There is a passage in the book of Jacob that always stands out to me.
In Chapter 7 verse 26, Jacob is concluding his record, and says:
“…the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days.”
Jacob’s life was full of many many trials.
He was born in the wilderness, after his family had already left Jerusalem. So he never had a real home. All he knew was wandering, moving from place to place in order to survive. He had amazing parents, and Nephi was probably the best brother a person could ask for. But he grew up with his brothers Laman and Lemuel constantly causing contention and trying to murder their family! When Lehi blessed Jacob in 2 Nephi chapter 2, he told him, “..in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren.” His days were filled with wars, and probably much confusion. Temporally, I wonder if Jacob ever felt secure.
Spiritually, he was a giant.
Going back to Lehi’s blessing, he continued, “…Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”
In writing of Sherem, the antichrist, Jacob said “And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.”
Jacob knew the goodness and glory of God. He was blessed with a great testimony of Christ and of the gospel.
He became a righteous and great minister among his people. He gave us the allegory of the olive tree. He rejoiced in keeping the record on the plates. He was bold and said what needed to be said. I mean, just think about the book of Jacob. There are so many nuggets in those few chapters that teach and fill the reader with the desire to be better.
So focusing back on the phrase he uses- our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream. I’ve been thinking about that a lot over the last month or so.
Because I feel the same way.
When Carey was laid off last December, it was a shock for sure. But I was certain that within a month at most, he’d be back to work and that it would be even better than what he was doing before.
A month passed, and then another. We still had some energy, and were blessed with a temp position to help pay the bills. Still looking for the next step, and certain it was just around the corner.
Then all of a sudden it is July. And I’m not really sure where the last seven months have gone, except that they have gone and we are still trudging along feeling almost directionless. Still so grateful for the temp work, but keenly aware that there are only a few weeks left until that dries up.
I admit that the stress of the last seven months has really gotten to me. I’ve put on some weight, I have less motivation to keep up my house and keep up my regular routine, tensions are often high at home and my kids definitely feel that lack of normalcy and security. While we aim to stay where we are, we really don’t know if we’ll be here even a month from now. It’s not like we haven’t continued living- we have. We still go on little getaways, we still have movie night, we still make plans, we still live. But there is this shadow hanging over all of it for me.
With all those emotions and stresses, it really does feel like the months have passed away like as it were unto us a dream. It’s the best way I can describe it.
But I have had this growing feeling inside of me that I don’t want to waste this time. I feel like I have just been waiting for this trial to end, and not much else. I’ve been sleeping through it.
So how do I wake up live intentionally, instead of just waiting out my days? How do I grow and learn during this trial?
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Ephesians 5:14)
We see that word several times in the scriptures.
In chapter 3, Jacob tells us to, “…arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death..”
Alma encourages us to “..awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words..”
Lehi pleads to his children, “O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep… Awake! and arise from the dust…”
I’ve actually been working on this blog post for a week or so. I’ve felt like there is something that I really need to learn in this, so I’ve been studying it out and pondering a lot. As I said above, I’ve been asleep. I desperately want to wake up! Because when it comes down to it, I know deep down this trial will come to an end, and I will be amazed (but not surprised) at what the Lord has done for us. But I don’t want to look back on it and see that I squandered my opportunity for growth, or that I whined my way through it.
The term Arouse your faculties caught my curiosity when I was studying. It is often seen when the writer is pleading for the reader to awake. I’ve read the phrase hundreds of times in my life, but never thought too much about it until now. I turned to the dictionary to try to understand it more.
Arouse: verb – To evoke or awaken
Evoke: verb – To bring or recall to the conscious mind. Or, to Remember.
Faculty: noun – An inherent mental or physical power.
Inherent: adjective – Existing in something as a permanent, essential, or characteristic attribute. Deep-rooted, fundamental. Perhaps eternal?
So to arouse your faculties means to remember your eternal power.
Remember who you are.
We are children of God. All of us! We have eternal spirits. We have power! We lived before this life and we will live and progress after.
We are not meant to sleep our way through this life. What would be the point of that?
It’s hard. When you feel so weighed down it’s hard to just get up.
But remember that you can. Just the desire to get up is enough to start stirring that power within you. Not just your power, but the power of God, and angels, and friends from the other side of the veil who are all rooting for you and cheering you on.
There will always be trials. That’s why we’re here. Some will trip us up and some will knock us down completely.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof..
At the beginning of a trial it seems it will never end. The end is where the light comes, that refreshing breeze. But the middle is where the growth happens.
The middle is where you get to remember who you are.