Sunday, September 11, 2011

What I Learned in Church Today: Switch Points

Today's Sunday School Lesson material focused on 1 Corinthians 11-15. In these chapters, Paul addresses the Saints in Corinth regarding his concern that they are straying from some of the pure doctrines of Christ.

The lesson began with an excerpt from a 1972 address given by then, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Many years ago I worked in the head office of one of our railroads. One day I received
a telephone call from my counterpart in Newark, New Jersey, who said that a passenger
train had arrived without its baggage car. The patrons were angry.

“We discovered that the train had been properly made up in Oakland, California, and
properly delivered to St. Louis, from which station it was to be carried to its destination
on the east coast. But in the St. Louis yards, a thoughtless switchman had moved a
piece of steel just three inches. That piece of steel was a switch point, and the car that
should have been in Newark, New Jersey, was in New Orleans, Louisiana, thirteen
hundred miles away”
With this concept in mind, we discussed the doctrine in 1 Corinthians and then considered how a seemingly small change might have a significant effect on where we might find ourselves in relationships to doctrine. These "switch points" can be an event, decision, new knowledge, or any change that can shift the direction of our beliefs and life. Switch points can be negative if they lead us from the truth, or positive if they put us back on the right track.

As I pondered on "switch points" in my life, I could not help but to immediately consider the impact of September 11, 2001 on my life and on my relationship with God.

Prophet Thomas S. Monson submitted an Op-Ed piece to The Washington Times which was printed this week here. My memories of that time ten years ago are best described in the following excerpt from that piece:
"There was, as many have noted, a remarkable surge of faith following the tragedy. People across the United States rediscovered the need for God and turned to Him for solace and understanding. Comfortable times were shattered. We felt the great unsteadiness of life and reached for the great steadiness of our Father in Heaven. And, as ever, we found it. Americans of all faiths came together in a remarkable way."
As I watched breathlessly to the news reports, I felt compelled to DO something. But I was in Utah so far from any place that could use my assistance. As a result I DID the only thing I could think of...I dropped to my knees in prayer over and over and over. Up until that point, my approach to prayer had been much less formal. I would tend to kneel for a groggy morning prayer, but most of my petitions were sent as I busily prepared for the day or later as I commuted in my car. I had never been a diligent kneeler. There was something about the act of humbly kneeling that brought some kind of satisfaction in those first hours and days. I felt like I was DOING something.

9/11 has been a "switch point" for me in regards to my approach to prayer. I find that the act of kneeling in prayer helps me to do so in a more humble and reverent manner. I am more inclined to be thoughtful and grateful, and less likely to be casual and demanding.

Because of the attacks on September 11, I eagerly and without apology, fall to my knees to appeal to God in both the good and the bad times. And because of the peace I was granted as I did so ten years ago, I have hope that the same peace will be granted to me even still.

The Healing Fields, Sandy UT, 9/11/11

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