• Anna Brooksby

BLOG: (June 20-26) 2 Samuel 5-7; 11-12; 1 Kings 3; 8; 11, "Maintaining Spiritual Momentum"

David and Solomon were the best of the best. David was a faithful youth who grew into a mighty warrior - valiant, loyal, merciful, and kind. The Lord blessed and prospered him abundantly. Solomon, David’s son, was humble and meek. The Lord loved him. When he was given the chance to choose a gift from the Lord - he could have had anything - he chose wisdom, and he was blessed to become the wisest man on earth. His wisdom led to incredible fame and wealth.

And then tragedy struck - spiritual tragedy.

David, beloved king of Israel, found himself at home at the time “when kings go to war.” He saw a beautiful woman bathing, and instead of fleeing temptation, like Joseph in Egypt, he followed it until it led to adultery and the murder of a faithful man “by the sword of the Amorites.”

Though Solomon was the wisest man in the world, in his old age he married out of the faith - directly in opposition to the Lord’s commandments - forgot the Lord, and was persuaded by his wives to sacrifice to other gods, an action that ultimately led to the breakup of the kingdom of Israel.

The stories of David and Solomon break my heart a little every time I read them. I want to shout at them: You had so much potential! What happened??? And yet…as we’ve learned over and over again throughout our Old Testament study this year…these stories are about real people who dealt with complex challenges in a very human way. We can learn from their experiences, because we are human, like they were. We are like them. No, I’ve never been the ruler of a country. I’ve never led an army or fought a giant or mediated national disputes or been blessed with riches beyond imagination. But I have had opportunities to come to know God. I have been blessed abundantly, and I have the same choice to make that David and Solomon had: will I be true, no matter what?

Many years ago, Brigham Young shared this concern about the Latter-day Saints:

It is our duty to preach the gospel, gather Israel, pay our tithing, and build temples. The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty and all manner of persecution, and be true…My greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth. [Nibley, Brigham Young, p. 128]

I may not feel very wealthy right now, but compared to so many people, I have been blessed beyond imagination. Do I take the Lord’s blessings for granted? Do I remember who gave them to me? Am I as faithful in my times of prosperity as I am in my times of adversity?

From David and Solomon we learn this profound lesson:

Even the greatest can fall if they get casual about keeping their covenants.

I believe this truth is the reason President Nelson has been so consistent about pointing us back to the Lord and back to the covenant path. We have been blessed so abundantly, and the Lord knows that when we have freedom and opportunity and abundance, it is so easy to get casual about our progress along the covenant path, rather than continuing to work hard to maintain our spiritual momentum when times are easy.

These are a few of President Nelson’s recent admonitions:

  • Make time for the Lord

  • Let God prevail in your life

  • Work to build spiritual momentum

These admonitions are the remedy to the casualness that ultimately led to David and Solomon’s downfall. It’s easy to remember the Lord when things are hard. It requires much more effort to focus on Him when things are easy. If we will consistently follow these instructions from the Lord through our prophet, we will be true. We will stay close to the Lord, no matter what life brings us - good or bad.

“Brother Andrew,” a Christian missionary who has dedicated his life to sharing the gospel of Christ and bringing Bibles to oppressed nations throughout the world, shared this observation about the Berlin Wall and its influence on those who were affected by it:

Because I personally witnessed the pain and suffering it caused for so many, I grew to hate the Berlin Wall, as I hate all man-made walls that come between people. When it came down nearly thirty years later, and people were handing out pieces of it as mementos, I had absolutely no desire for one. I had seen the other side of the wall, and I didn’t want any part of it.

Yet I also knew that God had mysteriously used that wall to strengthen his church. There can be something good about an Iron Curtain, especially when it drives you into the arms of a loving God. It restricts your freedom, but it also protects you from some of the harmful things freedom can bring, such as materialism and decadence. It helps you see what is most important in life – your faith in Christ.

When that wall finally fell, liberty was restored in East Germany. But do you know what else happened? Bible sales plummeted almost immediately, and the church’s influence in the society waned considerably. What could have been a time of mobilization for the East German church instead became a time of sitting back and congratulating itself. [Brother Andrew, God’s Call, p. 20]

Like the Israelites, we as individuals, communities, and nations will all spend time in the wilderness in one way or another. For the East German Christians, the time they spent behind the Berlin Wall was certainly a wilderness experience. I am sure there were many who continued in their faith and diligence after it came down. But for others, the relief led to a relaxation of efforts and slowing of progress in their efforts to follow Christ. Human nature, also known as the natural man, likes to rest when it can. It would take the easy way. But, as President Eyring has put it, “if you’re on the right path, it will always be uphill.” When we come out of our wilderness experiences and our covenant path seems to level out a bit, will we choose to coast for a while, or will we continue to push ourselves to make some real progress forward now that some of our obstacles are removed?

The past two years were a wilderness experience for many of us. The world shut down, sending many in our communities into a state of loneliness, isolation, and fear. But these same trials also gave all of us an opportunity to reevaluate our priorities, and to recommit to doing those things that matter most. We couldn’t go to church, so we worked harder to teach the gospel and to worship in our homes. Missionary work as we had known it came to a halt, but missionaries - full-time and otherwise - rose to the occasion, learning to share the gospel in new ways that reached people around the world. Now that restrictions are lifted and the pressure is off, how are we doing? Are we continuing to focus our lives on those things that are most important to us?

The Book of Mormon prophet Alma asked these questions in another way:

And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now? [Alma 5:26]

I believe one of the reasons we are encouraged to read the Book of Mormon every day is so we will be reminded of these things frequently, and invited to examine our hearts. A regular spiritual check-up can be so helpful as we work to move forward on the covenant path.

In the April 2022 General Conference, President Nelson shared five actions that will help us build and maintain our spiritual momentum:

  1. Get on the covenant path and stay there.

  2. Discover the joy of daily repentance.

  3. Learn about God and how He works.

  4. Seek and expect miracles.

  5. End conflict in your personal life.

These are the keys to making sure we stay spiritually awake and solidly moving forward on the covenant path, no matter what. That’s how we do it! I have no doubt that President Nelson was inspired to share this message because it was the one we need at this time. We have been blessed beyond measure. Will we remember where our blessings come from, and continue to turn to the Lord in our prosperity the way we did in our adversity? Will we be diligent or casual in keeping our covenants? Let us learn from David and Solomon and continue to press forward in faith, in our good times as well as in our wildernesses. That is what it means to endure to the end. That is the way back to our Father in Heaven. And that is the way - by remembering and depending on Christ through thick and thin - to find “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come." [D & C 59:23]

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