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...)
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.
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.