Thursday, May 22, 2014

1 Nephi 8:20-25 -- On the Gospel Not Being a Cakewalk

"And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.
And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed."
1 Nephi 8:20-25

This is part of Lehi's dream.  Nephi explains some of the symbolism in later chapters, so we know that the tree is symbolic of God's love, and the rod of iron is symbolic of his word, or the scriptures.  The overall symbolism is the world, and all of us in the large and spacious field, looking around and deciding where to go.  Lehi sees his family, and calls them over to the tree, but only some of them come.  And as we see in these verses, many many other people try to get to the tree.  Some of them make it, but the mist of darkness happens to them all.  And then, even if they do make it, many are ashamed because after they partake of the fruit, they see people mocking them from the great and spacious building... so some of them decide to go there instead.  Others just get lost in other ways.
I think the symbolism here is something that we can apply to our lives.  If we're here, reading this blog in the first place, our goal is probably the tree.  We want to partake of God's love.  We want to know him and build a relationship with him.  But to stay on that path, we have to be determined.  It's a straight path, but walking it doesn't guarantee light or smooth sailing.  The mist of darkness will come, and we'll lose our way unless we heed God's words... through the scriptures, through prayer, through prophets.  Even when we can't see our way (which happens a lot in life), God gives us help and direction so that we can stay on the path.  And even when we make it to the tree and we have tasted that amazing goodness and love that God offers us.  Even when we start to learn to be on the same page with God, and our friendship is becoming more solid... we can't wander off or start listening to people who criticize us for our choice of friends.  We have to remember that our relationship with God is more important than the mockery of others.  We have to value and work to maintain that relationship, or we will lose what is best in life, and trade it in for the emptiness of pride and feeling important... temporarily.
Today, let's remember that going to God and building a relationship with him isn't a cakewalk.  We can't take God for granted, and we can't assume that everything will be easy if we stick with God.  The mist of darkness comes, whether we are on our way to God or walking away from him.  People will mock us for doing what is right.  Other places and goals will tempt us, and seem way more modern.  But there is only one way to God, and it is through the darkness and trials and temptations and we will see false paths that we want to travel, and we will experience mockery.  Sticking with God and really building that relationship is just as hard as any marriage or friendship.  Maybe sometimes harder, because in this case we can't blame any of the problems on the other person. :)  God will always be there, at the end of the straight and narrow path, waiting for us.  But it's harder to get there if we get lost first or go to the wrong place first.  So, wherever we are, let's get turned in the right direction, let's get our feet on the right path, and let's listen and learn and do the work to be able to make it to our goal, and the work it takes to stay there, unashamed.

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