Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chapter 3 - Trust

Nephi, in his candid, instructive, self-incriminating psalm found in 2 Nephi 4:17-19, declares this;

 17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.  
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
I think it is interesting that Nephi was fully able to console himself by the knowledge that he trusts the Lord.

I'll be the first to agree that it's hard to look upon Nephi's "iniquities" as horrible and threatening, in light of all the wonderful accomplishments of his life.  Still the fact is, no unclean thing can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, no matter how unclean.  Clearly, Nephi longs to be perfect and it troubles him to fall short of that most loft goal.  Surely, he longs to be that clean, so that he actually may, one day, dwell with God.

So what did Nephi mean when he said he trusted the Savior.  The word trust has some wonderful and three dimensional connotations.  I'm going to cite and discuss them one at a time:
to rely upon or place confidence in someone or something
Everything about Nephi's life demonstrated his confidence in the Savior.  Clearly he knew that "God giveth no commandment unto the children of save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."  (1 Nephi 3:7)
to have confidence; hope
Nephi knew that despite his faults and failings he could still be saved.  He trusted that Jesus would stand before the Father (with His arm around Nephi) and say, (paraphrasing D&C 45:4-5) "Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou was well pleased; behold the blood of thy son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; wherefore, Father, spare ...Nephi for believing on my name, that he may come unto me and have everlasting life."  Nephi realized that his entrance into the Celestial Kingdom was going to be due to God's recognition of Jesus' merits, not his own.  Nephi's part was to invite and then trust the Savior to actually do that for him.  All of Nephi's other efforts were then, an expression of love, humility, obedience and gratitude.
to have trust or confidence in; rely or depend on
It is hard to rely on someone else to save us.  Most of us have been burned or let down too many times to be comfortable with relying upon anyone but ourselves.  The case I'm about to relate is rather extreme, but illustrates my point.  I went to the Detention Center for my regular 12 Step Meetings with the youth.  As I was headed to the meeting room I noticed a youth in the receiving room covered in a blanket.  After the meeting I saw who it was.  A sweet little Native American girl who'd been released to a foster home a couple of weeks prior.  That foster home had been far from the reservation with a family about as distant from her culture as can be imagined.  The foster parents were very strict.  My little friend had never lived in a disciplined environment besides the Detention Center.  It became intolerable and she ran away.  Now, she'd been picked up and placed back in Detention.  I stepped into the room and sat with her.  She wept for 45 minutes.  At one point she moaned, "All I want to do is go home, but I don't even have a home to go to.  My mom is dead and my Dad just went back to prison."  Can you imagine how difficult it is for her to trust, to rely upon someone else?  She can't even conceive of people being trustworthy.  She's just barely learning about God.  It's a bit premature to expect her to even trust Him.  We wept together and I wondered how on earth can I help these kids, there are so many of them.  I spent my time there testifying of God's love and trustworthiness and I trust my Savior to answer my prayers and heal their wounds and to continue to send shepherds he can trust to find them.  Now I can see why trust was such a comfort to Nephi.
to believe
I love Stephen E. Robinson's book Believing Christ.  In it he taught me that it wasn't enough to believe in Christ, we must believe Christ.  It is one thing to acknowledge that he lives and reigns in the Universe.  It is quite another to believe that he will reach down into the mud and rescue someone as filthy as I.  When I first read He Did Deliver Me From Bondage by Colleen Harrison, I skipped the chapter on Step 2 - "Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."  I thought I didn't need to waste time on that Step; I already believed.  Later, bogged down in my recovery process I went back and re-read the book.  This time I read that chapter.  The irony is that in that Chapter Colleen recounted how, when reading the AA Big Book the first time she'd skipped Chapter 5 entitled To The Agnostic, for the same reason.  She and I both had to discover that indeed we believed in Christ, we just didn't believe He would do what He said he would, "save a wretch like me."
to expect confidently; hope 
How do we gain confidence and hope that God will do what Nephi was convinced of?  I believe the answer is simple.  I had to get on my knees, honestly express my doubts and ask for the assurance of the Spirit.  "Ask, and ye shall receive."

