Just when I thought that this past General Conference of April 2013 could not possibly answer any more questions, encourage any more action, or offer any more peace, the closing song of the Sunday morning session put me in tears. As the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began to sing “Come, Come Ye Saints”[i] and my feet tingled with the bass on my stereo system, my heart tingled with the knowledge that this staple hymn was not written just to comfort the early Saints, pioneers virtuously walking out across the firm ground of the country, but also to comfort Saints today, pioneers standing firm in a country that’s walking out on virtue.
Weighed down as of late by wars and rumors of wars, escalating secularism and persecution of religious peoples, permeating immorality, and the increasing encroachment of government and erosion of liberty, I have counted the minutes until General Conference this year. While none of these burdens is a surprise, the load taken together is heavier than I anticipated when imagining the last days. I think, for me, the final stressful straw has been the threats to education.[ii] The battle for the hearts, minds, and wills of the youth is paramount. Surely there is anxiety over the fate of my homeschool which is sacred to me. But no longer is it just about MY children and MY parental rights, and OUR agency. It’s not even just about my grandchildren or great-children. The ignorance and apathy of many parents of my generation alarms me; the fate of ANY and ALL children being left to (or forced to) anyone who intends to brainwash, dumb down, use, and in truth harm them should alarm us all. It should not set us to hand wringing and helpless weeping. It should send us to our knees, then to practical action. This is one of the many messages I took from Conference. Amidst all the wisdom, prophecy, and counsel, I learned a bit about how to be a faithful lover AND a fighter.
Will it be easy? Of course not. Absolutely not. But just as our pioneer ancestors had their part to play in building the kingdom of God, so have we. They didn’t sit, nor should we. And on those girding[iii] days when the hill is high, the journey is long, and the burden is heavy, we can “fresh courage take” with these words:
Come, come ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
“Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell—
All is well! All is well!
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this tale to tell—
All is well! All is well
[i] LDS Hymn #30, “Come, Come Ye Saints,” by William Clayton, 1814-1879