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A big letdown

Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve (Joshua 24:15)

Hello all:

This week has been the worst week of the best two years of my life.

Our triple baptismal service is canceled. It amazes me how quickly Satan can find chinks in the armor of otherwise strong people. I suppose it's true that when people set a baptismal date, a giant spiritual target immediately appears on them. It's the last chance the adversary has to throw everything he's got at them to try and scare them away from the best thing that they could ever do in their entire lives.

We've seen it happen yet again this past week. With both of our prepared, confident, earnest, sincere investigators, "that old serpent" has chosen to use his most powerful tactic to try and throw them from the path-- he uses the family.

Families are intended to be centers of spiritual strength, growth, encouragement, and support where members are bolstered and uplifted, but in the hands of Lucifer, they can be obstacles to God's work-- stumbling blocks to progress. When someone is standing at the gate of heaven (baptism), Satan loves to use the family. Family opposition is more potent than ridicule from friends and coworkers, anti-Mormon literature, and all the other forces of hell combined. How sinister to pervert the use of God's most sacred institution to discourage, demean, ridicule, terrify, and even threaten a sibling or spouse who has chosen to covenant to follow Christ!

More ironic still, such attempts at dissuasion are usually preceded by heart-wrenching statements to the extent of "If you really loved us, you wouldn't do this," and terminated with a cold, sneering "So which is it: Mormons? Or me?"

There's no easy way to answer such concerns. The closest I've heard is when two elders told an investigator facing complete disowning by his family, "You can not get baptized, and tell your family that you love them for this life, or you can make this decision and in reality tell them that you love them for eternity."

Well did Christ say: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." (Matt 10:34-35)

We truly have seen that here in our area. But we all have agency, and though our judgment is often clouded and our vision obscure, we must choose what we will do with our lives. Only on a mission have I ever come close to tasting the sorrow of others' decisions-- the sorrow of parents watching a son or daughter go down a "forbidden path" (1 Nephi 8:28), or even the sorrow of God Himself watching one of His precious children choose sorrow over happiness.

Well, I'm sure there's hope yet. God will still win the war, and the work must go forth "boldly, nobly, and independent." The designs of men and devils cannot frustrate the work of God. Next time I need a reminder of that, I'll take Joseph Smith's analogy to heart and try to dam a river with my own puny arm (D&C 121:33). Until then, I hope all goes well with all of you, and pray that as we each labor in our own parts of the Lord's vineyard, we will find success, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Watkins

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