Today, I’m studying How Firm Our Foundation, by Russell M. Nelson. He gave this talk in the April 2002 General Conference.
April 2002. By then, I had been a mom for about nine months. As I’ve said about many of these talks, I don’t really remember them, specifically at this point. But I know that I watched General Conference. I know that this was a part of my life.
Even though we may not always remember the specific words we hear or read, I do think that they become a part of us. I know that my testimony is a cumulative of daily experiences, rather than a sampling of a few singular ones.
Onto the talk…
Foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Obviously, based on the title of this talk, this is a talk about our foundation.
Interestingly enough, I had a discussion with someone around this time in my life. I was working as a manager of an apartment complex. There was a maintenance man who came often, named “Art.” He was a nice guy. Humble. Funny.
If you can, recall what life was like immediately after 9/11. The world was both somber and resolute. Somber because of the tragedy that had happened on our own soil to so many innocent people. Resolute because we had decided to pray, to stand up against terrorism in any form, UNITED. I remember that the streets were lined with American flags. It was an interesting time.
One day, I was having a chat with Art. He was not a member of my faith. But we ended up having a discussion about faith – within the context of why God lets bad things happen to good people. I explained my position (which I won’t really get into here). He seemed receptive to what I had to say.
I was living in Utah, so there was a large population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I admitted to Him that I was a member of this church. He hadn’t had very positive experiences with the Church, sadly. And I tried to make amends, shaking my head, and understanding his concerns. (Again, not really time to get into here)…
I can’t remember why, but at some point, he asked me, “Who was the first member of your church.” I thought for a moment. Prayed for help, then said, “I believe it was Adam.” He said, “That’s what I wanted to hear.” He asked me more about what I believed, and by the end of the conversation, he requested a Book of Mormon. I’m so grateful that the Spirit attended me at that moment. I don’t know what happened to Art (he ended up getting a job elsewhere, and I ended up moving. Our paths never again crossed. But I’ve thought about that experience a few times. The gospel is eternal. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Gospel. It didn’t start in 1820. And Joseph Smith wasn’t the “first Mormon.”
President Nelson taught:
“This Church stands on a unique foundation, anchored to a bedrock of timeless truth. Brothers and sisters, the holy cause in which we are engaged did not begin in 1820 in the state of New York. It did not begin in Bethlehem. It did not begin in the Garden of Eden. The underpinnings of the everlasting gospel were in place even before the world was.” – Russel M. Nelson
Notice – The gospel began even before Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. The gospel, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, was not some scrappy solution to a big “oops” made by Adam and Eve. The Gospel was the plan, the Atonement was in place even before the Earth was created. Heavenly Father really is “in charge!”
So – the foundation of this church are structured by “pre-mortal pillars.” These pillars existed before the creation of the earth, and help to form the foundation of the gospel.
- The Plan of Redemption and Possibility of Inheritance in the Kingdom of God
- The Atonement of Jesus Christ
- Opposition from the Adversary
- Foreordination for and Conferral of the Priesthood
- Sisters Empowered to Glorify God
- Children of the Covenant
- Blessings Predicated upon Obedience to the Law
- Sacred Things to Be Revealed in the Latter Days
- Redemption of the Dead
The Church’s foundation is sure. It is eternal. It has been carefully prepared and strengthened by eternal “pillars.” Because the foundation of the church is sure, it is the ideal foundation for each of us.
Foundation of Individual Members of the Church
President Nelson states:
“Just as buildings and institutions have foundations, so do we as individuals have foundations that support our faith. Some are weak; some are strong. We can waffle “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed,” or we can stand on a firm foundation and anchor ourselves with straps of spiritual steel, rooted and grounded to the timeless pillars of the gospel.” – Russell M. Nelson
We need to have a foundation that supports our faith! Even while writing this blog post, I’m amazed at how much the world around us has changed since the times after 9/11. There is so much information, yet so little knowledge. We have so many experts, but so much confusion.
I’ll share another personal example.
A few weeks ago, I started having shortness of breath.
Then, I started having dizziness.
This all culminated with some pain in my chest. Was I having a heart attack???!!! I didn’t know. The pain in my chest came at 3:30 AM. I didn’t really know what to do. What did I know??? That I had been warned in my Patriarchal Blessing* that I should keep the Word of Wisdom. I also knew that – though I wasn’t drinking alcohol, hot drinks, or using drugs, I also wasn’t doing the things I should do.
About 4-5 months ago, in fact, I started counting macros. Everything you find online suggests that when counting macros to lose fat, you need to have plenty of protein. I was consuming 135g protein in a 1500 calorie daily allotment.
Personally, I was struggling with getting plenty of protein. I had to eat a lot of meat. Lots of chicken, cans of tuna, ground beef, etc. You name it – I needed to have about 150g of chicken breast, for example, with at least three meals a day, and still I wouldn’t get enough protein to hit my macros.
Now, just so you understand. I was hitting my macros. So I was eating lots of egg whites, chicken, tuna, etc. Lots and lots of protein. And because my calories are reduced, I had to be pretty picky about what carbs and fat I consumed.
Anyway – those were my physical conditions. Yes I was losing weight. But there I was, wondering if my days were numbered. And I couldn’t help but think of the word of wisdom – which I have studied in depth. I, personally, couldn’t really make any peace with the advice of the word of wisdom and how I had been eating. I knew that I needed to keep the Word of Wisdom, as it is stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, and I was praying that I still had enough time on earth to change my ways.
I made a change that night. The next day, I changed my macro balance (I know that I need to lose weight still), and I decided that I would eat meat – in times of cold or famine.
Oh – by the way, I’m in Phoenix right now. It is not cold. Not even close. In fact, it has been super hot (over 110° for a while now…which is also when I started feeling worse).
Even while I was lying awake that night, I wondered – there are so many conflicting opinions. Are carbs bad or good? Should we be worried about saturated fat or not? Am I going to lose weight if I reduce my protein to 65g a day??? You can find a doctor or a study that can support any argument – so what should I listen to???
Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and patient with me. His Spirit whispered to my soul (as an impression), “Just do what I have said to do.”
I don’t need to worry about scientific evidence supporting this or that. (There were doctors and scientists who used to say smoking was good!!!!!) I just need to listen to God, the creator of my body. I want knowledge. I want endurance. Instead of basing my actions on the flavor of the day, I can instead listen to the words that the Lord gave to Joseph Smith. Even when it is so hard to know who we can trust, we can always trust God!
All of this is to say. Even in these times, we don’t need to be confused. We can build on the sure foundation of the gospel.
There is so much more in this talk that could be pondered or discussed, but I need to wrap it up for now. I’ll finish with this quote:
“How firm our foundation? The foundation of this Church was forged long before the world was. It is strong. It is true. It is eternal. The foundation of one’s individual faith, if anchored firmly to eternal truth, allows each of us to reach upward with an eternal perspective. That faith will give hope when there is no hope. It will give us joy here and eternal life hereafter. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” – Russell M. Nelson
I love this. I want joy here and eternal life in the future. I know that if I build on His foundation, I will be able to weather whatever storm comes my way (and they will come!). I’m so grateful to know that the gospel wasn’t some kind of quickly cobbled solution to a big “oops” when Eve was beguiled by the serpent. I’m grateful to know that the gospel has an eternal foundation – long before the world was created.
I’m also grateful to know that our prophet understands this. I’m grateful for the principles and foundational truths that he has taught. I’m grateful for his example, service, and testimony.
P.S. I didn’t have time to proofread. Please be kind and ignore any glaring mistakes!!!