For the past several years, I feel like I’ve understood and can relate to Alma much better than I ever did prior to an experience God blessed me with. When Alma was addressing a group of poor people who were afflicted and had been cast out of their place of worship, he stated the following:
Alma 32: 28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
How descriptive! I can’t think of a better way to describe how God’s word has become for me than how Alma described it. He nailed it. I hope you feel the same.
It wasn’t always this way for me, and maybe the craziest thing about it is that I didn’t even know it, though I thought that I did.
I was as involved in church activities as one can be. I rarely missed church, even on vacations. My family read scriptures (which I learned to like from a young age) and held Family Home Evenings. I went home teaching (in a white shirt and tie), graduated Seminary and memorized the scripture mastery lists. I served a mission and learned to preach the gospel in another language. I felt that I had a great understanding of the Gospel, the Plan of Salvation, and just about any doctrine or teaching that I might be asked about – having been exposed to quite a few topics, including even anti-mormon literature while serving a mission. After being sealed in the temple, I felt I had done everything to qualify for the greatest blessings offered by the Plan of Salvation – the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. All I had to do now was endure faithfully to the end (i.e. continue my church activity until the end of my life) and I expected to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection like my patriarchal blessing states.
From all indications, I was certainly considered among the most faithful members of the church. I felt like I had a great knowledge of the gospel, the scriptures, and could handle even the most challenging gospel topics. So I got a chance to do just that.
When my in-laws shared their faith crisis with the family, I found myself researching and studying more than ever to defend the church and the gospel to help those affected by this turn of events to maintain faith. I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of it too. What I hadn’t noticed at the time, was that my approach to scripture study (reading x-number of minutes per day, or one chapter) was being replaced internally by a genuine desire to learn what these scriptures say.
The culminating point for me was when I stumbled upon and began reading the book Experiencing the Mighty Change. I had become open to the possibility that I could be wrong about how I understood the scriptures. That point of humility is what was required for the Lord to help me see what I was missing. My eyes began to be opened to the scriptures in a way I had not seen before, and I wanted more. I was no longer reading scriptures because we are commanded to, or because I had set a goal of reading daily. In fact, I was no longer just reading scriptures at all. I was searching the scriptures for the words of life, and was now finding them. It felt like my eyes were finally opened to the scriptures, and they have truly become delicious to me, revealing amazing truths and acting as a catalyst to meaningful prayer.
I should mention that my eyes were also opened to my own awful situation, having based so much of my religious beliefs and practice on tradition, and my own presumption about my standing with God. This is not an easy thing to confront in yourself, and likely what keeps many, many people from truly being open to receive greater light and knowledge.
My point in sharing this is to illustrate that humility was the key for me to even be able to consider something beyond my own construct of beliefs. In fact, I had not really understood what humility was. I confused it with meekness. Humility is synonymous with teach-ability; being open to correction and willing to replace current beliefs, traditions, and practices when greater light reveals it. When we already “know” something, we tend to limit our own ability to receive more on the subject. We create blind spots within our paradigm for traditions and unbelief to reside, protected by our unwillingness to expose them to greater light and correction.
Are you an honest seeker of truth? Do you protect and defend tradition and/or unbelief in yourself from exposure and correction? If so, why?
I believe this topic is fundamental if you wish to consider yourself a humble follower of Christ. As I continue to post over the coming weeks and months, there may be topics that challenge or expose traditions and unbelief. I am open to correction in the pursuit of truth, according to God’s word. Will you be open to examining your own beliefs and traditions? Are you willing to place them on the altar as an offering for God to correct as He sees fit?
If you are willing to do this, welcome friend.