came from his back door with the smallest of his eight children in his arms. In his hand he held a bottle of consecrated oil.

    “Phil,” he said, “I want you to anoint my son. Quickly! He has been run over by a car!” There was not panic in his voice, but Bob could feel the tension and emotion of the situation. Phil quickly took the oil and anointed the small, gasping child. Then they all laid their hands on the child’s head, and Ken gave an immediate blessing and command for his son to live long enough to get medical help.

    As the sealing was closed Bob opened his eyes and felt a calm feeling, interrupted only momentarily by the sight of the baby, now turning a bluish color from lack of oxygen.

    Ken and his wife left the family in the care of Bob and Phil and rushed to a nearby hospital. Although it was normally a 30-minute drive through traffic and intermittent lights, they arrived in 15.

    After one of the older children explained what had happened, Phil called the hospital so they would be prepared to properly treat the baby. Then they all sat down to wait for information of the baby’s welfare.

    After what seemed like an eternity the phone rang, startling them all into action. Phil was the first to reach the receiver; the rest listened intently for any clue about how things were at the hospital.

    “Hello! Yes, Ken, this is Phil. How’s the baby?” Silence—then, “That’s great,” Phil sighed.

    The house was joyous as the children jumped on each other, yelling and screaming.

    “Quiet!” Phil yelled. “There’s more. Go ahead Ken, I couldn’t hear the last part.”

    Everyone reacted to the tension in Phil’s voice, and it became deathly silent as they listened to catch what else had been said.

    When Phil hung up the phone he turned to the family with a show of concern on his face, but slowly a smile replaced it.

    “Your little brother is okay,” he said, “but they must keep him there for awhile to make sure nothing goes wrong. His lungs were crushed, and the doctors don’t know how he even survived, but he’ll be fine after a lot of good care.”

    The house was a turmoil again as the children expressed their pent up emotions and love for their baby brother. As Bob watched he realized he had witnessed a miracle. The doctors couldn’t explain it, but they hadn’t been there when Ken blessed his tiny son. They hadn’t felt the warmth of the Spirit quietly whisper to him that the baby would be okay.

    Ken’s first thoughts had been to use his priesthood to bless the child, and he had been prepared to do so. Emergencies will come into all of our lives, some very similar to this one, and we must be prepared for them. How can all priesthood bearers develop the faith and power in the priesthood that Ken had when he most needed it?

    As a fast express train rounded a bend, the engineer suddenly saw, a short distance ahead, a freight wreck on the track next to his own. Two cars had buckled over and lay in the path of his train. There was no time to slow up; there was not a moment to think. In a flash the engineer pulled the throttle wide open and yelled to the fireman to duck down low. The terrific impetus of the express knocked the wrecked cars from the track in splintered debris, and the train was brought to a stop a half mile on the other side of the wreck.

    As the passengers crowded about the engineer, one asked how, in such a moment of crisis, he could think quickly enough to make and to act upon the only decision that could have saved his train from wrecking. He replied, “I did not think. I did not have to think. I had often thought of such a possibility, and I made up my mind ten years ago just what I would do if such a situation arose. When it did come I acted instinctively.”

    We can be prepared for many of life’s emergencies in the same way the engineer was. We can plan ahead, think things through thoroughly, and make decisions that will give us strength to use the priesthood when it is most needed. Elder Marvin J. Ashton has explained what we must do now to properly prepare:

    “As holders of the holy priesthood, we must be true to correct principles. We have a responsibility to continue faithfully in being true to the gospel. We cannot take a rest or vacation from these principles. We will be judged according to our ability and strength in continuing in his word” (“To Teach, to Testify, to Be True,” in Priesthood, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, p. 99).

    One can begin to imagine what might have happened had the engineer not decided ahead how to act or if Ken had “taken a vacation” from honoring his priesthood.

    Each office in the Aaronic Priesthood has designated responsibilities. If a young man seldom performs those tasks, he is merely “taking a vacation.” If he decides in his youth to put off magnifying his priesthood—if he refuses to serve others by performing such duties as passing and administering the sacrament, home teaching, visiting the sick and the needy, working on the welfare farm, and keeping the commandments—how can he be ready to perform the proper functions of the Melchizedek Priesthood?

    President Kimball has said: “It is most appropriate for Aaronic Priesthood youth … to quietly, and with determination, set some serious personal goals in which they will seek to improve by selecting certain things that they will accomplish within a specified period of time. Even if the priesthood holders of our Heavenly Father are headed in the right direction, if they are men without momentum they will have too little influence. You are the leaven on which the world depends; you must use your powers to stop a drifting and aimless world.

    “We hope we can help our young men and young women to realize … that they need to make certain decisions only once. We can push some things away from us once and have done with them. We can make a single decision about certain things that we will incorporate in our lives and then make them ours—without having to brood and redecide a hundred times what it is we will do and what we will not do. Indecision and discouragement are climates in which the adversary likes to function, for he can inflict so many casualties among mankind in those settings” (“The Privilege of Holding the Priesthood,” in Priesthood, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981, pp. 5–6).

    He is counseling youth to prepare as the engineer did, so when the emergency comes they are ready. Because of a previous decision by the engineer, the momentum of the train saved the lives of hundreds of people. So it is with bearers of the priesthood: decisions must be made early in life, so the momentum we gain through time will carry us through the emergencies life offers: decisions about studying the scriptures, praying morning and night, resisting challenges to break the Word of Wisdom and lower our moral standards. If you make those kinds of decisions now, while young, you will be prepared for all the emergencies that come your way.

    About two years ago my son and I watched a nationally televised basketball game. The BYU Cougars had just won the Western Athletic Conference championship and were being congratulated by sports broadcasters. As they talked with different members of the team, a sophomore by the name of Devin Durrant was interviewed about his plans for the coming year. My son, who was ten at the time and very sports minded, watched intently as Devin told of his decision to fill a mission first and play basketball later. At that moment I was thankful for a young man who knew the importance of making such decisions before the moment to decide. Like the engineer, he knew what to do when the time came. My son and I saw a young man who had set goals, made decisions, and been true to those decisions.

    As Elder Ashton said: “Being true involves much sacrifice—much heart, might, mind and strength. If we are obedient to priesthood leaders, priesthood principles, and priesthood responsibilities, we will find ourselves being obedient and true to ourselves. …

    “The Savior has taught us the rewards for being true. He has said: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.’ (John 8:51.) Each of us must resolve to be true, to be faithful, to be worthy of the trust placed in us. God will help us. We and God are a majority, and we can be victorious in all of life’s challenges if we will continue in his strength” (“To Teach, to Testify, to Be True,” p. 100).

    God has not sent us here to be losers, but to be winners. He has not chosen us to fail, but to succeed. If we are to do so, however, we must decide while we are young that we will be faithful in our priesthood responsibilities. In his poem “Maud Muller,” John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” (stanza 53).

    No such words should be a part of our report to the Savior about our lives and the use of the gifts of the priesthood with which we have been entrusted. With proper preparation now, the priesthood can lead us to power and the ability to help ourselves and serve others as the emergencies of life present themselves.