Monday, March 7, 2011

Chapter 3 - Life On Our Own Terms

“Confound it!” my grandfather used to cuss, when he was frustrated.
In ancient Babel the people built a tower.  Their objective?  To get to heaven.  What’s so wrong with that?  Isn’t going to Heaven a worthy goal; even the ultimate goal?  Of course it is.  So then why did God put a stop to it?
The simple answer is that it wouldn’t work.  It was a horrendous waste of time.  If we examine it further though, it was a direct affront to God’s Plan of Salvation.  These people had, no doubt, been informed of God’s plan for their eventual joyful acceptance into Heaven and they had either doubted it would work or had out right rejected it.
The concept of Heaven still appealed to them though, and they, being unwilling to go there on God’s terms, set out to go there on their own.  Obviously, they were very earnest about it too. One account says that they mourned the loss of a brick more than they did the loss of a worker who might have fallen to his death from its heights.  To them the goal was more important than even those who were pursuing it.
Some apocryphal accounts indicate that the tower was enormous.  The Book of Jasher says that it took a laborer an entire year to carry a load of bricks to the summit.  I’m a bit skeptical of that, but apparently somebody was impressed with its size.  That book also explains that there were three types of participants in the Tower’s construction.  First there was Nimrod, their leader.  His objective was to conquer Heaven, to slay God and take His place.  Others, in defiance of God’s Plan wanted an alternate route to Heaven that would in effect allow them to have their cake, and eat it too.  The final category was people who just wanted an insurance policy.  They were willing to try God’s plan, sort of, but wanted something to fall back on in the event that it failed them somehow.
We have all three types in the world today.  I personally have spent a lot of time in camp two.  Gradually, I became more willing to accept God’s Plan and moved to camp three.  While it was an improvement, I still got confounded.
You remember the story.  God, in His displeasure at this horrible affront to His Plan and to the Redeemer who made it viable, put a stop to its construction by confounding their languages.  With its builders no longer able to communicate, construction of the tower ground to a halt. 
Have you ever felt confounded?  Have you ever felt that despite your best efforts toward a worthy goal, toward reaching Heaven, that your efforts were inconveniently hampered in some way?  Perhaps you ought to ask yourself, “Am I a tower builder?”  “Am I trying to get to Heaven on my own terms rather than Heavenly Father’s?”
I once served as Stake Mission President.  Being a tower builder at the time, it was all about the numbers for me.  I had myself persuaded that every convert baptism was another brick in my tower.  I was convinced that the more people I helped join the church, the higher my tower would become.  I was motivated, ambitious and because I was successful; I was self-righteous.  The book of Jasher says that the builders of the Tower of Babel mourned the loss of a brick, more than the loss of a laborer, so intent were they on increasing its altitude.  While I used some pretty cutting edge methods to motivate the other missionaries, they never met my expectations.  I was always frustrated that they were retarding my progress.  I was critical of my leaders too - for not lavishing my program with all the resources, in material and personnel, I required to meet my ambitious goals.  For me a higher tower was more important than either the laborers or the prospective converts.  Getting me to Heaven superseded every other objective.  Fortunately, many lives were blessed during those years despite my selfish agenda, because God is kind and wouldn’t punish them for my sins.  I am so grateful for that.  Nevertheless, I spent much of that time feeling frustrated and confounded.  You see, in my mind I was fully justified.  I was seeking Heaven after all; not hell for crying out loud.  I had myself utterly deceived.  I was also an addict during those years.  Looking back I realize that while I was probably in the camp who wanted to apply the Redeeming Blood of Christ to my sin sick soul; I was investing my labor in the Kingdom as an insurance policy against the possibility I wouldn’t be redeemed.  Instead I might have been performing that labor as an expression of gratitude that I had been.  I was a tower builder.
Tower builders are control freaks.  They want to be in charge of the terms and conditions of their lives.  They bear that confounded burden called pride.  We will learn later on in the book, how to relinquish that control, that pride, so that God’s wonderful plan for our lives can have its glorious effect.  We don’t get confounded when we are on His errand, only when our errands are our own.  Frustration is my own red flag that warns me when I’m about to add another brick to my tower.  When I go to tower building, Heavenly Father always lets me know, by lovingly, reliably, definitely frustrating  my efforts.  When, like my grandfather I find myself swearing, “Confound it!” under my breath, I have to stop and think, “That’s right!  Thank you Heavenly Father for yet another course correction!”

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