Come Follow Me: Jan 26 – Feb 1

Photo I took in Provo, UT

This week in studying for Come Follow Me I had so much on my mind concerning my future. Sometimes even when we find a direction there is still shadows of doubt and uncertainty which come. I also have thought so much about entertainment value and the media’s powerful influence in my life.

Throughout this week there were several principles which stuck out to me.

I. If we keep the commandments, God will nourish us, strengthen us and provide means to follow those commandments

Artist depiction of Bilbo Baggins,

I have begun to see all of God’s commandments as an invitation. But it is the kind of invitation which brings about change, oftentimes through much trial and sorrow. Take for example Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit. Concerning this infamous character, Dieter F. Uchdorf commented in last General Conference,

However, when Bilbo is presented with the prospect of a grand adventure, something surges deep within his heart. He understands from the outset that the journey will be challenging. Even dangerous. There is even a possibility he might not return.

And yet, the call to adventure has reached deep into his heart. And so, this unremarkable hobbit leaves comfort behind and enters the path to a great adventure that will take him all the way to “there and back again.”2

-Dieter F. Uchdorf, “Your Grand Adventure” October 2019

Curiously enough, Bilbo could have chosen to stay home, enjoy life’s comforts and not have to face the sorrows and death threatening experiences ahead of him. But he does leave. And he was never the same.

He wasn’t the same because he had seen the world, that it was wide, beautiful and full of promising experiences and precious knowledge. He made meaningful relationships with great elves, dwarves and people. He conquered evil and faced temptation and overcame its deception. He also grieved at the death of his friends.

Though he faced so much, Bilbo changed and was grateful for it. Life is simple Hobbiton never seemed the same because of everything he had witnessed and experienced.

The same could be said of Lehi and his family. He and Nephi could have done a lot of good in Jerusalem, yet the Lord called them another way to raise up a righteous people.

What do these stores have to do with us? I’d same EVERYTHING. Just like Bilbo and Lehi’s family we accept the invitation to follow Christ. This takes courage, but when we follow Christ we gain the greatest, kindest, and most loving care taker we can ever have. He gives us trials and asks us to leave the comforts of an easy life, but never without the promise he will “prepare a way for (us) to accomplish the thing which he commandeth (us).” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Lehi said in 2 Nephi 1:15. “The Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell: I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.’ It is the same for all of us who have chosen the path of discipleship. We don’t just face hardship. We find God and come to know of his love for us. And THAT is worth any trial we could ever face in this life.

II. The difference between righteous and unrighteous dominion

Depiction of 1 Nephi 18

When I watched the video showing Lehi and his family crossing the ocean I paid special attention to Nephi and his older brothers. In this story, Nephi sees his brothers being disrespectful and rude towards God. The moment he goes to them to ask them to stop, they tie him to the mast in terrible anger.

At the head of this terrible misfortune was Lamen, the eldest son. There are several things Lamen can’t overcome. First, how he had to leave behind their land and inheritance. Staying in Jerusalem would have provided Lamen a rich life as the eldest son. Even after reaching the Promised land he couldn’t let it go. He also couldn’t shake the feeling Nephi wanted to become ruler over them.

In tying Nephi to the mast, Lamen established unrighteous dominion over his family. In his anger, pride and foolishness he cut his whole family off from the Lord’s influence. A storm came and threatened them. Yet for over three days Lamen, followed by Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael, kept their families in the midst of a tempest. They caused so much suffering but couldn’t see beyond their pride.

Lehi, the patriarch of the family couldn’t sway them. Nephi’s wife and children’s tears couldn’t change them. It wasn’t until “they could see the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent” that they freed Nephi.

In his exhaustion, Nephi prayed to God and led his family from their impending destruction. I would say this destruction was both physical and spiritual. This example shows very profoundly what happens when men in anger and pride rule over others. They become past feeling and will sacrifice almost anything to be right.

In contrast, Nephi did not give in to anger, but humbled himself before God, steering, with God’s help, his family away from danger. When faced with trial he chose faith over fear. He chose to seek knowledge, to look forward and to honor his parents. He became a righteous leader out of example, not because of misplaced ambition.

What intrigues me is this idea. Lamen could have been like Nephi. He was faced with the same tests, saw an angel, heard his father’s visions and had access to the scriptures. But when faced with trial he couldn’t see beyond a future he had left behind. This does not make him evil. It makes him obstinate and because of his pride an influence of harmful behaviors.

III. The things of greatest value we must hold onto with faith

Art by Walter Rane

One of the strongest messages from this reading concerned how I stand fast in the truths I know. Be cautious of giving your heart or time to sources which lead you very subtly away from God and the light of his gospel.

This becomes increasingly hard as the world shifts farther and farther away from God and his gospel truths. Sometimes it feels easier to give n or even pretend we don’t see the wrong around us.

But giving in does not change the infinite, eternal value of our knowledge of Jesus Christ and God’s plan of happiness. We can’t find enlightenment in accepting easy answers of the day. Uchdorf also said,

The third thing we strive to master in this journey is to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and not be ashamed of being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

We do not hide our faith.

We do not bury it.

To the contrary, we talk about our journey with others in normal and natural ways. That’s what friends do—they talk about things that are important to them. Things that are close to their heart and make a difference to them.

. . . Sometimes your stories make people laugh. Sometimes they bring them to tears. Sometimes they will help people to continue in patience, resilience, and courage to face another hour, another day and come a little closer to God.

-Dieter F. Uchdorf, “Your Great Adventure”, October 2019

My favorite scriptures from this week is in 1 Nephi 19.

For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at anaught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men btrample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words—they set him at naught, and chearken not to the voice of his counsels.

And behold he acometh, according to the words of the angel, in bsix hundred years from the time my father left Jerusalem.

And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they aspit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving bkindness and his clong-suffering towards the children of men.

– 1 Nephi 19:8-9. The Book of Mormon

Though sometimes it feels like we are drowning in a sea of knowledge, music, noise and facts, we still have the gift of the Holy Ghost. We can, if we look and hear beyond all these things, feel God’s love. My life goal is not to let toxic ideas shift my focus from what I know is right. I pray to remember Christ, that he did all “because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.” (1 Nephi 19:9)

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