Summary of today’s studies? Remember. Remember what God has done for us, for our fathers, for our children and Chris’s message in Doing Good is Simple is similar: Remember that we are good enough because God is good and He has empowered us to do good.
Remember who you are, who you belong to, and who you serve. God has all power, but He is willing to assist us with anything that helps Him help others. Big or small. Chris’s message is starting to sit in my heart. I struggle with the idea that I am not “good enough” on my own. How many times have I mentioned that? It’s why I’m in counseling for goodness sake. I read Chris’s messages in this book and I know he’s talking about service and rescuing, but the words he speaks apply to a multitude of situations. He talks over and over about God’s love for all of us and that we came equipped to help, in our own way. We were each blessed with skills and talents that we can use to not only bring ourselves happiness and joy, but to also help those around us, or even those around the world. After he talks about how good we are in God, he says,
God has given a mission to you and me, but he is in full control and we can lean into this truth – God is leading, we are following, and we have to learn how to rely on him.
I like how he says “learn.” Isn’t that what all of life is about? Learning to trust, to have faith, to lean on God. To learn of His infinite patience, help, and love for each of us. We can see how easy this might be, it sounds easy enough, but in action, it can be a painful lesson that we need to learn over and over again. God prompts us, do we listen? Do we remember that He wants to use us, in our abilities and talents, in our small, quiet way to help? Chris points out repeatedly that it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, just small and simple. He doesn’t express the idea that we all need to quit our jobs and move to another country. He says to start where you are, doing something you can do. Truthfully, the thought scares me. What might God want? The unknown is far worse than He intends, I’m sure.
Chapter seven in the Book of Mormon is all about the unknown and remembering. Not only has Lehi taken his family into the wilderness, but now God is telling him that it isn’t good for his family to be alone, after all, he has children who will need spouses. That’s pretty thoughtful of God. He never wants us to be alone. As our children get older, I find that I pray for that more and more. That those they are currently with will last and that those who need to find someone, will. I want them to be tied to someone that they can give their hearts to and walk together through this life. I can see how a loving God would want those same things. Not only that, but they were going to need children to populate a new land and they can’t exactly do that with siblings!
Lehi is told to send the boys back to a family whose father is named Ishmael. He happens to have sons enough for Lehi’s daughters and enough daughters for his sons. God really is in the details. They travel back those three days – AGAIN! – and persuade this family, who leave nearly everything behind, to come with them and they do. They do! They listen to God through these four young men who must have sounded a little crazy. A miracle happened though, their hearts were softened and they could see God’s hand in it. On the way back to camp, several things happen. First, Laman and Lemuel start rebelling. It isn’t just them though – it’s two daughters of Ishmael (can you guess who they will marry?), and two of his sons. Nephi questions them asking, “…how is it that ye are so hard in your hearts, and so blind in your minds…how is it that ye have forgotten?” Oh boy. How often have I been that way? How many times have I not wanted to listen to God and have hardened my heart and turned a blind eye?
Of course, the rebellious were angry, so angry in fact, that they tied Nephi up and decided to leave him for the wild animals to eat. Nice. Brotherly love right there. Nephi prays and asks for the strength to burst the bands that are holding him and he is blessed with enough strength do so. I know this passage is talking about being tied up, but what about being tied up in sin or addiction or patterns that are unhealthy or unwise? Can we ask God for the strength to burst those bands as well? Absolutely! Will He bless us to overcome? Absolutely! The brothers continued to be angry, but those who were faithful convinced them to leave Nephi alone, which they did. Their hearts were so softened and they began to beg him for forgiveness, which he gave, but he told them to “pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness.” They did and the party continued on its way back to camp. Upon arrival, they cranked up the flames on the altar and gave praise and thanksgiving to God. When God does provide those blessings, don’t forget to thank Him too. It’s easy to not see His hand sometimes, but when we do, we should get out our own sacrificial altar of a broken heart and humbly thank Him for the blessings we are given. What an amazing God we have! He’s willing to hold our hands through the scary parts, to guide us when we don’t want to go, and to bless us in our suffering. Does it get any better that? Now, if we could just remember this all the time!!