Elder Ballard spoke directly towards those struggling with their faith and considering leaving the Church. He also spoke urging compassion and love towards those who struggle. In doing so, he hit some important themes that I have not seen expressed so clearly in General Conference before.
In particular, Elder Ballard spoke about the potential need to take a pause or a breather in our pathway of discipleship. I would love to be corrected if I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard a reference to this idea before.
“Brothers and sisters, accepting and living the gospel of Christ can be challenging. It has always been thus, and it ever will be. Life can be like hikers ascending a steep and arduous trail. It is a natural and normal thing to occasionally pause on the path to catch our breath, to recalculate our bearings, and to reconsider our pace. Not everyone needs to pause on the path, but there is nothing wrong with doing so when your circumstances require. In fact, it can be a positive thing for those who take full advantage of the opportunity to refresh themselves with the living water of the gospel of Christ.”
This is inspired counsel that will provide a healing balm for some. It is okay to step back and focus on the fundamentals. It is okay to refresh onself on the pure doctrine of Christ. It is okay to simplify when needed. But Elder Ballard also offers an inspired warning
“The danger comes when someone chooses to wander away from the path that leads to the tree of life. Sometimes we can learn, study, and know, and sometimes we have to believe, trust, and hope.”
We need to prayerfully do whatever we felt led to do in order ensure that we remain by the tree of life and continue to partake of the fruit. We need the guidance of the spirit that comes from feasting on the word of God and praying to our Father in Heaven. We need divine inspiration. We cannot let our rest become a slumber.
If we remain close to the tree of life, then “things have a way of resolving themselves.” Greater light, greater insight, greater peace will come. Sometimes we must wait upon the Lord just as his disciples waited for him to awake during the storm on seas. But he will awake.
“Please know that even though great storms of wind and waves beat upon the old ship, the Savior is on board and is able to rebuke the storm with His command ‘Peace, be still.’ Until then, we must not fear, and we must have unwavering faith and know that ‘even the wind and the sea obey him.'”