Of Walls, Great Works and Knife Wounds…

Sometimes it is hard to know who we can trust. Let’s face it, it is hard more often than not to know who we can trust. There is one, however, in whom we may always place our trust, and when we are anxiously engaged in His work, it is easier to know better what we should do.

We spend our lives working and enduring, doing the things that we feel or desire will make life good for ourselves and our loved ones. Although we may not see everything as having religious worth, value for spiritual growth, all things denote that there is a God and that He is mindful of us and the lives that we live. He wants for us to make good choices, to stand on holy ground and do the things that will best bring us joy. While it is not always easy to know what may bring us lasting joy, or who we can trust to get us there, working toward the building of God’s kingdom, for ourselves and for the ones we love, will put us on solid footing that we can count on never failing. We can always stand with God and use His law and guidance to justify the ground upon which we stand firm.

Many temptations exist in living life. There will always be individuals and movements that will be critical of God’s law, or attempt to dissuade us from vigorously following the Savior. But vigorous we must be in our motivations to complete work that is good and desirable, that will build the kingdom of God.

“Vigorous we must be in our motivations to complete work that is good and desirable, that will build the kingdom of God.”

I have known opposition my whole life through, seeing up close efforts to pull me away from the places I should be and the paths that I should take. It was always easiest to see clearly the opposition to right when I was doing things that I knew I was supposed to be doing. This has always been most apparent to me in the decisions Monica and I have made in the raising of our family.

I am the first to admit that all families have differences and none are perfect. As perfect as is our Father in Heaven, save Jesus Christ, we as His children have not lived up to the perfection that He has exemplified. No parent should heap total blame upon themselves for the wanderings of their children, for we know they come to us to make their own choices. Nevertheless, there are teachings and instructions that we have received of the Lord and it is incumbent upon us as parents to pass them on to the rising generation. That is something we all have in common.

“There are teachings and instructions that we have received of the Lord and it is incumbent upon us as parents to pass them on to the rising generation. That is something we all have in common.”

On the other hand, while God has laws that must be abided, some of which are immutable, in the raising of children there are going to be different rules and different methods in which fathers and mothers will be inspired. God will instruct us from on high through the Holy Ghost in the best methods to teach our individual children, and it will not necessarily be the same within our own families and between each child.

One thing we can know with certainty is that when God has inspired us to care for or teach our children in a specific way, we have no need to apologize or yield to the entrapments of those who would call upon us to compromise for the world’s sake. Such assaults on our parenting will come from society, political leaders, and others who will in uninspired ways meddle where they should not. Often the meddling will come from people in our own communities, religious or social circles who we should be able to trust.

I can hardly count the number of times that Monica and I have received divine guidance, stood by it with firmness, and then been criticized publicly by some who either lack the wisdom to know that God inspires personally, or because of some shame or guilt of their own unwillingness to stand by the teachings of Christ, fail to provide for their own children in like ways. This sounds harsh, but if you have witnessed what I have, from childhood to the present, the meddling of some who hold themselves in high regard, busybodies with sharp tongues and judgmental eyes, you would know that the truth is most harshly felt by the most guilty.

“Never apologize for doing what the Lord inspires you to do in the raising of your children, even to fellow church members. You keep doing what the Lord wants you to do regardless of what anybody else has to say.”

Dennis and Deanna Flake

Long ago, when Monica and I were younger and most of our children were still small, we felt the condemnation of those who sought to talk more than understand. Raising each child is unique. Raising twelve individual children is unique times twelve. It was difficult. It was not easy to endure the backbiting pressure. A beloved older gentleman, mentor for us since our youngest days before marriage, Dennis Flake, in response to this pressure gave us the following counsel: “Never apologize for doing what the Lord inspires you to do in the raising of your children, even to fellow church members. You keep doing what the Lord wants you to do regardless of what anybody else has to say.” This wise counsel has carried us through a lot of turmoil and blessed the lives of our family members. I am most grateful that the Lord placed this good man in our path to provide His word.

In the days shortly after the children of Israel were carried away captive into Babylon, there lived a good man named Nehemiah. He was a cup holder to Artaxerxes, a king of Persia. Artaxerxes felt sympathy for Nehemiah as he had desired to return to Judea and restore the city of Jerusalem and the temple of God to its previous security, having been destroyed. Nehemiah was sent and given authority by the king to rebuild the temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem. But even with the authority of the king, Nehemiah came under great opposition by some who lived in the area of Jerusalem who did not want to see it rise again. Enemies conspired against Nehemiah and sought to kill him. Nevertheless, Nehemiah knew that what he had been sent to do was the work of God and he unapologetically continued in that work without fail

To scale model of the Old City of Jerusalem and Temple Mount.

Ultimately Sanballat and Geshem, leaders of the opposition, conspired against Nehemiah and tried to lure him away from the work he was doing in building the walls of Jerusalem so that they could do him “mischief.” But as Nehemiah was anxiously engaged in the work of the Lord, and knew that any distraction from that had to be wrong, he continued to strive in his effort, only responding by messenger, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3).

What a wonderful and perfect response to voices of dissent in doing that which is right. It reminds me of the words from another mentor of mine from long ago, Richard Bigler, who was commenting on the opposition he and my own father had faced in their lives trying to build and create amidst unholy opposition. “People who build and create just have to keep our heads forward, keep building and creating, and hope that we survive the knife wounds in our backs.” In Nehemiah lies the perfect response, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?”

“It is my fervent prayer that in spite of temptations, we will never lower our standards; that in spite of distractions, wherever they may come from, we will not lose focus on what matters most.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

It can be well summed up in the words of Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Like Nehemiah, we have a great work to do. We stand overlooking the horizon of our age. It is my fervent prayer that in spite of temptations, we will never lower our standards; that in spite of distractions, wherever they may come from, we will not lose focus on what matters most; that we will stand resolute and together, shoulder to shoulder, as we valiantly bear the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ” (General Conference, April 2009).

May we stand resolute, without apology or fear, to do the things that we know the Lord would have us do. Let us not shrink but be strong and without hesitation to govern our lives, raise our families and do all that is right in the strength of the Lord. As we are anxiously engaged in God’s work we will know better when opposition comes and tries to drag us from our duties, to respond, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” May we not only survive the knife wounds in our backs, but live to see this work completed and our children benefiting from the love and obedience we have given to the beloved Father of us all. This is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.