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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Power of One

In the gospel of Luke it mentions "mens hearts failing them..." (Luke 21:26)

This happens all the time today, all over the world.  Climate changes are getting more and more frequent and severe.  Social and political strife abounds all around the globe.  Economic and emotional hardship are greater in our time than they ever were before.  For many, these are huge contributing factors to familial struggle and self-esteem.  Many people feel so overcome with the troubles of their circumstances that their sense of self worth is heavily diminished and injured to the point of total abandonment of hope.

Although these types of problems are probably more prevalent today than at any other time in world history, the purpose of this post is to illustrate the truth to the world of the capability of the souls of all men, to show to the reader, as the title says "The Power of One."

I think it appropriate to start with the words of the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not."  The adversary is hard at work.  He has not been temporarily kept from his memory of the eternities past and he knows us, our individual purposes, our hopes and dreams and our weaknesses.  However, as Joseph Smith mentioned, we have power over him.  He is not capable of dragging us down to his level unless we let him.  God put in each of us the ability to overcome evil with the power of choice, to improve, to learn, to do good, to grow and be infinitely happy as we follow the example of Christ.

Another thing to consider are the words of a young woman who once told Sherri Dew "I’ll bet when you get up every morning the devil says to himself, ‘Oh no! She’s awake again!’."  I can guarantee you that every time we reach out for help from God, every time we serve, study the scriptures, pray, attend the temple, be a peace maker in the home, give selfless service, invite others to come unto Christ, encourage obedience, pay our tithing, exercise faith and probably a million other things like that, we gain more control over ourselves.  Our spirits, which is the real us, gains more control over our bodies and his control becomes less and less until it is snuffed out completely.

This is not just an ideal that can be reached by a select few.  ANYONE can reach that level of faith, power and freedom.  It's inherent in us.  God is already there and since we are His children, and, as President Uchtdorf put it, it "is not a distinction you earned or you will ever lose", we have inherent potential in each of us to crush the adversary's head and change our circumstances and our perception of them for the better no matter what they are.  Seeking to become like Christ makes this much easier than by any other means.  For more on this matter, read this.

I'll point out a few examples of the true Power of One.

One of them is the author of the Christmas hymn Silent Night, Joseph Mohr.  He had been assigned in 1818 as the new assistant priest in Obendorf, a small village in Austria.  He was truly a christian man who had no problem accepting some shifting ideas and values about what worship should be, which ideas and values opposed corrupted traditions of the time.  The head priest of the village, Father Nöstler had sharply reprimanded him for not sticking to the current traditions of the time and Mohr faced severe disciplinary actions when he sought to include outcasts in the church choir.  On Christmas Eve, he had to make a decision to either accept defeat of his efforts or embrace the true Spirit of Christmas and put together the choir, singing in German instead of Latin.

He spreads word throughout the town that there will be a Christmas Eve midnight mass.  He planned to have the choir accompany him as he played guitar and he and the organist sung Silent Night, putting it together with the help of the church organist and invited Father Nöstler.  It ended up being such a spiritually edifying experience that the fame of "Silent Night", as it is today, is sung in more than 140 languages all around the world.  Mohr passed away in 1848 as a poor country priest, unaware of the world wide success and impact of that beautiful Christmas Hymn.

This is another example from a talk by President Faust.

"Many years ago an elder who served a mission in the British Isles said at the end of his labors, “I think my mission has been a failure. I have labored all my days as a missionary here and I have only baptized one dirty little Irish kid. That is all I baptized.”

Years later, after his return to his home in Montana, he had a visitor come to his home who asked, “Are you the elder who served a mission in the British Isles in 1873?”

“Yes.”

Then the man went on, “And do you remember having said that you thought your mission was a failure because you had only baptized one dirty little Irish kid?”

He said, “Yes.”

The visitor put out his hand and said, “I would like to shake hands with you. My name is Charles A. Callis, of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am that dirty little Irish kid that you baptized on your mission.”"

There are too many other examples to list them all here, but feel the need to list at least two more.  One of them is Abinadi in the Book of Mormon.

For those who don't know the story, Abinadi was a prophet who was sent to call a very wicked kingdom to repentance.  They were, as the scriptures say, so far gone with willful mockery of the Lord that they were ripe for destruction unless they repented.  He was, of course, taken, bound and put before King Noah and his wicked priests as they tried to question him and manipulate him to say something that they could use to convict him and put him to death.  He withstood their questions with the power of God.  When they got so angry with him that they tried to put him away in the middle of his message, He was filled with power of God and glowed with a heavenly light that caused them to shrink back in fear.  Although he did finish his message, they accused him for testifying that "God himself should come down among the children of men."  He would not deny his word and was put to death.

One of those priests, Alma, believed the words of Abinadi, repented of his evil ways, wrote down everything that Abinadi had said and preached his words in secret.  Alma ended up becoming a powerful force for good as well as the leader of the Nephite people both religiously and politically.  He was an incredible influence for good, leading the church and the people as a whole in love.  He also was given charge of the record of their civilization and the scriptures and made sure they continued to be passed down through the generations until Moroni sealed up the record that Joseph Smith found and translated into the Book of Mormon.  So, in all truth, if it wasn't for Abinadi's efforts, we likely would not even have this sacred, powerful, indispensable witness of Christ and His loving guidance and counsel to us in the latter-days.

Of course, the most supreme example is, obviously, our loving Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  This is made especially significant in this statement by the prophet Howard W. Hunter, "We should take strength for this battle from the fact that Christ was victorious not as a God but as a man."  Christ came to earth, as a God, experienced life as we do and overcame the same temptations, weaknesses, hurt, and was victorious over them from our standpoint.  How else could He have perfect mercy on us if He hadn't?  Because he understands all of our weaknesses, sins and pains first hand, because of His perfect example, because of His loving, willing, infinite, pure, all encompassing sacrifice for us, He can be our eternal judge and save us from both physical and spiritual death.  He was one Man, but His life, mission and obedience to His and our Father means, salvation, and, therefore, eternal life and happiness to all who follow and cling to Him with all their heart, might, mind and strength.

Think you aren't worth much?  Think you can't do anything worthwhile?  Think that you are just someone of little to no consequence in the world?

Think again.  You may not know the all the little minute details of all the lives you have influenced for good, even in the smallest and seemingly most fleeting ways, but trust me.  Even one missing thread on a tapestry makes the whole thing incomplete.  Every last one of us has infinite value and infinite potential simply because of what we have inherited from divine parents.

Never underestimate the power of one, especially yourself.