The Neal A Maxwell Quote Book is one of my favourite books on my bookshelf. It’s full of quotes from an extremely intelligent and loving apostle in our church who passed away several years ago.
One night, I was reading from this book and came upon this:
Righteous desires need to be relentless, therefore, because, said President Brigham Young, “the men and women, who desire to obtain seats in the celestial kingdom, will find that they must battle every day” (in Journal of Discourses, 11:14). Therefore, true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors.
As I read this, I had a kind of epiphany. I realised that it was precisely true, not just because it’s an apostle who said it, but because it is my life! Because I do have to battle, every day – and not, generally, against outside forces, but against myself. Against the tendency to procrastinate, to go to bed late and sleep in late; against putting off scripture study to when I can’t do it properly and miss the benefit of doing it that I need to combat evil; against giving in to desires that need to be bridled, such as the desire for too much entertainment, or cravings for junk food and the inertia that stops me taking care of my body and health, or the desire for attention and the things I do to get it; against selfishnes and laziness; against saying something smart and sarcastic to someone who actually needs understanding… the list goes on and on.
So the epiphany I had that night was that it’s me, not some great trial or enemy, that I have to watch out for and relentlessly battle against every day. Great trials or enemies may come to me too, but most of the time, for so long, when I read or heard about standing firm and battling evil, I’d been defining those in my head as great trials, or people who try to turn me away from truth or revile me, etc. Things I’d have to ‘face’ during the day; but you know, I actually don’t often meet those things. And when I do, it’s not every day. The only things I meet every single day are what is in me. Wow.
And they’re not things I can leave to another day when I’ll sit down, take stock and start improving – something some day, some time. It’s about an every-day fight, because that’s how often I meet them. And it can’t be just giving a token effort, then giving in, as so often does happen. It’s fighting with the determination to win. Because this is what the next quote in the book says:
Remember, brothers and sisters, it is our own desires which determine the sizing and attractiveness of various temptations. We set our thermostats as to temptations.
I think that’s profound (the quote, not my thoughts).