Nearly five years ago I sat with Lawrence E Corbridge and others in a church office. He was serving as a General Authority at the time and he was in Las Vegas to organize a new stake. I sat with him on Friday night then again on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. The next day he set me apart as a stake president. The full process of that weekend is a story for another time.
In all the conversation with Elder Corbridge, I was inspired and also curious. He taught and inspired me. I felt like there was more I should have learned. What was I missing?
I came away with pages full of notes and appreciation for him. I have felt that way ever since that weekend.
In early January 2019, he gave a talk at BYU called “Stand Forever.” It is now one of my favorite talks of all time.
I’ve listened to these words many times in the last 18 months.
The talk begins:
As part of an assignment I had as a General Authority a few years ago, I needed to read through a great deal of material antagonistic to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the events of the Restoration. There may not be anything out there of that nature I haven’t read. Since that assignment changed, I have not returned to wallow in that mire again.
Can you imagine the faith the Senior Brethren must have had in Elder Corbridge?
He went on to speak of the feelings of gloom and darkness that he felt. But more importantly, he talked about what the feeling was and what it was not.
That gloom is not belief bias and it is not the fear of being in error. It is the absence of the Spirit of God.
He goes on to warn of the swamp of secondary questions and then point you to the right place to spend time.
Answers to the primary questions do not come by answering the secondary questions. There are answers to the secondary questions, but you cannot prove a positive by disproving every negative. You cannot prove the Church is true by disproving every claim made against it. That will never work. It is a flawed strategy.
The final six minutes of this talk are among the best prose I’ve ever heard from a pulpit. It has changed how I see nearly every good thing in this world. It has made me more appreciative and patient. It was an absolute turning point in my life. Please listen to it. Among those six minutes, he observes:
Some people are hard-pressed to believe extraordinary things. While it is understandable that we may be challenged by the extraordinary, we shouldn’t be, because ordinary things are actually far more phenomenal.
After all the time spent fulfilling his difficult assignment, he wonders:
I heard someone say recently, “It is okay to have doubts.”
I wonder about that. The Lord said, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” I have a lot of questions; I don’t have any doubts.
I echo his words. While I’ve always felt full of wonder and desire to learn, I have never had a doubt. I have always felt remembered by my Savior.
After listening to this talk for the first time, I went back to my notes taken during that weekend in 2015. It connected so many dots for me. I hope it will help you too.