Friday, August 20, 2010

Jeremiah 2:32-33

"Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways."
Jeremiah 2:32-33

I was reading in Jeremiah this morning, and this chapter and the one after are very interesting, but I'm not sure I understand all of it. The part right here where it says "why trimmest thou thy way to seek love" could be interpreted in many ways... in fact, my sister thinks it means that diets are pointless. And although that is certainly a tempting interpretation, to me it seems more like taking a shortcut.
My close friend's brother is getting married today, and so I've heard a lot about all the effort that has gone into the maid's ornaments and the bride's attire, and my sister remembers exactly what she was wearing the day she got married. It seems like weddings are one of those things people don't forget. And so, even though we remember those things that are really important to us like that, we still forget the Lord. And it seems like God is wondering why we put him into the "easily forgettable" category in our lives. God should be as important as a wedding, and more important than any of those other things. And since God *is* love, and the love of God is the greatest gift we could hope to achieve... why do we take shortcuts around him, seeking exactly what he is offering us already? When we wander off into other paths seeking what God could give us, all we're doing is asking for temptation... for false covers for the holes that only God can fill in our lives. Today, let's return to God (as he asks in the first verse of the next chapter), and remember that there is no shortcut to love, or to anything else good. All those paths include God.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Proverbs 16:3 -- On Commitment

"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established."
Proverbs 16:3

I was thinking about commitment today... that maybe that is what keeps us from our potential. We love the Lord, but somehow we also love Satan. And, because we are torn by the two sides... of life, of ourselves... desiring something of both, we never firmly commit to God. Or we do, and then re-think things at the first sign of temptation. If you think about it in terms of a relationship, which it really is, you can see how awful it is. God is our best friend one day, and the next we are bad-mouthing him, saying that he is okay, but Satan is our *real* friend. Like we are twelve again, and so desperate for acceptance that we don't really care what relationships we destroy.

On the other side of the scripture are thoughts, and I find this interesting as well. We wonder how to purge our thoughts of evil, to stop desiring things that are bad... we think this is why we can't commit. The truth is though, that commitment to correct action comes first. Then the thoughts clear up... then we find that inner peace that we are after... because we've finally made the right choice, and we aren't trying to balance on the fence anymore.

Commitment is a hard thing sometimes... whenever we commit to one thing we give up other possibilities. When we choose to go to lunch at one restaurant, we give up the choices at another restaurant, or the chance to order pizza, or the tuna fish sandwich we might have made for ourselves. When we take the analogy beyond food to whatever our chosen obsession is, it seems scarier. But until we make that choice about lunch, we are never going to get any food. And until we make that choice, we never have the chance to make the next one, and the next.

Choices are the way that we progress in life... towards Satan or towards God, and everything we do is going to bring us closer to or further away from our goal. Avoiding commitment is avoiding progression... avoiding the relationship entirely. We can't become closer to God when we refuse to make any choices regarding him. Today... let’s try committing to God. See what possibilities it opens up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

3 Nephi 6:12-13

"And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.
Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God."
3 Nephi 6:12-13

Sounds familiar. The unfortunate pride cycle. These verses are right after one of the most cool times in Nephite history... they as a people had joined together and overcome the Gadianton robbers (the ones that agreed to stop fighting were allowed to live and given land to do so) and were finally at peace. I wonder sometimes why we can't just enjoy the peace sometimes... why do we always have to stir things up? :) But they did, and these verses talk about some of the first things that started happening that interfered with that peace, and led to problems. Ranks, wealth, chances for learning. These might not have all caused the pride, they might just be side effects, but it all goes together. When we feel like we are better than other people, for whatever reason--our clothing, our money, our education, our rank at work, school, or church... or anything else--it is much harder for us to take the humble path, even with God. When we get into those mental traps, we're promoting inequality. In the verses that follow this, the inequality breaks up the church... destroys the peace that these people had achieved through a LOT of sacrifice and pain. Today, maybe we can try to salvage our own peace by modifying the way we think about others... and by the way we act towards them as well. Our society tolerates and even promotes inequality in many ways, but there are things that we can do to change that, to ameliorate the effects. If it is rank, we can do a lot to treat people as equals (because they are, even if they are "below" us in rank). If it is wealth, maybe we can learn to share and lift others with our generosity. If it is education, maybe we can find a way to share our knowledge freely in a non-condescending way. We all have talents and advantages, and things that we are better at than someone else. As people trying to build a Zion community, let's go out and share those things with others, and work together to succeed rather than hoarding for our individual profit. :) The people around us are our brothers and sisters... they are an essential part of a perfect society that embraces our differences and has room for everyone.

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