Friday, March 17, 2017

Is That a Commandment?

I have been adding to my study journal lately, though not as much as I thought I would be doing. Much of it is notes from meetings and General Conferences, but as I read something that makes me ask a question, study it out and draw conclusions, I have tried to put it into my study journal. I am now transferring them into this blog, again.

You will recall that Nephi inquires about the Tree of Life dream of his father, Lehi, and is given a vision that includes an interpretation of the various components of the dream, but many other revelations, as well. Following this awesome experience, he finds his brothers disputing among themselves. They report that they cannot understand the vision of their father.

Nephi asks if they have inquired of the Lord and they respond that they have not because He would not make such things known to them.

Nephi chastises them saying, "How is it that ye do not deep the commandments of the Lord?"

Query: Is it a commandment to ask God for revelation? I know of no such commandment, per se, but Nephi goes on to explain that if we keep the commandments with diligence, and approach the Lord in humility with faith, these things shall be made known unto us.

It occurs to me that keeping the commandments keeps us worthy, but if we do not remain humble and exercise our faith, we are 1. living below our privileges and 2. living below our Father's expectations of us, and his blessings for us.

If we are not living up to his expectations, our privileges, or our potential, how do we rectify our situation? The only possible answer is to repent and to let the atonement boost us forward.  If repentance is necessary it is because a commandment has been breached. At least that is what we are usually taught. What commandment has been breached? Perhaps it is, "Be ye, therefore, perfect..." a commandment that is impossible without the atonement of Christ.

I think it must mean that Christ, through the atonement will make up the difference, but we still must have the discipline to use time wisely.  For example, when does recreation (admittedly a good, even necessary activity) tilt to become a waste of time or even an addiction (admittedly not getting us to His expectations of us)? Attention to video games when the opportunity to have the Spirit teach us the words of eternal life, or wandering endlessly on the computer when opportunities for service are all about us are other examples.

If anyone still reads this blog, I would like to know what you think of my interpretation and what activities have you observed in yourself or others that keep us from enjoying all our privileges?

Lehi in the Mist - Tree of Life

Lehi was led into a mist of darkness by a "man dressed in a white robe," and then apparently abandoned there. He traveled many hours in darkness. He prayed for mercy "according to the multitude of his tender mercies." It was then that the darkness dissipated and he saw a large field, and then the tree of life.

Why didn't the man in white lead him at least to the iron rod, if not out of the mist of darkness entirely?

What tools did Lehi have to avoid discouragement and to press on to eventually arrive at the tree of life?

The man in the white robe is not identified and there is no interpretation in the vision Nephi saw as recorded in the later chapters. There are a number of comparisons, but I think of him as a missionary, friend or other member who introduces someone to the Gospel. When the person is baptized and confirmed, and receives the lessons again, the missionaries transfer, the member has his/her own life, the new member starts feeling abandoned. With ridicule, persecution or just loss of friends, a mist of darkness settles in. It is then that he/she needs to have adequate tools to come out of the mist and find their way to the Tree. Lehi could have just back tracked and gone back home to what was familiar, but he chose to keep pressing forward prayerfully. It is not just new members who can become discouraged. It happens to us all. It is then that we rely on the tools in our possession and keep pressing through the mist, prayerfully, until the tender mercies of the Lord allow us to see the Tree again.

The tools are our experience, testimony, commitment, scriptures, patriarchal blessing, and daily nourishment by the "good word of God." They must be earned, used frequently and available when needed. To neglect them gets us lost in the mist with no way out, but back. That must not happen.