Elder Von G. Keetch: ‘Blessed and Happy Are Those Who Keep the Commandments of God’

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During a trip to Australia, Elder Von G. Keetch of the Seventy met a group of American surfers who were upset about a mesh net barrier on the edge of a horseshoe bay. Just beyond the barrier, large waves, perfect for surfing, were breaking out of reach. As they grew more animated, an older local man approached the group and offered them the use of his binoculars. When Elder Keetch's turn came, he spotted the dorsal fins of many large sharks feeding just outside the barrier.

"Don't be too critical of the barrier," the old man said. "It's the only thing that's keeping you from being devoured."

During the Sunday afternoon session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference Elder Keetch spoke of how God's commandments, like the barrier, can seem to be restrictive when they are actually protective.

"As the Apostle Paul described, we see through a glass darkly, with such a limited perspective, that we often cannot comprehend the great dangers hidden just below the surface," he said. But God knows exactly where they are. "He gives us divine direction, through His commands and loving guidance, so that we may avoid the dangers — so that we may set a course in our lives that is protected from spiritual predators and the gaping jaws of sin," Elder Keetch said.

"We show our love for God — and our faith in Him — by doing our very best every day to follow the course that He has laid out for us and by keeping the commandments that He has given to us," he said, especially when the reason to do so isn't fully understood.

In the New Testament, Ananias might have been wary of healing the blindness of a man who had antagonized the early members of the Church, but "because he obeyed God's command, Ananias was instrumental in the spiritual birth of the Apostle Paul," Elder Keetch said.

True obedience to God's commandments means "giving ourselves entirely to Him and allowing Him to chart our course both in calm waters and in troubled ones, understanding that He can make more of us than we could ever make of ourselves," Elder Keetch said. Keeping commandments is more than enduring a maze of barriers, he said. Instead, they create "a safe harbor from the evil and destructive influences that would otherwise drag us down to the depths of despair.

"The Lord's commandments are given out of love and caring," Elder Keetch said, "they are intended for our joy in this life just as much as they are intended for our joy and exaltation in the next."

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