• Tiffany Miller

BLOG: (April 18-24) Exodus 18-20, "Becoming like Him"

I’m reading a book, called Wilderness Babies, to my younger three daughters for a bedtime story. It’s older, published in 1905, and super cute; you can get a free copy here. As we were reading about the wolves tonight, it dawned on me that none of these animals have to be told what to do. Yes, they are taught some of the ins and outs of being a member of their species by their parents, but overall, they act on instinct. The parent wolves didn’t have to read any parenting books to know how to raise their pups. They didn’t lie awake at night wondering if they were doing enough. They didn’t ever have to apologize to their children for losing their patience with them. They didn’t have to stress about their pups being well rounded citizens. They only worried about surviving and teaching their children, through their example, how to survive as a wolf. That sounds soooooo simple!

As humans, our brains function in a higher capacity than animals do, and more is required of us. The wolves are only expected to be wolves and follow their instincts. Everything they need to know is found in their instincts, no other education required. Fortunately for us, we are not just left to our own devices, having to base all our actions and behavior on our instincts. We can reason and know good from evil. Our animal friends cannot. Where much is given, much is required (see Luke 12:48 and D&C 82:3). We have been given much and are required to learn and grow in all the ways we can (especially in the 4 ways emphasized in the Children and Youth program - that’s for adults too!). The Lord gives us guidance through the ages via commandments and more specific guidance through His servants. We’re very fortunate that we’re not just left to figure it out on our own. The Lord has promised to lead us by the hand and answer our prayers if we’re humble (D&C 112:10). We have a plethora of resources available to help us in this life. We are never alone and can call on the One who is omnipotent and omniscient whenever we want to.

I was reading this book once about different personalities and there was a description of each of the author’s 4 personality types. I related to one, and as I was reading more about it, I started to feel boxed in and got a little annoyed because “They don’t know me!” and I never finished the book. I found out later from a friend that apparently this is a common reaction for those with my “personality type” according to this author’s philosophy, and I was annoyed all over again. Ha! I REALLY don’t like being told what to do and how to be. Being described (fairly accurately) in a book unrelated to me had me feeling boxed in, and I REALLY don’t like feeling boxed in. To highlight how ridiculous I am sometimes, when I was a primary teacher, I really didn’t like the manuals we had (pre CFM) and usually viewed their lessons as suggestions and “more like guidelines anyway” (queue Pirates of the Caribbean music) and planned my own lesson (always doctrinally sound of course, don’t worry! 😁), but following their lesson plan wasn’t how I worked. It was too boxy for me, and I absolutely LOVE the new CFM format. I view recipes the same way - guidelines. I might follow a recipe the way it's written once and then I add my own flair to it. My blog posts don’t even always follow the CFM block, but they are always related in some way! 😉

Sometimes commandments or guidelines can feel that way. Boxy. I’m curious how the Israelites felt about the commandments given to them. Some of them seem pretty easy to follow. I confess I haven’t ever struggled with wanting to kill another person. That one is super easy for me to follow. Others however, are more challenging, especially some of those higher law ones. I don’t see the commandments as boxy, probably because we’re not told exactly what to do. The Lord teaches us a correct principle, a divine law if you will, and then as faithful disciples, we can “receive personal inspiration and revelation, consistent with His commandments, that is tailored to [us]” (“Spiritual Capacity”). We aren’t told what specific foods to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and how much to eat of them in the Word of Wisdom. The Lord expects us to seek His counsel to know how we specifically should keep that commandment fully. I have a friend who’s allergic to gluten. Being a good steward over her body includes not eating gluten. Thankfully, my own tailored inspiration to be a good steward over my body doesn’t include avoiding gluten.

Let’s think about the purpose of this life. It’s to learn and grow to be more like God. How are we to do that? Fortunately, like I already mentioned, we don’t have to figure it out on our own; we’ve been given some guidelines to help us. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel on how to get back to the presence of our Heavenly Parents. He told us exactly what He did to become like the Father. We have specific instructions about what steps to take, i.e. get baptized, go to the temple, love others etc. When we get baptized, when we go to the temple (and how often), and how we choose to love others are all left up to us, to an extent, to choose. We’ve even had a perfect model given to us to follow. Like the wolf pups could follow their wolf parent’s examples to achieve the full measure of their creation, Jesus Christ showed us the way to gain Eternal Life. He showed us what steps to take and gave us the guidelines we need to know what we need to do. He spelled it out for us so we didn’t have to guess.

These guidelines include the commandments. Keeping these commandments help us stand in holy places and be not moved (D&C 87:8). If we’re going to stand in holy places, that would suggest deliberate effort on the part of the participant. We need to put some effort in! Effort to not only keep the commandments, but to counsel with the Lord on how we individually can best keep the commandments. The wolf pups do NOT have to worry about how they can be their best wolf selves. As we keep the commandments, we eventually receive a fullness (D&C 93:27). We, like Jesus, grow grace for grace, line upon line, precept upon precept (D&C 93:12-13). You know this! As we keep the commandments, we are receiving more light and truth. This light and truth we receive is a gift from our loving Father in Heaven. Receiving these gifts and acting accordingly help us to become like God. We use our agency to act (instead of be acted upon!) because that’s the way God’s plan works. “God will force no man to heaven” (Hymn “Know this that Every Soul is Free”). This light and truth helps us see more clearly and therefore helps us to make wiser decisions. We have more freedom when we can see and understand more.

We are made to function on a higher plane than our animal friends. We were created to do so! We’re made to follow after our Heavenly Parents, just like the wolf pups are made to follow after their parents. Satan doesn’t waste his time tempting wolves to do evil, but he expends a considerable amount of effort (literally all of it) tempting us. But we have something the wolves don’t have; we have the Light of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we are given more light and truth as we follow the commandments given to us. This light and truth we’re gifted help us make the choices we need to stay on the Covenant Path and get back on it when we stray a little (or a lot). Jesus is there for us, and He is constantly beckoning us to “Come, follow me.”

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.

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