Spiritual Earthquakes and Base Isolators
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Devotional given at BYU-Idaho 28 Apr 2020 - Devotionals
Brothers and sisters, as you know, the Salt Lake Temple is closed for a seismic upgrade and remodeling. Both Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder L. Whitney Clayton mentioned it in their wonderful talks at general conference. The reason for the upgrade is that there is a 50% chance in the next 50 years that one of the fault lines along the Wasatch Front will slip and cause an earthquake that will measure up to 7.2 on the Richter scale. This would cause the floors in the temple to dislodge from their inserts in the walls and pancake down. Were that to happen, the temple will crumble and fall.
The anticipated seismic upgrade includes putting approximately 150 base isolators under the footings and foundation of the temple. These base isolators look like huge hockey pucks and function like shock absorbers, just like those in your vehicle. The base isolators will cushion or absorb earth movement so that an earthquake that measures 7.2 will only feel like an earthquake that measures 5.2. Now, we may not think that sounds like a lot, but the Richter scale is logarithmic; the difference between 5.2 and 7.2 is one hundredfold. The base isolators become the foundation to the temple because they sit between the ground itself and the temple. As a result, the temple will still feel the earthquake, but the magnitude will be dampened, and the whole temple will “roll with the punch,” being able to move five feet in any direction on this “base isolator foundation.” The temple will withstand the seismic hit.
I would like to talk about three metaphorical physical and spiritual seismic hits that you are likely to experience. I suspect that there is a 50% chance in the next 50 years that you will experience such a hit, if you have not already. These hits will be major. They will be real body blows to your sense of wellbeing. For each metaphorical seismic hit, I will suggest one or more metaphorical base isolators that can put in place to help withstand the blow. The metaphorical base isolators overlap and function in unison with each other. They do not function in isolation, any more than the base isolators for the temple function separately. But it might be helpful to discuss them individually. Then I’ll ask three questions with each of these metaphorical base isolators.
Metaphorical Seismic Hit #1: Anxiety for the Future
Metaphorical seismic hit number one is anxiety for the future. It is not knowing what is going to happen. When we do not know what is going to happen, we can become anxious. For instance, if we do not know what subject to major in, how well we are going to do, whether we are going to get into engineering school or whatever school, we can become apprehensive or fearful.
When we do not know whether we are going to find somebody we like, whether we are going to get married, or whether we will live happily ever after, we can become uneasy and fretful. The uncertainty of not knowing can create a huge seismic hit because uncertainty can be disorienting, depressing, and paralyzing.
What is your base isolator for this uncertainty and the resultant anxiety that may persist in all stages of life? Now, I am not talking about clinical depression or clinical anxiety, anything that’s been clinically diagnosed that requires professional help. If such help is needed, then we should get that. The anxiety I am addressing, though, is not knowing the future in detail. A key base isolator for anxiety is to develop faith in Heavenly Father and His plan and trust in His and Jesus Christ’s love. This base isolator helps us maintain an eternal perspective and rely on the reality of Their goodness and Their love.
The scriptures offer some examples. Even after God made a covenant with Abraham, Abraham’s life was not easy. But, by focusing on Heavenly Father’s plan, Abraham continued onward. As he and his family group traveled to their promised land, Abraham provided a key message for us. He said, “Therefore, eternity was our covering and our rock and our salvation, as we journeyed from Haran by the way of Jershon, to come to the land of Canaan.” The message for us is to maintain an eternal perspective, so eternity can be our covering, our rock, our protection, and our salvation because we have faith in Heavenly Father and in His plan.
Additionally, when Nephi was asked, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” he replied, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” This base isolator includes knowing that God loves His children, that He loves us, that we can trust that He will take care of us, and that our ultimate end is going to be more than okay. When we try to “keep the commandments of God,” we will be “blessed in all things,” and if we keep trying to “hold out faithful to the end,” we “are received into heaven,” into a “state of never-ending happiness.” Like Sister Renlund talked about, that’s more than okay; it is glorious.
Developing faith in Heavenly Father and His plan and trust in His and Jesus Christ’s love creates a base isolator. We know our ultimate destiny. This base isolator helps us as we go through life. It does not mean that we will not feel the seismic hit of uncertainty and anxiety, but it will be dampened a hundredfold, providing us the confidence to continue because we know that that uncertainty is temporary.
