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Parley Parker Pratt was 16 months younger than the Prophet Joseph and he was born about 140 miles east of Palmyra, New York. Parley was born curious about religion. He said to his father one day when he was 18 years old and they were laboring together in the forest:
“Father, how is it there is so manifest a difference between the ancient and modern disciples of Jesus Christ and their doctrines? If, for instance, I had lived in the days of the Apostles, and believed in Jesus Christ, and had manifested a wish to become his disciple, Peter or his brethren would have said to me, ‘Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for REMISSION OF SINS, and you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ I should then have known definitely and precisely what to do to be saved.
“Now, father…I believe in Jesus; I wish to serve him and keep his commandments… How…can I observe the ordinances of God and keep his commandments?”
“To these inquiries my father could give no satisfactory answer…I still continued to ponder upon these things, and to search the Scriptures to learn how to be saved.” (Pratt, Parley P. Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition, edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 2000, pp 10-11.)
Parley would not rest until he could discover the right path to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast. We are Scot and Maurine Proctor and this week’s lesson includes Doctrine and Covenants, sections 30-36 and is entitled: “You are called to preach my gospel.” We’re excited to be with you again this week and to help you understand these early days of the Kingdom of God on the earth. If you want to check scripture references or quotes, you can find the transcripts to these podcasts at latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast that’s latterdaysaintmag.com/podcast.
So, Scot, do you remember years ago, when we were on an anniversary getaway in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia and we noticed a film crew right there in the town square? The director came up to us and said, “We’re from CSpan2 and we’re doing a series of short sequences, asking people what books they have read lately and something they would like to say about that book. Would you like to go on camera and tell us what you’ve been reading?” Scot, you jumped right in and said, “Well, we’ve just finished a book that we edited and published that’s called The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt. He was an early Mormon preacher in frontier America and we’d be glad to tell you about that.”
That’s right and the director said, “That would be fantastic!” And he hooked up a couple of lapel mics and within a minute they were filming this sequence on the stories and background of Parley P. Pratt. And we didn’t mince any words that he was a follower of Joseph Smith and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We talked for maybe three to five minutes and then we were done. They thanked us and we went on our way to celebrate our anniversary in Alexandria. We never gave that interview one more thought and we never saw the interview on CSpan.
Many years later we were in an exercise equipment store in Tysons Corner just off the beltway. We were looking at treadmills or exercise bikes and the salesman said, “May I help you?” And before I could say “Yes,” he said, “Wait a minute. I know you. You’ve been on TV.” And I said, “No, I think I just have one of those familiar faces.” He said, “No, I recognize you—you talked about a book you and your wife did on some Mormon preacher in frontier America.” We couldn’t believe it, except that Parley P. Pratt is someone who is not easy to forget. He was one of the greatest missionaries the Church has ever had.
Parley joined the Church in 1830 and in the 27 years he was in the Church before his martyrdom, he served about 25 1/2 years in some sort of mission or missionary capacity. He was constantly preaching the gospel either without purse or scrip in the United States, Canada, England or South America. He was indefatigable. He was full of energy and full of light. And when he first heard anything about this new religion he was immediately interested.
Parley and his wife, Thankful, had established a beautiful forest home and 50-acre farm in rural Northern Ohio, with a fine orchard, a beautiful garden, meadow land, grain and flowers accentuating the beauty of the setting. But then one day he had a distinct impression that he must leave it all and they must head east.
When they arrived in Rochester, Parley informed Thankful that “nothwithstanding our passage being paid through the whole distance, yet I must leave the boat and her to pursue her passage to our friends; while I would stop awhile in this region. Why, I did not know; but so it was plainly manifest the Spirit to me. I said to her, “we part for a season, go and visit our friends in our native place; I will come soon, but how soon I know not; for I have a work to do in this region of country, and what it is, or how long it will take to perform it, I know not; but I will come when it is performed.” (Ibid, pp 27-29)
“It was early in the morning, just at the dawn of day,” Parley wrote, “I walked ten miles into the country, and stopped to breakfast with a Mr. Wells. I proposed to preach in the evening. Mr. Wells readily accompanied me through the neighborhood to visit the people, and circulate the appointment.
