I am so glad that Conference time has come around again. It’s a time to get my bearings—check to see how far I may have drifted in the intervening 6 months. It’s so easy to get off course. That fraction of an inch off the mark today—an imperceptible deviation—may mean many miles off the mark in 6 months’ time.
Lately, I have thought of a 1984 Conference talk given by Bruce R. McConkie, of the Quorum of the Twelve, titled “The Caravan Moves On.” He began his talk with, “I propose some simple tests that all of us may take to determine if we are true to the faith….” He concluded his talk with:
Now, I have what every true disciple has. It is called the testimony of Jesus. In our day it includes the revealed knowledge that the earthly kingdom—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—will triumph. In this connection may I set before you this illustration:
The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.
What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.
Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.
Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.
Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!
The part about “barking dogs” has seemed an apt metaphor for the persecution of the Church and Church members recently, and has helped me to keep an optimistic perspective. It is true that “the earthly kingdom… will triumph.”
The “ravines, mud holes, steep grades to climb, storms, floods, deserts to cross,” etc. he mentioned are a perfect metaphor for the economic and other challenges of our day.
I think that part of the reason I enjoy Conference time so much is that I can actually see the Caravan and feel a sense of “moving on” with the Caravan. A short time after Conference, however, I have often struggled to maintain that feeling. I think that is because I have become distracted not only by life’s daily challenges, but also by trivial distractions (like internet stuff). Anything that distracts me from keeping my eye on “the celestial city” or maintaining my position in the caravan, is a distraction that serves Satan’s purposes.
As Michael Medved’s wife put it, referring to her feelings about certain “internet stuff”: ‘In fact, I’m finding it more and more irritating, a time-soaker that leaves me feeling slightly soiled, in need of a shower. … not only a colossal waste of time, but actually lowers me morally…. It’s about training your own soul away from the transcendent and the long-term, and toward physical here-and-now selfishness.’
The way she puts it, the “benign” distractions found on the internet may be worse and more dangerous than the barking dogs. She’s probably right