Sheri Dew – The Parable of the Streetlamp (2007) – powered by Happy Scribe
Good morning, Houston. It’s great to be with you this morning. I wish I were there in person. And to show you how badly I feel about not being there and about how much I love you, I have submitted myself to what for me is about the highest form of torture, which is being filmed and taped at something because I feel like a complete and total dork. And these poor men that are running all the equipment and everything are just rolling their eyes about everything that is taking place and transpiring thus far.
But I wanted to have a chance to leave a message with you and to greet you and welcome you to Time Out for Women in Houston. I’ve only been to Houston one other time, and it was a memorable experience and a wonderful experience, and I love the women I met there and have looked forward to renewing acquaintance and meeting more of you. But another assignment popped up that is making it necessary for me to leave the country for a few days. And so there was just no way. We looked at every airline schedule known to man to try to figure out how to get me from Houston to where I need to be, and it just couldn’t happen.
So for that reason, I relented and said, yes, let’s do a taping. I felt like maybe I should start this by saying this great line that you would know better than anybody, and that is, Houston, we’ve got a problem. Well, the problem is I can’t be there. But I do want to share with you some feelings that are in my heart. And also to assure you, because I have been to many of these time out for women events and to assure you there is a marvelous cast of characters, speakers, presenters, authors, performers who will be with you today.
And I promise you a magnificent experience. Now, let me tell you some of the things have been on my mind lately and try to share just a few feelings to start today. It was a little while ago, and I can’t remember it was a few months ago when something dawned on me. I thought, gee whiz, why is it taking so long for this whole notion to occur to me? But I think it was actually as I was preparing a lesson for the 17 and 16 year olds that I teach in Sunday school, the little darlings.
Anyway, I do love them, by the way. They’re just great. And they’re a handful, as you know, any of you who teach teenagers well, I think I was preparing a lesson on Isaiah and trying to figure out a way to make it relevant to these teenagers. And of course, one of the great things about Isaiah is that he foresaw our day and talked about our day over and over and over and over again. And in fact, just as an aside, if you’ve not recently read or studied what he prophesied about the women of our day.
You got to go back and read it, go find it. It’s pretty chilling stuff. Anyway, so I’m preparing this lesson for these kids, and I started to think about the message, the messages that we get most frequently from ancient prophets. And I mean, I don’t care who the ancient prophet is. In fact, think about prophecies of ancient prophets.
It can be Isaiah. It could be Ezekiel. It could be Daniel, the apostle Paul moroni. Mormon. Nephi.
Pick an ancient prophet and they basically prophesied about two things. Number one, they prophesied, what if I were there, I’d ask you to call it out. What’s the first, most dominating thing, most prevalent message that ancient prophets testified of and prophesied of? It is of Jesus Christ, that he would come, of his divinity, his ministry, his life, his atonement, and the redemption that he offers all of us. That’s the first thing.
What’s the second thing they all prophesied about? It’s you and me. It’s us. It’s the last days. And I remember sitting back thinking, oh, my gosh, think about the implications of that.
From the time that Adam and Eve entered the Garden of Eden and from the full sweep of recorded history forward, ancient prophets, prophet seers and revelators have been testifying that the Savior would come and about what would happen. In our day, how difficult it would be, what the times would be like, the challenges we would face, and also what we were supposed to do about it. I started thinking, oh, my goodness, they’ve all been seeing us. And here we are now, living our lives, filling our mortal probation in the most complicated and complex time in the history of the world. That’s just the reality.
It’s a great time. It’s a it is an energetic time. It’s in this incredible time. Just yesterday, I spent about 3 hours down at BYU with a group of young, young adults who were in advertising and promotion, and they were talking to you about their issues. And I don’t feel like I’m all that old, but, oh, my goodness, as I listen to their issues, it’s just a way more complicated world for them than it was for me when I was 22, for example.
And that’s the day in which you and I are living. And yet we would not have been sent now if our father David, not in his perfect knowledge and his perfect foreknowledge, if he had not known that we were the men and women to come. Now, I am absolutely persuaded. I have had the test, I have had the spirit bear witness to me of this over and over and over again, that we’re here now because we’re supposed to be here now, that we are for a day to be here now. And there’s a marvelous doctrine of forward nation that is one of my favorite subjects that we could talk about for the entire time I’m allotted.