Let me pose three questions. First, does the fact that you experience anxiety for the future alter the reality of a kind, loving Heavenly Father, a living Christ, and the truthfulness of the First Vision and the Restoration of the Savior’s gospel?
Second, do subsequent revelations through Joseph Smith and his successors provide anxiety-reducing insights about your ultimate destiny?
Third, what habits can you develop today that will help you to develop and maintain deep faith in Heavenly Father and His plan and life-long trust in His and Jesus Christ’s love?
Metaphorical Seismic Hit #2: Burdens, Challenges, and Difficulties
Metaphorical seismic hit number two is facing burdens, challenges, and difficulties. They include all trials that can and do happen in life. In general conference, President Russell M. Nelson said, “Life’s personal trials stretch far beyond this [COVID-19] pandemic. Future trials could result from an accident, a natural disaster, or an unexpected personal heartache.”
To some extent in the pre-mortal existence, I suspect that we were told that this life would be difficult, filled with challenges. But we probably did not know how hard these burdens were going to be, and we would not until we experienced them. The base isolator, though, for these challenges is to recognize the added strength, capacity, and resilience God is willing to give us and the help that God inspires others to give us.
In 2005, Elder David A. Bednar quoted this verse in general conference: “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” Elder Bednar then pointed out that Jesus Christ chooses to help us because of our faith in Him, and He gives us power to handle our challenges.
Nephi later taught, “And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them.” You recall the experience of Alma the Elder and his people, and this provides a wonderful example. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, the Lord made it so they that they did not feel the burdens that were placed on them by Amulon, one of King Noah’s protégés.
In addition to strengthening us, God inspires or arranges for others to help. An example of this is the experience of Moses when he was completely exasperated by the people in his stewardship. At God’s direction, Moses led the people out of Egypt. There was no food, so God provided them with manna. The people, though, started complaining about the manna. They experienced the miracle of being fed every day but complained. The miracle, I guess, was not good enough. They voiced their displeasure to Moses, protesting that they wanted meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. I suppose they missed their “Happy Meal.”
Moses was ready to throw in the towel. The people had finally tipped him over the edge. “And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? . . . I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight.” Moses had a burden he could not bear; he would rather be dead than go on.
God answered his prayer, but He answered it differently than Moses had requested. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.” God arranged for others to help Moses. God will arrange for others to help you.
The base isolator for dealing with burdens, challenges, and difficulties we face is two-fold. The first is to recognize the added strength, capacity, and resilience God is willing to give us because of our faith in Jesus Christ. President Nelson said in general conference, “The increasing darkness that accompanies tribulation makes the light of Jesus Christ shine ever brighter,” and insightfully encouraged, “Let us put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ into action!”
The second part of this base isolator is to recognize that God inspires others to help. Help from others can take something that is unbearable and change it to something that is bearable.
Let me pose three questions. First, does the fact that you face burdens, challenges, and difficulties alter the reality of a kind, loving Heavenly Father, a living Christ, the truthfulness of the First Vision and the Restoration of the Savior’s gospel?
Second, do subsequent revelations through Joseph Smith and his successors help you face those burdens, challenges, and difficulties, relying on being strengthened by God and being helped by others?
Third, what personal habits can you develop now that will strengthen you to face burdens, challenges and difficulties in the future?
Metaphorical Seismic Hit #3: Unfairness
Metaphorical seismic hit number three is unfairness—unfairness to us individually, or unfairness to others. Unfairness is all around us, and it is troubling. If we are not careful, the appearance of unfairness may cause us to reject the favorable along with the unfavorable, or to use the idiomatic expression “to throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Perceived unfairness deals us a major body blow.
Let me present several scriptural baby-bathwater scenarios. Was it fair that Abraham’s first child, Ishmael, did not receive the Abrahamic Covenant but that Isaac did? If it was unfair, did that unfairness invalidate the Abrahamic Covenant that God had made with Abraham and renewed with Isaac?
Was it fair that only the descendants of Levi, the son of Jacob, held the priesthood and others who were equally worthy, or perhaps even more worthy, did not? Does that unfairness change the reality of the priesthood that was conferred upon the Levites?
Was it fair that Jesus Christ came to the House of Israel and not to the Gentiles? Does that unfairness negate His divine Sonship and His infinite Atonement?
