`Beware detours, pitfalls and traps'

"Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, . . . " (D&C 85:6.)

At the April 1982 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson highlighted the might and power, and eventual end, of the Bismarck, a German battleship in World War II."Majestic in appearance, gigantic in size, awesome in firepower, the Bismarck was considered unsinkable," said President Monson, now first counselor in the First Presidency.

"The Bismarck's day of destiny dawned when . . . on May 24, 1941, the two most powerful warships in the British navy, the Prince of Wales and the Hood, engaged in battle the Bismarck and the German cruiser Prinz Eugen. Within four minutes, the Bismarck had sent to the depths of the Atlantic the Hood and all but three men of a crew of 1,419. The other British battleship, the Prince of Wales, had suffered heavy damage and turned away.

"Three days later, the Bismarck was engaged again, by four British warships. In all, the British concentrated the strength of eight battleships, two aircraft carriers, eleven cruisers, and twenty-one destroyers in an effort to seek and sink the mighty Bismarck.

"Shell after shell inflicted but superficial damage. Was the Bismarck unsinkable after all? Then a torpedo scored a lucky hit which jammed the Bismarck's rudder. Repair efforts proved fruitless. With guns primed, the crews at ready, the Bismarck could only steer a slow and stately circle. Just beyond reach was the powerful German air force. The safety of home port was ever so close. Neither could provide the needed haven, for the Bismarck had lost the ability to steer a charted course. No rudder; no help; no port. The end drew near. British guns blazed as the German crew scuttled and sank the once proud vessel. The hungry waves of the Atlantic first lapped at the sides, then swallowed the pride of the German navy. The Bismarck was no more." (See David Irving, Hitler's War, New York: The Viking Press, 1977.)

President Monson added: "Like the Bismarck, each of us is a miracle of engineering. Our creation, however, was not limited by human genius. Man can devise the most complex machines, but he cannot give them life or bestow upon them the powers of reason and judgment. Why? Because these are divine gifts, bestowed solely at God's discretion. Our Creator has provided us with a circulatory system to keep all channels constantly clean and serviceable, a digestive system to preserve strength and vigor, and a nervous system to keep all parts in constant communication and coordination. God gave man life, and with it, the power to think, to reason, to decide, and to love.

"Like the vital rudder of a ship, we have been provided a way to determine the direction we travel. The lighthouse of the Lord beckons to all as we sail the seas of life. Our home port is the celestial kingdom of God. Our purpose is to steer an undeviating course in that direction. A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder - never likely to reach home port. To us comes the signal: Chart your course, set your sail, position your rudder, and proceed.

"As with the ship, so it is with man. The thrust of the turbines, the power of the propellers are useless without that sense of direction, that harnessing of the energy, that directing of the power provided by the rudder, hidden from view, relatively small in size, but absolutely essential in function.

"Our Father provided the sun, the moon, the stars - heavenly galaxies to guide mariners who sail the lanes of the sea. To all who walk the pathways of life, He cautions: Beware the detours, the pitfalls, the traps. Cunningly positioned are those clever pied pipers of sin beckoning here or there. Do not be deceived. Pause to pray. Listen to that still, small voice (see D&C 85:6) which speaks to the depths of our souls the Master's gentle invitation: `Come, follow me.' (Luke 18:22). We turn from destruction, from death. We find happiness and life everlasting."

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