Friday, October 10, 2014

Looking for the Land Bountiful

1 Nephi 17:3 ...And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthenthem, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; 

I’ll be happy as soon as….
How often do we struggle through a trial or a hard thing, and when we finally reach the end, and are ready to have a break, something else happens, almost as if the Lord is saying, “You’re not done yet.” You know what I’m talking about- those times when you’ve been planning “as soon as [insert nearly any life event here], I’m going to finally have some time to [insert some relaxing, self-indulgent project here]….” and then something happens to change the plan. Drastically. As in you KNOW that self-indulgent project will never happen.

I’ve seen it a million times (you’d think I’d learn!). 

As a younger mom, I made a routine of walking daily with some friends for a little exercise. One friend often commented, “As soon as this child learns to walk, things will be easier” or or “It will get better when all my children are in school all day” or “If my oldest could just pass her driver’s test, things will start sailing along!” Finally she figured out that there was always something on the horizon, some big accomplishment or challenge, but as soon as that hill had been crested, another hill came into view. It was a learning point for me, as well- I could wish away the hours with my family waiting for the next big event, but I might miss some beautiful moments if I did that. Far better to keep climbing the mountain and enjoying the view as much as possible.

We can spend our time hoping the mountain will change, or we can look to the Source of help. When we prayerfully take the first step up the hill, His light illuminates the places we have not seen, points the way and gives us strength to continue. As we are near the top, we might look forward to the return descent that we miss the vistas below. We may also think that, having completed the climb, we are deserving of a long rest, of not having to do more. But that is not His way. Without constant growth, we cannot become our best selves and we will not learn to walk by faith.

The prophet Nephi knew this well. After escaping the destruction in Jerusalem, Nephi’s family journeyed for ‘many years’ in the wilderness, finally arriving in the land they called “Bountiful”,which was overflowing with milk and honey and much fruit. There they settled, rejoicing after having endured many hard things, that they had finally arrived. But before long, the Lord commands Nephi to build a ship and flee once again.  Hardship- rest- hardship. Do you see a pattern here? That’s right, God did not let Nephi’s family rest for long, He continued to challenge their growth. What’s more, He continued to light their path. Nephi says he prayed often, and despite some pretty stiff opposition, he remained faithful. 

My own testimony of faithful enduring is this: When I turn to my Savior, when I do my best to serve Him, that is when His love carries me, His Peace fills my heart. That is when there is joy in my journey. The most sacred experiences of my life have been a result of faithfully continuing the journey back to Him. It is then that I find the Bountiful blessings in the land I am in. 

There is a promise in all of this dream dashing, a great and everlasting one. And this is it: If we, ‘the children of men’, are faithful in keeping commandments, whatever the opposition or hardship, God blesses us, gives us strength, encouragement, peace and yes, even joy, in our journey. The reward is everlasting!

"And I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.

"Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem." (1 Nephi 17: 13-14)

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