But I’ll only say this that that doctrine is a powerful doctrine. But I’ve come to believe that coordination is not enough, meaning we can interfere with our Ford nation. I don’t think there is any chance that our father would have taken a chance on the last days that all of his problems have been testifying of and prophesying about by sending men and women he couldn’t count on. There’s just zero chance he would have done that. However, that doesn’t mean every one of us are going to live up to our forward nation.
So here we are. We’ve been sent now to be the mothers, the grandmothers, the aunts, the teachers, the mentors of a rising generation. And let me just invite you to ponder our role as women in building the kingdom of God and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. And the reality is that if our young women want to figure out what it looks like and how to live as a woman of God, the only place you’re going to see it is from us. I would go so far as to say that I believe that one of the most significant things about Relief Society is that its purpose is to help carry the tradition and the legacy of what it means to be a woman of God from generation to generation.
They have to see it from us. So here we are now, living our life in this complicated time. So how are we going to do it? Well, could I just offer a couple of ideas? And I’ll do that by telling a story or two.
During December at Desert Book, where I work, we had a good news bad news situation develop. The good news was we had just loads of orders that came in, but they swamped our warehouse, our distribution center, which is on the west side of the solidge valley, and the warehouse could not keep up. We have a very sophisticated system there and lots of great dedicated workers, but the system just was overloaded. Well, in order to get this deluge of orders out, we had to kind of break the system, as it were. And breaking the system temporarily required a whole lot of manual labor.
So we sent out a directive throughout the corporate office inviting the 150 people who worked there to put on their levi’s and go to the warehouse and help get these orders out. That meant all of us spent a whole lot of time out at the warehouse for a couple of weeks prior to Christmas. Well, one night I was out there working a graveyard with several of my colleagues from the corporate office. And it was a little after midnight and I had this little window of time, maybe about a 30 minutes window from the time my job had kind of ended before my next job at the warehouse was going to start. And I wanted to run and get some water and juice and some treats and drinks and things for everybody that was out there working a graveyard shift.
So I told the two vice presidents I was working with I’ll be back a little bit. I’m going to go get some treats. I think I can picture a grocery store that stays open all night not very far from here. I’ll be back. And I bolted out the door and started heading down a major thoroughfare on the west side of the salt lake valley called Redwood road.
And, I mean, I’m like the only car on the road. It’s 01:00 or nearly there. And I’m driving along and bam. All of a sudden, I hit something. Just scared me to death.
Because the first thing you think is, did I hit a person? And but I I could see that I hadn’t, but I’d hit something. And the car started to vibrate and to slow down. And in fact, like this. It took everything I had to get it over to the side of the road before it just stopped.
It would not go forward. I thought, man, what is it? I got out. The road was seemed really dark. I didn’t have a flashlight to look underneath the hood.
And here’s, like, this thing hanging down. And I could not tell if, like, the engine had fallen or if it’s what I had hit and it had drug it. And I’m sitting there. I call roadside assistance. I get this guy on the phone that’s taken forever to help me.
I finally said to him, listen, I really need some help. I’m in a warehouse district. This isn’t a great place for a woman alone at 01:00 A.m., and I need you to get some help here. He finally gets back on the phone and says, I’ve contacted a record, but it’s going to be 2 hours. I said, no, it can’t be 2 hours.
I will be dead in 2 hours. You have to get me some help. And finally I hung up because I thought, I’ve got to call somebody. I called the warehouse. I called some friends.
I played several calls, couldn’t get anybody to pick up their phone, and was about ready to call the police when suddenly here came a policeman, red lights, rotating. And I kind of have a history of tickets. It’s like the first time in my life I’ve been happy to see, like, the rotating red lights. He pulls up behind me, and this super nice officer comes and asks what’s wrong? And I tell him I’ve hit something and it looks to have disabled my car and it won’t go forward.
And he’ll let me look. So he pulls out his flashlight and he’s looking underneath. And I said, I can’t tell if that’s what I hit or if it’s like something fallen from the engine. And he said, well, I can’t really tell either. And at that moment, I had a thought that if it had occurred an hour earlier, it sure would have saved me a lot of trouble.
And I said to him, well, maybe I should just try backing up. I’ve tried to go forward, but the car will not go forward. I said, Maybe I should try backing up, because if it is what I hit, maybe it’ll pop it out. He said, yeah, try it. So I get in the car and back up, like maybe that far, maybe six or eight inches, and lo and behold, this ugly thing pops out.
And in fact, I’m going to show you what I hit because the officer let me take it and keep it as a little souvenir here is what I hit. Can you see what this thing, this ugly thing is?
