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Elder Vern P. Stanfill of the Seventy speaks Oct. 3 during the Saturday afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference.

Latter-day Saints live in a world in which they will experience challenges to their faith, said Elder Vern P. Stanfill of the Seventy.

“We may feel confident that we are ready to face these challenges — only to find that our preparations have been insufficient…,” he said. “Apostolic voices urge us to prepare ourselves with the powerful light of spiritual strength.”

Speaking Saturday afternoon, Elder Stanfill said not long ago he and his wife rode their bicycles with friends along the Hiawatha Trail, a converted rail line that crosses the Rocky Mountains between Montana and Idaho. They knew the ride along the 15-mile trail would include long tunnels penetrating rugged mountains so they strapped lights to their helmets and bicycles.

After they had ridden only a few minutes into a long tunnel when darkness engulfed them. Elder Stanfill said the lights he brought proved inadequate. “Suddenly, I began to feel anxious, confused, and disoriented.”

Although an experienced cyclist, Elder Stanfill then felt as though he had never ridden a bicycle. Finally, he was able to draw closer to the more powerful light of a friend. “By staying close to him and relying for a time on his light and the collective light of the group, we pushed deeper into the darkness of the tunnel.”

After what seemed like hours, he saw a pinpoint of light. “All anxiety disappeared as we pedaled quickly toward the light.”

Elder Stanfill said he learned some important lessons from his experience in the tunnel.

First, no matter how intense the darkness of doubt, “we choose how long and to what extent we allow it to influence us.”

“We must remember how much our Heavenly Father and His Son love us. They will neither abandon us, nor will They allow us to be overcome if we seek Their help,” Elder Stanfill said.

Help from the Savior may take the form of help from a trusted friend, leader, or a loving parent, Elder Stanfill said.

Second,we must trust in the Lord in order to develop spiritual strength within ourselves,” he said.

Latter-day Saints cannot rely upon the light of others forever, he said. “We must act, expecting that the Lord will fulfill His promise to lift us from the darkness if we draw near unto Him. The adversary, however, will try to convince us that we have never felt the influence of the Spirit and that it will be easier just to stop trying.”

Third, there is no darkness so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light, Elder Stanfill said.

“We have not been left alone to be influenced by every whim and change in the world’s attitude, but we have the power to choose belief over doubt. In order to access the promised compensatory spiritual power, we must choose to heed prophetic counsel, recognize and act upon spiritual promptings, be obedient to God’s commandments, and seek personal revelation. We must choose. May we choose the light of the Savior.”

sarah@deseretnews.com @SJW_ChurchNews

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