Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Seasons of Life

Nature consists of four seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall. Each have different characteristics that makes them distinct from each other.

    In the Spring, we see new life and growth all around. Beauty abounds. Trees blossom. Flowers bloom. Animals are born. Life itself seems to take on a whole new definition.

    In the Summer, things continue to grow. Everything green and full of life in the Spring become even more green and full of life, if that's possible. Summer is a time for growth and development. Not only that, but it is also a time for the plants and trees to sink their roots deep into the soil, and soak up all the wonderful nutrients therein.

   Fall not only is a time for preparation, but it is also a time for self-examination. During this season, plants examine and prepare their roots to make sure they are firmly rooted in the soil. Animals take time to prepare and focus on storing their food. They make sure all preparations are made for the winter ahead. Fall is a time for examination and preparation.

  Winter, although beautiful by its own right, is a time of testing and trial for the growth and preparation that has been taking place all year long. It is a time for plants to see if their roots have truly sunk deep into the soil, and for animals to rely on the food that they have been storing up. Rather than a time for growth, it is a time for testing, stretching, learning, and experience.

   Our life follows this pattern pretty much to a T. Specifically, I wanted to relate it to us in a spiritual sense, and the phases that that takes.

In the Spring, we see new life and growth all around. Spring is the season of life. For those of us who have just begun life spiritually, it is a time of great rejoicing. We have finally begun to find the way, and just as it says in the scriptures, we become “new creatures” (2 Cor. 5:17).
       For those who are continuing on the path of life, it is a time to take a breather after a sometimes long and drawn-out winter of a trial. We can finally begin to put forth our flowers of growth, and look forward to the fruit ahead. We replenish, rejuvenate, and, as in all seasons, we find great joy.
       For both “new” and “old” in the Gospel, we take those much needed moments of study, pondering, and prayer. This is a time to strengthen our testimonies, replenish our spiritual reservoir, and express gratitude to our Heavenly Father for helping us make it through.

In the Summer, things continue to is also a time for the plants and trees to sink their roots deep into the soil, and soak up all the wonderful nutrients therein. Summer is a time for continuation of growth and development. We continue to study, ponder, and pray. Unlike Spring, Summer is the time for harvest. It is a time when the fruits of our labors ripen, and are ready to be plucked. It is a time when we can feast!
   Feasting entails not just merely skimming through the scriptures now and again, and once in a while saying a half-baked prayer that might reach the ceiling at best; rather, it means taking time away from our busy life, and our long lists of things-to-do, and sinking our teeth deep into the words of Christ, feasting upon them, and enjoying a whole array of delicious truths, and sumptuous and plentiful revelations. It means spending time for tender and personal communication with our Heavenly Father. It means sinking our roots as deep as we can into the nutrient-rich soil of the Gospel, and soaking up the abundance of minerals and nutrients therein.

    Fall not only is a time for preparation, but it is also a time for self-examination. Fall is a time to check our roots, our spiritual "food and water storage", and to closely examine our spiritual reservoir. We know trials will be ahead, and we know we are going to need to be prepared for them. When that testing comes, are we prepared? Will we be equipped and ready enough to rely on our Savior, come thick and thin? Will we have enough oil in our lamps? These our questions we all need to ask, and this is definitely the time to ask them. In essence, it is a time to ponder and to take valuable moments of introspection, 
preparation, and self-examination. a time of testing and trial for the growth all around us... Rather than a time for growth, it is a time for testing, stretching, learning, and experience. When the storms of winter come, when the chill wind blows, it is a time to truly see if we are prepared. By now, preparation time is over, and testing time begins. Our trials will either make, or break us. Through Christ, they will always make us. Without Him, they very often break us. He will help us through the winters of our lives. He will be there to succor us in our time of need. The question is, do we know how to seek Him? Is our faith where it needs to be in order for us to do so? Have we taken the time and effort to build up a relationship with Him, that we might weather the storms that will inevitably come our way? Ultimately, the trials and testing of Winter will stretch us, teach us, and give us experience. 


    And then finally, we return full circle, right back where we started: back to Spring. The storms and trials are over for a season. We can breathe again. Life is renewed, and we again taste of the sweet joy of peace that comes. We are renewed, and because of the stretching and testing we have experienced, our growth can extend beyond what we would have been able to before.


    And thus our life continues in this cycle from the life and growth of Spring, to the growth and harvest in the Summer, to the time of preparation in the Fall, to the testing and stretching in the Winter, and finally back to renewed life and growth in the Spring. While this cycle will continue this way throughout our life, we decide whether it is an upward, or a downward cycle. And that choice is primarily based on if we choose Christ. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Holding Fast to the Iron Rod

      So, looking back at one of my old posts, I decided to revamp it, and repost it. I have about two or three other posts in the process, so be prepared for me in the relatively near future! Enjoy!

    Let me give a little background first. Lehi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, had a vision. In it, he describes a lot of different stuff, but in essence, there is a path leading to the tree of life, which represents God and His love. Along this path, there is an Iron Rod, which represents God's guidance that He gives to us, through the scriptures, the Spirit, Prophets, and a myriad of other things.  

1 Nephi chapter 8:30
     30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

     We read that while many were travelling along the path, there arose a mist of darkness. The mist caused many to lose their way and become lost. And there were also others, who pressed forward through the mists, holding fast to the Iron Rod, and they were able to make it through the mists, and reach the tree.

    So, what does this mean for you and I? I have thought about this a lot and wondered what those mists of darkness could have been. I have come to realize that those mists are the temptations, trials, and adversity that each of us inevitably face throughout our life. Many who commenced, or started, on the path, which is the path that leads us back to God, were lost because they become blinded by the many temptations and trials that came their way. If we allow them, they will blind us as well.

    But, we also read that there were many more who made it through those mists, and were able to make it back to God. The difference was one group of people let go of the iron rod, the Word of God, and the others held fast to it. I love that! It wasn't just a casual touch on the rod, nor was it merely loosely gripping the rod, either; rather, those who made it through did so by HOLDING FAST to the rod. That implies a firm grasp, without letting go, even for a moment.

     In order for all of us to get through the temptations and adversity in such a crazy world, it is imperative that we hold fast to the word of God, through constant prayer, daily scripture study, and weekly church attendance, as well as proactively seeking God's will for our lives and exercising an unwavering resolve to do it. If we allow our grip on the rod to loosen, or completely let go, even for a moment, we risk wandering off and being lost in the world, from which we might never return.

     God loves us, and has provided a way for us to return to Him. Never let go of the Iron Rod; never give up. He loves us and wants all of us to return to Him safely. There is hope, and each and every one of us has the power to make it back.