“Help Needed in the Shaded Areas,” Ensign, June 1971, 106
While serving in the army during World War II, I was required to take the Ishihara eye test, which makes use of different colors, designs, and numbers to diagnose color blindness in its various forms. Under this test, those affected by certain forms of color blindness are able to distinguish the solid colors without difficulty, but the shaded areas in between the solid colors present problems. Those who are color blind do not discern correctly; and, no matter how hard they try, they are not able to distinguish the differences in hue that are obvious to the normal eye.
In this Ishihara eye test I found an important message, one that has broad application in our lives.
Is there not similarity between the color-blind condition just described and the condition of a member of the Church who claims that he is seeking the truth, is anxious to develop a strong testimony pertaining to the truth, and yet is not willing or able to humble himself before the Lord, to exercise faith, and to live the gospel? By failing to do these things, he is letting his sins of omission close the door to the great source of all truth—our Father in heaven. As a result, his vision is faulty.
As we journey along through life we, as individuals, come in contact with many shaded areas, twilight zones, and even dark alleys, where we, unless aided by a higher power, are not able to see clearly, to interpret correctly, and to come to sound conclusions. Some of these shaded areas are found in the physical world, some in the intellectual world, and some in the realm of the spiritual. Let us remember, however, that the Lord has said that all things unto him are spiritual.
“Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.
“Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.” (D&C 29:34–35.)
As individuals, we have some limitations when it comes to our understanding of things as they really are. We can see so far, and then the earth and the sky come together, so to speak, and we cannot see beyond. But there is something beyond. In the physical world, all we have to do to realize this is to improve our vantage point by getting on top of a building, on a mountain, or in an airplane.
We need to improve our vantage points in all aspects of our living—in the intellectual and the spiritual realms as well as in the physical. As we attempt to do this, we should remember that, in every situation, there are facts and there are opinions. There are also causes of difficulties and there are symptoms that express themselves. To the extent that we are willing and able to get at the facts and at the causes and to see relationships among them clearly, we are in a good position to interpret correctly and to arrive at sound conclusions. But to the extent that we just fool around with opinions and symptoms, we may prolong our difficulties and postpone the time for arriving at lasting, satisfying solutions.
It is important that we remember also that no matter how intelligent we may be, no matter how hard we work, no matter how good our teachers are or how favorable the other conditions for learning, in our allotted span of years on earth we can master only a very small fraction of the total field of knowledge; and what we do master usually is in a narrowed-down, specialized area. Consequently, we, in and of ourselves, have limitations. Our thinking is often highly selective and segmented and our judgment is often faulty. Should we not, then, be willing to heed the counsel given by Solomon:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5–6.)
Without divine guidance, we will have difficulty in the shaded areas of life. But we need not walk alone. Our Father in heaven and his Son Jesus Christ and the prophets—both ancient and modern—have given us a well-charted course for our journey through life. We can find joy and happiness and we can arrive at our destination in safety if we will but heed the road signs and follow the directions that have been given to us.
What are these road signs and directions? They are recorded in detail in holy writ and in the inspired utterings of our present-day prophets. Let me mention just a few of them. I should like to begin with a statement made by the Lord himself as recorded in John, chapter 7, verses 16 and 17:
“Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” [John 7:16–17]
In the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, chapter 1, verses 16 and 17, we read:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” [Rom. 1:16–17]
In Second Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 7, we read: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” [2 Cor. 5:7]
From the Book of Mormon, in Alma, chapter 26, verse 22, these words spoken by Ammon: “Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed. …” [Alma 26:22]
From the Doctrine and Covenants we read in section 88, verse 63: “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” [D&C 88:63]
And, in section 18, verse 18, the Lord, speaking to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer, said: “Ask the Father in my name, in faith believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient unto the children of men.” [D&C 18:18]
And, in section 121, verses 45 and 46
“Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.” [D&C 121:45–46]
The Lord has told us in the Book of Mormon, in Moroni, the tenth chapter and the fifth verse, that by the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things. [Moro. 10:5] What a wonderful promise that is; and it can be realized by all of us who are members of the Church, because during our confirmation, following baptism, hands were laid on our heads, and one having authority gave us the gift of the Holy Ghost. If we will just live the way we should and do our part, we can experience what a great strength and blessing the Holy Ghost can be in our lives. It can broaden and extend our horizons and can turn the lights on for us so that we can see more clearly in the shaded areas of life and, in fact, in all areas of our living.
Some people seem to be more inclined to disbelieve the scriptures and the teachings of our present-day prophets than they are to believe them. I have said in my heart that if they would put forth the same effort to believe that they do to disbelieve, and would humble themselves, exercise faith, and study diligently, the Holy Ghost would help them, and they would find that they believe many of the things they now think they disbelieve.
The Holy Ghost can give us a sure conviction that man is a child of God. Altogether too frequently, when men, unaided, try to understand the relationship of man to God, they look at things through mortal eyes only and consider only mortal conditions. But this life is not the beginning, neither is it the end. To understand man’s relationship with God, we must broaden our perspective with the help of the Holy Ghost and consider the preexistent state and also the life after death.
The Holy Ghost can help us see more clearly in the shaded areas. But in order for it to be the power that it can be and should be in our lives, things must be right within us. We must be truly humble, exercise strong faith associated with good works, pray regularly and sincerely, couple prayer with fasting, study the gospel diligently, live the gospel, keep active in the Church, and give of ourselves in unselfish service to others and to building the kingdom of God here upon the earth.
I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost in my life—in the classroom—in military combat—in my church assignments—and in my daily living. The influence has been most pronounced when I have humbled myself before the Lord and have prepared myself by exercising faith, studying hard, living the gospel, and through fasting and prayer.
I testify to you that God lives, that the gospel is true, that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, and that we have a true prophet of God leading us today. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.