“We visited an old Baptist deacon by the name of Hamlin. After hearing of our appointment for evening, he began to tell of a book, a STRANGE BOOK, a VERY STRANGE BOOK! in his possession, which had been just published. This book, he said, purported to have been originally written on plates either of gold or brass, by a branch of the tribes of Israel; and to have been discovered and translated by a young man near Palmyra, in the State of New York, by the aid of visions, or the ministry of angels. I inquired of him how or where the book was to be obtained. He promised me the perusal of it, at his house the next day, if I would call. I felt a strange interest in the book. I preached that evening to a small audience, who appeared to be interested in the truths which I endeavored to unfold to them in a clear and lucid manner from the Scriptures. Next morning I called at his house, where, for the first time, my eyes beheld the “BOOK OF MORMON”—that book of books—that record which reveals the antiquities of the “New World” back to the remotest ages, and which unfolds the destiny of its people and the world for all time to come;—that Book which contains the fulness of the gospel of a crucified and risen Redeemer;—that Book which reveals a lost remnant of Joseph, and which was the principal means, in the hands of God, of directing the entire course of my future life.”
Parley recorded: “I opened it with eagerness, and read its title page. I then read the testimony of several witnesses in relation to the manner of its being found and translated. After this I commenced its contents by course. I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.
“As I read, the spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life. I soon determined to see the young man who had been the instrument of its discovery and translation.” (See Ibid, pp 30-33)
Parley had his sure witness of the work and would be baptized within a few days. He was given the gift of the Holy Ghost and ordained an elder under the hands of Oliver Cowdery.
Now, his mission of leaving his wife and the boat on the Erie Canal was complete. He headed to the east 235 miles to reunite with his wife and family.
Within a short time, he preached in Canaan, New York to his family and friends. His wife believed him and so did his younger brother, nineteen-year-old Orson Pratt. These two amazing brothers would, in less than five years, be ordained to the office of apostles in that first quorum organized in Kirtland, Ohio.
Parley wanted to meet the Prophet Joseph as soon as possible. He did so and I’m so glad he recorded his description and first impressions of the prophet:
“President Joseph Smith was in person tall and well built, strong and active; of a light complexion, light hair, blue eyes, very little beard, and of an expression peculiar to himself, on which the eye naturally rested with interest, and was never weary of beholding. His countenance was ever mild, affable, beaming with intelligence and benevolence; mingled with a look of interest and an unconscious smile, or cheerfulness, and entirely free from all restraint or affectation of gravity; and there was something connected with the serene and steady penetrating glance of his eye, as if he would penetrate the deepest abyss of the human heart, gaze into eternity, penetrate the heavens, and comprehend all worlds.
“He possessed a noble boldness and independence of character; his manner was easy and familiar; his rebuke terrible as the lion; his benevolence unbounded as the ocean; his intelligence universal, and his language abounding in original eloquence peculiar to himself—not polished—not studied—not smoothed and softened by education and refined by art; but flowing forth in its own native simplicity, and profusely abounding in variety of subject and manner.
“He interested and edified, while, at the same time, he amused and entertained his audience; and none listened to him that were ever weary with his discourse. I have even known him to retain a congregation of willing and anxious listeners for many hours together, in the midst of cold or sunshine, rain or wind, while they were laughing at one moment and weeping the next. Even his most bitter enemies were generally overcome, if he could once get their ears.
“I have known him when chained and surrounded with armed murderers and assassins who were heaping upon him every possible insult and abuse, rise up in the majesty of a son of God and rebuke them, in the name of Jesus Christ, till they quailed before him, dropped their weapons, and, on their knees, begged his pardon, and ceased their abuse.
“In short, in him the characters of a Daniel and a Cyrus were wonderfully blended. The gifts, wisdom and devotion of a Daniel were united with the boldness, courage, temperance, perseverance and generosity of a Cyrus. And had he been spared a martyr’s fate till mature manhood and age, he was certainly endued with powers and ability to have revolutionized the world in many respects, and to have transmitted to posterity a name associated with more brilliant and glorious acts than has yet fallen to the lot of mortal. As it is, his works will live to endless ages, and unnumbered millions yet unborn will mention his name with honor, as a noble instrument in the hands of God, who, during his short and youthful career, laid the foundation of that kingdom spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, which should break in pieces all other kingdoms and stand forever.” (Ibid, pp. 45-46)
Maurine, I love that description of Joseph. Of the scores of eyewitnesses who gave descriptions that we have of him, this one is my favorite. Parley doesn’t hold back. Parley was with Joseph in every kind of situation. He was in chains with him in the Richmond Jail. He served in the quorum of the twelve under direction of the prophet Joseph. He was in his presence many times as he witnessed Joseph receiving revelation from God. He had many personal conversations with Joseph who explained to Parley some of the deepest doctrines of the Kingdom of God. Parley knew Joseph and loved him like a brother.