That’s kind of a pretty little visual aid and something that you’d like to see on your Relief Society table on Sunday morning. But anyway, here’s what I hit. And you can see right here, that where I drugged it. It sheared off this metal. Now, if you can’t tell what this is, and this sort of explains why the road was dark.
This is a trap. This is a street light, and it had fallen. And of course, this is black and the asphalt was dark and it was the middle of the night, and I just didn’t see it and hit it. Now, there’s a couple of interesting lessons about the parable of the street lamp. The first is that this is a big, old, ugly thing.
It’s kind of heavy. I’m guessing this weighs £30 or more. So it’s it’s kind of big and ugly. But compared to the size of my car, this is a little teeny thing, and yet it hung it up. So the first principle I want to mention that I think is a true principle is it doesn’t take much to stop or halt our forward progress.
It can be something small. And in fact, if you’ll think about your life and think about the things that just get you hung up or stop your forward progress, they usually start with something small. It can be a little bit of hurt feelings or a grudge or slacking off of your daily worship or just snapping at somebody or losing your cool or overeating and indulging where I could go on and on about all the things I’ve just mentioned. It usually starts with something small that can absolutely stop your forward progress. So that’s the first thing.
The second principle is all I had to do was back up, and I mean just a little bit, six inches, eight inches maybe. And I backed up and it popped out and we checked underneath and shined a light on it and it was okay. And ten minutes later, I’m zooming back down to Redwood Road. No problem. Zero problems.
Now, there are a lot of ways that we can back up, and in fact, I’d like to invite you to think about the fact that in your life life is kind of a process of constantly backing up. Backing up can look like repenting, saying I’m sorry, telling someone you forgive them when they ask for your forgiveness. It can be starting over and trying something again. It can be saying okay, I didn’t handle that very well. There’s something I don’t understand.
So it can be learning, it could be backing up could be simply saying I’ve got to go reimburse myself in the scriptures. I’ve got to get into that pattern because it will help me. Backing up can look like a lot of things. Now I want to tell you about a great example from the scriptures backing up the story of Amulek. Great example of backing up.
Remember Amulek was told that he was going to meet a prophet who would need him to take him home and feed him and take care of him, who was Alma. And he does meet Alma. And then we go a little bit forward and we hear Amulek actually defining or describing himself. And this is what he says. He says I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me.
Yay and behold I have many kindreds and friends and I’ve also acquired much riches by the hand of my industry. So he’s saying I’m a pretty popular guy and by the way I have a lot of family and friends and oh by the way I’m loaded. So this is his own description. And then he says nevertheless, after all of this I never have known much of the ways of the Lord and his mysteries. His mysteries?
What are mysteries? It’s how God works. His mysteries and marvelous power. Now in this moment Amulek backs up and he says well I said I never had known much of these things but behold, I mistake for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power yea, even in the preservation of the lives of my people. Nevertheless I did harden my heart for I was called many times and I would not hear therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know therefore I went on rebelling against God.
Now the story of amulet goes on and he backs up, he repents and he turns his life over to God. In fact, I would suggest to all of us that Amulek is a remarkable parable for our day because he was consumed with the world. He really was. He was listening to the world, he was consumed with the world. He was pretty proud of himself and pretty happy that he was a rich guy, a loaded guy and had lots of family and friends 50 popular.
But he backed up and he begins going about with Alma teaching the gospel and testifying of Jesus Christ. And there comes a point remember the time when Alma and Amulek are imprisoned and in fact the prison walls come tumbling down. And here is this really truly stunning sequence. This is in the 14th chapter of Alma, and it says an Alma and Amulek came fourth out of the prison and they were not hurt, for the Lord had granted unto them power according to their faith, which was in Christ. The message of of amulet to me is every one of us here dealing with the world and the world is so with us and it is so in our face these days.
Every one of us have to constantly make the choice and the decision, who are we going to listen to? Are we going to listen to prophets and revelators and to the Lord by learning to hear the voice of the Lord as we refine our own personal worship and devotion so that we can learn to hear the words of the Spirit? So are we going to take our counsel from the Lord whether it comes directly to us through personal revelation or comes to us from a prophet of God, or are we going to listen to the world? That to me is one of the most compelling questions that every one of us as latterday women of God, have to ask ourselves. Because I guarantee you one of Satan’s most effective, effective strategies with us.
