Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Blessings - Lessons Learned

Calvin reading scripture stories to Levin

We just finished the school semester in seminary on Friday. One of the things that I love about the scriptures is that they give valuable real-life examples of people making every day choices - whether to live or not live the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ - and the consequences of those choices.  Watching the cause and effect in other people's lives is like getting to see what is behind door #1, door #2, and door #3 before I ever have to make a choice.

If the qualifying markers (modes of transportation, time-period vocabulary, foods [not very many of us eat locusts or manna anymore]) are taken out of the scripture stories, they represent people and their choices from any period of history.

Like these stories of three young men:

1. The first young man was a likable kid with lots of friends. He had charisma, and people were drawn to him. He set the rules for what was cool and what wasn’t among his friends. His dad was an important man in the community and was in front of the public often. His dad also held much influence among the people religiously as well, and he worked hard helping people.

This young man was also a knot-head.  The older he got the more rash and stupid decisions he made.  His friends followed him.  He became a societal nuisance.  He was making his folks, and the community, miserable.  He began causing problems in his congregation as well.

One day this young man had a spiritual experience unlike any he’d ever had before. It was made clear to him that our Heavenly Father was aware of him and that the road he was on was a dead end, and if he didn’t change his course, and change it soon, he’d lose everything he had or hoped to have.

This young man listened to what he felt.  He changed his direction. It was hard. It was humbling. He took a lot of guff from a lot of people, but he changed his attitude and began making better decisions. 

This young man never forgot that spiritual experience and the chance the Lord gave him to begin making better decisions. Never. He spent the rest of his life trying to undo the bad he'd done and helping people make good decisions.

2. The second young man was really talented. He was both athletic and good in music. He was a good-looking kid and he blushed easily which made him even more handsome. He was just an all-around great kid.

He had seven older brothers that razzed and teased him, but it didn’t seem to bother him. He thought he was indispensable. And pretty much, he was. The older he got the better at athletics and music he got. He was a great leader. People really, really liked him.

One day he had a spiritual experience that changed the direction of his life. He knew that Heavenly Father was aware of him and that he was capable of great things. That experience also changed the direction of his career. He got into politics and became very successful; people thrived where he led.

I’m not really sure why, but after he’d become successful, he started to slack in his personal discipline.  He wasn't as humble as he had been, and he started to make some sloppy decisions. He wasn’t always where he needed to be when he needed to be there. He got involved with stuff he knew better than to get involved with. He started looking at things he shouldn’t have been looking at. Before he knew it, he ended up sleeping with a woman who wasn’t his wife, and he got her pregnant.

When he found out the girl was pregnant, he panicked. If word got out about his affair and the pregnancy, it would be the end of his career and his standing in the Church. He was desperate to cover up the pregnancy and willing to do whatever it took to hide it.  Anything. And that is what he did. He covered it up. Rather than confessing or repenting and trying to fix things, he took a life.

This man’s life pretty much fell apart after this. He stayed in politics, but he wasn’t as happy or as influential as he’d been. He began to have a lot of trouble within his family.  His kids became belligerent and defiant.  He didn't even try to correct them or help them learn from their mistakes. It was sad, sad, sad.

3. The third young man was pretty much a regular kid. He wasn’t popular, nobody called him handsome, he wasn’t good at music, but he was a really happy kid that liked to work and play. He was also curious and asked lots of questions. He always wanted to know why and how.

One day this young man had a spiritual experience, just like the other two young men. That day he also came to know for himself that Heavenly Father knew him, loved him, and expected great things of him.

This young man never forgot that experience and what he felt that day. He continued to live his normal life, but he also began to work hard helping other people learn what he had come to know for himself: God lives and knows us and wants us to return to Him.

Sometimes this young man made some unwise decisions and acted immature. He knew better, and he knew he knew better. He'd feel badly and repent.  He'd make corrections and then go on with life.  He was a quick learner and seldom repeated mistakes.

This young man turned out great and every time I think of him I smile, and every time I think of how hard he tried to do his very best and help others do their very best I want to cry . . . or at least cheer for him from the sidelines. 

Most of us will see ourselves in one of these boys.    

-The knuckle-head boy who made some very wrong decisions in his life and knew it, repented and made better decisions, then spent the rest of his life helping other people was Alma.  His story is in Mosiah and Alma. 

-The talented, athletic, popular boy with lots of opportunities who started to take things for granted and wasn't as careful about his decisions and commitment to the Lord as he knew he should be was David.  His story is in I and II Samuel.

-The normal boy that did normal things like work, play, and sometimes act immature, but who was humble about his mistakes was Joseph Smith.  His story is in Joseph Smith - History. 

Because of the scriptures, I feel like I know these men.  I’ve read their stories several times and seen what made them excited and what scared them, what made them cry and want to give up, and what made them laugh and willing to try harder.  Not only have I learned truth and the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ through their writings and words, but I have learned about choices and consequences through their examples.

As the semester closed Friday, I fretted about all the lessons we didn't get covered in the Book of Mormon. I wished we'd have had more time, more days.  I wished I'd have taught more efficiently and effectively.

But then I thought of the students individually.  Every single one of them has or will have finished reading the Book of Mormon within the next week, some of them for the first time, others for their second or third time. Their love for the book has been evident this semester in the things they have said and the spark in their eyes as they described different people from its pages.  Slowly the worry I felt began to fade.  I understood their love for the scriptures would take them back again and again.   they'd get the lessons that were missed. They'd see themselves in the stories and they'd be able to choose door #1, door #2, or door #3 wisely by following the examples of the people they have come to love through the scriptures.  


1 comment:

melanie said...

I'd only go back to high school if I could take your seminary class. It would be life changing to learn from such a dedicated teacher. Thanks for teaching me still.