As I ran some errands in Palmer last week, I felt the wind blowing down the Matanuska Valley. I live in a sheltered area in the Butte. For the most part, the cold glacial winds don’t reach us there. I had almost forgotten their sting over the warm summer. But seasons change, and the winds are coming.
Six years ago, an unusually fierce wind raged off the Knik Glacier. The Knik winds are usually warmer than those in Palmer and blow less often. That year about a fourth of the shingles blew off our roof. Stiff cottonwood branches snapped, and a large spruce tree blew over. Its roots still point to the sky, clinging to the dirt they ripped from the rocky soil. That year, we fixed the roof before it snowed. But the spruce and its roots remain and remind me of the damage these infrequent winds can bring.
Jesus Christ used the changing seasons and leafing fig tree to teach his disciples about his second coming. In Matthew 24, He outlined some of the signs, commotion, and destruction that would proceed his return to the earth. Those who await his return can recognize these signs in the alarming circumstances of natural disasters, wars, and degrading family relationships. “So likewise, mine elect, when they shall see all these things, they shall know that he is near, even at the doors” (Matt 24:39).
The signs of second coming of Christ include strong winds. Literal winds increase as hurricanes, tornados, and storms become more frequent and more fierce. But spiritual turbulence is also increasing. Anger, meanness, and self-righteous attitudes pervade social discourse. Selfishness and greed lead to abuse and neglect.
The Latter-day Saint Apostle, Neil L. Andersen, taught, “More concerning than the prophesied earthquakes and wars are the spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot you from your spiritual foundations and land your spirit in places you never imagined possible, sometimes with your barely noticing that you have been moved.
“The worst whirlwinds are the temptations of the adversary. Sin has always been part of the world, but it has never been so accessible, insatiable, and acceptable. There is, of course, a powerful force that will subdue the whirlwinds of sin. It is called repentance.
“Not all the whirlwinds in life are of your own making. Some come because of the wrong choices of others, and some come just because this is mortality.”
Andersen then explained that trees that grow in windy environments become stronger. The turbulence and force of the wind signals the young trees to deepen and extend their roots. Their branches become stronger and more flexible. These changes protect the tree from harsh storms in the future.
He continued, “You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead” (Ensign, May 2014, p.18-21).
Just as God has created a way for trees to adapt to turbulent climates, he has prepared a way for us to withstand and overcome trials and sin. The influence of the Holy Ghost helps us recognize and seek after truth. Our faith grows as we feel and act upon promptings to change and choose a better life path.
Faith provides strength and security in times of uncertainty. In the New Testament, Paul wrote, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith… abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).
When we are rooted in Christ, we seek to learn of him. Reading his word brings peace, understanding, and clarity. “And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” (JST Matt 1:36). Prayer, repentance, obedience, and service are also hallmarks of a Christ-centered life.
The spiritual whirlwinds of life have the potential to uproot us. But they also have the power to strengthen our faith, lead us to repent, and deepen our commitment to follow Christ. Whether we enjoy more sheltered circumstances or are feeling lost and battered by the winds of life, in Him we’ll find “refuge from the storm” (Isaiah 25:4).
Amity Condie has lived in Palmer for 15 years. She enjoys skijoring with her dogs and family. She likes to read and make spreadsheets. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.