Saturday, January 30, 2010

Look Up and Live

He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished (1 Nephi 17:41).

This is one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon, because it speaks to one of my greatest weaknesses. Being a fairly independent and resourceful person, it has always been a little too easy for me to get up a full head of steam and set out on my own to solve the world's (and my) problems. Then, as I become embroiled in whatever difficulty arises, my efforts tend to become more strident and less effective until I finally remember (usually after an unhealthy dose of stress and strain) that I am not in this alone.

Why would any sane person forget to do the very thing that makes life, in all its shades of darkness and light, remain joyful? The ability to call upon the Lord, making Him a partner in all things, is a blessing beyond description. Why, then, am I (as Come Thou Fount gently reminds) so prone to wander off on my own when I could be navigating my way through every difficult detour on life's journey with an omnipotent and omniscient Being guiding the way? Yet, though life has taught me again and again that outcomes are much better when I remember in Whom I have trusted, I still fail to remember, at times, in Whom I have trusted. (Can you say "slow learner?...lack of humility?...big dope?!)

I should clarify that my problem in these moments is not forgetting to pray. Rather, it's taking the process of prayer for granted...forgetting how much I need assistance in every phase of my life. Time and again, pride obstructs my awareness that all of my machinations are like chaff in the wind compared to the simple act of looking up. But as the scripture says, because of the "simpleness of the way or the ease of it," I sometimes miss the mark, like the Israelites. Beset by poisonous serpents, all they had to do to be saved was look up at the brazen serpent, but it was too easy...too simple...and many perished.

Fortunately for me, I do manage to find my knees and raise my eyes to the heavens in earnest before I perish, but I often wonder why I (simply) don't begin my process of dealing with even life's less dramatic situations from that vantage point. I tend to start petitioning the Lord mightily just about the time that the snowball I dismissed as a trifle and left out of my prayers entirely is two-thirds of the way down the hill, gaining speed, and about to land on my head or the head of someone I love. I think I confuse being independent in action to being independent in spirit. And let's face it, my spirit is dependent upon the all things, great and small.

Life feels a bit challenging to me right now––not in big, dramatic, crisis-oriented ways (I've been there, too!)––but in an abundance of painful, mid-level struggles for people I love. Today I find myself thinking of the brazen serpent and wanting to remind myself and those loved ones that comfort, relief, and even resolution are always available. All we need to do is look up, and while the way is simple, the etymology and symbolism are deep and far-reaching.

Just as Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in similitude of Christ being lifted up on the cross, so the power of His atonement will lift every one of us. No matter the tribulation, no matter the situation, no matter the worry or sorrow or pain, we can look up and live. That is the promise. And the Lord keeps His promises.

...these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God. Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those things... (Alma 33:18-20).

If I would be numbered "among the believers," my task is to make sure my life and actions fall in line with the many...and not the few.

That's my plan. And His plan.

I'm in.


Jill said...

I had never paid much attention to that scripture before. I don't even remember reading it although I know I have, many times. Thank you for opening my eyes.

Nikia, May and da kids said...

Sue, my goodness. You never cease to inspire me and always a message to my heart. I needed to hear this. I need to share this with my family. I am so moved by the way you write about Our Heavenly Father's plans for us all.

Thank you as I so needed to hear these words as tomorrow in church and we are having some serious trials with many members of our ward but my husband keeps reminding me to be faithful and the Lord will send messages of what we need to make things better.

Your post is one of those messages I believe my husband spoke of. In case you didn't know, YOU have done good in the world today.


karen said...

I am so much like you in that I start out swinging, trying to solve all problems myself. So many times, it's not until I'm completely humbled that I remember that I have a loving Heavenly Father who is just waiting for me to ask for help. I really am trying to get better at this (reference my post about my new year's resolutions) and I feel I've taken some positive steps. It's encouraging! We're smart girls, Sue, and sometimes we're our own worst enemy.

Katie Blacker said...

beautiful words. And beautiful pics from the last post.

to answer your question - i used an extremely large zoom lens. and shooting in manual helps not to blow out the brightness of the moon! Thanks for the poem ;)

Karen said...

Count me in too.

on another note - the staduim chairs I got at Sports Chalet. They rock!

KC Mom said...

So true. We talked about this a little bit at church today. I myself find that I have ups and downs. I guess the key for me is to pick myself up and try again every day. Thanks for sharing...

Jess said...

I think we are all, to whatever degree, prone to wander. I love that Heavenly Father will still help me even when I am so busy doing it 'all by myself-cause I'm a big girl!' that I wait way too long to ask for direction. I think we may be similar in more than our taste in music!

Darlene said...

The best time of my day is Just before we go to bed when Dick takes me in his arms, kisses me and tells me how much he loves me, and I do the same to him right back. Then we say our prayers together. For some reason Heavenly Father listens to my prayers when I pray for other people. I feel like my faith is such that it can help others. I am very careful not to ask him to make me all better, because I truly believe that is not in his plan. I need to have the suffering in my life in order to learn patience and long you know what. I do ask him to help me find ways to help myself, and often I am able to do this to get temporary relief. But Dick always asks him to help me. I wonder if maybe I should have more faith in his prayers. I don't know. Maybe I am not looking up enough. You seem to have the right attitude though. It's hard to try to guess what HE has in store for us. Faith is of course the answer. Why is it so much easier for me to ask help for someone else than it is to ask help for myself?

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