Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Feet, Hills, and Rods

I learned a great lesson that I continue to learn from often in the book 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven.  S. Michael Wilcox mentions that like a compass used to draw a perfect circle from a fixed center point, we should all have a spiritual compass as well with what he refers to as a "fixed foot" and a "searching foot."  As "there can be no true or complete circle without a center" (2), it is necessary to find our center and keep it planted strong, reinforcing it with consistent checks of our most reliable sources of truth.  Then, we can search out more truth using our "searching foot," comparing those to our "fixed foot" and the truth we've established there.  Without a firmly fixed foot, it would be easy to be dragged us away from our center in our search, giving us an imperfect circle or no circle at all.


While out walking one night I had this idea on my mind.  It came to me that we could look at our circle from the side, and from that vantage point it could be more like a hill.  That if we aren't holding on to that center, the further we get away from the center, the easier it would be to eventually "fall away" from the truth that we do have.  (This was the best hill picture I could find, LOL.)


When I was mentioning that idea to my kids a couple days later, one of them pointed out that it's like holding to the iron rod.  That again, if we aren't holding to the word of God, we can easily be pulled away to the mists of darkness and great and spacious buildings.  (So blessed to have smart kids that teach me too!)


Our scripture reading yesterday in Alma 30 brought in that idea yet again.  After a terrible war there began to be "continual peace."  "Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God" (v. 3).  Apparently they were very good people, but when Korihor comes to visit a couple verses later, he causes all kinds of problems, knocking many people off their center.  "And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms" (v. 18).  I have to wonder if they questioned his words much.  They were doing right and good before he came, but for whatever reason were quick to listen to and quick to believe Korihor's words over what they have been taught and what they had been living.

Yet when Korihor moved on to the people of Ammon, "they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.  And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land.  And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and found and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land" (v. 20-21).

How terribly sad that the first group was so easily swayed, but how excellent that the second and third groups were so quick to identify the errors and not even tolerate it being in their midst.  Had the first group not been tried much?  Had the second and third realized the blessing and comfort that comes through having that firm foundation?  Something I want to keep thinking about.  But regardless, their center was firmly planted, they recognized untruth when they heard it, and they got rid of it, not wanting his words to become part of their circle.

It's interesting to note that later when Korihor asks for a sign to know there is a God, "Korihor was struck dumb" (v. 50), essentially getting rid of the tool he was using to lead away the people.

Studying great people throughout history and the world has been a wonderful journey, seeing like Wilcox that "our Father in Heaven is a light-giving God and dispenses it as widely as the stars."  And thankfully so!  But Korihor's story is a great reminder to keep my center firmly planted, continually strengthening it with the teachings of Jesus Christ and his prophets and apostles.  In the long run, I think I would rather be accused of having a circle that was too small but deeply founded in truth, than one so far reaching I allowed untruths to sneak in.

(Today's reading in Alma 31 brought similar thoughts, only this time pride was definitely a factor.  Hmm...)

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I used this during a Relief Society lesson, and my good friend mentioned that when I drew the hill with a person holding to a pole on the top, she was waiting for me to add a flag to the pole, like Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty, waving it high for all to see, THIS IS WHERE I STAND.  Excellent!

Plus, while thinking about that hill, I thought of the saying "going to die on that hill."  I looked it up.  

The expression comes from military tradition that it is always in the defender's favor when battles are on elevated terrain. Before air warfare, one had not only to overcome an enemies defences but doing do while at a height disadvantage. Many military battles became slaughters when commanders forced their men to take heavily fortified hills.

Conventional military wisdom is that hill battles should be avoided if at all possible, the cost in men generally wouldn't be worth the fight. When a commander was ordered to take one they would often question the rationale, "Is this a hill worth dying over?"

I love the added visual there - being up on a hill, standing tall for my beliefs, and that it's much harder to be defeated when you're on the top.

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Another inspiration from this idea.  Standing feet can be as small as a sapling or as giant as a sequoia.  To me, the most important thing isn't how big they are, but that they stand.  Even big trees will fall.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Last Forever

One morning last week I woke up at 4:30 am, wide awake.  When I realized I wasn't going back to sleep anytime soon, I pulled out my phone, glanced at my e-mail quick, then remembered a talk I've been wanting to reread -- Sister Linda Burton's talk on "The Power, Joy, and Love of Covenant Keeping."  


But I really didn't get very far into it before my mind turned specifically to the marriage covenant, and I went searching on my Gospel Library app for a talk on that instead.  I found one called "Eternal Marriage" by F. Burton Howard that I dove into.  It's a good one, and I was reading and highlighting away till almost the end, when I hit what I was woken up at 4:30 am to be taught.

Elder Howard led into it with a story about their silverware, and how over the years his wife carefully cared for it, to the point that he was thinking she was a little over the top over this silverware.  But then he realized,

If you want something to last forever,
you treat it differently.

My eyes stopped there, the Spirit teaching me.  I thought first and the most about my marriage, and eventually about my children.  Words came to mind like a list from the Family Proclamation - love, respect, compassion, forgiveness, trust.

And accompanying that, the desire to be better.

I finally pushed myself to continue in the talk.  "If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.  You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by."

Beautiful.

In our homeschool group we've been memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 6:33, and that came to mind.  "Fear not to do good . . . for whatsoever ye sew, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sew good ye shall also reap good for your reward."  That first word, fear, is sadly powerful in the wrong way.  Sad that the desire to do good can so easily be derailed, even within a family.  Laying there in bed I made some immediate commitments to myself with some specific ways to be better.


I'm so incredibly grateful for a Heavenly Father that cares enough about making sure I got this precious message that He sent it when things are quiet, even if it meant missed sleep for me.  I've been so blessed with  a wonderful husband and family.  They are the joy and the greatest work of my life, the things that more than anything I want to last forever.