Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

A Scripture That Will Motivate You To Action

By: John Bytheway

From the book: When Times Are Tough – 5 Scriptures That Will Get You Through Almost Anything

“Awake, and arise from the dust” (Moroni 10:31)

Moroni’s last words in the Book of Mormon are a wake-up call to “all the ends of the earth” (Moroni 10:24). His message is direct, clear, and unapologetic: Awake, come unto Christ, deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and I’ll see you at the judgment bar (Moroni 10:31–34).

The scriptures often use sleep as a metaphor for being spiritually lazy. Isaiah urged Zion to “awake” and put on her “beautiful garments” (Isaiah 52:1). Lehi told his sons to “awake” and “put on the armor of righteousness” (2 Nephi 1:23). Nephi’s younger brother Jacob told his brethren to “awake from the slumber of death” (Jacob 3:11). King Benjamin pleaded with his people to “awake to a remembrance of the awful situation of those that have fallen into transgression” (Mosiah 2:40). Alma invited the Zoramites to “awake and arouse [their] faculties” (Alma 32:27) as he taught them how to plant the testimony of Christ in their hearts. When God’s children sin or simply do not live up to their spiritual potential, God sends prophets to shake them into spiritual consciousness.

Sometimes prophets have to use frightening images of chains and hell to roust us from our spiritual slumber. Laman and Lemuel were physically present but in spiritual la-la land when Lehi tried to wake them up: “O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound. . . . Awake! and arise from the dust” (2 Nephi 1:13–14). (I don’t know exactly what the “sleep of hell” is, but it’s probably worse than a certain Boy Scout winter camp I’d like to forget.)

Sometimes our wake-up calls are less dramatic. Perhaps we’ve felt the Spirit at an inspiring fireside, been touched during general conference, or experienced a renewed desire to be a better person during our personal gospel study. This is our spiritual alarm clock saying, “Awake, and arise from the dust!”

The best thing that can happen when that alarm goes off is to get up and get with it. However, the spiritual alarm clock has a procrastination feature called the “snooze button” that is often a little too tempting: I really want to start a scripture study program, but I’m going to wait until the kids are back in school. I know I need to stop wasting my time with television, and I will as soon as this season of reality shows is over.

Sometimes even very good people can procrastinate the day of their awakening by making frequent use of the snooze button. Amulek was a decent man of “no small reputation,” but his spiritual alarm clock rang for some time before he answered the call. He was ignoring his wake-up call, and he knew it: “I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know” (Alma 10:4–6). The story of Amulek is particularly interesting because the Lord persisted with him, even though he had a pattern of repeatedly hitting the snooze button. That should give all of us hope even if we’ve continued in the same pattern.

Being awake has many advantages over being asleep, and being awake during the latter days is especially important. When we’re awake, we hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost and can benefit from divine direction in every area of life. President Brigham Young observed:

There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him His will, and to guide and to direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied, however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges.1

Those who are spiritually asleep are living beneath their privileges. Brigham Young wasn’t the only one to speak of what the Lord’s people are missing out on when they’re asleep on the job. Among the many concerns that must have caused distress to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball observed:

The greatest torment he [Joseph Smith] had and the greatest mental suffering was because this people would not live up to their privileges. There were many things he desired to reveal that we have not learned yet, but he could not do it. He said sometimes that he felt pressed upon and as though he were pent up in an acorn shell, and all because the people did not and would not prepare themselves to receive the rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge that he had to impart.2

Along these same lines, I’ve often wondered what kind of messages we men of the Church could hear in general priesthood meeting if we didn’t have to be reminded every six months to be decent husbands and fathers. What kind of spiritual treasures have we missed because we haven’t awakened to our duty concerning the most simple and basic things?

Sometime when you have a minute, read the message Alma gave to the people of Zarahemla—people who were clearly living beneath their privileges—in Alma 5. Next, read the message he gave to the people of Gideon in Alma 7. Note the incredible difference in tone and content between the two addresses. Because those in Gideon were spiritually awake, they were privileged to hear some of the most powerful teachings in the scriptures about the Savior and the breadth of his atonement. (You may recall that Scripture Four from Chapter One of this book came from Alma’s discourse in Gideon). Those in Zarahemla, on the other hand, had to be reminded once again of their duty.

Scripture One says, “Wake up!” In the words of Elder Sterling W. Sill, “You are to immediately stop doing all of the things that you . . . know that you should not do. . . . You are to immediately start doing all of the things that you . . . know that you should do.”3 Easier said than done? Of course it is, so start small. Stop doing the one thing that does the most to keep you from enjoying your spiritual privileges, and start doing the one thing that would bless your spiritual life the most. That’s a great way to wake up.

Finally, keep your hands off that snooze button! Procrastination in spiritual matters is the sleep of hell spoken of by Father Lehi. Instead of snoozing, we can arise before it is “everlastingly too late” (Helaman 13:38) and “awake to a sense of [our] awful situation” (Ether 8:24).

Robert Louis Stevenson observed, “You cannot run away from a weakness. You must sometime fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?”4 What a powerful quotation. Yes, why not now? And if not now, when? When is a better time to wake up? Later? It’s already later. It’s the latter days for crying out loud. This is the worst time to be putting on the natural man (Mosiah 3:19). Scripture One says, “Wake up now. Procrastinate later.”

The Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In the 1970 movie about that attack titled Tora! Tora! Tora! the character playing Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, fully aware of the industrial might of the United States, made a grave and ultimately correct observation: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” World War II has been over for more than fifty years, but Satan’s war against righteousness rages on. Scripture One is like a spiritual alarm clock intended to awaken the sleeping giant, or the spiritual giant within each of us. Moroni’s words can fill us with a wonderful resolve to come unto Christ, deny ourselves of all ungodliness, live up to our privileges, and prepare our families and the world for the Second Coming.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie once remarked that we are living in “the Saturday night of time and that on Sunday morning the Lord will come.”5 I suppose the Primary song is correct: “Saturday is a special day. It’s the day we get ready for Sunday.”6 If the Lord is coming Sunday morning, there’s no time to snooze. Scripture One is the Sunday morning alarm clock that says, “Up and at ’em, house of Israel; awake, and arise from the dust.”

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