Hymn text by Hannah Last Cornaby, 1822-1905. View the full text of this hymn.

General Conference is once again coming to a close. I don’t pretend to have absorbed every word between fielding screaming children and the fact that I succumbed to my semi-annual Conference Nap (the most deeply satisfying, profound nap I get during the year).

However, I was struck by the chord that ran through nearly every speaker’s talk: constancy, endurance, and the fact that God’s laws are not going to grow in popularity anytime soon.

In the book of Joshua, he stood before the tribes of Israel and, speaking from the Lord, laid out a laundry list of the blessings He had given them. The Lord had led Abraham to the promised land, given him children under impossible circumstances, led Jacob’s children out of Egypt with plagues and miracles, and delivered multiple armies into their hands. 

“And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them,” the Lord reminded them. “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served…in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15). 

Then comes the kicker. Joshua then issues a  challenge to them in the next verse: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

I think that phrase is so interesting: “if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord.” In my life I have had people treat my faith as a slightly embarrassing condition in best conditions, and in the worst to tell me I am perpetuating evil by practicing my religion.

To those who do not understand my faith, I would say that I believe I am on the Lord’s side, but most importantly I claim my vices as my own. If I am proud, if I am angry, if I fail others or actively hurt them, it is not because I am flying the banner for Jesus Christ. It’s because I am weak and selfish and human, and I believe Satan works to exploit all our weaknesses to “crush the work” as the hymn states.

But most importantly, I believe that being on the Lord’s side means being long-suffering, acting in “gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned” (D&C 121:41). I echo Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s words from yesterday’s session that “pure Christlike love, flowing from righteousness, can change the world.”

 

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