Editor's note: Alan Hall, a stake president, shared a message to women in Roy North Utah Stake titled "A message to women: Ways to help find a pathway to peace." This is also a based on a talk originally given to the members of the Roy North Utah Stake and he continues on the same topic.
Creating an increased inner peace, especially, in these turbulent times, includes asking God to change our hearts and remove our destructive habits and inviting him to take our heavy burdens and heal our pierced hearts.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelves shares how the Savior can help heal and bring peace in his talk "None Were with Him" from the April 2009 general conference: “Brothers and sisters, my Easter-season message today is intended for everyone, but it is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse yet, feel abandoned. These might include those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lost — or have never been blessed with — children. Our empathy embraces wives forsaken by their husbands… or (parents) out of work, afraid the fear in (their) eyes will be visible to (their children)… To all such, I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all. I speak of the Savior’s solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation...
“Now I speak very carefully… I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which he may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually — that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’
“With all the conviction of my soul I testify that he did please his Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake his son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to his son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering.
“Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of his son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of his Spirit, the support of his personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind — all of us — would feel (during our mortal lives)...
“One of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so… Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: ' I will not leave you comfortless: (My Father and) I will come to you (and abide with you)'."
As I’ve considered this talk on the Savior, the words from the hymn "Where Can I Turn for Peace?" (see "Hymns," No. 129) come to my mind. The lyrics are beautiful and convey exactly the point I am trying to make:
Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace?
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul.
Where, when my aching grows, where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
He answers privately,
reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and friend.
Gentle the peace He finds for my beseeching
Constant He is and kind,
Love without end.
Our Savior is there for us. He is always ready to give us the peace and strength we need, even through the worst of personal storms.
In my message to the sisters, I shared a conversation with President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, where he likened our earthly lives to the tending of a personal garden.
Here is one more point regarding our gardens: that oftentimes, these beautiful rows of flowers are bombarded by dangerous elements such as pollutants, harmful chemicals, or even dangerous toxins within the soil that destroy life.
As humans, we, too, face powerful destructive elements that kill the soul. I speak of Lucifer and his desire to destroy all of God’s children. He is our greatest enemy. His goal is to convince us to break God’s commandments and thereby disqualify ourselves from the presence of God.
After centuries of hard work, he knows his business well and has a time-tested strategy to bring us down step by step. He has crafted numerous enticements that appeal to our mortal minds and heart. His wickedness is often subtle with half-truths followed by counterfeits of goodness.
As children of a loving God who wants us to return safely to his presence, we need to fight Lucifer will all our power. We cannot ignore him, stand idly by or believe he is not real. He must be stopped.
Nearly 12 years ago when I was still very involved in the corporate world, I oversaw company offices in Oxford, England, and Paris. Wishing to visit my employees there and enjoy a brief vacation, I flew to Europe with Jeanne and my daughter Megan. Our first stop was England — a meeting at the office and a tour of London.
A few days later on what seemed like any ordinary day, on Sept. 11, 2001, we traveled to Paris by train via the “Chunnel.” We arrived safely at the Paris train station and then took a cab to our hotel located near the Louvre Museum.
As we unpacked our bags, we watched CNN for the latest news. We stopped everything as we learned that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings in New York City. At first, it appeared to be a small plane that had inadvertently veered off course. Then a few minutes later, we watched in horror as another plane crashed into an adjoining tower.
Our hearts skipped a beat. “What’s going on?” we questioned. “Something terrible is happening in the United States. Are we under attack? Has the land of the free become a war zone?” The hotel staff immediately informed all guests that we were not to leave the building for any reason. So we watched from our window as the streets of Paris filled with troops. We wondered if there would there be more attacks in the United States, or possibly even in Paris.
Fear gripped our minds. We were a long way from home and petrified. We worried about our own safety and even more so for our five children who were in Utah. Later that evening, my very distressed wife cried her heart out as she called every one of our family members to tell them we were OK and ask about their safety. We were reassured that all was well.
Unable to stay caged in our room for much longer; we eventually slipped out of the hotel into the darkness of the night to see empty streets everywhere. We walked past the U.S. Embassy, surrounded by armed troops and tanks. We walked past the Eiffel Tower, also surrounded by guards with machine guns. As we hurried back to the hotel and the safety of our room that night, we sadly noted that the world had changed.
A few days later, we were finally able to fly back home. However, it required that we catch a plane in Rome, Italy. No planes were leaving the Paris International Airport in the near future. At the Rome airport, heavily armored guards were everywhere. Lines were long and security was very tight. We learned we would be traveling on Delta’s first plane headed into New York City since the attack. As we sat in our seats, huddled together, we wondered if we would make it there alive. Would our flight fall victim to the same terrifying circumstances that unfolded just days earlier? Would there be a bomb on our plane?
As the plane began to taxi down the runway, the pilot spoke reassuringly to the passengers and crew: “This is Delta flight (such and such number) and we are heading back to America. I want you to know that I will get you there without incident. Nothing will bring this plane down.”
And so began a long, nerve-wracking flight. When we finally approached the JFK Airport, the pilot flew the plane over the fire and smoke of the destroyed Twin Towers. The horrific scene of destruction was indescribable. We held hands as we began our descent to the runway and offered a sincere prayer that our plane would land safely.
As the plane touched down, loud ear-deafening cheers of joy from 300 grateful passengers filled the large cabin. The captain came over the intercom exclaiming, “Welcome back to America, the land of the free!”
I will never forget the joy we felt at being back in the United States. Tears ran down our cheeks in gratitude as we experienced that defining moment. Yet that feeling was mixed with the sad realization that there is evil among us; terrorists who would kill us, who hate our way of life and would take away our liberties and freedoms in an instant.
Since that day, now many years ago, the United States government and local government agencies have wisely increased their efforts to safeguard and protect the American people from additional attacks and terrorism.
Even today, we all must remain on guard and vigilant. Evil has not gone away. It will always be with us.
The battle over our souls is daily and unceasing. For our own protection and personal safety, we, too, must safeguard and protect ourselves, as well as those we love.
Because the fight is real and very dangerous, we should do everything in our power to defend our gardens with all our might and strength. We cannot compromise on this matter. We cannot back away in any fashion. We must fight evil head-on with great courage and faith.
We must be constantly aware, vigilant, alert and watchful of what negative influences are in our homes and personal lives, and then stop them before they destroy our souls. This effort begins with each one of us living righteously and keeping the covenants we have made.
Please know God will not leave us alone to battle evil. On the contrary, he will aid us in many ways.
First, he will let us know in very clear ways what influences are good and from him compared to what influences are wicked and from Satan.
Then, as we choose to follow Jesus Christ and keep his commandments, he will give us full and complete access to his divine power that crushes Lucifer’s evil ways.
Lastly, he provides us with strength in numbers. The stakes of Zion have been established by the Lord to serve as a defense for his sons and daughters with the teaching of value-based principles, inspired leadership and saving ordinances.
I hope that we will all actively pursue ways to help us find and secure greater peace in our lives. As we ask God to change our hearts and remove our destructive habits, invite him to take our heavy burdens and heal our broken hearts, and request his help in fighting the evil that surrounds us, our lives will be richly blessed.
Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.