Every time I read the beginning chapters of the Book of Mormon, I try to read differently’, with a new question, a way to dig deeper, to learn more.
This year, I’m researching articles, addresses given, and conference remarks from our leaders as a way of enhancing personal study. As I’m teaching this year’s round of gospel doctrine, the dark versus light theme seems to be popping its head.
I know about mists of darkness. I’ve felt them so thick that I could hardly breathe. I’ve been able to look back on earlier times and have seen, in retrospect, that I was plunking through a dark mist that I didn’t even realize at the time. And so it goes with the mortal journey.
Relative to Lehi’s vision of dark versus light, I found some brilliant and comforting words from President Boyd K. Packer. His words come from “Finding ourselves in Lehi’s Dream” in August of 2010.
“Read the dream or vision carefully; then read it again. If you hold to the rod, you can feel your way forward with the gift of the Holy Ghost, conferred upon you at the time you were confirmed a member of the Church. The Holy Ghost will comfort you. You will be able to feel the influence of angels, as Nephi did, and feel your way through life.”
He spoke of living the basics of our religion: Dressing modestly, paying tithing, attending meetings, honoring the Priesthood, serving in our callings, etc. All the “normal” things that we, as followers of Christ, are striving to do.
THEN HE SAYS:
“Will this solve all your problems? Of course not! That would be contrary to the purpose of your coming into mortality. It will, however, give you a solid foundation on which to build your life (see Helaman 5:12).”
This is such an important message, as we sometimes struggle to hang on to the Iron Rod, seeking for light and shaking off darkness! It seems to me that we must change our expectations if we want to successfully cling to the gospel of Christ.
Over and over again, I hear good folks say – in one way or another, “It’s not fair. I am doing the right things. I am trying to be faithful. But God isn’t answering my prayers. [Or the problems aren’t going way. Or nothing is working the way I want it to.]
So why do we think that, if we do the right’ things, life will be easier? Difficulties will dissipate? Or fairness will prevail? It just isn’t going to be that way. Because we live in a telestial sphere, where “fairness” and “right” are not the norm. A quick glance through scriptures can reassure us that we aren’t the only ones dealing with “life being hard.” In fact, we are warned about complacency when life seems easy: “…because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished” (1 Nephi 17:41)
Remembering President Packer’s comments about problem-solving may be a balm to our wounds when we feel like our way is hedged up and darkness is moving in.
President Packer went on to say:
“The mist of darkness will cover you at times so much that you will not be able to see your way even a short distance ahead. You will not be able to see clearly. But with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you can feel your way ahead through life. Grasp the iron rod, and do not let go.”
So there we have it. If we feel that, as Christians and hard-working members of the Church, we “must” outwit the dark times and have strength enough to keep ourselves covered with sunny skies, we are misled. And we may lose hope.
Knowledge is a good thing. Wisdom is a better thing. Working with our minds is a good thing. Working with our feelings is a deeper matter. All are needed to navigate the mortal mission. But knowing that we can feel our way through the dark times, and that everyone has them, grants us more patience with self, and more humble looking up so that the mind, heart, and will are most fully engaged in growing forward.
We may translate that counsel in a lot of ways. Two basic ones that help me:
1. Hang on tight and feel that rod in the very core of my being.
2. Remember that spiritual feelings allow me to go deeper, think higher, and work at controlling my mind and heart as I give myself over to God.
Miracles happen when we step back, bend down on prayerful knee, and wait on God. No one–not even God – said it was easy. The road gets dark and dreary. We may feel lonely and spent. Lo and behold, that is the way of the world. And because Christ is The Way, we eventually come to see that it’s okay. We can keep hope. We don’t need solve every problem, nor see it as an indication that we aren’t good enough or faithful enough! The miracle is that we can breathe, bow our heads in gratitude for mortal tutoring, and keep on holding on to that rod.
Mists are part of the mortal atmosphere. The dance of light and darkness is part of the plan that allows us to learn, for ourselves, to discern one from the other. There is no mist dark enough that our Savior can’t see through. He will also see us through. And from Him, and through Him, and because of Him, we can feel the sunshine.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, and grandmother who had the blessing of joining the LDS Church as a teenager. She has worked for many years to share her testimony of Jesus Christ with other folks. Her propensity for being the queen of embarrassing moments notwithstanding, she sums up her journey thus far like this: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” She has taught Church youth & family programs for more than 25 years, and has written books, hundreds of columns, & created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. Her latest venture is to create a website to focus on, bring attention to, and grow the goodness in this world. Please visit her website at <a href="http://www.goodnessmatters.com/" title="http://www.
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