Cyclical History

Reading: “Learning the Lessons of the Past,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session

Lately my fascination with learning about history has blossomed, largely thanks to this great podcast. As I learn about past wars, past plagues, past drama, past historical figures it becomes more and more apparent that history repeats itself.  The phrase that has been stuck in my head from a recent popular TV show is “All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again.”  While many like to think that modern technology and modern ideas will protect us, as a student of the scriptures it is only more apparent that as we approach the second coming of Christ that the great stories of history will happen again right before our eyes.

In this talk Elder Ballard teaches us that it is important to learn from those who have gone before in order to protect ourselves from the cycles of men, but that such learning is useless unless we take it into our hearts.  He says,

And so it returns, as it always does, to your own personal faith and testimony. That is the difference-maker, my young brothers and sisters. That is how you know. That is how you avoid the mistakes of the past and take your spirituality to the next level. If you are open and receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in your lives, you will understand the lessons of the past, and they will be burned into your souls by the power of your testimonies.

As a student in high school I remember learning all kind of fascinating stories about history, yet I took very few of them to heart, and neither did my fellow students.  Sometimes I would stand back and think to myself, “How can we read these stories and continue to live as we do?  We aren’t really learning anything.”  I hope that the same thing does not happen when I study the scriptures.  As much as we can learn from history, the scriptures are full to the brim of knowledge that will help us through any trial, but only if we take it into our hearts.

Today I am going to think about some of the stories I have read in the scriptures that apply to our current society and write about the parallels in my journey.  The story of the Nephites’ rise and fall prior to the first coming of Christ is the first that comes to mind, but I’m sure I can think of some other good ones.

Can you think of any parallels in the scriptures to our current day and age? What about on the personal level – are there any stories in the scriptures that contain knowledge that can help you personally right now?


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