Sunday, January 29, 2017

"The Tree of Life"

This week, I was reflecting often on 1 Nephi 8, the Vision of the Tree of Life. In my Book of Mormon class, we talked about this vision in so much depth that it made me think about the amazing lessons that it teaches.

In the beginning of 1 Nephi 8, Lehi is explaining to his sons that he has had a vision. It appears that Nephi had a good role in the vision, but that Laman and Lemuel seemed to have struggled in some way. The rest of the chapter describes the vision, talking about the "rod of iron" that leads to the "tree of life."

I have heard or read about this vision many times during the course of my life. In fact, I often wonder if this is the vision in the scriptures that I have heard the most about! But we talked about something I had never thought of as we compared verses 24 and 30. There are two different types of people that arrive at the Tree of Life. In the first group, they grasp onto the rod and push forward towards the fruit of the tree. In the second group, they fall on their knees as they reach the tree and partake of the fruit. We talked about the difference in how the second group seemed to see it for more as a tree: they realized that it was the Savior or at least a representation of Him. The first group ended up leaving the tree because of the mocking and scorning of the people in the building across the river.

How often do we do this? We seem to avoid seeing things as they really are, taking the Lord out of things that he has played such a big role in. We often are so caught up in the tree that we forget it is really our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ himself. Are we grasping for dear life onto the rod of iron? Or are we holding steadfast and trusting that we will make it as we obey the commandments we've been given?

Although the Vision of the Tree of Life was given thousands of years ago, it still has such an application to us. I think it wise to imagine where we would be on that path at this given time. How will we make it to the tree? How will we see the tree as the Savior? What can we do to get back on the path if we aren't currently on it? These questions will help us see how we can improve. There is nobody that can't come back to the path! It takes a lot of work, but let us all make those improvements necessary and continue onto the Tree of Life.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"Highly Favored of the Lord"

I recently returned from serving a full-time mission in the Maryland Baltimore Mission. I now attend Brigham Young University, where I am currently taking a religion class on the Book of Mormon. This blog served as a way to record my thoughts about my mission and it will now serve as a way to record my thoughts as I am home from my mission and involved in studying the Book of Mormon.

This week, I realized once more why the Book of Mormon is so powerful. Every single verse, without fail, seems to teach us something of eternal purpose. This rang true to me as we dissected the very first verse of the very first chapter of the Book of Mormon. 1 Nephi 1:1, an introduction in the words of Nephi himself, states:

"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days."

In class, we talked about the difference between the word "therefore" and "nevertheless." The word therefore is a word that is used to show a direct relationship between two different things, sometimes almost a cause-and-effect relationship. Nephi says that because he was born of goodly parents, he was taught in the learning of his father. The word nevertheless seems to do the opposite, combining two things that don't usually seem to go together. In this verse, he talks about seeing afflictions for his entire life, however he feels that him and the entire family of Lehi have been "highly favored of the Lord."

To me, this verse teaches us a lot about perspective and attitude. We are taught the principle of faith that is centered in Jesus Christ: when we trust in the Savior and Redeemer, we begin to have an eternal perspective on things. We realize that because of the Fall, we will experience afflictions throughout our lives. At the same time, however, we realize that because of the Atonement, we will be able to know and understand that we are all highly favored of the Lord. The ultimate decision of whether or not to have an eternal perspective is up to us. I challenge all this week to look inward to be able to find where to improve to be able to have the kind of perspective and faith that Nephi had! I know that as we all strive to show that faith, we will be able to say that we have been "highly favored of the Lord in all (our) days."