As I prepared for an assignment out of the country, I felt such a foreboding about the trip that prior to leaving I sought a priesthood blessing. I was warned that the adversary would attempt to thwart my mission and that physical and spiritual danger lay ahead. I was also counseled that this was not to be a sight-seeing or a shopping trip and that if I would focus on my assignments and seek the direction of the Spirit, I would return safely home.
Well, the warning was sobering. But as I proceeded, pleading for direction and protection each step of the way, I realized that my experience wasn’t all that unique. Might not our Father have said to you and to me as we left His presence: “The adversary will attempt to thwart your mission, and you will face spiritual and physical danger. But if you will focus on your assignments, if you will heed my voice, and if you will refuse to reduce mortality to a sight-seeing or a shopping trip, you will return safely home”?
The adversary is delighted when we act like sightseers, meaning those who are hearers rather than doers of the word (see James 1:22), or shoppers, meaning those preoccupied with the vain things of this world that suffocate our spirits. Satan baits us with perishable pleasures and preoccupations—our bank accounts, our wardrobes, even our waistlines—for he knows that where our treasure is, there will our hearts be also (see Matt. 6:21). Unfortunately, it is easy to let the blinding glare of the adversary’s enticements distract us from the light of Christ. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
How often are we so focused on pursuing the so-called good life that we lose sight of eternal life?
As sisters in Zion we can be obstacles to the adversary’s conspiracy against families and virtue. No wonder he tempts us to settle for earthly pleasures rather than to seek for eternal glory.
Relief Society can help us turn away from the world, for its express purpose is to help sisters and their families come unto Christ. We no longer have the luxury of spending our energy on anything that does not lead us and our families to Christ.
As a young girl I saw commitment in my grandmother, who helped Grandpa homestead our farm on the Kansas prairie. Grandma’s life wasn’t easy. But do you know what I remember most about her? Her total joy in the gospel. She was never happier than when she was working on family history or teaching with her scriptures in hand.
To the world, my grandma was ordinary. But to me, she represents the unsung heroines of this era who lived up to their premortal promises and left a foundation of faith upon which we may build. Grandma wasn’t perfect, but she was a woman of God. Now it is for you and for me to carry forward the banner into this new century.
We are unique. We are unique because of our covenants, our spiritual privileges, and the responsibilities attached to both. We are endowed with power and gifted with the Holy Ghost. We have a living prophet to guide us, ordinances that bind us to the Lord and to each other, and the power of the priesthood in our midst. We understand where we stand in the great plan of happiness. And we know that God is our Father and that His Son is our unfailing Advocate.
With these privileges comes great responsibility, and at times the demands of discipleship are heavy. But shouldn’t we expect the journey towards eternal glory to stretch us? We sometimes rationalize our preoccupation with this world and our casual attempts to grow spiritually by trying to console each other with the notion that living the gospel really shouldn’t require all that much of us. The Lord’s standard of behavior will always be more demanding than the world’s, but then the Lord’s rewards are infinitely more glorious—including true joy, peace, and salvation.
How then do we, as women of God, fill the full measure of our creation? The Lord rewards “them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). We seek Him not only by studying and searching, by pleading and praying and watching always lest we enter into temptation, but by giving up worldly indulgences that straddle the line between God and mammon. Otherwise we risk being called but not chosen because our “hearts are set so much upon the things of this world” (D&C 121:35).
It is by letting the world go and coming unto Christ that we increasingly live as women of God. We were born for eternal glory. Just as faithful men were foreordained to hold the priesthood, we were foreordained to be women of God. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who rejoice in motherhood and in womanhood and in the family. We are not panicked about perfection, but we are working to become more pure. And we know that in the strength of the Lord we can do all righteous things because we have immersed ourselves in His gospel (see Alma 26:12). We cannot be women of the world, for we are latter-day women of God.
I invite you to identify at least one thing we can do to come out of the world and come closer to Christ. And then next month, another. And then another. This is a call to arms, it’s a call to action, a call to arise. A call to arm ourselves with power and with righteousness. A call to rely on the arm of the Lord rather than the arm of flesh. A call to “arise and shine forth, that [our] light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5). A call to live as women of God so that we and our families may return safely home.
We have such cause to rejoice, for the gospel of Jesus Christ is the voice of gladness! It is because the Savior overcame the world that we may overcome. It is because He rose on the third day that we may arise as women of God. May we lay aside the things of this world and seek for the things of a better. May we commit this very hour to come out of the world and never look back.