Sunday, July 20, 2014

President's Letters #95

Armor of God
In the early summer of 2010, I was serving in my Ward as the Young Men President.  The Priest and Teacher age young men were capable farm boys and outdoors oriented.  They were anxious to do some extended horseback riding for an activity.  At the time, I was very busy during the week with my profession.  I also had to get the mountain range ready to graze cattle by placing rock salt at the various salt lick locations, clear tail, install a new trough and spring development at the lower water in Turner Timber and turn water into existing troughs at various springs.   I had the bright idea of taking the boys with me on a 3 day camping trip in the mountains where we could do all the work; kill two birds with one stone so to speak.  It would be a service project and outing for them and I could get my work done.  We made arrangements for the work and sufficient adult leaders to maintain a base camp.  I was in charge of safety.

On the last week of June we set out with high spirits with about 15 riders plus a number of pack horses.  With that many horses, I knew the chances were good that we would eventually have a rodeo.  We rode the mountain pasture each day, did our chores, the new trough and spring development turned out beautiful and the camping was great for the boys and leaders.

On the second day we rode into Cedar Springs Canyon to work on a spring diversion structure in the Upper Water at the Forks.  One boy, Jeffery, sat on his horse and waited while the rest of us worked, but another horse got tangled in its reins and both horses went to bucking.  In the ruckus, Jeffery fell off with his foot stuck in the stirrup.  He broke his leg and I will be eternally grateful to the fast action by a close-by adult who contained the horse and released the boy.

We were in trouble.  To make a long story short, I witnessed boys change that afternoon into men while an outing that started as fun and adventure became an activity of sacrifice and rescue.  When the ambulance crew finally hiked in with a stretcher, the boys told them to stand aside.  The boys carried their injured comrade about 1 mile down a narrow trail to a mountain road and a waiting vehicle.  The injured boy ended up missing a season of football but is now healthy and serving a mission in Mexico.  The first aid, medical treatment and evacuation were so picture perfect that the Sheriff’s office gave our group an award.  Based on results, they should have cussed me out.

I worry about the physical and spiritual safety of our missionaries just like my young men on the mountain.  Much like riding horses, there is only so much one can do to protected yourself from physical or spiritual injury, after that you go through life on an “at-risk” basis.  We are all vulnerable to accidents and sin. The Apostle Paul stated the following eerie truth as he admonished you to protect yourself, “Put on the whole armour of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” 

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  (Eph. 6:11-12)

He then goes on to explain how you can prepare yourself to withstand the powers of darkness by putting on the whole armor of God.  The nature of your vulnerability and the armor that Paul prescribes is interesting.  (Eph. 6: 13-18)

The loins are the part of the body between the lower ribs and the hips.  It is where the vital organs for reproduction are located.  In scripture the loins often represent virtue and chastity.  It is a part of the body that is most vulnerable and must be protected with armor.  Paul said, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…”  Truth then is the protective armor he placed over the loins.  Knowledge of truth regarding virtue and chastity is critical to establish a standard to measure your conduct.  Truth will guide you along your earthly path and protect you from injury to your virtue and chastity.

The heart was often viewed as the base of moral character and spirituality.  We say, “Serve God with all our heart,” or “Your treasure is where your heart is.”  Your heart determines your basic desires and thus directs your conduct.  Temptations of the devil harden the heart. (1 Nephi 12:17)  Your heart must be protected with armor.  Paul said, “…and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” What better armor than righteousness to protect your moral character, spirituality and conduct during your journey through life?

Your feet take you toward your goals or objectives and are the source of your mobility.  We often say, “Don’t get off on the wrong foot,” or “you must walk the path yourself.”  Your feet carry you through life.  Your feet must be protected.  Paul said, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” The gospel of peace revolves around Jesus Christ and His atonement.  Preparation begins with children who have been taught and given the steps to live the gospel throughout their lives.  It is ongoing each day with our own preparation to live the gospel.  Preparation is the best way to protect and guide your feet to take you in the right direction.

Your head is where the brain is, the source of thinking.  It is where the eyes are which the temptations of the devil can blind. (1 Nephi 12:17)  Your thoughts and thinking and what you look toward (want) must be protected with armor.  Paul said, “And take the helmet of salvation,” which is the armor to protect your head.  Salvation is being saved from death and sin.  It is this knowledge that should guide your thoughts, thinking and where you look all the days of your life.  He then goes on and explains a powerful way to accomplish this, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” 

All parts of the body as a whole can be effectively protected with a shield.  In insurance business lingo, this is a sort umbrella policy.  Paul said, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”  Faith then plays a vital role during this life in your general protection from injury to body and spirit.

All of this armor is a defensive move to protect you from attack by the “…wiles of the devil.”  But, the Lord declared through Joseph Smith that you can also be outfitted with one item that is not used to protect yourself but is a weapon to use in the offense against attack.  The Lord said, “And take the … sword of my Spirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you…”  (DC 27:15-18)  Thus the spirit and the word of God is your sword our weapon against evil.

Those young men did what they could to be safe that day on the mountain, but we learned that bad things can and do still happen.  I am convinced you are trying to be safe, both physically and spiritually, as you experience these wonderful lessons of life compressed into the short 18 or 24 months in your mission.  But, being careful is not good enough.  You must wear the full armor of God not only on your mission but at all times during your life for protection from evil.  It makes good sense.  Understand it and put it on now.  Make it a habit to wear it.   

President Robinson

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