Go read 2nd 528. That entire chapter outlines his strategy in the latter days. One of his most effective strategies is to try to just get us a little bit consumed with the world. I’ll give you a recent example after the last Generally Say meeting. Now sisters, when is the general release sited meeting held?
This is not a secret.
The last Saturday in September is the generally site meeting. Every year it starts at 06:00 in Utah and it goes 90 minutes. It’s not a surprise, it’s not a secret. It’s not something we have to kind of figure out every year. We get to hear once a year at least from a member of the First Presidency talking directly to us and from our called leaders Generally site presence.
Okay, after the Generally site meeting last year, I happened upon a conversation that was taking place in my office just a few days later and it was members of my publishing area and they were talking about a certain compelling issue and talking about whether or not we should accept a manuscript based upon this issue. And I just happened onto the conversation and happened to say, oh, did you hear the Generally site meeting last Saturday? It was great. And sister Kathy Hughes first counselor. Generally, site presidency gave a magnificent address on this very topic.
Now these are great women that were discussing this, but I’m telling you, at that moment there were blank stairs around this circle. Not one of them had been to that meeting. And it was everything I could do not to kind of comment on how I felt about that, but it’s really not appropriate in the workplace for me to probably talk about that too much. Then one of them said and actually made the mistake of saying, oh, but you know what?
I saw a great segment on Oprah last week about that, and two other women said, yeah, I saw that too. And I said, well, don’t you guys work? Like, how do you watch Oprah? Oh, we tape it and then we watch it at night. Okay, now, please do not write me letters about this is not about me not liking Sister Winfrey.
She’s probably a great human being. I do not know. I’ve never met her. But here’s the interesting thing. It’s always risky to take our counsel from someone who has at least a primary motive of building their own kingdom.
That’s always risky. And yet you look at how many places we’re tuning in today where we might be tempted to be more inclined to take our counsel than from a prophet of God. Really? Can you not work in 90 minutes a year to listen to the Generally Society meeting where our called leaders have worked hard to give us a message from our Heavenly Father? I invite you today to simply ask yourself, where are you looking and where from whom are you taking your counsel?
Is it from Heavenly Father and his Son who stands at the head of his church through their called leaders and through the power of inspiration and revelation? Or have you gotten into a pattern where you actually listen a little bit more to the world? And there’s always danger in listening to the world because mortals make mistakes. Some are unintentional and some are not unintentional, but mortals make mistakes. If we just mistakes, if we just looked at the way the world depicts and defines motherhood or womanhood, that alone should be enough to alert us and warn us about the way that divine principles can be skewed and even corrupted.
And I want to say one final word about that. Sometimes we get a little caught up in saying, yeah, but for example, the scriptures don’t even talk about women, and how does the Lord really feel about us anyway? And all that sort of thing. And number one, I don’t really think it’s true that the scriptures don’t talk about women. There are actually quite a few examples.
But I’ll tell you the most compelling examples for me. And to me, they are an indication of how strongly, how dearly our Father feels about his daughters and how crucial our role is in building and sustaining the kingdom of God. If you look at the plan of salvation, it hinges on a couple of things. We were all in more premortality until Adam and Eve entered the garden and until there was a fall. Adam and Eve had to fall.
They had to, or we would be stuck there for eons, just doing whatever we did there, learning, I’m sure, growing, preparing. But we would be trapped in premortality because we had to have the chance to come into mortality, gain a body and prove ourselves.
Eve did, in my opinion, the most courageous thing a woman has ever done in this life, in what transpired in the garden. Don’t you think it’s interesting that she was so fundamental to the Fall which had to happen? There had to be a savior. That savior had to be born of a mortal mother who was a virgin, pure and fair. The scriptures say again, a stunningly heroic act on the part of a woman.
The plan of salvation, you could argue, has hinged in two crucial areas the Fall and the birth of Jesus Christ on two women who did what they were sent here to this earth to do. I invite you today to think about that, to think about what your role is and what you’ve been sent here to do in the latter part of the latter days because you’re not here by accident. And I invite you to just kind of take a gut check, if you will, and say, where am I taking my counsel? Am I regularly worshiping and seeking the direction of the Lord, trying to receive his inspiration for me and listening to called leaders, prophet, Sears, Revelators and others who have been called to lead us? Or have I strayed a little bit and started to listen more to the world and letting them influence me?
The world influenced me more than the Lord. I invite you to ponder that because I testify you today that what we have to do in building the kingdom of God cannot be done by anyone else. I know that’s true. And I leave you this message and my love in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.