And soon after that first meeting in September 1830 the Lord revealed to Joseph that Parley and Oliver Cowdery and Ziba Peterson and Peter Whitmer, Jr. were to be called on a mission to the west to teach the native American population on the far borders of the United States.
Together with Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet and one or two others who were called, this little group of missionaries represented about ten percent of the baptized members of the Church at that time! Imagine now if we had ten percent of the membership of the Church serving full-time missions—that would be 1.7 million missionaries!
I love the promise the Lord gives to these first four missionaries in Section 32, verse 3:
“…and I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them.” (D&C 32:3)
How would it be if every missionary today in these difficult times understood, believed and accepted this promise? That is so powerful.
Now, we explained to you a few podcasts ago that Parley and his brethren stopped on their way west at Mentor and Kirtland, Ohio to meet with Parley’s old friend and associate Sidney Rigdon. Sidney and many of his congregation believed in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and were baptized—in fact, within a short time, according to Parley, 127 were baptized in this area, doubling the membership of the Church. And that number would quickly grow.
But there were some sincere investigators in the area of Kirtland and Mentor who did not yet believe in a living prophet and they wanted one of their own people to go see this man for himself and report back his findings. This person had to be honest and trustworthy and full of discernment by the Spirit of God. They chose one Edward Partridge to go on this mission to meet Joseph Smith. Edward would accompany Sidney Rigdon on the nearly 300-mile journey.
Dean Jessee wrote: “Well-educated Edward Partridge was a successful hatter in Painesville, Ohio, with significant property holdings, and his community’s respect. He and his wife, Lydia, enjoyed their comfortable home, five children, and the teachings of Alexander Campbell, which gave them “much happiness.” Hence, when four strangers came to his door in the autumn of 1830 claiming that the true gospel had been restored, he dismissed them as imposters. But something—their message? the remark of one who said he was thankful there was a God in heaven who knew the hearts of all men?—motivated Edward to send an employee after a copy of their new scripture.
“From that day his life would never be the same…
Jessee continues: “What kind of a person was Edward Partridge? Early revelations refer to him as a man without guile “like Nathanael of old,” and commend him for the “integrity” of his heart (D&C 41:11; History of the Church, 2:302). Local townsmen trusted Edward’s inquiry at the New York scene of Mormon beginnings because of his reputation as “‘a man who would not lie.’” And Joseph Smith described him as “a pattern of piety, and one of the Lord’s great men known by his steadfastness and patient endurance to the end” (“History of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons, 15 Sept. 1843, vol. 4, p. 320). That same steadfastness and patience were also characteristic of his wife and their children.” (Jessee, Dean, “Steadfastness and Patient Endurance,” Ensign, June 1979)
Sidney and Edward went on the cold 300-mile journey to meet the Prophet Joseph. They first went to Manchester, New York but the Smith family had moved. Edward took the time to enquire of all the neighbors in the area where the Smiths had lived for 14 years about their reputation.
Edward “located Joseph preaching at a meeting in his father’s house in Waterloo. When the Prophet invited comments from listeners, Edward arose and stated that he had been to Manchester, had observed the “good order and industry” exhibited at the Smith farm, noticed the sacrifices they had made for the sake of their faith, and having discovered that the Smith character was questioned upon no other point than that of their religion, he requested immediate baptism.” He was so desirous to make the covenant that he wanted to go to the cold Seneca River that very night. Joseph put his arm around Edward and said that they should get a good night’s rest and perform the ordinance in the morning. The following day, Saturday, December 11, 1830, Joseph baptized Edward in the Seneca River. Edward was overjoyed to join the Church and receive baptism at the hands of the Prophet. He would soon be ordained as the first bishop of the Church.
