One Sunday during the sacrament I prayed about what I might repent of. The answer that came to my mind was prompted directly by my Gospel Doctrine study that week. The prompting I received was that I needed to liken myself unto the “prayerless ponderers” I had just read about in 2 Nephi 32. What came to my mind was this. “Nannette, you are also guilty of too much pondering, mulling, frustrating over this and that and too little prayerful seeking of the words of Christ through the Holy Ghost to solve problems and answer your questions.” My conscience was pricked. I knew I had received truth. The Holy Ghost used ancient scripture and the sins of an ancient people to speak directly to me.
I the middle of the Gospel Doctrine lesson that followed, as the teacher rounded the corner to 2 Nephi 32, I raised my hand and shared the likening lesson I had experienced just moments before, during the Sacrament. The response was interesting. For the next 10 minutes, class members discussed the positive value of pondering. “Well, the Lord expects us to do some thinking on our own!” At last the teacher concluded and emphasized in no uncertain terms, “You know, these people Nephi was addressing were really really bad.” In other words, we couldn’t possibly liken ourselves to them.
I listened and made no further comment. I wondered though, how they might react, if they knew that in my study, I allow the Lord to teach me by likening my behavior unto a variety of scripturally imperfect mortals, like Laman, Jonah, faltering Sarah, etc. It’s worth it! It challenges! It helps me grow!
If I never see myself in the “bad guys” I will completely miss the remedy for redemption. And while I am busy patting myself on the back for not being “that bad,” those who recognize their “wickedness” are busy embracing the words of the prophets and the redemptive power of Jesus Christ for themselves. I fear for those of us who are “pretty good.” I fear that the “not that bad” will need the Savior “not that much.”
Like the little child who finds himself in trouble, we are not past playing the, “But he…” card, pointing out some greater sin in our brother or sister, ancient or modern. It makes us feel good as we place ourselves on the behavior scale and find that we score high on the chart in comparison. But what if in the end, it is not about a comparison based on behavior. What if it’s all about recognition of sin based on principles and learning to come unto Christ for redeeming power, no matter what the sin?
If a princess has only a pea-sized sin under her set of mattresses it’s still absolutely critical to recognize the thing and remove it. I think I can learn something about that process from what the prophets say to the princes and princesses attempting to rest on a foundation of boulders-sized sins.
Likening scripture is not about exact comparison. No human experience is the exact mirror of another. If that is what we are looking for we will miss some very important lessons. Here is a simple three-question method for likening all scripture unto ourselves and receiving all we can from the process:
1. What? – Prayerfully read the scripture story or account. Write about what happened, the details for story.
2. So What? – Prayerfully seek to understand and write about the principle involved.
3. What Now? – Be brave and allow the spirit to possibly convict you of your own weakness. Write about your experience. Then prayerfully receive and record the counsel you receive from the Holy Spirit and the scriptures.
I have been willing to study with an eye for my shortcomings in the light of greater understanding of the purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As a result of His sacrifice He has received power to change me, convert me, redeem me today. That is His work and His glory. It brings Him joy. My work is to recognize my weaknesses and bring them to the Lord. I do that by asking myself some pretty hard questions. The outcome is worth any uncomfortable recognition about myself. The outcome is relationship with the Redeemer and resulting changes in me.
We can learn from the strengths and weaknesses of Nephi or Lot, Peter or Laman, Judas or Joseph. Our Savior was willing to suffer for us all. Somehow I think that levels the playing field. We are Heaven’s family. We can ALL learn from each other as we practice likening ALL scripture unto ourselves.
By Nannette W.
Posted Friday, November 14, 2008
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W. All right reserved.
Making or sending copies is permitted if the page is not changed in any way and the material is not used for profit. This notice must be included on each copy made or sent.