Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Ether 2:23-25 -- On Creativity and Problem-Solving with God

"And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.
For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the drains and the floods have I sent forth.
And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?"
Ether 2:23-25

This is the Lord's answer to the Brother of Jared's question about whether they could have light in their barges, after he asked more than once.  I think it is interesting, because the Lord explains the problem he is being asked to solve well, and then turns it back to the Brother of Jared, saying that he will do what he asks.  He's willing to solve the problem, but the Brother of Jared has to come up with the means. 

In our day, we could probably just get some battery powered lights, but Ether 6:11 tells us that they were on the water for 644 days, so even now it would require some long-term planning, but at least we have an idea of what we would need.  For them, God was really asking for some creativity and invention.  Presumably, nothing that these people had known before would satisfy the constraints that Lord gave him for having light.  No windows, no fire.  What else was there?  Fireflies maybe?

I think this is something that happens to us in our lives too.  We have problems.  We don't know how to solve them, and we plead with God to solve them for us.  In some cases, God does, just as he solved the Brother of Jared's previous problem with there being no air circulation in the barges.  In that case, the Brother of Jared told God the problem and God told him the answer.  ... However, in our lives, as in the Brother of Jared's life, there are some things that God doesn't solve for us immediately.  Instead, he asks us to take a step back and really think about it.  Frame the problem, evaluate solutions. 

Sometimes that helps us to come up with a solution right away... even if it is something we really didn't want to do, we realize, ah, yeah... that's what is needed.  Other times, as in this story, there is no obvious solution--in fact that's why we went to the Lord in the first place, right?  Because we couldn't figure out a way to solve the problem.  And God asks us to think again, and to get creative.  We are asked to invent a solution that didn't exist before, just as the Brother of Jared was.  And if, like the Brother of Jared, we actually think about it and work on it rather than despairing because it reeks of effort, God will do miracles for us.

I see this happen with my sister all the time.  She tells God what she needs and then she goes looking, and even when it is near impossible and vastly unlikely, she comes across something that will work.  In the Brother of Jared's case he came up with something that we still can't explain with all of our modern knowledge, but the Lord did it for the Brother of Jared because the Brother of Jared knew that he could, and his people had light for their journey.

Today, if we are in need of some light for our journeys, let's go to the Lord with patience and willingness and try to think outside the box, and work with him.  If we can overcome our doubts and our fears and trust in him, we will get our light, and maybe even learn something about faith and God's love for us in the process.

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