In August of this year, I received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Prior to this time, I wasn’t opposed to receiving it, nor was I in favor of receiving it. I, like many others, had fasted and prayed for the COVID-19 pandemic to end. For most of the pandemic I wasn’t personally worried if I got COVID-19 as I am reasonably healthy with no underlying health concerns. (Most years I don’t get a flu shot for the same reason). I did try to be careful around the vulnerable population. I was particularly careful around my elderly parents. In December of 2020 my father passed away (not from COVID) and my mother was infected with COVID while in the hospital trying to recover from a different illness. It was around this time that the senior leadership of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, became eligible for and received the COVID-19 vaccine. The president of the Church, Russell M Nelson, who, as a member of the church, I believe to be a prophet of God, called the vaccine a “literal godsend”. In the months that followed I had occasions when I thought about getting vaccinated but decided that I didn’t need to.
All that changed on Thursday, August 12, 2021. The First Presidency of the Church sent a letter to each church member worldwide that said, in part “to provide personal protection from such severe infections [from COVID-19], we urge individuals to be vaccinated. Available vaccines have proven to be both safe and effective.” (https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/first-presidency-message-covid-19-august-2021). This letter was signed “The First Presidency” and included all 3 members, President Nelson, along with his councilors Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring. I scheduled an appointment that day and received the first dose on Friday, August 13, 2021, with the 2nd dose being administered to me on Friday, September 3, 2021. That doesn’t mean that I understood everything about the COVID-19 and the vaccine and that I didn’t have any concerns or worries about it. It just means that I trust my Father in Heaven. I am reminded of the story of Naaman, as found in 2 Kings chapter 5. Especially verse 13 “…if the prophet had bid thee do some agreat thing, wouldest thou not have done it?” We have been asked to do so little by the prophet to end COVID-19.
I know that someday I will stand before the judgement of God. As I provide an accounting of my life, I know that there will be many weaknesses, sins, and challenges that I will have to own up to. I want to be able to say to the Lord “Oh Lord, I know I have many weaknesses and I did much that was an offense to thee, however, when thy servants the prophets asked me to do something I did my best to obey”. It is my humble hope that between the grace of Christ and my own efforts, the Lord will welcome me back home.
Those reading this may not agree with me. That is ok, as I’m not trying to convince anyone what they should do or think. I’m simply explaining my reasoning and my faith in Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and I know that there is safety in following His servants. 4th President of the Church Wilford Woodruff taught that, “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the [program]. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (October 1890 General Conference found in Official Declaration 2, Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The 1st President of the Church Joseph Smith taught: “I will give you a key that will never rust, if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.”