Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf is known for using aviation analogies in his General Conference talks because he was a pilot for many years. In that same spirit, I hope you’ll indulge me as I share a trucking metaphor for the present day.
Lately, I’ve been working for a mining company in a remote area of the Great Basin. Precious metals abound, but they are not easy to access. The company maintains a neat, two-lane paved road up to a certain point, then plows a dirt road into a mountainous wilderness where the base camp is set up.
The vehicle I drive–a large Kenworth tractor and two trailers–weighs over sixty tons when fully loaded. It has a powerful engine and an eighteen-speed transmission. I had to go to a special school to learn how to operate it, and then spent a number of weeks under the supervision of a trainer before I was able to go solo.
As I headed up to the mine this week, I noticed there was a steep, rough stretch of road that was harder than the rest of it. Normally when you climb a hill in a heavy truck, you progressively shift gears up or down so that you maintain the same engine speed (around 1500 RPM.) Any less than that and you’ll start to lose power. Any more than that, and you’ll likely have to shift up.
On most hills, this isn’t a problem, but that particular hill was so difficult that I had a hard time finding the sweet spot. 4-High had me revving the engine at 1700 RPM or higher, but as soon as I bumped it up to 5-Low, the engine struggled around 1200 RPM.
The solution was to keep the transmission in 4-High, and put just enough pressure on the accelerator to keep the engine going 1500. That was the only thing that would move the load up this treacherous hill. Even though I wanted to go faster, the task at hand required me to be patient, diligent, and attentive to my surroundings.
Brothers and sisters, we are currently on a tough hill with a heavy load. A worldwide virus has gutted the economy on a global scale, people are losing their jobs and being quarantined, and hoarders are making it difficult to obtain basic groceries and supplies.
Without getting into governmental responses, let’s talk about the Church’s response and ultimately God’s response. President Russell M. Nelson started by gradually adjusting missionary service in the weeks leading up to March, so that mission work could continue but the missionaries could be safe.
Then, when the severity of the disease merited it, church meetings were suspended and members were directed to continue holding meetings in their own homes.
Proxy temple ordinances were the next thing to be temporarily modified. Missionary work has again seen modification several times this week. Each of these changes represents a flick of the gearshift, taking the transmission down a notch.
But if you’re concerned about the lack of gathering at chapels, the missionaries going home early, or the temples being closed, consider that downshifting is necessary to keep the big heavy rig moving up the steep, muddy hill.
If you’ve been keeping up with the Come, Follow Me manuals for the last 18 months, you’ve been living the principle of “home-centered, church-supported worship.” You’ve developed the habit of transitioning between worship at church and worship at your own houses, keeping that same Spirit with you as you learn seven days a week rather than only on Sunday.
The work and glory of God, which is to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man,” begins with each of us making and keeping baptismal covenants. Baptism is the first saving ordinance in a chain of ordinances that lead to exaltation.
We are blessed to have mechanisms in place that allow us to have the sacrament in our homes so we can renew that baptismal covenant even during times like these.
When Joseph Smith Jr. stated, “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing,” he was right. We are seeing that in our day. Yes, proxy temple ordinances are on hiatus. Yes, our meeting schedule is abbreviated.
And yet we still get the sacrament. We still get to do family history work online and prepare new names for the temple. General Conference is still happening.
The work has not stopped progressing. We’ve shifted into a lower gear so we can keep climbing in the current conditions.
While you’re at home, keep reading the scriptures every day. I would especially recommend studying the people of Limhi, prior to their liberation from Lamanite rulers. Their situation was much bleaker than ours, yet the Lord did not abandon them. Rather, He sanctified them, and through their trials, they became stronger and more humble.
While we’re climbing, let’s keep just enough pressure on the accelerator. Don’t push so hard that you over-rev and burn out, but don’t go so easy that you slip and stall.
We will get through this, brothers and sisters. In closing, I leave you with this heartfelt message from our dear prophet, President Nelson.
- “Two Principles for Any Economy” -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2009
- “Come What May, and Love It” -Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, October 2008
- “Adversity” -President Henry B. Eyring, April 2009