Step It Up
Keep It Simple
First of all, revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question—not always, but usually. In that sense it does provide information, but it is urgently needed information, special information. Moses’ challenge was how to get himself and the children of Israel out of this horrible predicament they were in. There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and just a lot of water immediately ahead. He needed information all right—what to do—but it wasn’t a casual thing he was asking. In this case it was literally a matter of life and death.
You will need information, too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking “with real intent” (Moroni 10:4). If you can seek that way, and stay in that mode, not much that the adversary can counter with will dissuade you from a righteous path. You can hang on, whatever the assault and affliction, because you have paid the price to—figuratively, at least—see the face of God and live.
Like Moses in his vision, there may come after the fact some competing doubts and some confusion, but they will pale when you measure them against the real thing. Remember the real thing. Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and that you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary does have power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh’s forces and dog our escape right to the water’s edge, but he can’t produce the real thing. He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. “Exerting all [our] powers to call upon God,” the light will again come, the darkness will again retreat, the safety will again be sure. That is lesson number one about crossing the Red Sea, your Red Seas, by the spirit of revelation.
Every one of us runs the risk of fear. You do, and I do. Did you catch the line I tried to emphasize as I read the account from the Pearl of Great Price? For a moment in that confrontation, “Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell” (Moses 1:20). That’s when you see it—when you are afraid.
That is exactly the problem that beset the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea. That is lesson number two. It has everything to do with holding fast to earlier illumination. The record says, “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid.”
Some, just like those Paul had described earlier, said, “Let’s go back. This isn’t worth it. We must have been wrong. That probably wasn’t the right spirit telling us to leave Egypt.” What they actually said to Moses was, “Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? . . . It had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:10–12).
And I have to say, “What about that which has already happened? What about the miracles that got you here? What about the frogs and the lice? What about the rod and the serpent, the river and the blood? What about the hail, the locusts, the fire, and the firstborn sons?”
How soon we forget. It would not have been better to stay and serve the Egyptians, and it is not better to remain outside the Church nor to reject a mission call nor to put off marriage and so on and so on forever. Of course our faith will be tested as we fight through these self-doubts and second thoughts. Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt—seemingly free, seemingly on our way—only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and to give up. At those times fear will be the strongest of the adversary’s weapons against us.
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not,stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. . . . The Lord shall fight for you.”
In confirmation the great Jehovah said to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward” (Exodus 14:13–15; emphasis added).
........lesson of the spirit of revelation. After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel his love and hear the word of the Lord, “go forward.” Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. You may, like Alma going to Ammonihah, have to find a route that leads an unusual way, but that is exactly what the Lord was doing here for the children of Israel. Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet. In the words of Joseph Smith, “Brethren [and, I would add, sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” (D&C 128:22).
Another lesson from the Lord’s spirit of revelation in the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea is that, along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, he will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church. It is true of getting an education, of going on a mission or of getting married or of any of a hundred worthy tasks in your young lives. Remember what the Savior said to the Prophet Joseph in the Sacred Grove. What was the problem in 1820? Why was Joseph not to join any other Church? It was at least in part because “they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof” (JS—H 1:19; emphasis added).
I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of Glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that he has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the victor over death and hell and the fallen one who schemes there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored, just as we have sung and testified this morning.
“Fear ye not.” And when the second and the third and the fourth blows come, “fear ye not. . . . The Lord shall fight for you.” “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” I say this in the sacred and holy name of our Protector and Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.