As It Were A Dream

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.

Mist on Antelope Island

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.Rainstorm on Antelope Island

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.

Awake.

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…”

The Light on the BeachI’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.

Sky

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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He Shall Prepare a Way

Last week I finished the Book of Mormon, which means that I also started the Book of Mormon again.

Those familiar words are like coming home. I Nephi having been born of goodly parents… perhaps the most read passage in the Book of Mormon?

Anyway,  today I read 1 Nephi chapter 3.

This is a classic and well known chapter where Lehi sends his sons back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates from Laban.

Laman and Lemuel murmur as they do, but Nephi is faithful and says in verse 7..

I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

path through the painted hillsThis is such an important scripture because it tells us that it is possible to follow the Lord in all things. We’ve all experienced moments of weakness or great times of trial. This scripture assures us that there is a way through it.

Something that stood out to me this time through was Nephi’s idea to go and get his father’s gold and silver and precious things in order to gain the brass plates. Laman had tried to get the plates by asking Laban, which did not work. So Nephi, knowing that God will provide a way, remembers their riches that they had left behind.

I wonder if he thought, “oh! It makes sense now. It all fits together! We left our riches so that they would be here just when we needed them in order to get the plates.” He definitely thought it was the solution to their problem.

But, it wasn’t.

They gathered their riches and presented them to Laban as a trade for the plates, but Laban lusted after the gold and tried to kill them. They lost their property and still didn’t have the plates that they were sent to retrieve.

I wonder if Nephi was at all confused. His brothers were certainly angry. So much so that they beat Nephi with a rod so badly that an angel had to intervene for his sake. But if Nephi was discouraged, he doesn’t talk about it. Think of it though! He thought he had received the answer and was willing to give up all of their riches, and it turned up nothing.

How often has this happened in our lives? We seek guidance and feel prompted to go a certain direction only to have it not work out. It can be incredibly discouraging.

boy on a pathBut as we see in the coming chapter, there was a better solution. One that Nephi could never have imagined on his own. One that not only benefited Lehi’s family by providing them the plates, but also gave them Zoram, and later allowed them to get Ishmael. And who knows how many other lives were blessed because of the removal of a wicked man.

God truly does have a plan, a way for us to accomplish his works. So when our first or second or third attempt at reaching our goals, or at following the commandments of the Lord do not get us to where we thought they would, hold tight.

God will provide a way.

Crossing the Great Deep

Ether is my favorite book in the Book of Mormon. I just love it. It is full of so many great jewels. And is basically the entire Book of Mormon condensed down to one book.

I don’t claim to be a scholar or a deep thinker. And I’m not great with words. But I do think about things and I love seeing types or symbols in things I read.

The story of the Jaredites begins when the languages are confounded at the Tower of Babel. Jared asks his brother to pray that they, and then their family and friends might not be confounded. The Lord agrees, and then Jared again sends his brother to pray about where the Lord will lead them.

The Lord promises them a land which is choice above all other lands. And so the Jaredites prepare for their journey and take off, with the Lord leading them along the way.

They end up in a land by the sea. They call the land Moriancumer, pitch their tents, and hang out for four years.

The seashore obviously wasn’t the end of their journey, but sometimes I wonder if they thought it was. They had already left everything, and  sacrificed, and traveled a great distance. Then they come to the sea. Maybe it was a beautiful place. Maybe they thought they had made it. Maybe they didn’t know that the Lord had something even better for them.

The brother of Jared goes and prays, and after being chastened for not calling upon the Lord, he repents and is then told to get to work and build barges, which he and his people do.

They make these great ships- tight like a dish. But they are worried about air. How will they breathe while in the boat? The Lord tells him how to handle it and they make some holes in each barge.

120Then the brother of Jared cries unto the Lord again, for they have nothing to light their vessels.

Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

The Lord asks him what he wants him to do. And then says:

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 rains 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.

 

I love this so much. img_6954

A couple of thoughts about these verses (which are Ether 2:24-25). What if we look at the Jaredites journey to the seashore as our pre-earth life. We worked hard. We prepared.

The choice land, or land of promise, could be viewed as eternal life. Our ultimate goal and destination. Life with God and our families forever.

So that would make this life the great deep. The water we must cross. Full of mountain waves that dash upon us, and winds and floods. Trials, pains, fears, disappointments.

This is why these verses are so great…

Nevertheless I will bring you up again out of the depths. 

The winds have gone forth out of my mouth.

I prepare you against these things.20140524_193059

God knows we will face hard times. What a comfort it is to know that he is in control. And he has prepared us to face these things.
We cannot cross the great deep without light. And he has provided it for us. Christ is our light. The gospel is our light. The scriptures, the temple. We have been given so much light to get us through.


Behold, O Lord, wilt thous suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?

Next time you find yourself asking that question, remember the answer.

He has provided us with the light. He is the light.