Monday, March 7, 2011

Chapter 6 - Why Should We Fear?

Now that we’ve learned that seeking God’s counsel is to our distinct advantage lets deal a little more directly with our hesitation, our fear.
I have a good friend who grew up in North Dakota.  He learned to drive on the family farm.  His wife grew up in Los Angeles, California and learned to drive on the freeway.  Gus was quite aware that Kathy didn’t think much of his city driving.  One day he told me of a trip they’d taken over the weekend out to the City.  On the way he began to think about Kathy’s misgivings.  He realized that much of her difficulty arose from fear.  He decided to swallow his pride and let her drive.  Gus pulled the car over before they entered the busy streets, walked around and opened Kathy’s door. 
“Scoot over honey?” he asked.
“What’s this?” she queried.
“No sense both of us driving.”
I remember how I laughed.  It is funny because we all know about backseat drivers and what can result from such a situation.  Fear and pride can quickly spoil what might otherwise be a pleasant, happy time.  Gus had learned to put fear and pride aside.
Helaman and his Stripling Warriors had to do the same thing as they approached the city of Manti.  They were severely out manned, grossly under fed, and expected to rout an enemy that was firmly entrenched in superior fortifications.  They understood and accepted the Lord’s charge to retake the city.  They were past the stage of ignoring the Lord’s expectations, but they weren’t ignorant of the enormity of their task.  The following verses explain how they let go of fear and pride.
”Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.
 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.
 And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.
  And thus we did go forth with all our might against the Lamanites…[1]
Did you notice that the Lord visited them with assurances that He would deliver them?  What might those have been?  Perhaps the scriptures assured them with reminders of other times when Israel was delivered from their enemies.  Quite possibly, they were assured by the Title of Liberty beneath which they knew their cause was just.  Very likely, the miraculous nature of their previous experiences, assured them that God was sustaining their best efforts.  I’m confident that they bore testimony to one another of God’s goodness and of His powerful support.  Surely, great assurance came from those powerful witnesses.
We are free to seek and obtain similar assurances when we are upon the Lord’s errands.  We too, can feast upon the assurance of the scriptures.  We too, may bear and hear powerful testimonies.  I think of the words of that great song which invokes God to be with you.  Remember the words, “keep love’s banner floating o’er you, smite death’s threatening wave before you, God be with you ‘til we meet again[2].
Surely the Nephites sang such a hymn as they marched off to protect their families beneath love’s banner, the Title of Liberty.  Do we march beneath love’s banner as we seek to overcome our problems?  If not there may be no assurances to be had.

The Lord assured them by speaking peace to their souls.  How blessed it is to go into life’s battles feeling the assurance of peace.  There may be hardship, suffering even loss, but the peace of knowing God has the outcome in His hands is a priceless gift given only to those who seek nothing but to do His will.
Finally, the Lord granted them great faith.  I used to think I had to conjure up my own faith from somewhere deep in my guts.  What comfort it is to hear these words.  Faith was given to them.  More and more I realize that God not only requires great things of us he grants us all the resources required to make them happen.  All of them. 
Nephi knew this,[3] may we?  And so, like Nephi, Helaman and his army “went forth” and without the loss of a single life took possession of all that quarter of the land.  Not for any power of themselves, but because of God’s divine assistance, His grace.
When I was first emerging from addiction, I had worked the 12 Steps as guided by Colleen Harrison through her great book, He Did Deliver Me from Bondage.  I was feeling freedom for the first time in 45 years.  One morning I was studying the 11th Step which is about maintaining constant, conscious, contact with God.  The Spirit stirred within me and I desired to do this with all my heart.  Knowing that obedience to the promptings of the Spirit was key to receiving continuous guidance from the Spirit, I dropped to my knees to make such a commitment.  I promised Heavenly Father that for that day, I would do whatever He asked.  I committed to doing that one thing without fail.
I was having a wonderful day!  Everything was going according to plan.  In the late afternoon I went to Stake Priesthood meeting.  During the meeting the Stake President spoke.  He informed us that the Church had developed its own 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program.  He admonished any who suffered from addictive behavior to attend that meeting.  Immediately, the Spirit whispered, “Go to that meeting.”  My heart sank.
I wandered home in a daze.  Once there I retired to my room and dropped to my knees.  “I addressed Heavenly Father and reminded Him of my earlier promise.  I said, “Father, I know I promised that I’d do whatever Thou asked of me today, but I’m going to have to break that promise unless Thou art willing to let me off the hook on the meeting tonight.”
I just couldn’t do it.  I had lived a life of secrecy and care, fully intending that no one but my Bishops would ever know.  I had attended on line meetings of this nature had been triggered to use as a result.  I couldn’t imagine a meeting would be beneficial and knew it would be mortifying.  I plead and begged but could not feel excused to stay home.  I remained desperately, fearfully stubborn in my determination to stay home.  That is until, in my heart, I heard these words, “No sense both of us driving.”
As quickly as I had laughed when Gus told me his story, I realized what my Father was telling me.  If I didn’t get out of the driver’s seat, my safety would be in peril.  But if I would just trust His driving expertise I could just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  He wouldn’t have to nag me and I wouldn’t be tempted to protect my pride with barbs and complaints about his counsel.  He had spoken to me in language that I could understand.  I am so grateful for that.
I got right up and went to that meeting.  I’m convinced that I wouldn’t be enjoying sobriety today, were it not for that fateful, blessed revelation and my eventual willingness to trust in the Lord.  He did indeed give me assurance, peace and faith sufficient for my need.  And, though I was seriously short of manpower to overcome my bondage He did, in very deed, deliver me because, trusting Him, I was finally willing to go forth.

[1] Helaman 58:10-13
[2] Hymns, 152
[3] 1 Nephi 3:7

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