1 Nephi 21
This chapter quotes Isaiah 49 and reminds us that Jesus Christ is our greatest hero. He “shall be [our] strength.” He will be “a light” to us. He will “lead [us], even by the springs of water shall he guide [us].” He will help us endure and overcome our trials for He promised, “I will make all my mountains a way.” No matter the mountain we have to climb, the obstacle we have to overcome, or the illness we have to endure, Jesus Christ will help us succeed and hold on. He will not forsake us or forget us for He is filled with compassion for us. He reminds each one of us, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands….I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children….and all flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob” (1 Nephi 21:16, 25-26).
Jesus Christ is our Savior. His work is His Father’s work, the work of salvation. “My work [is] with my God.” Heroes know that their work is with their God and involve themselves in this great work of salvation. They don’t spend their “[labor] in vain…or [spend their] strength for naught and in vain.” Heroes follow the light of Jesus Christ and the standards He taught so that they can “Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” (D&C 115:5).
One of my favorite heroes is Joan of Arc, a young woman who willingly accepted the invitation God gave her to join in His work for the physical salvation of a king and a kingdom. Joan of Arc and her army were able to achieve great success because they relied on the Lord and followed His standards. Mark Twain extensively researched and wrote an amazing biography on Joan of Arc. In Book 2, Chapter 12 he described some of the standards Joan implemented in her army.
She said that all those loose women must pack out of the place at once, she wouldn’t allow one of them to remain. Next, the rough carousing must stop, drinking must be brought within proper and strictly defined limits, and discipline must take the place of disorder. And finally she climaxed the list of surprises with this…:
‘Every man who joins my standard must confess before the priest and absolve himself from sin; and all accepted recruits must be present at divine service twice a day.’
Joan herself vowed to live the law of chastity and encouraged her army to break off swearing in addition to stopping their roughhousing and drinking. Along with inviting them to attend church services twice daily, she also encouraged them to pray to God. I see two main reasons why her army enthusiastically followed her in living these high standards. First, she set the example and lived very high standards personally. Second, she didn’t force anyone to follow her standards. Rather, she invited and encouraged them to live a higher way allowing each man his agency to choose how best to live and then she praised them for their efforts to be better no matter how small or great their improvement. Twain went on to say:
In three days it was a clean camp and orderly, and those barbarians were herding the divine service twice a day like good children….
The enthusiasm of the reformed army for Joan, its devotion to her, and the hot desire she had aroused in it to be led against the enemy, exceeded any manifestations of this sort which La Hire [a great French General] had ever seen before in his long career. His admiration of it all, and his wonder over the mystery and miracle of it, were beyond his power to put into words. He had held this army cheap before, but his pride and confidence in it knew no limits now. He said:
‘Two or three days ago it was afraid of a hen-roost; one could storm the gates of hell with it now.’
When we live the standards set by the Savior and reiterated by living prophets in For the Strength of Youth, we, too, will be able to withstand the adversary and win our battles because the Lord will be with us. In his 2006 address, “Your Light–A Standard to All Nations,” President James E. Faust said,
To other girls in the fifteenth century, Joan of Arc seemed to be very different….don’t be afraid to be different in our century! Sometimes we have to be different in order to maintain Church standards. So I repeat, don’t be afraid to be different, but be as good as you can be. Many…are concerned about their friends’ conduct and style of dress. Such conduct may be motivated by a desire to be accepted by the peer group. Joan of Arc did not worry about what her friends did, but rather about what she knew she should do.
In our society today I see so many people who blame others for their failures. I have observed that those who accept personal responsibility for their actions are more successful than those who blame their shortcomings and lack of accomplishments on someone else.
We can let the light within us show in many different ways. It may be as simple as a smile….
The counsel of the Lord to “arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations” should energize all of us. Great opportunities await you…to fulfill. Technology will continue to increase. The avenues for expressing your talents may exceed your fondest hopes and expectations. Challenges will come to each of you, but you can find happiness by doing all that you know to be right. You will need faith and determination to find your place in the world, but with perseverance and the help of the Lord, you can do it.
As [children] of our Heavenly Father, each of you can be a partaker of His divine nature (See 2 Pet. 1:4). It is inherent in your beings. I testify that each of you…has special gifts from our Heavenly Father….As you cultivate these gifts, you will grow in strength, purpose, and nobility.
This is the work of God. We are all His servants. He is watching over us. He wants us to succeed. We all have some part of the holy work to accomplish, even though it may seem small and obscure.
*How has following the standard of the Lord blessed your life or others?
*Who has been a light and a standard to inspire you to live better?
*How can you be a greater light and engage yourself more fully in the work of God?