Hold the Ground at all Hazards!

1796525_10152218264883850_1157900190_nMarch 18, 2014

Never give ground! Never lose that which you have received.

The Zone Conference was ending, and President Schmutz was giving his closing remarks.

For lack of a better title, he had entitled his training to the missionaries, “The Necessity to Work with Members to Establish the Church to Hasten the Work of Salvation.”

He taught the missionaries the necessity of working with members to “retain the fruit” of baptisms. Members who make visits with the missionaries and learn to teach new members will deepen their own testimonies as well as those of the new members.

In the April 2013 General Conference, Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited…When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes…I know this work is God’s very truth, and I know that only at our peril would we allow doubt or devils to sway us from its path.  First and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.

 Last summer we stood with our daughter and grandsons on a hill called “Little Round Top” and looked across the battlefield known as Gettysburg. We read the words on a nearby marker.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Union General Gouverneur K. Warren found Little Round Top undefended. He quickly sent his staff to find troops to defend this vital position. General George Sykes, commanding the 5th Corps, agreed to send a brigade to occupy the hill. Sykes’ orders were intercepted by Colonel Strong Vincent, commanding the Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps. Without waiting for approval from his commanding officer, Vincent, “took the responsibility of taking my brigade there,” to Little Round Top.

Riding ahead of his troops, Vincent ascended this hill and selected the ground where his brigade would make its defense. Vincent personally placed each of his four regiments. He entrusted his left flank to Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain’s 20th Maine. Vincent’s orders to Chamberlain were to “hold the ground at all hazards.” Within minutes of forming his line, Vincent’s brigade was assaulted by Confederate regiments of Law’s and Robertson’s brigades. A desperate battle ensued across the entire brigade line. The line held, but the cost was high, including Vincent, who was mortally wounded.

We read the words on another marker.

Late on the second day, the 358 men of the 20th Maine Volunteers found themselves anchoring the southern end of the Union line. If they could not stop the Confederate tide here on the southern slopes of Little Round Top, the Federal line might be unhinged.

For more than an hour, waves of Alabamians repeatedly stormed this hillside from below, but were repulsed each time. So deadly was the struggle that “blood stood in puddles on the rocks.” When the New Englanders’ ammunition was nearly spent, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain ordered a desperate bayonet charge that drove the Alabamians back for good, thus securing the Union left flank.

Historians call the Battle of Gettysburg the “turning point” of the American Civil War. If Vincent’s brigade had not held the line, would the course of history have been changed?

We are all veterans of another war.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (Revelations 12:7-8)

This war did not damage physical bodies. The damage was done to eternal souls. Those who could be persuaded to accept the Plan of Salvation received their assignment to earth life, where through their experiences they could qualify to return to heaven “crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.” Those who would not be persuaded were cast out.

The war continues in mortality. Valiant souls seek to persuade others to accept the Plan of Salvation and receive their eternal blessings. Satan and his minions seek to deceive and destroy.

If we don’t hold the line; if we don’t hold the ground at all hazards; if we don’t hold fast to what we already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes; the course of our own eternal history may be changed forever.

 

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