Despite the apparent unfairness, the Abrahamic Covenant is valid, the authority of the priesthood is real, and Christ’s atoning sacrifice is authentic.
The base isolator for unfairness is to develop faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and understand how His Atonement is applied to us. Faith and understanding help us recognize that all are alike unto Heavenly Father and the Savior, and that They love all Heavenly Father’s children, and that They desire that all return to their heavenly home. Additionally, Jesus Christ understands perfectly what it is like to suffer innocently because of the world’s inherent unfairness or the inappropriate application of someone else’s agency, evilly intended or not. We cannot teach Jesus Christ anything He does not already know about unfairness. He was treated the most unfairly of any of Heavenly Father’s children, but He can teach us how to deal with it.
This base isolator constantly reminds us “that the Savior loves to restore what you cannot restore; He loves to heal wounds you cannot heal; He loves to fix what has been irreparably broken; He compensates for any unfairness inflicted on you; and He loves to permanently mend even shattered hearts.”
Remembering the goodness of God makes something remarkable happen. At a future day, the promise is that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
1. S. Lewis wrote in the foreword to his book The Great Divorce, “[Mortals] say of some temporal suffering, ‘No future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven. The Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven.’”
Let me pose three more questions. First, does that fact that life is unfair to you or to others alter the reality of a kind, loving Heavenly Father, a living Christ, and the truthfulness of the First Vision and the Restoration of the Savior’s gospel?
Second, do subsequent revelations through Joseph Smith and his successors and the promise of eventual, eternal fairness help you cope with the unfairness of this fallen world?
The base isolator of faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and understanding how His Atonement is applied dampens the intensity of this metaphorical seismic hit. Our faith in Jesus Christ will allow us to remain standing and carry on despite the unfairness.
However, you and I want to know, “How? How is God going to do that?” To my knowledge, God has not revealed “how” to His prophets, seers, and revelators. What I do know is that for us to demand to know “how” before we trust in Him and develop faith in His promises is misguided and ignores what God told Isaiah about Himself: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Let us hold our questions for later and work on developing faith.
The third question, what personal habits can you develop that will help you develop and maintain strong faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and His ultimate fairness?
I pray God’s richest blessings to be on you as you experience these and other metaphorical earthquakes. I pray that you will put in place those base isolators that will dampen the seismic hits, that you develop faith in Heavenly Father and His plan and trust in His and Jesus Christ’s love for you, that you will recognize the added strength, capacity, and resilience God is willing to give you and the help that God inspires others to give you, and that you develop faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and an understanding of how His Atonement will be applied for you. I know that developing these base isolators in your life will diminish the effects of these body blows in your life and allow you to be firmly standing after the hit.
Let me conclude with a question, asked and answered by President Nelson in general conference. The question: “What does it mean for you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth?” The answer he gave is, “It means that you and your family can be sealed together forever! It means that because you have been baptized by one who has authority from Jesus Christ and have been confirmed a member of His Church, you can enjoy the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. He will guide and protect you. It means you will never be left comfortless or without access to the power of God to help you. It means that priesthood power can bless you as you receive essential ordinances and make covenants with God and keep them. What an anchor to our souls are these truths, especially during these times when the tempest is raging.”
God bless you, my dear brothers and sisters, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 Abraham 2:16.
 1 Nephi 11:16–17.
 Mosiah 2:41.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Opening Message,” Ensign, May 2020.
 1 Nephi 1:20; see also David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign, May 2005.
 1 Nephi 17:3.
 See Mosiah 24:15.
 Numbers 11:4-6.
 Numbers 11:11–15.
 Numbers 11:16–17.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him,” Ensign, May 2020.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Opening the Heavens for Help,” Ensign, May 2020.
 “Covenant of Abraham,” Bible Dictionary.
 “Levites,” Bible Dictionary.
 “Gentile,” Bible Dictionary.
 2 Nephi 26:33.
 Alma 7:11–13; Hebrews 4:14–16.
 Dale G. Renlund, “Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God,” Ensign, May 2020; Boyd K. Packer, “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov. 1995; Psalm 147:3.
 Revelation 21:4.
 C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce.
 Isaiah 55:8–9.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Hear Him,” Ensign, May 2020.