Let’s put some of this in perspective, Maurine. This trip to meet Joseph Smith was also Sidney Rigdon’s first meeting with the Prophet—in December 1830. The Book of Mormon had been available for sale at the Palmyra Bookstore in the Grandin Building since March 26, 1830. Some critics of the Church claim that Joseph Smith was not learned enough to write the Book of Mormon (and that is true—save he was given the gift and power of God) and that the learned and powerful preacher, Sidney Rigdon must have written this book of scripture. Nothing could be further from the truth.
From this meeting in December 1830, Joseph and Sidney became fast friends and Sidney was called to the work. Listen to the word of the Lord in section 35 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers, and prepared thee for a greater work.
4 Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me, and before Elijah which should come, and thou knewest it not.
5 Thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost;
6 But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old. (D&C 35:3-6)
One of Sidney Rigdon’s congregation, who was moved upon by the Spirit and baptized by those four missionaries who arrived in Kirtland, was Frederick Granger Williams. He was filled with the Spirit and immediately had the desire to join the four missionaries on their trek to the western boundaries of the United States a thousand miles from Kirtland. The five of them left just as winter was beginning in late November and early December of 1830. They had only gotten 50 miles west of Cleveland and Parley was arrested on a frivolous charge.
“I was soon ordered to prison, or to pay a sum of money which I had not in the world. It was now a late hour, and I was still retained in court, tantalized, abused and urged to settle the matter, to all of which I made no reply for some time. This greatly exhausted their patience. It was near midnight. I now called on brother [Ziba] Petersen to sing a hymn in the court. We sung, “O how happy are they.” This exasperated them still more, and they pressed us greatly to settle the business, by paying the money.
“I then observed as follows: “May it please the court, I have one proposal to make for a final settlement of the things that seem to trouble you. It is this: if the witnesses who have given testimony in the case will repent of their false swearing, and the magistrate of his unjust and wicked judgment and of his persecution, blackguardism and abuse, and all kneel down together, we will pray for you, that God might forgive you in these matters.”
“My big bull dog pray for me,” says that Judge.
“The devil help us,” exclaimed another.
“They now urged me for some time to pay the money; but got no further answer.
“The court adjourned, and I was conducted to a public house over the way, and locked in till morning; the prison being some miles distant.”
“In the morning the officer appeared and took me to breakfast; this over, we sat waiting in the inn for all things to be ready to conduct me to prison. In the meantime, my fellow travelers came past on their journey, and called to see me. I told them in an undertone to pursue their journey and leave me to manage my own affairs, promising to overtake them soon. They did so.
“After sitting awhile by the fire in charge of the officer, I requested to step out. I walked out into the public square accompanied by him. Said I, “Mr. Peabody, are you good at a race?” “No,” said he, “but my big bull dog is, and he has been trained to assist me in my office these several years; he will take any man down at my bidding.” “Well, Mr. Peabody, you compelled me to go a mile, I have gone with you two miles. You have given me an opportunity to preach, sing, and have also entertained me with lodging and breakfast. I must now go on my journey; if you are good at a race you can accompany me. I thank you for all your kindness—good day, sir.”
“I then started on my journey, while he stood amazed and not able to step one foot before the other. Seeing this, I halted, turned to him and again invited him to a race. He still stood amazed. I then renewed my exertions, and soon increased my speed to something like that of a deer. He did not awake from his astonishment sufficiently to start in pursuit till I had gained, perhaps, two hundred yards. I had already leaped a fence, and was making my way through a field to the forest on the right of the road. He now came hallooing after me, and shouting to his dog to seize me. The dog, being one of the largest I ever saw, came close on my footsteps with all his fury; the officer behind still in pursuit, clapping his hands and hallooing, “stu-boy, stu-boy—take him—watch—lay hold of him, I say—down with him,” and pointing his finger in the direction I was running. The dog was fast overtaking me, and in the act of leaping upon me, when, quick as lightning, the thought struck me, to assist the officer, in sending the dog with all fury to the forest a little distance before me. I pointed my finger in that direction, clapped my hands, and shouted in imitation of the officer. The dog hastened past me with redoubled speed towards the forest; being urged by the officer and myself, and both of us running in the same direction.
