Looking to the Future

I think often about the future. I suppose most people do. We wonder what things will be like next year or ten years from now. We’re probably looking for a sense of security and stability so we can move ahead with our everyday lives. We want things to be the same or better than they are now. We make plans, hope for the best and then go on to the next thing, whatever that may be.

Like many of you, I get a sense of where people are by what they post on Facebook. I have lots of friends who posted predictions of doom and dread if their guy didn’t get elected. Now that the election is over, they’re either silent or their predictions have become more gloomy. I can only imagine the silent ones are waiting for the many terrible things they predicted to start happening.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful of those who foretold awful things. After all, they’re my friends for a reason. We were classmates long ago, were work associates, attended church together or met online through common interests. I’m grateful that most of my family members are cautious like me. We read what others are saying and then encourage each other in our plans for living.

Seeking Stability in Life

I spent fifty hours this past week in formal classroom training, preparing to become certified in a work-related skill. I am very grateful my employer paid the cost of the training. It’s not cheap. That says two things to me. One, my employer believes I’m worth the investment, but second and more important, my employer believes his business will continue and will need my services.

It takes a lot of faith to be a small business employing hundreds of people in today’s uncertain economy. You depend on your customers to keep buying your products and services. You depend on your suppliers to come through when you need them. You depend on your employees to do what needs to be done to deliver the goods or services that make your business succeed.

In short, you trust that the business world will remain the same or get better going forward. You depend on certain conditions being stable in order to carry out your business plan. Stability is the name of the game in making plans and being successful. We like and seek after stable people and stable companies in our lives because we can depend on them. We want our world to be solid.

A World of Uncertainty

And yet we live in a world of uncertainty. We are reminded of this every day when surprises come up that cause us to stop and think. Don’t get me wrong. Surprises can be good. We like surprises like an unexpected refund check, a bonus for doing a good job or when a new friend tells you about an opportunity that would be just right to advance your mutual interests.

We don’t like surprises that cause us to have to scale back our daily operations or cancel plans for expansion. Perhaps an anticipated demand for our products or services does not materialize. Maybe new legislation causes us to incur unanticipated expenses to meet regulatory compliance. The cost of goods rises because the raw material becomes scarce. All are outside our control.

I guess that’s why people seek power to control their environment because they want to have that stability. That’s why we invest so heavily in our elections, both monetarily and emotionally. We want our guy to get elected because he will help maintain or improve conditions for us. But isn’t that the wrong way to go about seeking control over our lives, by investing in someone else?

Things Beyond our Control

Ultimately, we have very little control over things. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanos or wildfire. There are those who say the late hurricane that hit the New Jersey area just before the election was caused by human-induced climate change. They also say it shows how much we need big government.

Of course there are those who say it was a warning from God, just like they have said all the natural disasters we have experienced or read about lately are warnings from God. It seems like any natural disaster can be turned to promote your own view of things, whether you believe we need to band together to reverse climate change or band together to prepare for terrible times.

I think that’s where all this doom and gloom talk is coming from among some of my friends. Like me, they believe that awful things beyond our control are going to happen as we get closer to the end of world as predicted in the Bible. But I guess your reaction to the recent election depends on what you consider awful. A comet or meteor coming close to the earth is awful.

White Horse Prophecy

I’m not worried that my guy didn’t get elected. I’m a little sad for him and his family. He has invested so much over the past six years of his time, money and energy. It must be disappointing. But he’ll bounce back. He’s a good man. That’s why I voted for him. But I am concerned about some of my friends who now bemoan the end of the world is closer because he wasn’t elected.

I can’t go with that as a legitimate cause and effect thing. There are some who say Romney was supposed to win because of the “White Horse Prophecy” and that the Elders of Israel will be the only ones to save the constitution when it will hang by a thread. If you’re Mormon like me I’m sure you’re familiar with these ideas. They have been a hot topic of online discussion lately.

Saying that Romney was destined to win seems a bit much to me. Also claiming that America has sealed its fate because he was rejected is just plain wrong. That’s putting too much faith in a man who championed a different path to prosperity that we all seek. Mitt Romney is a good man who espouses principles I believe in but his rejection is not a harbinger of the end of the world.

The End of the World

Back to the idea of what is really awful, and specifically an oncoming comet or meteor. When Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 hit Jupiter in July 1994, we got a firsthand look at a comet smashing into a relatively close-by planet. We all watched with fascination, went “ooh” and “ahh,” and then went about our lives. It was just too far way to think it could possibly happen here at home.

We have the same reaction when we read about earthquakes or hurricanes that happen in some other part of the world. We think, “How awful for those people who experienced the devastation but it doesn’t affect me so all is well.” We follow the news for a while but see that for most people, life goes on. They survive. We are jaded to the idea that something worse could happen.

