(find the talk here)
Elder Patrick Kearon begins his talk by recounting a story from his childhood in which he disobeyed his parents – mostly out of laziness, but also a little rebellious – and suffered a sting from a scorpion because of it. He uses this metaphor as the underlying theme throughout his talk.
He says “disregarding what we know to be right, whether through laziness or rebelliousness, always brings undesirable and spiritually damaging consequences.” This is something I definitely know to be true. More than I like to admit, I find myself being disobedient to what I know to be right – mostly, for me, it is because I am lazy. However, I too have been a little rebellious at times. No matter the “reason” for my disobedience, it always brings “undesirable and spiritually damaging consequences.”
The problem with disobedience is that rarely do we disobey and then say “Oh, man, I feel less spiritual than I did before.” More often, we disobey and then rationalize our behavior, so that it is easy to say, “I am just as spiritual as I was before.” Elder Kearon says it this way:
We tell ourselves we’re not really doing anything that wrong, that it doesn’t really matter, and that nothing all that bad will result from letting go just a little from the iron rod. Perhaps we console ourselves with the thought that everyone else is doing it—or doing worse—and we won’t be negatively affected anyway. We somehow convince ourselves that we are the exception to the rule and therefore immune to the consequences of breaking it.
Elder Kearon stresses that “when it comes to how we live the gospel, we must not respond with laziness ore rebelliousness.”
The Lord’s invitation to come and be healed is somewhat conditional upon the intent of our heart, and our obedience. “If they harden not their hearts, and stiffen not their necks against me, they shall be converted and I will heal them.” The Lord requires our heart – our whole heart. When we give it to him – when we are truly obedient – He can heal us.
Elder Kearon reminds us of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and how before their conversion they were rebellious, but after their conversion they laid down their weapons of war and became a righteous people.
We must lay down our weapons of rebellion (and we each know what they are). We must lay down our sin, vanity, and pride. We must give up our desires to follow the world and to be respected and lauded by the world. We must cease fighting against God and instead give our whole hearts to Him, holding nothing back. Then He can heal us. Then He can cleanse us from the venomous sting of sin.
Elder Kearon then quotes one of my favorite men of all time – President James E. Faust – who said, “When obedience becomes our goal, it is no longer an irritation; instead of a stumbling block, it becomes a building block. … Obedience leads to true freedom. The more we obey revealed truth, the more we become liberated.”
One of my favorite metaphors for the principle of obedience is a kite. Without a kite string, held taught, the kite will fall to the ground. However, if the string is held tight and let out ever so slowly, the kite soars into the atmosphere. When we are obedient to the commandments of the Lord, we are like a kite, held tightly by a string, and we are able to soar up and up, and ‘round and ‘round. If we disobey, and the string is let loose, we will come crashing to the ground.
My husband likes to say that “An airplane, though it flies, and we don’t, obeys the principle of gravity more perfectly than we do.” Because an airplane obeys the principles of gravity and thrust (which is an extension of the principle of gravity) it is able to fly through the air.
Obedience really does liberate us. I feel more restricted when I disobey – when I am lazy – than when I am obeying the principles of the gospel. If I am living the standards, I feel as if I can do anything I put my mind to. If I become lazy and a little rebellious, I often doubt myself and my ability to accomplish tasks.
Elder Keaton finishes his talk with this statement, “Deviating to the right or the left of the safe track ahead of us, whether because of laziness or rebelliousness, can prove fatal to our spiritual lives. There are no exceptions to this rule.” (emphasis added)
There are no exceptions to the consequences tied to disobedience. They are laws decreed before the world was, and when we disobey, no matter who we are – no matter our reasons, we will suffer consequences.
There are also no exceptions to the positive consequences – no matter who we are, God will bless us for our obedience, and we, like a kite held taught by a string, will soar into the healing light of Jesus Christ who will heal us.
“Have ye any that … are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them.”
Have you ever disobeyed – whether it be out of laziness or rebellion? Did you get stung? Do you feel the liberation and healing that comes from exact obedience to the laws of the gospel? Have you felt the healing power of the Saviors atonement as you come to him with “full purpose of hear”?