“Gaining the forest, I soon lost sight of the officer and dog, and have not seen them since. I took a back course, crossed the road, took round into the wilderness, on the left, and made the road again in time to cross a bridge over Vermilion River, where I was hailed by half a dozen men, who had been anxiously waiting our arrival to that part of the country, and who urged me very earnestly to stop and preach. I told them that I could not then do it, for an officer was on my track…
And here’s the rest of the story:
“The Book of Mormon, which I dropped at the house of Simeon Carter, when taken by the officer, was by these circumstances left with him. He read it with attention. It wrought deeply upon his mind, and he went fifty miles to the church we had left in Kirtland, and was there baptized and ordained an Elder. He then returned to his home and commenced to preach and baptize. A church of about sixty members was soon organized in the place where I had played such a trick of deception on the dog.” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Revised and Enhanced Edition, pp 53-55)
And Scot, I think it’s interesting that the Lord called these missionaries to take the gospel to the native tribes all along the way, but specifically to those in what we now call Kansas, outside the then border of the United States. They had no success at all with the Indian tribes. They did create much interest among them, but because of the government agents who controlled who could interact with the Indians, the missionaries were ordered to leave.
Here’s the point: this 3,000-mile round-trip mission of these five missionaries was successful and because of a brief stopover in Kirtland and Mentor, Ohio, would change the entire history of the Church. The Saints would soon be commanded to gather to Kirtland in Northern Ohio.
Maurine, I was moved in this week’s readings by verse 3 of Section 31:
3 Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation.
You know we can apply all these scriptures to us personally in our time and in our day.
I remember so well when I put in my own papers for my mission. I always wanted to serve a mission and I was thrilled to finally put things in motion to get my call. I was at Ricks College and I met with the Stake President on Friday, February 27 for my final interview. I had all the physical papers together, my medical and dental reports and all the various things I had to fill out. Our meeting was after school in the evening and it was full of the Spirit.
I had a secret desire as I left his office: My parents wedding anniversary was coming that very next Friday, March 5 and I so wanted to have my call so that I could tell them on their anniversary as a present. President Ricks, my Stake President, said he would try to get the papers in the mail by Monday. I knew it was virtually impossible, just logistically, to get my call back, in the regular mail by that next Friday. Still, it was my great desire and I humbly prayed that this might be the case.
Friday was a very busy day for me. I had a full load of classes including the famous anatomy and physiology class taught by Dr. Lyle J. Lowder. Some of you listening may have also had this amazing professor. I loved the class and never missed a lecture or a lab. I knew when the mail came at the Norseman Apartment where I was living and it would be right during this class. I could hardly bear it. But reality said that the call wouldn’t be coming anyway.
Then a friend of mine came to me right before class and he said that he thought he saw an envelope from Salt Lake in our mail drop at the apartments. He thought it might be my call. I sat down in class and I could hardly contain myself. I was sitting by my good friend, Connie, and she said, “Are you okay? You look so anxious!” I said, “I think I might have my mission call at the apartment.” She said emphatically, “Scot. GO! I’ll take notes for you!” I immediately got up and left the Romney Building. I started down the sidewalk and then onto the street that headed straight north to the apartment. The snow was banked so high on the side of the streets I had to walk in the street to get home.
Just as I was walking down the street, one of the other guys from the apartment building was driving south to campus. He slowed down and rolled his window down. “Hey Scot, I think there’s a letter to you from Salt Lake. It might be your mission call. It had a big red stamp on it that said, “REJECT!” I knew he was kidding but why would he even say that there was a letter there from Salt Lake?
I started running down the icy street. I made the ten minute distance in about four minutes. As I came in the door of my apartment, my brother, Kirk, was there and he had that look on his face. We always put the mail on the kitchen table so everyone could get their letters. I quickly picked up the large stack and carefully went through each one. The call wasn’t there! I thought the hour of my mission had come!
Kirk said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I thought that maybe my mission call had come. I guess not.” He said, “Did you look under your pillow?” He had taken the call and hidden it there for me.
I quickly ran into the bedroom and picked up the pillow. There was the large white envelope from Salt Lake. I went to open it, but I wanted to be careful about it so I went in the kitchen and got a big, sharp kitchen knife to do it.
I went in the bedroom again and started to slit the letter open but then I stopped. I set the knife on the end table and held the call against my chest and knelt down by my bed. I said, “Heavenly Father. I know that thou knowest where I have been called and hast always known. At this moment I do not know where it is but I give thee my all for this call and will serve thee with all my heart, might, mind and strength. This is my promise to thee in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
At that point I quickly opened the letter and the first thing I saw was “Language Training Mission.” I thought WHERE IS THAT?!
