Every morning as I sit and study, I listen to music playing softly in the background. I had been listening to the soundtrack of Elf (“did you hear that?!?”) for weeks, but I was digging around in our entertainment center a few days ago and found a set of CD’s we had purchased for our son for some special occasion. They are eight disks of various composers (Vivaldi, Beethoven, Wagner, etc.) with each composer having their own CD. I thought I would listen to one per day to see who I like the best. I’m finding that I’m most familiar with Vivaldi’s music. Weird. I’ve only listened to five so far. I also like his music the best at this point. It’s light and fast. Although I do love Fugue in D Major (Bach). I adore that deep resonant organ. I am finding that I am spending so much time with my Time With God each morning that I need to play them two or three times.
I really like classical music and I especially love going to the symphony to hear it live. When our children were young, we used to take them as frequently as we could. We might have been better off to take them when they were a little older, but I wanted them to have the experience of discovering classical music young. When I was a preteen, I would walk down to our little library branch and borrow records of classical music to listen to. Then, I would come home, put it on, lie down on the floor and put one speaker on each side of my head. Now, if you can’t afford tickets to see it live, this is the way to go. LOUD! As I got older, I was able to catch the city bus and go downtown to the big library where they had so many more to choose from. It’s was heaven.
Of course, that big library had one other thing stacked in long rows, books. I started bringing bags full of books home. I’m not sure where my passion for reading came from, but I love books. I love how they smell and how they fit in my hand. I love to turn the pages of a new book and crack the spine. We have put together a library in one room of our home and it makes me giddy to see them all lined up and to know that my favorites are right there, ready to be pulled down and reread for the hundredth time. I even lucked out a few years ago and found my favorite series of books from my preteen years – Trixie Belden. We have the whole set of the older ones. We hunt through thrift stores on a regular basis to add to the collection or our children’s collections. It makes sense that I would have a blog about books, doesn’t it?
Now, on today’s readings. I am discovering that I live with a lot of fear. I have always been fearful. Not just about one thing, I can think about things to fear in any situation. I know that most people would say you can’t have faith with fear. I have tons of faith, it’s just that my imagination gets carried away (probably from all of those darn books all those years) and my heart starts to race and I forget to rely on God to restore me to reality. I get caught up in the fear of the thing that I forget that I have faith. Does that make any sense? Today’s readings seemed to be all about fear. Maybe it’s just me. You tell me.
OA – fear comes from trying to live in the future (this is a real problem for me)
AA – the admittance of complete defeat is what makes God come alive in our lives (who isn’t afraid of complete defeat?)
The conference talk was by By Elder Juan A. Uceda and called “The Lord Jesus Christ Teaches Us to Pray.” He told this really scary story about being on his mission in Peru and going out with a group on an off day to hike a part of the Machu Picchu ruins. Apparently, he felt prompted to not go three times, but then did (stupid peer pressure) and almost died because the path fell away under his feet. Fear, oh, how that would spike some fear in my heart! He talks about how sincere his prayer was to be saved and then how the prayer of gratitude was the same intensity. I can see why.
In the Book of Mormon, I have come to the last book in it. It’s by Moroni, who was the last of the ancient prophets to compile the records. He’s unsure when he’s going to die, so he writes the most important things he can think of. He’s being hunted by the remaining people who had been at war and had spent a lifetime killing all of those around them. He is afraid and hiding from them. He says,
Now I, Moroni, after having made an end of abridging the account of the people of Jared, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished; and I make not myself known to the Lamanites lest they should destroy me.
For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite that will not deny the Christ.
And I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ; wherefore, I wander whithersoever I can for the safety of mine own life.
That statement in verse three, “I will not deny the Christ” gets me every time. I cannot think of a more frightening situation to be in. He’s being hunted and, if they find him, will most assuredly kill him if he doesn’t deny his testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Not good. I wonder how many of us feel fear in standing up for what we know to be true. I know there are people who have lost their lives because they just couldn’t or wouldn’t deny what they believe. I often wonder what I would do. I’m not sure I could be strong enough. I like to think so, but you never know, do you?
This brings me to Designed to Pray by Kelly O’Dell Stanley. I am in love with this book, but I am ripping it to shreds. I keep finding verses and sayings and pages that I want to put other places so I can see them on a regular basis. There’s not going to be much left and I despise hurting a book – no dog-earing corners here. I am also discovering so many things about myself by going through these pages. I have so many prayers that are based in fear. Fear of things happening, fear of things not happening, fear of the unknown, even fear of the fear itself. Ugh! What’s up with all of this fear? I’m hoping its just some weird thing I’m feeling today, but I’m afraid it isn’t (see?!?). Kelly spoke to this feeling in what I read this morning. She comments,
And you’ll find that even in the midst of pain, God’s presence is the only balm. When you hurt enough that you’ll finally fumble through the words to ask God to fill your soul, to smooth over the gaping wounds of loss and disappointment and loneliness – well, that’s when He will pick you up in His arms and hold you in the shelter of His heart.
How beautiful is that? The “shelter of His heart.” Shelter: “protect or shield from something harmful.” I fear that sometimes we forget this part of God’s love. His shielding from harmful things. We know that He wants us to grow and learn and progress and that involves scary things sometimes, but they won’t be harmful things to us, if we turn to Him. You know how it says “no animals were harmed in the making of this movie?” Wouldn’t it be great if we could have the saying “no souls were harmed in the making of this individual” somewhere where we can see it? Now, obviously, I know that there are some really terrible things out there that happen, but I’m not talking about things that Satan causes to happen, those plain out dirty evil things, I’m just talking about everyday problems that we all have. Those aren’t meant to harm our souls, they are meant to help us grow. Maybe I shouldn’t be afraid of those things as much as I am. Maybe I need to have that saying sink deep into my heart and to be able to recall it in times of fear. Maybe, just maybe, I’m going to find space on my wall or desk for that one next to all of the other ones Kelly has given me.