I’ve decided to start recording my notes for this Come Follow Me Program this year, emphasis on the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. When I write here on my blog, I feel somewhat like a teacher but I also learn so much more as I organize my thoughts. For those who do not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. If you like, you can read through these notes.
Usually I write reviews on movies, books or shows but lately I have been feeling very introspective. Mostly I have thought of how important it is to add my voice to the many others who talk about Jesus Christ, his love and gospel with confidence. As the years pass by, the more I notice people turning away from religion onto other paths. Much of this is happening I feel because we aren’t speaking about what we know and believe.
Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is God’s Love, its fruit is his love manifested through the coming of Jesus Christ and his infinite Atonement. Leading to the Tree is the Iron Rod, or word of God along a strait and narrow path. Surrounding this path are the mists of darkness, or Satan’s temptations, the Large and Spacious Building, or the Pride of the World and the River, the filthiness of the world.
For this week’s initiative, we are studying 1 Nephi 8-10. So many thoughts and memories have passed through my mind as I have studied this week. Specifically, where I am on the path of discipleship. The major themes to my study have included, I. Where I am on the path of discipleship, II. The different groups heading to the tree, III. God’s infinite love in giving us commandments and a way back to Him and IV. How I can listen to the Holy Ghost amidst other louder voices.
I. Where I am on the Path of Discipleship
In the Come follow Me manual, there was a specific phrase which really struck me. It stated, “Lehi’s vision offers an invitation to reflect on where you are—and where you are going—in your personal journey to know the Savior and feel His love. President.” (Pg. 10, Para 1)
I thought a lot on my decisions thus far in life. I grew up much of my time alone amidst my peers. I went through much of school set to sea so to say among many differing ideas and fads. I wondered how I was able to stay so faithful despite such opposition. It is too easy to say I just knew. But reflecting back, I now know I had a habit of reading the Book of Mormon from a young age.
In reading and pondering I found an anchor in Christ. As an adult I feel a need to continue forward and find new ways to strengthen my faith the Savior. It is more then just reading sometimes or going to church once a week. It is immersing ourselves in God’s love. For “Perfect love casteth out all fear” (Moroni 8:16) and leads us to find eternal happiness with a being who loves us in such a Godly manner.
To love God is not foolishness it is enlightenment.
It is as Arakawa stated in Fullmetal Alchemist, “A lesson without pain is meaningless. That’s because no one can gain without sacrificing something. But by enduring that pain and overcoming it, he shall obtain a powerful, unmatched heart. A fullmetal heart.” I think of Christ when I hear this statement because he gave the ultimate sacrifice to save us all. I think of myself as I face life’s challenges and carry my own personal trials. I also think of who I am meant to become by choosing this life of faith.
II. The Different Groups Heading to the Tree
There were three groups going to the tree. The first did not take hold of the Iron Rod, or word of God and fell away, swallowed by the mists of darkness. The second clung to the Rod, partake of the Fruit but then fell into the river or onto forbidden paths because of those who mocked them in the great and spacious building. The Last, held continually to the Rod and humbly fell and partook of the fruit, ignoring the mockery of others.
I actually thought of a principle I learned in yoga a few months ago. The idea, whenever we do the physical part of yoga or the mental exercises also involved, the level of our experience depends on our commitment to doing what is asked of us. Regular practice is infinitely better in the end then random, uncertain, or occasional participation.
I also felt such a strong desire to help all those going to the Tree. I thought so many times, “There must be a way to save everyone”. In a talk I heard this last week how Heavenly Father and Christ will do everything within their power to save everyone according to the laws of justice. They also will do nothing which will impede our freedom to choose for ourselves the path we want. It is hard for me to imagine not turning to God or purposefully breaking his Commandments, given in love to keep us spiritually safe. But all people have their own lives and must choose for themselves.
I actually had several dreams this week with different situations where I tried, most of the time in vain, to help those around me who were in danger. I could see it, yet I couldn’t force anyone else to listen. I talked to my mother about it and she said I worry because I cannot help everyone. But when I thought deeper I realized it wasn’t my burden to carry. It is Christ’s. Though I wish I could fix so much happening in the world around me, my primary responsibility is to see to it I find my way back to Him. Miracles happen as we simply live a Christ centered life.
III. God’s Infinite Love
I recently listened to the late President Monson’s talk entitled “Keep the Commandments“, as I pondered the reasons behind commandments and also how to discern God’s voice. One particular statement he said really touched me. He said, “He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need to live in order to obtain the greatest happiness.”
We hear so often how God loves us, I wonder if we know what it truly means. I know for myself, it is like hearing your parents tell you they love you. I hear their words, but I don’t see their happiness when I was born, or their worry as I became ill. I can’t see the years in which they watched me, nor can I understand what it is like to see me grow from a child into an adult.
But I can understand a small fraction of what it means to have God’s love when I hear, ““God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16 God loves us so much he sent His Son to save us from a desolate life, wandering, lost and spiritually cut off. He loves us so much that he gave us this life to grow and choose for ourselves to find him again.
IV. How I can Listen to the Holy Ghost
Again, I pondered a lot as I listened to President Monson’s talk on the commandments. When speaking to men in the church he boldly stated,
We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are loud voices. I admonish you to turn the volume down and to be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety. Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head after you were baptized, confirming you a member of the Church and saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost.”5 Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice which testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised, “Thine ears shall hear a word … , saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.”6 May we ever be in tune, that we might hear this comforting, guiding voice which will keep us safe.-Thomas S. Monson, Keep the COmmandments 2015
In church today, one of the speakers said, “Without the Spirit we don’t have Christ.” I thought about this and realized how much I knew is and will always be based on my willingness to seek God’s guidance and hear his voice. This is so hard at time because it really does become so loud.
I paired this with the last part of my reading from 1 Nephi 10. In it, not only does Lehi expound further on their people in Israel and Christ’s role as Savior but his son Nephi, not understanding all his father said, desired to learn more. He said,
“17 . . . I, Nephi, was ddesirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the eHoly Ghost, which is the fgift of God unto gall those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the asame yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently aseeketh shall find; and the bmysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the cHoly Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the dcourse of the Lord is one eternal round.”
I wondered what it is like to diligently seek and receive such answers. Then I remembered times in my life where I had deep questions about where I should go or what I should do. Sometimes I received direct answers. But that was usually only after I had undergone a severe trial or learned a profound truth. Usually, I get small promptings in the small, quiet moments in my day.
As it says in Moroni 10:5 “. . . by the power of the Holy Ghost (we) may know the truth of all things.” But the key lies in our desires and our intent. If we earnestly seek God, he will always manifest himself to us.
I am so grateful for God’s love and how infinite it is. I listened to a song recently that really maybe ponder my place in this world. It also made me wonder how in all his love he created such a beautiful world for each of us. He also gave us the chance to choose him of our own volition, knowing we would grow and become like him. I leave with the lyrics of the song “Saturn” by Sleeping at Last and hope any who read this have a wonderful week!
You taught me the courage of stars before you left
How light carries on endlessly, even after death
With shortness of breath, you explained the infinite
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist I couldn’t help but ask
For you to say it all again
I tried to write it down
But I could never find a pen
I’d give anything to hear
You say it one more time
That the universe was made
Just to be seen by my eyes -Sleeping at Last, “Saturn”