Monday, January 23, 2012

Dark and Dreary Waste

I just had an interesting little insight from 1 Nephi 8. Nephi is reciting the words of his father, Lehi:
 5 And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.
 6 And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him.
 7 And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.
Lehi essentially beheld Christ in this dream (or someone representing Him), who bade Lehi to "follow him". This same invitation is extended to all of us. Christ says to all of us, "Come follow me."

It's interesting to note that when he began to follow Christ he found himself in a dark and dreary waste. When we choose to follow Jesus Christ we aren't choosing an easy life or a life free from sorry and trial. Quite the contrary-- if we are truly following Him then we must pass through trials and tribulations, for that is the way His life was. You can't follow somebody by taking a different road they took.

So why do we follow Christ at all? Why not take the easy road? It's because we know where He is taking us.
 8 And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
 9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
 10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
 Christ has told us of the great happiness and peace and joy that awaits us if we remain faithful. The tree of life symbolizes the love of God, with fruit that represents eternal life. This path that Christ leads us on, through the dark and dreary waste, is the only way to get there.

It's a difficult journey, but we aren't traveling it alone. Christ has walked our paths and borne our sorrows and sufferings. He knows how to guide us through our personal "dark and dreary waste". He knows how to get to the tree of life. He is offering to be our escorts! There may be times when the darkness is so thick that we can't see Him in front of us, there may be times when we are forsaken for a season, but all of these things are for the best. Christ knows what we need. He knows what trials we need to pass through. His promise is that He will help us bear these burdens and cross these roads.

God's entire work is to bring us to that tree of life and to share that fruit with us. That means a lot to me, personally. It helps me have hope when life gets difficult.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

God Doesn't Give You Solo Jobs

In 1 Nephi chapter 2, Lehi wished that Lemuel would be steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and that Laman would be continually running to the fountain of all righteousness. This infers, to me, that they did keep the commandments at times, they were just inconsistent and wavering. This is emphasized by the fact that right after they saw the angel who told them the Lord would deliver Laban into their hands, they began to doubt and fear, and thought their task was impossible.

Lehi didn't ask them to start keeping the commandments or to begin running to the fountain of all righteousness, but to be steadfast and to continue.

Nephi, on the other hand, knew that if the Lord gave a commandment, then it wasn’t an impossible task. The Lord would be there to help you accomplish it, if you had faith. (1 Ne. 3:7)

I try really hard to remember that, and to keep faith in the Lord when He commands. But I could certainly do better, especially when things get hard, at remembering this, and that the “tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” (1 Ne. 1:20) He delivered the sons of Lehi from Laban, and delivered Laban into their hands so they might fulfill His (the Lord's) commandments. He will do the same for us, if we have faith. All my life I have seen, again and again, examples of this-- the Lord will help you keep the commandments He gives you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Spirit

Every year when Christmas rolls around it's been a tradition for me to get all anxious because I'm not excited enough. Much like another certain short, bald guy in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," I wonder why I'm not feeling the spirit of Christmas like I did as a kid.

But since I've been married my wife has introduced another tradition-- every day in December (leading up to Christmas) she gives me a tiny note with a thought or a scripture on it about Christ, and also a task given that is service-oriented. The intention there is to help me keep my thoughts centered on Christ, and keep me in a charitable mood. That will help me feel the Spirit, which is the spirit of Christmas.

My first task was to "make a list of goals for this month to help feel the Christmas spirit." Since this blog is sort of my spiritual journal, I decided to do that here.
  1. I want to focus this month on why Christmas is supposed to be a joyful time-- and that all starts with why the Savior's birth was such a joyful event.
  2. I want to serve others-- in small, simple ways, but also I'd like to find a bigger service project for someone in need. This will help me to think of others and to strive for charity.
  3. I want to pray every day that I can feel the Spirit this Christmas.
  4. I want to do fun Christmas-y things with my wife and kids.
So there you have it! Let me know if you have any suggestions or anything that's worked for you.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hidden from View?

I love this passage from President Eyring's recent conference address:
Prayerful study of the Book of Mormon will build faith in God the Father, in His Beloved Son, and in His gospel. It will build your faith in God’s prophets, ancient and modern.
It can draw you closer to God than any other book. It can change a life for the better. I urge you to do what a missionary companion of mine did. He had run away from home as a teenager, and someone had placed a Book of Mormon in a box he carried with him in his search for more happiness.
Years passed. He moved from place to place across the world. He was alone and unhappy one day when he saw the box. The box was filled with things he had carried with him. At the bottom of the box, he found the Book of Mormon. He read the promise in it and tested it. He knew it was true. That witness changed his life. He found happiness beyond his fondest dreams.
Your copy of the Book of Mormon may be hidden from your view by cares and attention to all you have accumulated in your journey. I plead with you to drink deeply and often from its pages. It has in it the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the only way home to God.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Service Heals

This is a wonderful story of how service has blessed others who are going through great difficulties.

This video touched me deeply because my family has been going through a really tough time the past 6 months. Through the absolutely selfless service of friends, family members, and neighbors, we have been richly blessed during this difficult time. We've had our needs met and our prayers answered.

I can't tell you how much it means to me and my family that others have come to our aid, in ways big and small. Even the tiniest thoughtful acts or kind words have helped to heal our hearts. If you've done anything for us at all during this trial, I want to say thank you.

And if you know someone who's going through a trial, take some time to do a little service for them. It can really provide some hope and healing, and it serves as a reminder to them that our Father in Heaven is watching over them and answering their prayers.

Believe me, that goes a long way.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Got Worries?

Life is challenging. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. It was meant to be challenging. What do we do when we feel overwhelmed?

We should look to God. I love this talk from the last General Conference, given by Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy. Not only does he begin with a powerful object lesson, but he offers some wonderful counsel on how to get through life's challenges.

I love this passage in particular:
Experience has taught me that if we, like President Monson, exercise our faith and look to God for help, we will not be overwhelmed with the burdens of life. We will not feel incapable of doing what we are called to do or need to do. We will be strengthened, and our lives will be filled with peace and joy.
Here is the zinger:
We will come to realize that most of what we worry about is not of eternal significance—and if it is, the Lord will help us. But we must have the faith to look up and the courage to follow His direction.
I've always tried to be a firm believer in 1 Nephi 3:7-- that if God asks us to do something, He will help us do it. I believe this applies to every aspect of our lives that involves some form of commandment from the Lord-- church callings, overcoming addictions, even raising families. If it's something that matters in the long run, God will help us with it. If it doesn't matter so much, why are we worrying so much?

That always seems to help me get through trials-- and it's helping me get through a particularly difficult one right now. I know that what I'm trying to do matters to God, so I know that He is helping me.

What a comforting thought!

Here's the full talk:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder

I love this talk from Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. The growth of the Church never ceases to amaze me. The coolest part about it is that, as Elder Clayton mentions, the growth of the Church means the spreading of the knowledge of a Savior to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (Mos. 3:20).

Think about that for a second-- the more lives the Gospel touches, the more people are able to come unto Christ, learn of Him and enter on the road to salvation and exaltation. This truly is His work, and I hope to be able to contribute to its growth in any way I can (even through this small and simple blog).

I encourage you to think of a way you can share the Gospel too, and perhaps help somebody come to know their Savior.