Sunday, July 22, 2012

Trials and Triumphs: The Importance of Scriptures

As can be seen in recent posts such as Not a President, but a King, Looking Back, and Another Year Younger, my time in Moscow has caused me reflect on life and what kind of man I want to be.

Trials and Triumphs: Scripture StudyMy latest thoughts have been about studying the scriptures. My entire life, I have struggled with consistent scripture study, even while I was on my mission. I love the scriptures, some of my most spiritual experiences have come from reading the scriptures, but for some reason, I struggle to be consistent with it for more than  a few weeks at a time. I've come up with lots of reasons and excuses for myself, but I think the biggest reason is not always feeling that it is crucial.  I mean at times I have felt scripture reading to be crucial and those are the weeks that I would consistently read. Then something would keep me from reading one night or two and I would fall out of the habit again until something whipped me back into shape.

My problem is, I don't feel like I'm a bad person. I feel like I know the commandments and how to apply gospel principles in my life, so why do I need to study the scriptures? I recognized this wasn't a good way of thinking, but I couldn't overcome these stagnating thoughts of content. I feel embarrassed to admit these things, but that's just how it was.

But all the same, recently, as can be seen in those previous posts that I mentioned at the very beginning, I've been trying to be better at reading my scriptures. Why? Because I know that's something I should do. Because I believe promises made to me that if I not only read the scriptures, but ponder them and study them, then my life will be blessed. On this most recent attempt at consistent scripture study, I have really been focusing on why I am doing this. Why bother studying the scriptures? To make me a better person? To make me more like my Father in Heaven? Yes, reading the scriptures will do both of those things for me, but so will going to church, praying, and keeping the commandments. Why was it so important that namely the scriptures I needed to read in order to spiritually progress? Reading with question in mind, I have started on my path to an answer.

Trials and Triumphs: Wise man and Foolish man built
What I've realized, that I will work to never forget, is that only in the scriptures is the Word of God. Only from the words of prophets can I have a sure foundation. There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that says that we should, "feast upon the words of Christ; for behold the words of Christ will show you all things what ye should do." (2 Nephi 32:3). The words of the Prophets and Christ himself from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and from modern day prophets, provide the foundation for our spirituality. The thought came to me  that spirituality not based on a knowledge of the scripture is like the foolish man's house built on the sand. It will stand for a while but will not stand the test of time. Sure, I know that I should serve other people, but why? Yes, I know that I Christ suffered for my sins, but what did that mean to Him and what exactly does that mean for me? Yes I know I should speak kind words, but what for? The list goes on. Eventually, the principles taught in Sunday School or learned by watching someone else's example will be tested.

I'm reminded of another scriptural example that I read around the same time I was dealing with this desire to develop a better relationship with my scriptures. This comes from Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon. In this prophet's dream, he see's an iron rod which represents the word of God which leads to the tree of life, which, "is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things." (1 Nephi 11:22). The path to the tree of life is strait and narrow (strait like a straitjacket, not "straight"). Comparing this to my life, I have found myself in life situations when I could see the end goal of the tree, I could see the path, and I didn't feel like I needed to hold on to the rod. I wouldn't stray from the rod, I just didn't feel like it was crucial to hold on. But, there is a wise purpose for the iron rod.

Trials and Triumphs: Lehi's Dream, Iron Rod, Mists of Darkness
Lehi's Dream

Later in the dream, the Prophet Lehi sees mists of darkness, which are the temptations of Satan that come over the people walking along the path. These mists make it near impossible for a person to see where he/she is going. And this is the point that affected me the most... If a person isn't holding on to the iron rod when the mists of darkness come upon them, it will be very difficult to after the fact grasp on to the rod and straying from the path becomes a very real possibility as they try to decide for themselves which way is best.

So sure, I may at times find myself in situations where I think I can just see the path and follow it to the end goal which is in sight, but if I don't hold on to the iron rod, then the mists of darkness can without warning come over me just like a wave destroying the foolish man's house on the sand.

Only the word of God will give me the constant support that I need in my life to be the person that God needs me to be.

Understanding that, I've started memorizing scriptures that apply to qualities that I'm trying to develop in myself. This way, I will develop a sound foundation that will remain with me in my trials and triumphs.

P.S. Think about how I would have never been able to make those connections to Lehi's dream had I not recently studied it. Now instead of a basic Sunday School understanding of the importance of scripture study, I've anchored my understanding to the scriptures which will always be there for me.

1 comment:

  1. So good. The part where you talk about the mist of darkness has been something I have been thinking about lately. It is so easy to get lost when you think you have that goal in plain sight.

    A wise man once told me that you can walk the path but not hold on to the rod, but you cannot hold on to the rod and not walk the path. I have reflected on this many times in past two years. I wish I would have known it all my life.