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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making His Paths Straight

Two days in a row--I've overcome myself and gotten out of bed early. Phew! That was TOUGH! I SO wanted to get back in bed--I have to put my cell phone all the way across the house in order to get myself up and coherent enough to not go back to sleep. I'm finding that in order to motivate myself to get moving, I have to have something pressing to do. That's not always the case. This morning, after running downstairs to the kitchen to get the alarm turned off (yup. Seriously. That's how far I have to go to get myself to do this) I laid there messing with my cell phone until I could talk myself into a reason for getting up.

This morning, in a quiet, dark house, I got the chance to read Alma 7. I love readthescriptures.com. It makes it so easy. I tend to understand better and things sink in deeper when I take notes. This morning, I got stuck on the words that are the title of this post, and my notes bled over here. You'll find there are quite a few things my mind got stuck on as I read. Sometimes I just read those things and "unstick" them as quickly as possible so as not to let them disturb my progress in reading. Dumb! This morning, I wanted to catch every one. I also like how it was possible to link past posts to some of the things that occurred to me as I read. It kind of shows how lessons are learned line upon line and things come together eventually. Nice!

So, if you're interested, here's what got stuck.....

"He cannot walk in crooked paths....Neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left" (verse 20).
"And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can...anything unclean be received into the kingdom of God" (verse 21).

Alma tells us these things to "awaken" us to a "sense of our duty to God" (verse 22).

Duty to God? What is that? Is that ours because we are born on this earth? Does everyone have the same duty, or is that just something reserved for those who have made covenants through baptism? I would venture to say it's for everyone, but you can't do it unless you know it, right?

In that case, is ignorance bliss?

I would think (knee jerk) yes, it is, but I'm not in that boat. I have read this and know this and am coming to understand it better. I think the "bliss" is skin deep, but the knowledge brings joy deep in your soul.

It speaks of "walking blameless before God." I think in this we go back to living a life "above reproach." If you're walking blameless before God, then you're walking that way in every aspect of your life.

So, here are some of the traits we've been admonished to "obtain" in order to become clean and make those paths straight:

  • Be humble. From what I understand about that word--be on your knees asking for grace (allow Him to make up for what you lack) as you attempt to live life the best you can.
  • Be submissive and gentle. "Submissive?" "Meekly obedient?" Basically, suck it up quietly and do it--whatever "it" may be. Just go and do and stop fretting about it.
  • Easy to be entreated. By whom? By God or my fellowman? How about by both? Is that what this is all about? I've known of people who need to pray and receive answers before they'll agree to do any little thing. Is that what this is about? I would say not. Should it even come down to people having to ask you to do something? Maybe it should be the Spirit entreating you. When I hear it, do I act quickly and easily, or do I question it and question it and question it some more? I would think that if you're "easy to be entreated," you're "Johnny on the spot." You're the first one up and moving when you see there's a need (back to "kigatsuku.")
  • Full of patience and long-suffering. If there's anything we receive from God, it's this. Doesn't it make sense that we should be willing to offer this to others as well?
  • Temperate in all things. In other words, don't go overboard. Have balance in your life. Don't let things rule your life. Let God and your desire to serve Him and your fellow beings rule your life.
  • Diligent in keeping the commandments of God. In order to keep them, you have to know them. That's kind of where this whole thing began--the whole "ignorance is bliss" thing (see above).
  • Ask for whatever you need to make these things happen in your life. That's a nice little perk. He wants us to do and become these things, but He's not leaving us to "figure it out" on our own. He's offering us an out-stretched hand. Is this a benefit I take advantage of? No, not often. Well, duh! Maybe it's time to start.
And then, He asks that we thank Him for whatever we receive from Him--in spirit and in stuff.

He makes it simpler yet and gives us a shortened version of what He's asked in the bullet points above: "See that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works."

So, I've often heard said that all you have to have to be saved is God's grace. Yes, you do. I believe this, but I don't think that's all. That grace comes through Jesus Christ's atonement, but if we rely on grace alone, we can just sit around all day eating bonbons and becoming well acquainted with a remote control, can't we?

I don't believe that that was why I was sent here. In verse 10, it talks about Mary and how she was a "chosen vessel." She was chosen to fulfill her role as mother of the Son of God. As I pondered that, I got to thinking, I don't believe God to be random in anything. I just don't think that's one of His qualities. In every aspect, He is perfect. That being the case, He either needs to be perfectly random or perfectly organized and planned. Therefore, if that is the case, and He chose Mary, didn't He also choose me to perform some special work here? And if that's the case, notice I use the word "work." Sitting around with the bonbons and the remote just aren't going to get that thing fulfilled, but the list above will. That's what He's promising.

Here's the thing...I often think of Lehi and Nephi's vision of the "Tree of Life" and the path they followed to "obtain the fruit." It was "straight and narrow," but nothing is said of the incline. As I write as I did above--my impressions as I study this morning, I read over all that's listed and think, "Yah, no problem. Got it handled," but then I think of my bonbon self and how much easier it is to just sit and watch others do the work. I guess the important thing to remember is Mary. She had a job to do. What if she hadn't lived up to that? But Mary didn't have the internet. I have to admit, I justify my internet use by saying that I do a lot of good here, and I believe I do. I use it to encourage people and stay connected to their lives, but is it hurting my ability to connect with my little ones that are here before my face? Am I encouraging them on a moment-by-moment basis? This is my time to do that.

So, here's a little further encouragement, if you find yourself in the same boat I'm in....

"If we live by the principles of the gospel, we must be good people, for we will be generous and kind, thoughtful and tolerant, helpful and outreaching to those in distress. We can either subdue the divine nature and hide it so that it finds no expression in our lives, or we can bring it to the front and let it shine through all that we do."
--Gordon B. Hinckley

This just happened to be at the bottom of the page when I finished reading the chapter. These quotes are purely random, but I love how it fit my train of thought. And thus, off to another tangent....

I love that President Hinckley used the word "tolerant." On Sunday, during the sacrament, I decided to flip through the hymn book and read the text to a few hymns. I chanced upon "In Humility, Our Savior" and the words "Teach us tolerance and love" hit my heart and have stayed there. Actually, when I woke this morning, those were the first coherent words I remember in my mind.

I wondered how many times I've sung that hymn and those words have just gone through my eyes and right back out of my mouth as I've hurried to move on to the words that follow in the hymn.

I'm feeling "intolerated" right now with someone else's desire to change things about this blog, and it doesn't feel very good. I guess I need to be more tolerant. The words before these that stuck in my mind are: "Fill our hearts with sweet forgiving." Ah yes! In order to be tolerant, one must also be forgiving and when one is intolerated, one must REALLY be forgiving.

Does this come easy for anyone? Really? I'm sure there are people out there that have that gift. I'm working on it.

So, in this post lies a challenge. Not just for today, but for a lifetime. It is what we must endure to the end doing--making His paths straight and in so doing, becoming more like Him.

So, it's time to swallow the last of the bonbons and put down the remote, and for heaven's sake, before the kids get up, get off the internet....

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