to commit or consign with trust or confidence 
When I was considering abandoning my pursuit  of a "job" with it's "reliable" money and it's "simple solutions" I must admit it was a bit scary.  Still, I felt in my heart that following my passion to write was the best choice.  Once I committed to that course of action, a peace came upon me that cannot be easily expressed.  I had made a conscious choice to trust my Heavenly Father and his guidance for me.  That commitment to trust has emancipated me from doubt and second-guessing and has been more than enough reward for the choice, even if nothing else ever comes of it.
to permit to remain or go somewhere or to do something without fear of consequences
This chapter is so currently pertinent and close to my heart.  Deciding to write this book and expecting to write many more is financially precarious for us.  We may have enough money to meet our obligations for a couple of months.  After than we'll need a miracle.  The likelihood of realizing any revenue from such a pursuit in that time frame is remote in the extreme.  Even so, confident of Father's affirmation of our choice my sweet wife and I have lately experienced no fear of the possibility of negative consequences.  A blessing we've not enjoyed for some time.
to invest with a trust; entrust with something
Step 3 - "Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son.  This chapter has turned out to be a bit more autobiographical that I'd intended.  Yet what I've learned about trust is so deeply ensconced in my recovery from addiction that an examination of what it means cannot be divorced from it's effect in my own life.

I have a jokester pal who grew up in North Dakota and learned to drive on the farm.  His wife grew up in LA and learned to drive on the freeway.  She doesn't think much of his city driving.  I already knew this when, upon encountering him one day, he told me of a trip they'd made to Salt Lake City.  On the way, at Silver Creek Junction, Gus pulled over, got out and walked around to open his wife's door, whereupon the said, "Scoot over Honey."  She questioned, "What's this?"  He answered, "No sense both of us driving."  I laughed and laughed.

Now change horses with me for a minute.  I first got in recovery by reading Colleen Harrison's book.  I expected that would be enough.  I was scared of meetings for a number of reasons - mostly pride.  On Sunday I was working on Step 11 - Seek through prayer and meditation to know the Lord's will and to have the power to carry it out.  My heart filled with desire to do that and only that, ever.  I went to my knees and told the Lord that today it was my desire to do His will completely and I promised I'd have a perfect day and do it no matter what.  I was sincere.  I must have been a bit prideful.  I don't recall asking for His assistance in such a lofty quest.

That afternoon I attended a Stake Priesthood Meeting.  Near the close of the meeting our dear Stake President stood and informed us that there were LDS Addiction Recovery Meetings available for those with such afflictions and strongly encouraged those with such needs to attend.  He announced that a meeting was being held that very evening at 7:00 PM.  Immediately, the Spirit whispered, "You need to go."

I went home, went right to my bedroom and fell to my knees.  "Father, it's me again.  I'm sure you remember my promise this morning that today I was willing to do whatever you asked.  Now, you have asked the impossible.  I can't do it.  Furthermore, I won't!"  I spent the next 45 minutes explaining why.  He wouldn't let me off the hook.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I argued.  I explained.  I made excuses.  And still I knew his will remained the same.  Exhausted. scared and frustrated, I finally just shut up.  It was then that I was blessed to hear the words, "No sense both of us driving."  Somehow that statement and it's rich and deep meaning struck might like a bolt of lightning.  It resulted in the most abrupt change of heart I have ever experienced.  I got up and went to the meeting.  I have been going ever since and that has made ALL the difference.  I finally and fully did as President Boyd K.Packer described:
"Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest commitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to him - without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense speaking figuratively, to take one's agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself and say, 'I will do as you direct,' is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more."  (Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Dec. 7, 1971], 4)
to give credit to (a person) for goods, services, etc.,supplied 
Who can adequately express gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  It is He in whom I have put my trust.  All of it.  Without Him I am utterly bereft of hope or possibility.  He is my joy and my song!

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