Jim had just turned 18. He was sitting across from a General Authority of the Church, obviously nervous, filled with frustration, and showing a lot of animosity. His request was forthright, simple, and came out like he couldn’t wait to say it.
“I want to be excommunicated from the Church—today!”
“How long have you been a member?”
“About three years,” came the answer.
“Why do you make such a request?”
“Because I have lost my free agency. I like to smoke, and the Church is depriving me of my free agency to live the way I want to live.”
Jim failed to recognize that his most important exercise of free agency occurred when he decided to be baptized and to live in accordance with gospel standards.
Jim had obviously acquired associations with peers outside the Church who had gradually dulled the spiritual sensitivity and uplift that he had felt at the time of his baptismal commitment.
He was no longer a free young man. He had fallen prey to one of the adversary’s many ploys and deceptions which deceives the very elect at times and entices people away from the truth. Jim complained that the Church was depriving him of his freedom. But in actuality, it is the truth of the gospel that makes us free. We all have a great need to be free.
It was quite late. The missionaries had just finished their scripture reading and turned out the light as an anxious knock at the door broke the silence. Elder Franklin swung the door open to find Steve, one of their fine young converts of nine months, standing there without his usual smile and holding a rolled up paper in his hand.
“Elder Franklin,” he said. “I have come to give you my priesthood certificate of ordination. Please hold it for me until I can work out a problem. I don’t feel worthy of the priesthood right now, but I know I will be back to pick it up real soon.”
As it turned out, what Steve did was not necessary—except perhaps for his own peace of mind until he was able to sort things out to his own satisfaction. But peace of mind is the key. He had no peace while a conflict existed with his priesthood calling. We all need peace—peace of mind.
Sue was extremely quiet as the family drove home from fast and testimony meeting. So quiet, in fact, that her father sought an opportunity within the hour to talk with her alone. To make a long story short, Sue was laboring under the illusion that she really didn’t have a testimony of the gospel. Two or three members that day had expressed “sure knowledge” that the gospel was true, and in tears Sue said, “Daddy, I can’t say that I know it’s true, and that troubles me.”
Sue’s dad was patient and understanding, for his mind was remembering clearly his teenage years of developing testimony.
“Sue,” he asked, “why do you pay tithing?”
“Because I know it’s a commandment from the Lord,” she replied promptly.
Sue’s dad then led her mind through a quick rerun of some basic principles, including the Word of Wisdom, the law of the fast, partaking of the sacrament, high moral standards, and prayer. To each of these Sue was able to relate positively and promptly. Soon she smiled at her father and said, “Gee, Daddy, I guess I do have a testimony of sorts about everything you mentioned. I suppose I could bear my testimony about the things I understand.”
And that’s the way it is with all of us. Sue had certainly felt a lack of security in this Church, which she loved, but not after her father had proven to her that she was on schedule with a developing testimony about many truths. Real security comes with a developing testimony. Hopefully, we’ll be spending much of our time here in mortality developing our testimony, improving our testimony, and sensing the wonderful security that comes with each new truth riveted securely in its place. We all have an urgent need for security.
From the beginning people have sought to be free. People through the ages have felt the extreme need for security. However hardened and perverse they may have become, people really and truly, way down deep, would like to have peace of mind.
Aren’t you grateful that we as Latter-day Saints are the custodians of the greatest flood of truth that has ever descended upon the earth in any age? A primary aim is to stand from our vantage point and share freely this revealed truth, for the Savior has declared that “the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). You and I need to listen to a living prophet and abide by his teachings.
Peace seems to be an important object in this world and always has been. Peace on earth was one of the key messages declared by heavenly hosts heralding the birth of the Savior. Yet during three recent wars, hundreds of Latter-day Saint young men found themselves “dug in” while mortar shells, bombs, and rockets threatened their very lives from all sides. Agnostics claim that Christianity has failed because in these last 2,000 years there has been no peace, only war and contention among men.
The scriptures tell us that this mortal probation will be plagued with contention, discord, wars, and rumors of wars, especially in the last days. The Savior knew this as he declared, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). He was undoubtedly speaking of “the peace of God which passeth all understanding” (Philip. 4:7)—peace of mind—the peace that comes with personal testimony. And that’s why there can be peace in foxholes with firepower descending from all directions. Peace has always been the companion of him who can say under all conditions and circumstances, “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” Peace of mind accompanies every developing testimony. But beware lest that growing testimony linger too long on a dormant plateau. More people in this world need to find the kind of peace spoken of by the Master.
Aren’t you grateful that real security comes in knowing that God the Father and his Son really appeared in a sacred grove in this period of the world’s history, or in knowing that the heavens have been opened and that priesthood authority—the right to act in His sacred name—has been restored? Aren’t you grateful to know for a surety that baptism by immersion was accomplished by the Savior as he set the example for all mankind? He sought one having authority, John the Baptist. They both went to a place where there was “much water” (John 3:23; Mark 1:5), and the scriptures record that the Savior came “up out of the water” (Mark 1:10). That is the kind of security that the world needs to know about.
Aren’t you thankful that peace of mind is a personal thing, based on a personal relationship with Heavenly Father and his beloved Son? What is a developing testimony other than a developing understanding of truth and an ever increasing capability to love the Savior? “If ye love me,” he said, “keep my commandments” (John 14:15). In so doing, there comes peace that you and I should be anxious to share liberally and freely.
Oh, youth of Zion! Stand firm in these things above all else. The world would give anything for what is within your grasp. At your fingertips is freedom from the threatening shackles of the adversary, by finding truth and living it. You have the beginning of a firm foundation and the total security that comes through a developing divine partnership. Yours can be the peace of mind that is guaranteed to all who would come to know him.