Several years ago a study was conducted by a prominent university back east regarding the emergence of butterflies from their chrysalis stage. It seems that those investigators wanted to note the effects, under controlled conditions, of the process of life for the butterflies as they would transition from one stage of development into their final stage of life.
As the butterflies began to emerge from the confines of the chrysalis, or pupa stage, they watched the struggles which were required for that birth to take place. First the dormant would-be butterfly had to begin coming to life, to stir and make movement within its shell. That movement began to weaken the bonds of the chrysalis shell and it began to crack open, allowing the butterfly to slowly, and seemingly with great effort, to finally shed itself of that shell. It would then stand upon its former resting place and carefully unfold its wings, its antennae, and begin to stretch and form its final shape, all the while drying and preparing for flight and life.
But while watching this process, they also selected some of those who were beginning to make that struggle into this new life and carefully cut the shell of the container, making it much easier for the butterfly to escape. What happened next amazed the researchers. They found that those butterflies who did not have to struggle to emerge were unable to live. Within a short time they died. Their wings would not unfold and their bodies were unable to sustain the life for which they were designed. But those who were left to the full developmental process of transition became beautiful and whole, fulll of the life which they were created to display.
New life, and the fulfillment of that life, has never been promised to be easy or without struggle. From the onset of man’s dominion on this earth, and through the resultant act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden, all ages of mankind’s existence has found us not only laboring to live and grow successfully but often laboring to find our rightful spiritual place before God. Such is true with the Saints of today.
The Remnant Church has been in existence for fourteen years now. These years have found us, at times, reaching high spiritual levels in our relationship with God. We have accomplished unthought-of success in temporal and financial objectives with clearer understandings of consecration, community living, and the financial law. We have seen the Church grow rapidly in nations abroad. But, true to the example of the butterfly, we have also often struggled to grow and develop into the Church and the Saints which God would desire of us and do so with vibrant and vital life within us.
As it seems to be our human nature, sometimes we have had the desires of wishing and wanting to develop and grow without fully understanding the need to accomplish those goals through adherence to the principles upon which we are founded. Somtimes the desire to grow and become fully developed, as we might understand that development, outweighs the rightful process which God desires for us. Often we simply want too much, too quickly, for our own selves.
This past year has been a difficult one for the Remnant Church and for the Saints. For the first time in our brief life, the struggles of trust and confidence in the leadership of the church was evident in the discussion within our recent General Conference to the point that the support of the Lord’s message to the Church was in jeopardy.
Trust in prophetic leadership requires the commitment of the Saints to be willing to struggle with growth but always understanding that the process of growth requires difficult actions and the expenditure of great energy. President Larsen brought that appeal to the conference in his remarks immediately after the inspired document was accepted by the conference. In his thoughts, in response to those who opposed the document, and who have been willing to openly challenge earlier decisions of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve, he cautioned the Church that further revelatory insight might be in jeopardy as long as the feelings of distrust, referencing the leadership of the First Presidency, and him in particular, continue to exist in the Church.
What a tragedy this could become if it is our lack of faith which would begin to limit the word of God to His people. We are a church founded upon the process of faith and the resultant activities which put that faith into action. But when our faith and our trust begin to be placed in voices and actions outside the prophetic purview of the Church, we are in danger of attempting to break from our confining shells of personal thought and desires too easily, wanting to become whole without trusting the spiritual growth process which has been designed by God and is in place for the Church. The Book of Mormon is explicit in its reference as to when the gifts of the Spirit, miracles, and even the appearance of angels will cease among mankind: “Wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man…..” (Moroni 7:43)
No one, not even God, desires that any member of the Church not have the ability or right to question or to inquire regarding processes and decisions. That is an inherent right of membership. But we must become very careful in what we accept as wise counsel which may be designed to mislead or deflect the rightful purposes of God. We are challenged to try the spirits, to divine that which is truthful and that which is false. We are also cautioned to be careful of the voices we listen to, for there will be many crying, “Lo here, and lo, there” in the days to come. No man is above sin at this stage of his life, and we must constantly be aware of the fruits which come forth by the actions and countenance of each one: are they the fruits of the Spirit, bringing peace and harmony to the Church, or are they fruits that which would divide and confuse the Saints? Perhaps today, to quote the phrase used by Reverand Billy Graham so often, is the “hour of decision” for all Saints of the Most High God. “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”