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Feel Like You’re Barely Hanging in There?

Elder Kevin W. Pearson Of the Seventy

Lehi’s vision of the tree of life has a lot to teach about enduring to the end!

Enduring to the end is a hallmark of true discipleship and is essential to eternal life. But when trials and challenges come our way, we are often told to simply “hang in there.” Let me be clear: to “hang in there” is not a principle of the gospel. Enduring to the end means constantly coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him.

The Struggle to Be Faithful

If enduring to the end is essential to eternal life, why do we struggle to be faithful? We struggle when we are caught between competing priorities. Casual obedience and lukewarm commitment weaken faith. Enduring to the end requires total commitment to the Savior and to our covenants.

Lehi’s vision of the tree of life is a powerful parable on enduring to the end. Please prayerfully study and ponder Lehi’s dream; then liken it unto yourself. As you do, carefully consider six important principles that help us endure to the end.

1. Don’t Forget to Pray

Lehi praying

We begin with Lehi alone “in a dark and dreary waste” (1 Nephi 8:7). Each of us experiences periods of darkness and loneliness. “When life gets dark and dreary, don’t forget to pray” (“Did You Think to Pray?” Hymns, no. 140). Pray for strength to endure to the end. Ask Heavenly Father, “What more would You have me do?”

2. Come unto Christ and Be Perfected in Him

Tree of Life

The tree of life is the central focus in Lehi’s dream. Everything points to the tree of life. The tree represents Christ, who is the clear manifestation of the love of God. The fruit is His infinite Atonement and is great evidence of God’s love. Eternal life with our loved ones is sweeter and more desirable than any other thing. To realize this gift, we must “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32). He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). We can fill our lives with accomplishment and well-doing, but in the end, if we do not enter into sacred covenants to follow Christ and faithfully keep them, we will have utterly and completely missed the mark.

Tree of Life

3. Press Forward with Faith

There is a path that leads to the tree of life, to Christ. It is strait and narrow, strict and exact. God’s commandments are strict but not restrictive. They protect us from spiritual and physical danger and prevent us from getting lost. Obedience builds faith in Christ. Faith is a principle of action and power. Consistently following the Savior’s example produces spiritual power and capacity. Without the strengthening and enabling power of the Atonement, it’s impossible to stay on the path and endure.

People holding to the iron rod

4. The Book of Mormon Is Key to Spiritual Survival

Life’s journey is challenging. It’s easy to be distracted, wander off the path, and get lost. Tribulation is an inevitable and indispensable part of our eternal progression. When adversity comes, don’t let something you don’t fully understand unravel everything you do know. Be patient, cling to truth; understanding will come. Trials are like great mists of darkness that can blind our eyes and harden our hearts. Unless we are “continually holding fast” (1 Nephi 8:30) to the word of God and living it, we will become spiritually blinded rather than spiritually minded. Search the Book of Mormon and the words of the living prophets every day, every day, every day! It’s the key to spiritual survival and avoiding deception. Without it, we are spiritually lost.

5. Don’t Be Distracted and Deceived

To heed is to give careful attention. Heeding those who do not believe in Christ will not help you find Him. Searching #spaciousbuilding for knowledge will not lead you to truth. It’s not posted there. Only the Savior has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Everything else is just words. The large and spacious building symbolizes the “vain imaginations and the pride” (1 Nephi 12:18) of the world—in other words, distraction and deception. It’s filled with well-dressed people who seem to have everything. But they mock the Savior and those who follow Him. They are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). They may be politically correct, but they are spiritually lost.

Family sitting underneath the Tree of Life

6. Stay by the Tree

Lehi’s message is to stay by the tree. We stay because we are converted unto the Lord. As we yield our hearts to God, the Holy Ghost changes our very natures, we become deeply converted unto the Lord, and we no longer seek the spacious building. If we stop doing those things that bring about deepening conversion, we regress spiritually. Apostasy is the reverse of conversion.

True disciples continue to awaken unto God each day in meaningful personal prayer, earnest scripture study, personal obedience, and selfless service. Stay by the tree and stay awake.

Once we enter into covenants with God, there is no going back. Giving in, giving up, and giving out are not options. In the kingdom of God, there is a standard of excellence for exaltation. It requires valiant discipleship! There is no room for average or complacent disciples. Average is the enemy of excellence, and average commitment will prevent you from enduring to the end.

Getting Back on Track

If you are struggling, confused, or spiritually lost, I urge you to do the one thing I know will get you back on track. Begin again to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon and live its teachings every day, every day, every day! I testify of the profound power in the Book of Mormon that will change your life and strengthen your resolve to follow Christ. The Holy Ghost will change your heart and help you see “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13). He will show you what you need to do next.

Brothers and sisters, enduring to the end is the great test of discipleship. Our daily discipleship will determine our eternal destiny. Awaken unto God, cling to truth, keep your sacred temple covenants, and stay by the tree!

From an April 2015 general conference address.

Share Your Experience

What do you do to stay focused on Christ and continually enduring to the end? Share your experience below.

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