In Wisdom and Order: A Book Review
Life gets crazy around here. I live in the desert outside Las Vegas, a place I never thought I would live, herding five kids who are considerably smarter than I am, from one end of the day to another. Each day brings inexplicable bits of chaos: My son decided to re-configure our wi-fi because he was certain that just moving around some cables would re-animate a long-dead PC. My three youngest children were found tempting fate and gravity, leaning over a frigid pool (which was supposedly gated to prevent their access) to investigate the ice sculptures formed during our recent freezing spell (they are true desert babies who don’t understand ice, hypothermia, or what happens if you accidentally fall into a pool of very, very cold water). I never know what each day will bring and I stopped trying to plan the years a long time ago.
One of the gospel principles that has always brought me considerable peace is the knowledge that God is a god of order. I have no idea what is going to be coming my way, but I know that God knows the end from the beginning and that I can trust in His sense of direction. Connected to that principle is that God speaks to His servants. The very real and orderly organization of priesthood government and stewardships set in place through revelation from a loving God to His bewildered children allows me to trust that direction received from local and general church leaders will never go awry and that I can seek for spiritual guidance and power for my little brood, for they are my stewardship.
In a 1987 CES fireside, President Packer spoke of the importance of understanding lines of priesthood authority. He said
“there is great purpose in teaching the lines of authority and the patterns of protocol in priesthood government. Sometimes members get a little weary of that, but there is great and powerful protection in it. Protection is embodied in a word that is very unpopular, particularly when we are young: obedience! We need to understand the order of the priesthood and the safety in following the counsel of priesthood leaders.”
That idea brings me comfort, but until I read that talk I didn’t connect the spiritual power I seek to guide my family with the comfort I find in understanding the order of God’s kingdom. The subject of President Packer’s talk was the gifts of the Spirit and he spoke about obedience and understanding priesthood authority in the context of seeking spiritual power and being able to rely on the guidance of leaders through our own obedience. He said
“spiritual gifts belong to the Church and their existence is one of the great and abiding testimonies of the truth of the gospel. They really are not optional with the Church. . . .a spiritual gift is an endowment of spiritual power . . . .signs . . . are evidences, or visible manifestations that a spiritual power is present.”
President Packer is a constant voice for obedience, defining God’s truth and His laws with unwavering clarity. In 1998, he spoke at a CES fireside with the express purpose of testifying to those who disagree with us, stating
“As I grow older in age and experience, I grow ever less concerned over whether others agree with us. I grow ever more concerned that they understand us. If they do understand, they have their agency and can accept or reject the gospel as they please.”
Reading this statement helped me to understand President Packer’s willingness to speak so bluntly on the ‘sticky’ topics of the day. I love his clarity; the way he never minces words. Gospel truths taught with power.
President Boyd K. Packer has become known, in past years, for speaking with directness on topics irrespective of whether they run afoul of prevailing social thought. In Wisdom and Order is a small collection of his sermons over the years, many not heard in General Conference and thus less widely known.
The title of the anthology is taken from Mosiah 4:27
See that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.
Seeking the gifts of the Spirit is essentially a search to know and become like God and for that, we must understand His order.
This anthology is organized, not chronologically, but thematically in six parts: Gospel Foundations, Principles for Perfection, Priesthood, Youth and Family, Teachers and Servants, and Lessons from our Leaders (which includes his funeral talks eulogizing the last three prophets). Most of the talks are not easily found elsewhere and are a treasure trove of simple, powerful gospel truths.
President Packer is always teaching us the path to the knowledge of God, ‘the wisdom and order’ by which we may return to God’s presence with the spiritual gifts He would bestow upon us. I know as I seek for my spiritual gifts, I will find the order God has for me and my chaos.