But what if next week astronomers announced that they have discovered a new comet or planet coming towards the earth? How would we respond? In fact, don’t we invest a lot of money in our scientific community just so they can watch the heavens for us and warn us of impending doom? Whether you know it or not, we do pay scientists to keep a lookout for large celestial objects.

Watch out for Comets

Why do we do this? Has it happened before? Has a planet or comet ever threatened the earth in our past? We are fascinated with disaster movies like 2012, Armageddon, Deep Impact or the old classic which I hope will be remade someday, When Worlds Collide.  We love to joke about the end of the world coming on Dec 21st this year to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar.

If you’re a Mormon, you are especially susceptible to stuff like this because the end of the world is a part of our theology. We have been taught and believe that terrible calamities will come upon us as we get closer to the end times. Many of us believe we are living in those times now, in spite of the fact that each succeeding generation has been taught this since the church began in 1830.

We rely on those same scientists who teach us about our past to also watch for threats to our world and assure us that all is well. We look to them for the stability and security we seek. How comforting it is to know that the earth has never been threatened by another planet. Everyone knows that comets don’t come too close. They only pass by and make beautiful sunsets, right?

Signs of the Times

If you’ve read any of my past essays you know how fascinated I am by the signs of the times as foretold in the scriptures and by recent prophets. I have long enjoyed reading and studying the books of Gerald Lund (The Coming of the Lord), Duane Crowther (Prophecy – Key to the Future), David Ridges (65 Signs of the Times) and Anthony Larson (The Prophecy Trilogy).

I have focused more in my studies on the cataclysmic events that will occur in the great and dreadful day when the Lord makes his appearance. Yet those things will all happen suddenly, within a few weeks or months. Stars will fall from the sky, the sun will be darkened, the moon will turn to blood and the sea will heave itself beyond its bounds with terrible earthquakes.

But there are so many other preliminary signs that we can watch for before the great and terrible day arrives. For example, did you know that all nations of the earth, including America, are destined to fail before the Lord returns? Are the times of the Gentiles now coming to an end? Many people seem to think so, or so I read on the blogs and Facebook posts of my friends.

The Collapse of America

Internal wars will cause the collapse of the government of the United States. Quoting Brigham Young who was apparently quoting Joseph Smith, “Mobs will increase until the whole government becomes a mob, and eventually it will be state against state, city against city, neighborhood against neighborhood…” Hmmm…are states that want to secede a beginning?

“A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will literally be left without a supreme government, and every species of wickedness will run rampant.” No, that’s not Glen Beck, that’s Joseph Smith. He said the government would be utterly overthrown and wasted; specifically that Congress shall be broken up as a government.

I’ve written previously about this subject and got a lot of comments. I feel even stronger about this now. Wilford Woodruff said, “The American nation will be broken in pieces like a potter’s vessel…” Orson Pratt said, “State will be divided against state, city against city, town against town, and the whole country will be in terror and confusion; mobocracy will prevail…”

Times of the Gentiles

The big question is, “Will this occur in our day or is this years and years into the future?” I don’t know. I hope I don’t live to see the destruction of America but I know it is prophesied by the Savior in Third Nephi chapters 20 and 21. We just studied those as a church a few weeks ago. If the “remnant of Jacob” goes through America, he will “tear in pieces” (3 Ne 20:16 & 21:12).

I’m not trying to be fatalistic or pessimistic. I believe in this great nation, but it is not as great as it once was. The days of America’s greatness may be past. Are the days of the Gentiles over? Will we ever see America rise to its former state again? There are many millions who believe we are a great people but that we are on the wrong path, one that may now be irreversible. I agree.

There’s a lot happening in Israel in the last few days. It has defended itself against Syria and Gaza and as expected, is portrayed as the aggressor in the media. It always seems to be so. To me, one of the very last signs that the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled is when the Gentiles turn en masse against Jerusalem. I’m watching the events unfolding in Israel with great interest.

Come unto Christ

In spite of what I’ve just reviewed – internal wars, collapse of America, the remnant of Jacob tearing in pieces (Micah 5:8) – I am still optimistic. I am satisfied that the Lord continues to work with his people. He is calling to you and to me to come unto Him. He reaches out to us each day, quietly whispering to our souls to complete our preparations to be in His presence.

I go about my work trusting that the Lord will provide and he does. I try to treat other people with kindness, knowing that the Lord wants me to follow His example in this area. I patiently wait upon the Lord, asking each day if I am ready to meet Him. I am not and I know it. The Lord tries our souls, burning into our very being the idea that He is the source of our hope and peace.

I rejoice in these days, even though I know they are days of sadness for many in America. The coming of the Lord draws ever closer. I watch the signs with earnest anticipation. I invite you to watch with me. Be aware of the signs. Study them. Know what is prophesied. The Lord will be our rock in these difficult times. He will provide stability and security. He has promised peace.

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