Being the Ballast

In the 1972 Saturday Afternoon Session of the LDS General Conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a talk entitled, The Saints Securely Dwell.

He spoke of our most basic church programs, such as home teaching, and compared them to our body's basic but vital functions, such as the work our heart does.

For example, there is within us a coursing supply of blood delivering nourishment to sustain the body, carrying away waste materials, and armed with a protection against disease and infection. The blood supply is kept in motion by the incessant and dependable pumping of the heart. It is vital to life.
Ordinarily, however, a sliver in the finger gets more attention and is of more concern. No one pays much thought to the beating of the heart until there is the threat that it may be interrupted or stopped. It is then that we pay attention.

Home teaching, like visiting teaching, can be taken for granted, or seen even as a nuisance or unnecessary effort, especially when someone is not seen to have a pressing need. But this is the way that we protect and carry each other. Through these programs, we have the Lord's watch-care system.

If illness strikes, help can be forthcoming. The children can be cared for; visits can be arranged. Here we join the priesthood home teachers with the visiting teachers from the Relief Society. Often the problem is not illness. It is a teenager with problems or a little one not coming along the way he should.
There can pour through this channel of priesthood home teaching a sustaining power to the limits of the resources of the Church on this earth. This is not all. There can flow through this channel a redeeming spiritual power to the limits of heaven itself.
Fulfilling our calls to home teach and visit teach each other may seem mundane, and they are certainly less exciting than participating in a movement that the world promises us will change the church for the better. But these proposed changes that follow the world's guidelines to happiness will leave so many just as empty or forgotten as before. If we are not reaching out individually in our own spheres of responsibility, we will fail to make real progress as a church.

I am reminded of a fur trapper who had earned a modest fortune trapping foxes. He decided to go south for the winter and left his trap lines in the care of a carefully trained young assistant. He taught him just how to set the traps and where to put the bait.
When he returned in the spring, to his disappointment there were very few fox furs.
“Did you do it just as I taught you?” asked the older man.
“Oh, no,” was the reply. “I found a better way.”
With our devoted service, the happiness and joy we can bring to others is limitless. Not only are we already called and able to watch over our brothers and sisters locally with basic church programs, but we have also been called to help those who are not usually within our sphere of service, through the I Was a Stranger refugee relief effort. Our Heavenly Father has given us so many good ways to serve and help each other. Through trusting in Him and faithfully serving in the programs and callings He has given us, we can all move forward more directly and effectively.

Through home teaching, tragedies have been averted. Sinking souls have been lifted. Material need has been provided. Grief has been assuaged. The infirm have been healed through administration. While the work goes on without being heralded, it is inspired of Almighty God and is basic to the spiritual nourishment of this people. 
We can use our combined strength as a joyous force for change in this world, but only if we are united in effort and purpose. Let us not neglect or tear each other down as we try to change this world for the better.

More General Conference Odyssey Posts:

The Courage to Conform by G
Doing the Will of the Lord by Daniel Ortner
A Complete Testimony by Jan Tolman

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