"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
April 2, 2014
"Having Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning"
by Kathryn Grant

When someone says “emergency preparedness,” what comes to mind? If you’re like most of us, you probably think of food storage, 72-hour kits, or maybe even CPR training.

These things are vital, and neglecting them puts us and our loved ones at risk. But there’s another component of preparedness that’s just as important or more so — yet it often gets less attention. That component is spiritual preparedness.

We can think of spiritual preparedness as a state of spiritual strength and readiness. It’s not just for spiritual emergencies, such as temptation or wavering faith. In fact, I’ve never yet come across a physical or temporal trial that didn’t also have a spiritual component. And the scriptures counsel us repeatedly to be ready for the Lord’s second coming.

Spiritual preparation isn’t complex or hard to understand. We all know the basics: love God and others, read the scriptures, pray often, pay an honest tithe, and keep the Sabbath day holy, which includes attending church and partaking worthily of the sacrament.

Also key is attending the temple “as frequently as time and means and personal circumstances allow.” (A Temple Motivated People, by President Howard W. Hunter.)

Referring to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Bishop Victor L. Brown taught that the “preparation necessary ... was a simple, everyday task. The arrival of the bridegroom did not require unusual or elaborate preparation.

Our preparation should be deliberate.... We should prepare ourselves one step at a time as the Lord so inspires us.” (Preparation for Tomorrow, October 1982 General Conference.)

By definition, emergencies are unpredictable. As the saying goes, when the time to act has come, the time to prepare has passed. In fact, that’s part of the problem: before the emergency comes, preparation doesn’t seem urgent — unless we have eyes to see and ears to hear (Mark 8:18).

In fact, spiritual preparation tends to fall in Stephen Covey’s Quadrant II: important but not urgent, at least at the time.

So let’s say we’d like to fail at spiritual preparation: to put ourselves and others at risk, to heighten our stress level and compromise our peace of mind. Let’s say we don’t want to be spiritually strong in order to meet the inevitable mortal trials that come, such as the death of a loved one, illness, betrayal, unemployment, or political instability.

Let’s say we’d like to be caught by surprise when the Savior returns. What could we do?

The best failure formula I know of has two parts: make excuses and procrastinate. The two usually go hand in hand. Instead of making a plan to succeed, we won’t make a plan at all. We’ll tell ourselves we’ll get around to it some day, but in the meantime, we’ll keep a handy list of reasons why we skipped scripture study or didn’t get to the temple again this week.

On the other hand, let’s say we don’t want to fail — we want to be ready, to safeguard our loved ones and ourselves, to have the guidance of the Holy Ghost and peace in our hearts (D&C 38:30). What strategy works best then?

Well, pretty much the opposite of the failure strategy. We’ll make a prayerful plan for success. We’ll make daily prayer and scripture study a priority. We’ll schedule regular temple worship and not allow other things to interfere. We’ll make the Sabbath a day of true worship and rest. Day by day, drop by drop, act by righteous act, we’ll add oil to our lamps so we are spiritually ready.

“Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom — For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that I come quickly.” (D&C 33:17-18; emphasis added.)

Let’s keep our lamps trimmed and burning. We have no time to lose.

For additional reading:

Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady by President Henry B. Eyring, October 2005 General Conference

A Time of Urgency by Elder Marvin J. Ashton, April 1974 General Conference

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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