(Detail from Moroni Burying the Plates, by Gary Ernest Smith, taken from LDS.org)
A few weeks ago I tried to start a little movement. General Conference had just ended and I wanted to share my testimony with a certain hashtag and inspire others to do the same. I tried to use social media to help get the message of the gospel out to the world—like we’re asked to do by our leaders, and commanded to by God.
The effort failed instantly. No one picked up on the hashtag. No one commented on or shared my post. No one was listening at all.
I felt sorry for myself for a while. The way I always do when I spend a good few hours on a blog post that seems to disappear in the avalanche of news feeds within seconds of it being posted. It can be humiliating to bear a preaching posture and then only afterwards find out nobody’s listening. You kinda have to go off in the shadows and humble yourself a little bit.
Because then I have to remember, preaching to people who aren’t listening has been done before. Prophets and missionaries have literally gone on suicide missions on the off-chance someone might listen.
Look at Abinadi. He faced King Noah and his hordes of priests totally alone. He burned to death without knowing his preaching had done any good. He probably thought himself a failure.
Look at Moroni (Mormon’s son, not the captain). He spent most of his life as the loneliest person who’d ever, or would ever, live.
Now I, Moroni, after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have no t as yet perished; and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me.
For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ.
And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.
Wherefore, I write a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed; for I had supposed not to have written any more; but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the Lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord.
That “future day” was all he had hope in. That far distant possibility was his only motivation. In writing in The Book of Mormon, Moroni was writing in a kind of blog—a blog with absolutely no followers, no readers, no one to like or share his posts. He was more alone than anybody but Christ could or would ever feel.
But he felt the duty to write those last few chapters of the Book of Mormon anyway. And Abinadi knew it was his duty to preach to whom the Lord told him to preach. And look at the fruits of their preaching!
Because of Abinadi, Alma the Elder was converted. That conversion made the entire rest of the Book of Mormon possible! Everything that happens after Abinadi preaches in King Noah’s court is due to Alma restarting the church of Christ. Look at his children, the chain of descendants he had. Alma the Younger, the two Helamans, the two Nephis. Look at the impact they had on hundreds of thousands of souls in their day, and millions upon millions in our day.
And the “few more things” that Moroni decided to write in his lonely little blog? The sacrament prayers. Sermons from his father on the baptism of infants. The promise that closes the Book of Mormon, the promise that has sent millions to their knees to know of the truth for themselves, the promise that has created generations of Latter-day Saints who, because of that promise, cannot deny the reality of Jesus Christ and the restoration of His gospel on the Earth today.
But at the time, it was just another journal entry.
Look, I am clearly not Moroni. I am assuredly not Abinadi. I probably won’t ever face any hardship even close to theirs. No one in my generation probably will. And likewise, our efforts to share the gospel probably will not have quite as strong an eventual effect as theirs did.
But my message to my readers here, as few as they are, is the message of which I have to remind myself: don’t let lack of immediate audience dissuade you from speaking out. Don’t be afraid that nobody will listen to you. Don’t be afraid to write a lonely little blog with no followers, because there might come some future day where we will find out the unseen fruits of our labors (or our laziness). At the very least, heaven is listening, and when it comes time to prove your soul before the Lord, we should want to have a record we can point to, something tangible that shows we really did believe in this work, even if our efforts to spread it were, to our eyes, in vain.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, if they reject my words, and this part of my gospel and ministry, blessed are ye, for they can do no more unto you than unto me. (D&C 6:29)
And who knows? Maybe someone looking for information about the church will stumble on your blog one day, or a struggling friend will happen across an old Facebook status post with some crumb about the church, and that crumb leads to another crumb left by someone else, and eventually they’re led to the missionaries. We can’t know all the eventual results. We can only know our own input.
But someday we will know.
What a glorious revelation must have met Abinadi and Moroni as they passed onto the other side of the veil. I’m sure, seeing the true fruits of their labors, learning that their sacrifice was not in vain, they broke down before the Savior, and He held them, and they wept for joy together.
So don’t feel sorry for yourself like I do. You’re not alone as you think you are.