Updated: Feb 16, 2020
Elder Steven W. Petersen; July 29, 2018, Age 18
This is an excerpt taken from a sermon given in church by Elder Petersen before he left on his 2 year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is currently serving in the Lubbock, Texas Mission.
Today is the day I have had mixed emotions about. It is the day I have to give my mission farewell talk. Goodbyes have never been easy for me. Saying goodbye to this ward congregation will be hard because I have been in this ward for all my life. I have built many relationships that I know will last a lifetime.
Back in the beginning of April, I received my mission call from the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Russell M. Nelson. Many of you probably remember that was the time I almost passed out because I was so nervous about where I was going. I, however, remember giving a short testimony that I know the Lord is sending me to somewhere he needs me and that I know I would have to live with it even if I didn't like it. But I chose to go on a mission because I knew I was doing the right thing. That testimony still remains true today. To follow in Christ's example and bringing others unto Him will bring me the most spiritual highlights in my life. I will always remember to rely on the Lord, especially when times get tough. I have to currently rely on him because leaving my family and stepping into the mission field is going to be a great challenge for me.
As many of you know, I have a strong passion for weather, especially tornadoes and that I love to go storm chasing with my Dad. If you didn't know I participated in that dangerous hobby then SURPRISE! I have always wanted to give a talk in church just about storm chasing and weather and today my dreams have finally come true. As many of you know, I could talk for hours and hours about weather, but for the sake of time and for everyone's sanity, you will only have to hear a few minutes of it. My topic today is, "how does my faith and testimony in Jesus Christ help me weather the storms of life?" I will be tying parallels from my experience with my storm chasing hobby to how relying on the Lord gets us through our everyday trials.
As the Second Coming of the Lord approaches, we know that ".., all things shall be in commotion" as stated in Doctrine and Covenants 88:91 and in Mormon 8:29-31 it says,
"yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be heard of fires, and tempests. and vapors of smoke in foreign lands;"
"And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places."
"Yea, it shall come in a day, when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such as the last day. But wo unto such, for they are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity."
We have seen many of these things come to pass. In the 18 years that I have been alive, I would have to say I've seen most of these things happen. We feel and know that we are in a world full of commotion. It is almost on a daily basis that we are trying to weather the storms of life. These storms can impact us both temporally and spiritually like, physical/mental disabilities, addictions, death, natural disasters, and overall sinning.
How then do we identify and avoid and prepare for the storms of life? In storm chasing, my Dad and I sit down and forecast what the future weather event will be like. We look at multiple weather models to determine where we need to go. It is all about preparation. Because if we go without being prepared, we can end up in a harmful situation. By looking ahead we can avoid potentially dangerous situations. What makes storm chasing difficult is how unpredictable the weather can be. Just like the storms the adversary throws at us on a daily basis, they too can be unpredictable. In both storm chasing and in normal life situations, we must rely on the spirit and heed its promptings. If we do not then we can end up in unfortunate situations. The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is very important because he is there to help you in little things but sometimes he is there to guide you in life or death situations.
Back in 2013, my Mom, Dad and I were out storm chasing in Kansas. That day turned into a mess and the weather didn't quite cooperate the way we wanted it to. We were driving to our hotel after the day was over and while driving we were planning for our next day chase. Something I
always appreciate that my Dad and I do before we storm chase is pray for the guidance of the Spirit because when we were planning to go to Oklahoma the next day, both him and I had the same prompting not to go to Oklahoma. At the time we had no clue why we shouldn't go but when we decided to just take a vacation to South Dakota instead, I had the immediate prompting that this what we should do. The following day there was a tornado in Oklahoma that went down in the record books as the widest tornado. The tornado was recorded to be 2.6 miles wide with winds in excess of 295 mph. That tornado was really dangerous and we soon found out why the spirit prompted us not to go. The tornado killed 8 people which included some storm chasers. The day this tornado happened, our transmission in our storm chasing vehicle blew. After some calculations we found out that we would have been in the middle of that mess when the transmission would have went out. If my Dad and I did not heed the prompting from the spirit, it is possible I would not be here today giving you this talk. After that experience. I have learned to follow the guidance of the spirit. The spirit knows more than you do so you should listen and don't let pride get in the way of your safety.
Having been caught in many storms in this life, you may ask, "how do you endure or weather the storm by relying on the Savior?" It all comes down to having faith in the Lord, faith in the Book of Mormon, Bible, and other scriptures, and faith our current day Prophet, President Nelson. Those three things are major keys in enduring the storms of life. In storm chasing, my Dad and I use a special radar that helps us see what the storms are doing. The radar helps us seek further understanding and helps us develop a plan to make the right moves. Everyone here on Earth has the access to a special radar, its the Book of Mormon! Not only is it important to listen to the Prophet, but diligently reading the Book of Mormon helps you seek further understanding. Missionaries have to use the Book of Mormon everyday as a radar to answer questions and get prompted by the spirit on what to do next. I promise you that if you read the Book of Mormon everyday it will not only make your day better but it will answer all the questions you have.
I have a firm testimony that God gave us this book to help us in the latter days. He gave us this book to get us through our individual storms in life. I ask that if you have not yet received the confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, then please pick it up and read Moroni 10:3-5 (it's in the very back of the book) it says,
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
I do promise that if you read the Book of Mormon and pray with a sincere heart with real intent that the Holy Ghost will testify to you that the Book of Mormon is true. It is the beacon in our lives to bring us back to our Heavenly Father. This exact scripture is how I found out the Book of Mormon is true. If this happened for me then, I know it can happen for you.
I would like to close with my testimony that I know that this church is true. I know that President Russell M. Nelson is the true prophet today and that he was foreordained before this life to be our prophet in the latter days. I know that this church was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that he translated the Book of Mormon through the power of God. I love this gospel. It has been a tremendous blessing to me everyday of my life. I love you all and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.