Friday, September 26, 2008

Children of God

For my personal study the past while I have been reading the Old Testament. I know most people shudder at the thought of the Old Testament, but I love it. This morning I started Isaiah and was struck with the first thing Isaiah has to say: "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:2-3). As a parent of many, I know the feeling of being unappreciated. I know how it is to teach and train and have children say, "Oh Mom! You are so old fashioned!" And then dismiss me without any recognition of the fact that I have been down the very road they are traveling and know where the pitfalls are and what to look out for. You'd think they'd be grateful for the help, but they usually aren't. So when God says that the ox knows his owner and the ass knows where his food comes from, but Israel doesn't know or consider her master, I have to stop and ask myself if I know. Am I doing the same thing to God that my children have done to me? There's more than one reason why remembering that God is our Father is important.

In the Pearl of Great Price God teaches Moses some amazing things beginning with His own majesty. He explains to Moses that He is mighty and eternal and endless then He says, "Thou art my son" (Moses 1:4). He wanted Moses to know who he was, but he also wanted Moses to understand that was his heritage.

After this great vision, Moses is left alone, weak and weary from the encounter with God. In this state, Satan comes tempting him saying, "Moses, son of man, worship me" (Moses 1:12). Satan knew that if he could make Moses forget who he was—a son of God—he would be able to then tempt him. But Moses remembered. "Who art thou?" Moses asked, "For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?" (Moses 1:13). Satan doesn't give up, but neither does Moses. Satan tempts in every way he can, but Moses, remembering who he is, resists until finally "Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence, even from the presence of Moses" (Moses 1:22).

As Isaiah said, it makes our Father in Heaven sad when don't consider Him. And it makes us strong when like Moses when we do. Our spirits are literally the children of God and when we remember that we are stronger and life is simpler.

Friday, September 19, 2008


This week in my New Testament classes we discussed the baptism of Jesus Christ. I don't remember much about my baptism, but over the years I've pondered a lot on the symbolism of baptism—being buried in the water and coming forth again a new creature. The idea of the old person dying and being buried (the one that sins and is miserable) and being born again into a new life of joy and happiness is so beautiful. The problem is that so often we forget that it is possible. We wallow in misery needlessly because we think we need to do it all ourselves. Instead we simply need to submit to Christ and let Him raise us up to joy and happiness.

I've been studying the ways to do this lately and am surprised at how easy they are. I'll write more on that later, but for now I'll just say that one of the adversary's greatest lies is that it is difficult.

As I studied the Savior's baptism this week I was reminded of all this. John tells us in John 1:28 that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river at a place called Bethabara. Bethabara means "house of crossing" and tradition tells us that it is the place where Joshua led the Children of Israel across the Jordan into Jericho. The Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus is the same as Joshua. Thus we have two Joshuas. The first Joshua physically led the way so his people could cross the waters of Jericho into the Promised Land. The second Joshua spiritually led the way for all people to cross the waters of baptism into the Promised Land of the celestial kingdom.

But there is more to the symbolism. The Jordan river at Bethabara is just a few miles north of the Dead Sea and happens to be the lowest fresh-water point on the face of the earth. So Jesus Christ, a God who condescended to come to earth to save us, was baptized at the lowest place on the earth. What this underscores for me is the fact that He descended below all things so that we could rise above all. That is love.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My Crown

I found the best scripture the other day while I was studying. I don't know why I've never heard it before—or maybe I heard it before I was a grandmother and didn't understand it. The verse is from Proverbs 17:6 and says: "Children's children are the crown of old men." I can add from personal experience that they are also the crown of old women. Oh what joy! I am in California for the birth of our 29th grandchild. (His name is George and he is adorable—like all of my grandchildren!) His big sister, Jane, calls him "My baby." It is so cute. "Why is my baby crying," she'll ask as she hovers over him. To see the love she has for him already is amazing.

We've also had two grandsons move in with us to go to school and what a delight! I feel ten years younger! Family Home Evening is so much more interesting with four people instead of two and family prayer feels more complete. Ryan and Nate are wonderful. They are both a lot like their Papa and it is fun to see these traits pass through the generations. They are helpful. They tease me. They wrestle with Papa (but they make sure they don't hurt him!) They are even more fun than when they were younger—and they were a lot of fun then!

Maybe this verse in Proverbs jumped off the page and wrapped itself around my heart because I REALLY felt the truth of it. There is a lot of work and worry attached to parenting that obscures some of the joy. But with grandchildren, you just get the joy.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Prosper in the Land

When I think back on my growing up years, the first thought that comes to me is that nothing went right. It seems that trials and tribulations were all my family encountered at every turn. My mother had undulant fever. My father contracted encephalitis from a mosquito bite and almost died. Our house burned down. Dad started several businesses and problems plagued every one of them. Dad had blood clots in his lungs. Financial problems hung over us like a storm that wouldn't abate. I could go on, but this is enough to give you a feel for the things that plagued us.

Despite all of this, my parents were always faithful in the Church. They paid a full tithe. They studied the scriptures. They attended the temple often. They taught us. They served in the Church and were always very active. The problem with all of this is that I kept hearing and reading verses of scriptures such as that found in 2 Nephi 1:20; "Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land." I saw that my parents were diligently trying to keep the commandments, but they weren't prospering. This bothered me a lot and challenged my testimony.

It took years of study and gospel scrutiny for me to finally realize what the Lord means when he says "prosper in the land." I should have caught on from the very verse I just quoted. The rest of that verse says, "But inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence." I was always so caught up in the "prosper" part that I didn't see that the opposite of prospering has nothing to do with wealth. The opposite is to be cut off from the Lord. This led me to the realization that this earth is one day going to be the celestial kingdom. So to prosper in the land means to stay here—to be part of the celestial kingdom. This is explained in Proverbs 2:21-22, "For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it."

While it is true that righteous people often acquire more earthly prosperity, it doesn't always happen. There are many righteous people who struggle financially and many wicked people who don't. But righteous people will always acquire faith and will "prosper in the land" in that they will receive a celestial inheritance in this land.

When I think back on my growing up years, my second thought is that everything went exactly as it was supposed to. My parents had faith. What more could I ask for?