A month or so ago Elder Alan Phillips visited with us and something he said in sacrament meeting has made an impression on me. He observed that here and there in the Church today, he comes across gatherings where the saints place emphasis on perhaps not the right things. Activities, socialising and what he called [frilly] “projects” –albeit good- take the place of the bare necessities of the gospel. He paused and expressed- “I have to wonder if this was what the Saviour had in mind when he established His Church long ago. His tone indicated that it was not. There are so many programmes within the perimeters of the Church that are so beneficial to us. Many of them keep us safe, many of them stimulate our spiritual progression and prompt us to literally change our lives. The great trap is getting caught up in the frills. So this month, as we’ve been prompted by our RS Presidency to consider deeply our personal conversion and relationship with God, I want you to consider how you can strip your spiritual journey right down to the bones.
The talk we’ll be expounding on is President Uchtdorf’s recent Women’s Conference address, Three Sisters. The jist of this talk is: we are responsible for our own discipleship and it has little- if anything- to do with the way others treat us.
So two things we’re de-bunking today: (1) the frills and the “fraternity” of the Church and (2) the chatter and the opinions of the world
To do this:
We need to put time and work into investing in our own spiritual self-confidence (who we are, where we come from, what we can achieve as daughters of deity); similarly, we need to school ourselves in appreciation for God’s creations- we need to love one another.
Uchtdorf proposed that the natural man exhibits two basic fields of qualities that the spirit finds difficult to work with. These are when we are SAD and when we are MAD. In the context of today’s lesson, I don’t want us to necessarily share our innermost confessions of being mad or sad with one another- that’s your business, and sometimes there’s a need for us each to reflect in private. So take just a moment to look over this homework I’ve prepared for you… if you find yourself either consistently or even infrequently relating to any of the characteristics in the lists to the left of these tables, consider Uchtdorf’s counsel, and then read further the references to the right. Let them be a starting point in your personal study this week.
Let’s turn to Enoch to understand the real sentiments of the Sad sister and the Mad sister…
Moses 6- Enoch is called to lead the people, to be a prophet. He responds to the call with the characteristics of the SAD sister: (Moses 6:31)
“Why is it that I have found favour in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?”
Enoch had so much faith in God- and he must have known and owned that because there he was, sitting at God’s feet. But Enoch had little faith in himself. One of you sisters reminded me this week in a sweet text- God has so much faith in us! Listen to his response to Enoch: (Moses 6:32)
“Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee,”
– Sisters I believe that if we were to have the exact same conversation with God, he’d render this same promise- no man shall pierce thee. What could they possibly do to you, a daughter of God? What could they have to say that’s more important than what God has to say of you or to you? Then God’s instruction to Enoch was to tell the people what I need to tell you today: (Moses 6:33)
“Say unto the people, Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.”
Choose, sisters. It’s really that simple.
In preparation for his role as leader and prophet amongst the people, God did as Amos promised He did with His chosen prophets (Amos 3:7), and He showed Enoch the vast expanses of His creation and plan for mankind. Included in this was a prophetic vision of the history of mankind, and their temperament through time. I dread to think what Enoch though of our time. Enoch observes that God, seeing the wickedness and the poor choices of mankind, weeps; not in anger at their disobedience, but in sadness and compassion. Enoch challenges the Lord with judgment: how can you, creator of worlds more vast than the sands of all the oceans, have the time or attention enough to mourn for these most unworthy of all? (Moses 7:32)
“The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them… and [I have given unto them the] commandment, that they should love one another… but behold they are without affection and they hate their own blood.”
SAD & MAD:
- God has faith in YOU
- You are his crowning creation (especially as a woman)
- Your fellow brothers and sisters are exactly that- brothers and sisters, children of deity who deserve your respect regardless of how they act, even toward you
Uchtdorf concludes his discussion of the sad mad and glad sisters by observing,
None of us makes it through life’s journey unopposed. With so many forces trying to draw us away, how do we keep our vision fixed on the glorious happiness promised to the faithful?
I believe the answer can be found in a dream that a prophet had thousands of years ago. The prophet’s name is Lehi, and his dream is recorded in the precious and wonderful Book of Mormon.
So this is it! Key to our ability to come unto Christ, and key to coming to know our Heavenly Father, to having a relationship with him and with our heavenly mother, is studying this scripture.
No matter how near or far we are to God right now, you NEED to study and understand this important dream! You have a choice, and it’s the same choice that Laman, Lemuel, Nephi and Sam faced upon hearing their fathers dream. Laman and Lemuel expected that anything really important, God would drop it in their laps and it would be made known unto them (when Nephi hears this, he hits the roof and he’s a bit MAD! He says “How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord… Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?- If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you…” (1 Nephi 15: 7-11). And this is exactly what Nephi does- asks, seeks. Like Abraham of old- he wants more for himself, he wants to make the gospel personal to himself, he wants to be yoked to the saviour!
