Sunday, March 26, 2017

Beware the Warning Signs

Several months ago I was giving one of our daughters a ride to Salt Lake. She commented that my car seemed "noisy" and wondered if I thought so. I dismissed her comment because she isn't often in town and I was giving her a ride to the airport. I thought she didn't know much about cars and probably wasn't in a position to make that judgment.

Then another daughter a few weeks later drove it home from Salt Lake when she was with Patsy, and the next time I saw her she made the same comment. "You know, Dad," she wisely counseled, "if you just let it go with a car things only get worse in time." "Women," I thought to myself, and once again I dismissed the warning.

Over the holidays we swapped cars with a son and his wife who live over in Heber City. When he returned it to me he wondered aloud, "Why is your car noisier than I remember it? Isn't a Prius supposed to be quieter?" Well, he didn't drive it as much as I did and I chalked up an explanation in my mind that it was probably a little noisier with snow tires on it during the winter months.

Then, after digging it out repeatedly in January and finally being able to drive it once more on a regular basis in February and March, I had to admit to myself - this car really DID sound noisier than I remembered it being. There was a distinct humming vibration in the steering at freeway speed that could easily be discerned in the steering wheel when I turned slightly left or right.

Then I took a group of colleagues (men and women) out to lunch last week. All commented on how noisy it sounded. Our collective wisdom led us to suspect a faulty wheel bearing assembly. One said, "In my professional opinion (he is not a mechanic) this needs to get into the dealership for an inspection."

I heeded the warning signs finally, and took it in for an evaluation. Sure enough, the right front passenger side wheel bearing assembly was badly compromised, and the mechanic told me I would have been a dead man at freeway speed had it failed en route. He thought it might have happened as early as the next two or three trips I took it on.

My purpose in telling this story is to remind us all that warning signs constantly seem to pop up in our lives on a frequent basis. Some we heed, others we dismiss. Some amount to nothing, but others may have life or death consequences if left unattended.

Recently, I have been made aware of some who are leaving the Church. There seem to be a variety of reasons, but each story suggests there are warning signs that left unattended can be catastrophic in time.

In one case, after a lifetime of service to the Church and a pension plan from "the Lord's university" in his hip pocket, it was reported a man and his family had exited the Church. He had been making increasingly bombastic statements about the humble servants the Lord has put in place. "Joseph Smith was the only true prophet," he maintained, "and all the others are just false prophets who have been leading the Church astray ever since." He asserts it is our Mother in Heaven who will judge us, regardless of what the scriptures have revealed. He is now helping Denver Snuffer raise money to distribute a new and improved version of the scriptures and build an "undefiled" new temple.

Another boldly declared, "The Church is talking out of both sides of its mouth on gays and lesbians. They are all our brothers and sisters, but same sex attraction support groups are nothing more than lip service. The leaders of the Church tell us to love them as our brothers and sisters, but they are not allowed to have full participation in the blessings."

Still another railed against the Church's policy to not permit minority-aged children of openly rebellious same sex couples from having the blessings of baptism and priesthood ordinations. They have been deeply offended and have asked that their names be removed from the membership rolls of the Church. "I cannot pay tithing to a Church that discriminates," he told me defiantly.

Most recently, I heard about a group who plan to protest next week's Conference proceedings because of a decades-old grievance about a Scout leader who was abusing Scout-aged boys and the activity had gone unreported for years until now when the boys had finally come forward. They have filed suit against the Church and are seeking judgment to avenge the loss of the innocence of those boys.

Still others, I have been told, plan to protest at the Conference for women to have priesthood ordinations, and others who would advocate for the leaders of the Church to overthrow President Monson because he is now senile. Stop me if you're old enough to remember that one before. News flash - the President of the Church is almost always an old man subject to the infirmities of the flesh.

These warning signs among us are real, and those who hold these often political and highly charged philosophical positions are certainly entitled to express their opinions. I believe most are sincere in their passionate assertions that they are right.

These conditions, it seems, are persistent now, but these conditions have always been with us. The Lord's servants have never had an easy path in this dispensation or in any other. The blood of the martyrs attests to their diligence and faithfulness in the face of all the opposition. In their lives we see a pattern worth emulating, I believe. We will be beset and besieged on all sides in the days and years ahead. The path will not be easier. The "noise" will become deafening until we must give heed and take action or risk death spiritually and even temporally.

I suggest that we chart a course and make up our minds early to heed the warning signs and take steps to repair those conditions that threaten our safety and our peace. The solutions will not come through political means. The Republicans and the Democrats are dead to me. The solutions to our frustrations may not always come to us through the leaders of the Church either. In our impatience with them we may be left to look within. What is the path we will take?

I ignored the warning signs of a bad wheel bearing assembly that persisted for months before I took action, seemingly just in time to save myself and my family from some dire consequences. But in acting to correct a simple malfunctioning part on a car I was spared. How like that simple story are our lives?

What warning signs are you detecting in your lives? Is it something you see? Perhaps something you can hear? Or is it more subtle? Is it something you feel that isn't right in your life? What do you need to do?

Maybe it's time to take it to the Dealer for repairs. You don't have to wait as long as I did to find relief.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Observed Elder D. Todd Christofferson:

"What a precious gift is divine love! Filled with that love, Jesus asks, 'Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?' Tenderly He reassures, 'Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come. . . will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.'" ("Abide in My Love," Ensign, November 2016).

He concludes: "Will you not love Him who first loved you? Then keep His commandments. Will you not be a friend to Him who laid down His life for His friends? Then keep His commandments. Will you not abide in His love and receive all that He graciously offers you? Then keep His commandments. I pray that we will feel and fully abide in His love. . ."

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