I then saw the real letter from President Spencer W. Kimball: Dear Elder Proctor, You are hereby called to serve a mission to the Germany Frankfurt Mission. I read every word of the letter but GERMANY FRANKFURT MISSION just was ringing in my ears the whole time. Tears filled my eyes.
I told my brother and he put his arms around me and said, “I’m really proud of you, Scot.” Within minutes I called my Mom at home and then my Dad at the University to tell them of my call and give them this anniversary gift. The miracle had happened, I received my call in exactly one week.
The hour of my mission had come!
I love that story, Scot. And it reminds me of all the promises the Lord gives to His servants that carry His gospel to the world–just in our reading this week alone:
First in Section 30, verse 11:
…you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you.
The Lord assures His servants in these latter days that He is with them. How could anything be more comforting?
Now in Section 31, verse 5:
5 Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire.
As His servants work with all their soul and heed His voice, their sins are forgiven and they will be a given an abundant harvest.
And in verse 11 of that same section:
11 Go your way whithersoever I will, and it shall be given you by the Comforter what you shall do and whither you shall go.
The promise of the Holy Ghost giving directions to His servants has been fulfilled millions of times in this dispensation.
I remember, Maurine, that my mother had written me one letter in Germany saying that I should listen to the tiniest promptings of the Holy Ghost and follow those promptings immediately. I decided to heed her counsel. That very next day after receiving her letter we were tracting in the “Treppenhäuser”—the multi-unit, tall apartment buildings that had no elevators. And we came to a rare door that opened for us. I was about to give a standard approach, Guten Tag, wir sind Representanten die Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen der Letzten Tage und wir haben eine ganz wichtige Botschaft fur Sie und ihre Familie, but right as I opened my mouth, like a flash of lightning, the Spirit said, “Ask her about her dog.” I said, “Guten Tag, was für einen Hund haben Sie?” What kind of dog do you have? The woman brightened up immediately and said, “Kommen Sie herrein!” Come on in! We were able to talk about her dog for ten minutes and then she allowed us to teach her the gospel for the other half an hour. I tried to follow that counsel as often as possible.
We’ve talked about the promise in Section 32, verse 3:
and I myself will go with them and be in their midst; and I am their advocate with the Father, and nothing shall prevail against them.
He will go with His servants. He is the advocate with the Father. And I do love that last promise, “nothing shall prevail against them.” We had a writer on Meridian years ago, Richard Halverson, who, talking about the missionary force, laughingly asked “what CEO would hire 19-year-olds to represent the company to the world with little training and no product manual? It’s brilliant and could only come from the mind of God.”
Those last promises cover for the weaknesses of those who will turn to Him in all things.
And I love this promise in Section 33, verse 8:
8 Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.
Who doesn’t want to become like Nephi of old and be led by the Spirit, “not knowing beforehand, the things which I should do”? (See 1 Nephi 4:6)
And we can’t miss the promises in Section 35, verses 13 and 14:
13 Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit;
14 And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their enemies shall be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them.
Those are quite the promises. And he calls people like you and me, “the weak things of the world” to thresh the nations by the power of His Spirit. That should be encouraging to any missionary today, even those who have had to sit in their apartments and figure out ways to get the gospel to people without physically seeing them.
And how is all this possible? A key of understanding is in Section 36, verse 2:
2 And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant Sidney Rigdon, and you shall receive my Spirit, the Holy Ghost, even the Comforter, which shall teach you the peaceable things of the kingdom;
Did you catch that? I, meaning God, will lay His hand upon His servants by those who have been given authority. So, when a young sister or elder goes in to be set apart as a full-time missionary, whether it be by President Henderson, or President Deere, or President Wood, or President Wunderli—you can remember that verse: And I will lay my hand upon you by the hand of my servant…fill in the name—and you shall receive my Spirit.
That is a promise to remember.
That’s all for this week. We love you and we cherish these times being with you. In next week’s lesson we will be studying sections 37 through 40 of the Doctrine and Covenants with the lesson entitled: “If Ye Are Not One, Ye Are Not Mine.” Thanks to Paul Cardall for the beautiful music that accompanies this podcast and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins, our producer. Have a great week and see you next time.