March 1, 2016

This week, I read Jeffery R. Holland's talk, "Bourne Upon Eagles' Wings". Even 20 years before he was made an apostle, he was already a remarkable speaker. In it he tells of his experience at the Utah State Penitentiary, where a group of inmates gathered to celebrate their graduation from an LDS-sponsored Bible study. Elder Holland goes on to talk about the impressions he received from attending that commencement, but my favorite part came from an inmate. I will quote him here:

"For that person striving to live righteously, this mortal existence is a testing time indeed. The faithful are plagued with the temptations of a world that appears to have lost itself in a snarled maze of ambiguity, mendacity, and threatening uncertainty. The challenge to live in the world but not of the world is a monumental one, indeed.

Our second estate is indeed a probationary state. The choices we are called upon to make every day of our lives call forth the exercise of our agency. That we fail so frequently to think and do that which is right is not evidence against the practicality of righteous living. We do not falter and stumble in the path of righteousness simply because we do nothing else, but because too often we lose the vision of our relationship with God. The incessant din and cackling ado of this turbulent life drown out the message which asserts that, as man is, God once was and that, as God is, man may become.

If we will not dance to the music of materialism and hedonism but will remain attuned to the voice of godly reason, we will be led to the green pastures of respite and the still waters of spiritual refreshment. All the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune this world can hurl against us are as nothing when compared to the rewards for steadfastness and faithfulness. It would behoove us all to fix our sights more consistently upon the things which are everlasting and eternal. This world is not our home.

Those are lines from the valedictory address at the Utah state prison, May 23, 1974, given by inmate John McRell, who is about fifty years of age and has been behind bars for more than half of those years."

That is all of us. We are imprisoned by this world, and our only hope of escape is through knowledge; knowledge that Christ is our merciful Savior, that God is our just Father, and that through our diligence, we can return to both of them. I know that to be true through the witness of the Holy Ghost. You can know the same thing, too.