Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Traditions of their Fathers

Besides reading from the Bible I also try to read a page or two from the Book of Mormon every day. Tonight my reading was in Alma Chapter 17. Here Ammon and his brothers are teaching the gospel to the Lamanites, a blood-thirsty people raised from childhood to despise humanity, especially the Nephites. Verse 9 has an interesting description of this missionary work. "And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct."

Speaking of "traditions of their fathers" tonight I endured one of my teenage son's rants. He was going on about how hard his life was because of his parent's mistakes. (Since he's adopted I took no offense. Indeed his life has been challenging.) I didn't really know how to respond to him. Sure he's suffered because of his parents issues. Sure he is who he is today in large part because of them and what they did to him and what they did not do for him, what they didn't teach him. In short his father's traditions screwed him up.

But now he knows better. To some extent it's causing him even more trouble because he recognizes that he needs to change, but change is hard. The Book of Mormon recounts powerful conversion stories, wicked nations changed because one man stood up to the traditions of his father. Indeed these are inspirational. I am certain that my son can break the downward spiral that his nature and nurture have dealt him. As he does he will save entire generations to come from this negative force that has plagued him. But that doesn't mean it will be easy. I wished we got more of the details around the post conversion trials many of these changed men experienced. For surely their life was not all perfection just because they found the light.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day and Night

I've known Joshua 1.8 for years since it's a seminary scripture mastery verse. But in the past I've really only thought about the first part, the half that admonishes us to meditate on "this book of Law" both day and night. I always really glossed over the second half which is the promise.

I go to work all day, 5 days a week. Occasionally I need to sometimes work weekends too. (Luckily not that often.) Not that I'm intentionally materialistic, but our society encourages us to think about getting ahead. In truth I wonder at times what I need to do to get to the next level. I tell myself that it's so I can better care for my family. Indeed there is much truth in that excuse. But I should be honest and admit that in part I seek success as an end itself. Perhaps seeking success is not bad if done in the right way.

So how should I be seeking success? This passage in Joshua teaches that if you "observe to do according to all that is written" in the book of the law, that then "thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." I note the passage implies I will still need to work towards this prosperity. This verse is in no way the Lord's get rich quick scheme. But this does imply that rather than spending money on the next How to Get Ahead In Business book, perhaps I should just spend more time meditating on the scriptures, drawing nearer to the Lord, allowing Him to cleanse my motives, letting Him teach me what I need to become. Perhaps then I may have good success.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

40 Years of Wandering

I'm in Deuteronomy this week. In this book Moses speaks not to the people he led out of Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb), but rather to their children. Not only did the wicked, unfaithful Israelites who lacked courage to conquer Canaan wander for 40 years in the wilderness, but their children did also. Children often suffer for their parents mistakes. But the Lord in His infinite wisdom uses that suffering to His advantage.

"And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led the these 40 years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no." (Deut. 8.2)

Reading this verse made me wonder about my own challenges in life. Rather than blame my life's difficulties on my parents or my genes or my circumstances, I should just embrace the test. I recognize that some of my challenges I've lived with throughout my life so far. And some are new, but these I will likely live with the next 40 years. Perhaps I don't need to ask why do I deserve these challenges. Is it not to prove me? To know what is in my heart?