Monday, September 8, 2008

"All is well" - a license to relax, or a reason to get to work?

And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell…. Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! (2 Nephi 28:21, 24)
Have you ever noticed that the LDS Hymn “Come, Come Ye Saints” has the words “All is well” in it? For a while I was troubled about that, and I wondered how that hymn could be reconciled with this scripture.

Some words that stick out to me in the above scripture are the following:
lull them away
carnal security
cheateth their souls
leadeth them away carefully down to hell
at ease in Zion

Now, compare these words to some of the phrases in the hymn:
no toil nor labor fear
though hard
tis better…to strive
gird up your loins
fresh courage take
shout praises

The feeling conveyed is completely different. What matters is the spirit in which the words are said and the intent behind them and then the actions that follow

The hymn conveys the idea that even when things are in turmoil, “all is well” and advocates work to assuage grief and worry, promising that someday rest will come.

The scripture warns how Satan tries to tempt us into inactivity with the argument that things are already going fabulously and our efforts aren’t needed in Zion. The effect of this if we listen to it is our souls will be cheated of the temporal and spiritual blessings of giving our service.

So what is it we stand to gain by laboring for Zion?
And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me. (D&C 59:4)
This scripture shows us that diligence in keeping the commandments prepares us not only for blessings and revelations, but also more commandments. So it seems that commandments are also a blessing. (I still remember the day when my dad pointed this out in family scripture study; it was totally shocking to me.) I suspect it is because blessings are attached to commandments so inseparably that to refer to one is to refer to the other. The ability to keep some commandments requires keeping other commandments first as preparation, like how the Law of Tithing prepares us for the Law of Consecration.
28 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.
29 And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.
(1 Nephi 16:28-29)
In this scripture we see that diligence brings understanding about the ways of the Lord. This is such a precious thing, to know why the Lord does what He does. It introduces us to the exalted reasoning of our God and little by little we start to think like He does.

Diligence also brings more guidance to us, indicating that we have progressed. It is additional light that saves us from ignorance, confusion, and temptation.
And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day. (Jacob 1:19)
In this scripture we see that teaching the gospel with diligence clears us.
And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God. (Moroni 9:6)
In this scripture, laboring diligently allows us to conquer Satan and eventually rest in the kingdom of God, even if our labors don’t produce the effect that we desire to have on others. Working is good for us.

My husband and I have church on Sunday starting at 2pm and we get home at 5pm. I came home yesterday juggling a mental list of things I had to do for church. I had a new cub scout joining my den that I had to inform my assistant of. I had to call the parent of the scout to let them know about den meeting times and places and email them a schedule of our plans. I needed to make appointments to go visiting teaching. I needed to write in my journal. I wanted to do a blog entry. I wanted to call one of my friends and tell her the end result of one of my challenges that worked out. The mental list just didn’t seem to end! And I was expecting a call at some point from at least one of my siblings just to talk.

I thought about this list of mine and I wondered, “Do I REALLY need to do this today? Can’t it wait for another day? Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest!” I didn’t want to do any of it. I wanted to lay back and digest my food after breaking my fast. But it kept bugging me, so I thought, “Well, none of these things is really for myself and Sunday is for serving the Lord, so.. I guess I’ll do it… And because I didn’t feel like it, I prayed from help to want to start and the Lord reminded me of how good it felt to serve and that gave me the motivation to start.

(Image credit - Ann Kapp Anderson,


Anonymous said...

Great insights, Michaela. I used to struggle with that phrase myself when I was younger. It's nice to see someone else with a lot of similar thoughts...

Keep up the good posting!

Michaela Stephens said...

You too, huh? I wonder how many other people have thought about it?