As we read, please, please take the opportunity to pick out the symbols in the story, or the feelings and impressions you get. This is for you alone! (pens, get ready!)
Many hours in darkness (8:8)
Did you know that struggling, and darkness, and separation is part of our Heavenly Parents plan for us? Even the Saviour of the world had to suffer the withdrawal of Gods presence. Read 1 Peter 5: 6-10
Lehi prays to the Lord for mercy (8:8)
Lehi asks and seeks! You can do this too in you darkest hours.
Large and spacious field (8:9)
Our world, vast, varied, full of potential for good and evil
A tree, whose fruit was desirable (8:10)
The Love of God, which He showed by giving His Son to be our Saviour (See 1 Nephi 11:21-25). We picked up in the lesson that the fruit was described as “sweet”, which is a contrast to the savioury necessities that the Saviour uses to describe his role and ministry- bread of life, living water etc…
Desire for family to partake also (8:12)
not just a desire for the family to be with Lehi, but to partake of God’s love and covenants as individuals
River of water (8:13)
The depths of hell into which the wicked fall (1 Nephi 12:16)
Head of the river (8:14)
Or the fountain, which conjures up more of a chaotic and tumultuous image of the depths of hell- it would be harder to escape the fountain than the coursing river
Rod of iron (8:19)
the word of God, which leads to the tree of life… so the scriptures, conference talks and messages; covenants that we make and keep with God.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what it means to hold fast to the rod of iron:
“Let me suggest that holding fast to the iron rod entails the prayerful and consistent use of all three of the ways of obtaining living water that we have discussed tonight [reading, studying, and searching].
“… The regular use of all three methods produces a more constant flow of living water and is in large measure what it means to hold fast to the rod of iron. …
“Are you and I daily reading, studying, and searching the scriptures in a way that enables us to hold fast to the rod of iron … ?” (“A Reservoir of Living Water” [CES fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007], 10–11, www.ldsces.org).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained not only the importance of “holding fast” to the rod but also explained how to get back if we lose our hold: “You must hold firmly to the rod of iron through the mists and darknesses, the hardships and trials of life. If you relax your grip and slip from the path, the iron rod might become lost in the darkness for a time until you repent and regain your grasp of it” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1989, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1989, 74).
Straight and narrow path (8:20)
Elder Lowell M. Snow of the Seventy testified of the constant direction the Saviour provides:
“Life is full of many intersecting roads and trails. There are so many paths to follow, so many voices calling out ‘lo, here’ or ‘lo, there’ [Joseph Smith–History 1:5]. There is such a variety and volume of media flooding our personal space, most of it intent on herding us down a path that is broad and travelled by many.
“When pondering which of these voices to listen to or which road among the many is right, have you ever asked yourself, as Joseph Smith did: ‘What is to be done? Who of all these [voices and roads is] right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?’ [Joseph Smith–History 1:10].
“My witness to you is that Jesus Christ continues to mark the path, lead the way, and define every point on our journey. His path is straight and narrow and leads toward ‘light and life and endless day’ [Hymns, no. 195]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2005, 100; or Ensign, Nov. 2005, 96).
Numberless concourses of people (8:21)
Mist of darkness (8:23)
The temptations of the devil, which blind people so they lose their way and cannot find the tree (1Nephi 12:17)
Great and Spacious building (8:26)
Uchtdorf: And perhaps even more dangerous was the sound of loud laughter and ridicule coming from a large and spacious building nearby. Shockingly, the mocking even convinced some people who had reached the tree and tasted the wondrous fruit to begin to feel ashamed and wander away.
Perhaps they began to doubt that the tree was really as beautiful as they had once thought. Perhaps they began to question the reality of what they had experienced.
Maybe they thought if they turned away from the tree, life would be easier. Maybe they would not be ridiculed or laughed at anymore.
And actually, the people who were scoffing at them looked like people who were quite happy and having a good time. So perhaps if they abandoned the tree, they would be welcomed into the congregation of the great and spacious building and be applauded for their judgment, intelligence, and sophistication.
Exceedingly fine dress (8:27)
Fell down and partook of the fruit (8:30)
Feeling their way toward the great and spacious building (8:31)
Drowned in the depths of the fountain and wandering in strange roads (8:32)
But we heeded them not (8:33 + 34)
… If you find it difficult to hold fast to the iron rod and walk steadfastly toward salvation; if the laughter and ridicule of others who seem so confident cause you to waver; if you are troubled by unanswered questions or doctrines you don’t understand yet; if you feel saddened because of disappointments, I urge you to remember Lehi’s dream.
Stay on the path!
Never let go of the rod of iron—the word of God!
The promises of praise and acceptance by the world are (SAD) unreliable, untrue, and unsatisfying. God’s promises are sure, true, and joyful—now and forever.
I invite you to consider religion and faith from a higher perspective. Nothing offered in the great and spacious building can compare with the fruit of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A handout for this lesson can be downloaded here: SadMadGlad