A friend recently sent me an email featuring photos of famous people when they were children. There was one of Winston Churchill in his little school uniform. I stared at his face and wondered if he had any earthly idea who he would become. Probably not.
I imagined finding a worm hole, going back in time, and seeing him at that young age. I would probably gasp, then laugh and clap. “You’re Winston Churchill!” I might even shout. He would no doubt react with suspicion—who is this weird woman so excited about my name? And even if I told him who he was destined to become, I would be seen as eccentric at best, and at worst, “mental,” as they like to say in England.
Now imagine going back in time to your own childhood—keeping your current memories and wisdom. You see yourself anxious over a spelling test, a birthday party you weren’t invited to, making mistakes in a ballgame, worried about a dozen things that do not matter one whit today. You’d want to pull your younger self aside and explain how unimportant those matters truly are, and to simply enjoy life’s blessings. You’d urge your younger self to draw close to Christ, obey the commandments, build a strong testimony, serve others, all the good stuff, right? Because now, looking back, you know the recipe for a life of contentment.
Even when embarking upon parenting, you’d tell yourself to stop worrying about things that don’t really matter, and which things to make a priority. You’d have career advice as well—all tried and true, all correct. Marital advice? Absolutely. Financial tips? No question.
But would your younger self listen? We can be very stubborn people. Even skeptical when someone tells us they know what’s around the corner, and they want to warn us. Look at the recent hurricanes. There will always be people who don’t listen to expert advice, who won’t evacuate, who refuse to be told what to do, and who turn down those who offer them escape in a boat. In past years we’ve seen footage of floods where people refused to evacuate, and are now crouching on their rooftops, hoping for rescue.
Gee, if only we could have someone who has seen the future who could advise us. Ta-da! Welcome to the entire Book of Mormon. Many ancient prophets saw our day and gave us pointed, valuable counsel. As you read of the strifes and wars, as you see secret combinations trying to take over, don’t you feel as if you’re reading a modern newspaper? The similarities are chilling. Those prophets who painstakingly made records wrote only a fraction of their history, and chose exactly those stories and events that could help us today.
And welcome to a church that has prophets, seers and revelators—they, too, have been told by God exactly how to guide and direct us. But do we study their General Conference talks, their firesides, their books and articles?
Most of us wring our hands and ask one another for advice. Not always does this include older people who actually might have some answers. We listen to “experts” on the news or on talk shows. We read bestselling advice books. And I’m not saying these sources have no answers whatsoever. But sometimes we even pray for answers, ignoring the very real possibility that God has already given us our answers.
Next time you face a problem, see what it says in the topical guide of your scriptures. Are there Bible or Book of Mormon passages you could read that spell out the answer in crisp detail? It’s very likely. Try typing a key word into ChurchofJesusChrist.org, or into a search bar with “LDS quotes.” You’ll see what our leaders have said on that subject. Often it will feel like a direct answer for you specifically.
How about checking your journal—or the writings of your forebears? Sometimes we encounter the same difficulty again and again. How did we deal with it before? What worked and what didn’t? What did your relatives try? Yes, welcome to a church that teaches us to keep records.
Also, welcome to Patriarchal Blessings. Talk about a customized message from heaven for you individually! Patriarchal Blessings are a virtual window to your forthcoming life.
The future can be scary, more so if we have no tools for upcoming challenges. But if we’ve been wise, and we’ve sought out the counsel that is actually in plentiful supply, we can approach the unknown with greater confidence. We can have faith that God will help us. We can roll up our sleeves and research reliable sources of inspired words that can protect us from Satan’s storms and tempests.
The future doesn’t have to be a dark, mysterious cloud of confusion. We can get a pretty good handle on upcoming events and how we must respond, simply by taking advantage of what God has already blessed us with. Richly blessed us. The rising generation need not fear. This is the restored gospel, and it comes with directions.
Or, we can climb onto our roof, hope the water doesn’t rise, and watch for a helicopter. The choice is yours.
Hilton’s books, humor blog, and Youtube Mom videos can be found on her website. She currently serves as an Inter-Faith Specialist for Church Communications.