Today’s message is inspired by heat. It’s hot in Utah. While walking across the parking lot from my car to the chapel this afternoon the heel of my shoe sunk deep into a patch of black asphalt which had melted into a gooey tar pit. I had to pull with both hands to pry it loose! Here in the Western USA we specialize in the oven-baked, dry-as-a-bone, desert-dehydration, skin-cracking kind of heat! It’s not pleasant.
Today we’re going to learn about a much more intense kind of heat, and its ‘cool’ analogy.
Before being called and ordained as an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, every leader has had a notable public career. Our current apostles include a rocket scientist, a heart surgeon, some educators, and an attorney general, just to name a few. [for the full list, see here]
Elder Richard G. Scott studied mechanical engineering and worked as a nuclear engineer. He helped design the nuclear reactor for the Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine. [how cool is that?] Elder Scott was called and ordained as a member of the Twelve in September, 1988.
Just 7 months later, Elder Scott gave his first General Conference talk as the newest apostle from the pulpit of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. His message was directed specifically to the youth, but can be applied to all ages.
In his talk, he used an interesting analogy from his scientific background to teach a spiritual principal:
“For a piece of wood to catch fire, it must first be heated to a temperature at which it ignites, then burns by itself. The initial heating requires energy from outside. When it is ignited, it becomes self-sustaining and gives beneficial light and heat.
“For you, the early years of life are often spent in absorbing help from parents and others as you prepare for the time you can be more self-sufficient. I want to help you catch fire spiritually, that you may enjoy the marvelous experience of radiating strength to others while you continue to grow and develop yourself.
“There is a more intense fire than that of burning wood. It is produced from a mixture of aluminum powder and metal oxide. By itself, it is cold and lifeless, but when heated to the ignition temperature, it becomes a self-sustaining source of brilliant light and intense heat. Once it ignites it cannot be put out by ordinary means. It will burn under water or in other environments that extinguish an ordinary flame. When it burns, it does not depend on its surroundings for support. It is self-sustaining.”
SCIENCE ALERT!! The “more intense fire” that Elder Scott is referring to is called THERMITE.
Thermite is a chemical reaction between a metal & a metal oxide which can burn as hot as 2500°C [4,532° Ferenheit] or more! That’s REALLY HOT.
As one website describes:
“if you lit a pound of thermite on top of your car it would melt through your hood, through your engine, through your driveway, and make a hole in the ground. This reaction has a high ignition temperature, but once it’s ignited it supplies it’s own oxygen. Thermite is still used today for underwater welding.”
Elder Scott finishes his analogy:
“The spiritual flame in some is easily quenched by the world around them. Yet others live so as to be strengthened and nurtured by the Lord. They not only overcome the temptations of the world, their unquenchable spirit enriches the lives of others around them.” . . .
“You know what is right and wrong. Be the leader in doing right. At first, you may not be understood. You may not have the friends you want right away, but in time, they will respect you, then admire you. Many will come privately to receive strength from your spiritual flame. You can do it. I know you can do it.”
Excerpts from Elder Richard G. Scott, Trust In The Lord, LDS General Conference, April 1989
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
It appears that as important as it is to have “The Spirit of God Like A Fire“ burning within us, we can have more! An apostle of God has encouraged us to go much farther to develop a faith that burns so hot that it is “unquenchable”. A faith that will “not depend on [our] surroundings for support, [but will be] self-sustaining”.
We need to be able to “weld” ourselves to God, despite any kind of adverse circumstance, so that we can not only be strong, but be able to help others.
Or, in other words, we need to build a THERMITE TESTIMONY. :) – MoSop