The Come Follow Me manual this week says, “Reading Isaiah opens our eyes to what the Lord has already done, what He is doing, and what He will yet do for His people.” It reveals the wonderfulness of God’s Plan and how we need to follow the Lord and keep His commandments. We knew of this Plan before we came here. We welcomed it, and were happy for the chance to work hard to learn and grow. Sometimes we don't feel that way now. Hard work isn't fun and society today would teach us that the ideal life is the one Adam and Eve left behind in the garden of Eden – one of ease and luxury, devoid of hard work to survive.
The Lord has provided a way for us to accomplish this goal. He created a path of covenants for us to make and keep. When we fall short, and He knew we would, He provides a Savior for us to repent and get back on the path when we stray. Not only does the Savior allow us to return to the path, but He helps us along the way. He provides the help we need when we fall short, and there are soooo many ways that we fall short.
By His grace, we receive holy help specific for each one of us on our path home.
This principle is illustrated beautifully by a true story of Charles Blondin. This story and its illustration of grace was introduced to me by the podcast Don’t Miss This. Charles Blondin was a tightrope walker in the 1800s. He walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope with no safety supports because he saw them as a hindrance. He only used his balancing pole which was 30 feet long and weighed 40 pounds. He liked to hype up his stunts before he did them, so many people were there watching. He walked this stretch of tightrope many times and in many different ways: backwards, blindfolded, on stilts, on a bicycle, carrying a stove and stopping in the middle to make and eat an omelet. One time he wanted to do it carrying someone on his back. No one really volunteered and he had his manager, Harry Colcord, do it. For added stability, they had guylines set up every 20 feet to hold the rope tighter, but in the middle was 50 feet where they couldn’t attach any lines anywhere. As he set out with his manager on his back Charles told Harry, “Look up Harry, you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Be a part of me mind, body, and soul. If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we will both go to our death.” Harry had to have practiced with Charles beforehand, they had to spend time practicing and moving together. Harry had seen Charles do this tightrope walk many times before, so he had faith that Charles could do it. He did it again, this time with a person on his back! Only a few of the guylines snapped. Who did the work on the crossing? Who was in charge of keeping Harry safe? Charles took Harry to a place that Harry couldn’t get himself; he was incapable of doing it himself. Harry’s job was to believe in Charles and to cling to him with all his might, mind, and strength.
This is like the grace of Christ. To receive the grace of Christ, all we have to do is believe in Him, have faith in Him. We've seen miracles He's performed in our lives and the lives of others. Our job is to cling to Him with our might, mind, and strength. We come to accept His help and cling to Him. When we struggle, He carries us.
Elder Uchtdorf teaches us, “The Savior invites us, each day, to set aside our comforts and securities and join Him on the journey of discipleship.” How do we begin? Elder Uchtdorf continues, “First, you need to choose to incline your heart to God. Strive each day to find Him. Learn to love Him. And then let that love inspire you to learn, understand, and follow His teachings and learn to keep God's commandments.”
How do we incline our hearts to God? We need to soften our hearts. We do this by living the commandments and can enhance the power of obedience by utilizing the languages of the heart (uplifting music, fine art, poetry, and stories) to help our hearts be soft.
How do I strive each day to find Him? Search the scriptures, pray, go to church and partake of the sacrament. [Somewhat random side note: I learned some symbolism of the sacrament by reading the book Beloved Bridegroom. When a young man came to negotiate a marriage contract with a bride and her parents, at one point of the meeting, he would offer her a cup from which to drink and she would show her acceptance of him and his suit by taking the cup and drinking from it.]
How do I learn to love Him? How do we learn to love anyone? We spend time with Him – in service, searching the scriptures, praying. Our children learn to love us and trust us because we serve them, spending quality time with them is a factor as well. If you don't recognize the service and help the Lord is giving you, this is totally normal. My kids don't recognize the service and help I give them most of the time either (cleaning up their messes, finding cups and putting them where they can find them easily, noticing where they left their shoes so when they ask me, I can tell them) – but they know I help and that leads them to have a stronger bond with me. A stronger attachment/bond with me leads them to want to obey me. As we mature and develop, we recognize the help and service our parents gave us. As we spiritually mature and develop, we recognize the help and service our Heavenly Parents give us. Just because you don't recognize His aide, doesn't mean it's not there. Heavenly Father is a perfect parent. Isaiah 49:15-16 says “For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; they walls are continually before me”
As we grow in love for Him that will inspire us to learn, understand, and follow His teachings and learn to keep God's commandments. To be like our Heavenly Father, we have A LOT to learn! He's made baby steps for us. He teaches us line upon line precept upon precept. Only giving us what we're ready for, when we're ready for it.
Teachings of Joseph Smith manual says, “We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man has ever arrived in a moment.”
Elder Uchtdorf says, “discipleship is not about doing things perfectly; it's about doing things intentionally. It is your choices that show what you truly are, far more than your abilities.[...] Like a loving parent, He merely wants you to keep intentionally trying. [...] All God asks is that you consciously keep striving.” The Lord is there with us every step of the way and He doesn’t expect us to reach perfection in this life. His grace is there to make up for our lack of perfection.
Elder Uchtdorf continues, “There is something interesting, almost paradoxical about this path you've chosen: the only way for you to progress in your gospel adventure is to help others progress as well. To help others is the path of discipleship. Faith, hope, love, compassion, and service refine us as disciples.[...] Through your efforts to help the poor, and the needy, to reach out to those in distress, your own character is purified and forged, your spirit is enlarged, and you walk a little taller.”
The natural process of coming to know and love the Lord, leads us to an increase in learning, all things, which then leads us to enlighten and expand our minds to see His hand in all things, which leads us to an increased measure of love for our neighbors, which leads us to the desire to serve them. And by serving them, we are purified and refined, becoming more like Christ.
He is there every step of the way to help and guide us. He won't force His help on us though. We have to allow it; He won't take away our agency. He offers grace to all whether we deserve it or not. Remember He just expects us to keep believing and keep trying and His grace will attend us and it is sufficient for us. He loves us and helps us more than we know, and is waiting to give us more guidance and knowledge if we let Him.
I'm Tiffany and I live in sunny Arizona (love me some sunshine!). I have 5 beautiful daughters. I know what you're thinking, that's A LOT of estrogen! and you'd be right, but we have some of the greatest times known to mankind through our adventures in learning (we homeschool), loving, playing, and growing together. In my spare time, I love to read (I own literally thousands of books) and hike in the beautiful mountains near my home.