Snakes and Saviors

At Testimony by Ken Shelton

Midway, Wasatch Mountain Ward, June 5, 2016

 

Note:  This is not a transcript but a creative recollection and reflection of what I said, as written two days after the meeting; thus, it contains words/ideas not spoken in the meeting.

 

Thank you (Bishopric counselor) for testifying of the wisdom contained in the so-called “Word of Wisdom,” the revelation on diet and health received by the prophet of the restoration, Joseph Smith. You testified that if everyone in America would abide by this wisdom we could cut health care costs in half; and if everyone lived the gospel of Jesus Christ, we would cut the cost of government in half . . . and improve the quality of life.

 

Your testimony reminds me of the tragic and untimely deaths of my three siblings—all three deaths closely related to their disobedience of the Word of Wisdom.

 

Yes, abiding by this divine wisdom is a matter of life and death.

 

As some of you know, my wife and I have a cabin in Snake Creek canyon in Midway. Recently I was talking with a woman about all the animals we see at our cabin and mentioned snakes.  “Snakes,” she gasped. Yes, she was surprised to hear of snakes in Snake Creek.

 

I testify this day that snakes are everywhere, and some may slither into our homes, into our very lives. We may think them harmless, but many are venomous (causing pain, addiction and disability) even lethal (causing death).

 

We often presume that our pains are so personal that no one could possible understand them, least of all a person who has never experienced the exact or similar pain. So, we may wonder, how could Christ possibly understand? Since He lived 33 years in mortality, we might suppose that He could have some degree of sympathy, even empathy, for our condition or circumstance. But, we might wonder, how could He possibly comprehend the pain of marital infidelity, or losing a child, or aging . . . or any other particular outside of his life experience?

 

I testify that Christ suffered pains, afflictions, trials and temptations of every kind, while in mortality (if not personally, then vicariously), so that he might know how to succor us in all our infirmities—at every age and stage of our lives.

 

I testify that whatever specific condition you mention is covered in Christ’s all-inclusive atonement. Moreover, your particular pains—past present and future—are indelibly imprinted on his soul, and he has the ability to recall and to feel them at any time.  I testify that his passion and compassion go far beyond sympathy and empathy and reach deep into the realm of spiritual energy.  In fact, your particular pain is so embedded on his soul that he experiences it as if he is living it. Hence, He is no distant or casual observer of your life experience. In every sense, He is  your Savior, Redeemer, Mediator, and Advocate, full of grace and truth, mercy and merit.

 

Now we might wonder: Who, in their right mind, would reject such a Savior, and in his worthy stead, embrace a venomous Snake?

 

As a word of wisdom and warning, I testify that we—particularly we in this restored Church of Christ and we in this nation of America—reject this Savior at our peril . . . for He is the God of this land, this one nation, under God (not 300 million individuals under Government).

 

If we now reject Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, as his people did of old, we not only increase the cost of health care and government, we run the same risk of self-destruction.

 

Again, the venomous snakes that seek to destroy us are everywhere—not just in Snake Creek canyon—and the best preventative antidote to snakebite is living the Word of Wisdom as part of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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