Friday, May 29, 2009

How be it that ye have not written this thing?

Here's something that popped out at me today..
6 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he said unto them again, after he had expounded all the scriptures unto them which they had received, he said unto them: Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not.
7 And it came to pass that he said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept.
8 And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said:
9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?
10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.
11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
12 And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.
13 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded. ( 3 Nephi 23:7-13)
I can just imagine Nephi squirming a little when the Lord asked him why the saints’ resurrection hadn’t been recorded. There is a volume of feeling in that sentence—“And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.”

“Oh, yeah.. I forgot to write that down..”

(Often the only way that I realize that I didn’t write something important is when I discover that its influence on my life has been bigger than I thought and I go back to look for it in my journals and I find no mention of it.)

What these verses say to me is that Christ wants us to write in our journals and record the events that fulfill prophecies made to us collectively and to us as individuals.

We have prophecies and promises given to us from God in many different blessings. We are given written copies of our patriarchal blessing, but I’ve observed that it is also helpful to write down things said to us in other blessings as well--setting-apart blessings, father's blessings, comfort blessings, healing blessings, beginning-of-the-school-year blessings--so that we can remember and notice when the promises are fulfilled.

I can remember one year before I went off to BYU when my dad gave me a father’s blessing, and one thing that I thought was odd was that among other things, he blessed me that I would learn about other cultures. I saw that fulfilled over the fall semester when I had a Brazilian roommate and then in the winter semester when I had a Mexican roommate. I got to see how they did things. We sang our national anthems for each other, we got to learn about different types of cooking, we got to hear different music, hear history we hadn't before, hear new jokes, learn about different holidays, hear how they did things back in their country..

A different year, my dad gave me a blessing that I’d get along with my roommates, that I’d listen, notice, and appreciate them, and benefit from their strengths, and that I’d be patient with their struggles. That year I had difficulties with two roommates. They hated the smell of my shampoo, the way my curling iron and space heater tended to make the electrical breakers trip, and the smell of meat cooking in the morning as my other roommate made her lunch for the day. They didn’t like how I lurked in the doorway while they watched TV in the living room and my laugh was too loud for them. I didn’t much like their TV or music choices, the way they affectionately called each other “whore”, or their refrigerator magnet of Michelango’s “David”. (Call me a Philistine, but I don’t like seeing a man in the nude, even if it’s supposed to be art.) Our relationship wasn’t very amiable, and we resorted to giving each other a lot of space. I desperately needed reasons to appreciate them so that I wouldn’t mind living with them, so I observed and listened to them a lot, trying to look deeper for good things that I could admire in them even though we didn’t talk much. Because of the effort I put in, I felt like I got along with them though they may not have felt they could get along with me.

With both these experiences I remember noticing what was happening to fulfill them and thinking, "Wow, my dad was inspired when he gave me that blessing." It is interesting how such simple words in blessings take on a world of meaning and significance when you find yourself actually living it. It’s like icebergs—only 10% shows above the surface of the water, and the other 90% bobs about unseen until you run into it.

I think it is also good to look for prophecies made to us as a church in general conference. We’ve been told so often to get out of debt and we see now how important being out of debt is in this difficult economic environment when debt is vexing the nation. We’ve been told to strengthen our families and now we see how important strong families are.

So why should we write about fulfillments?

I think it is to help us increase our faith. When we record the promises we are given and then later record how those promises were fulfilled, that reinforces to us that the Lord keeps His promises. This helps us have faith that promises yet unfulfilled eventually will be. We need this when it seems like there has been an indefinite delay. Couples who can’t have children need this. Parents with children who have gone astray need this. Parents who have had a child die need this. Unmarried people need this. Really, people from all walks of life with all varieties of problems and troubles need this.

How should we write these things?

One thing we can do is have someone be a scribe whenever we receive a priesthood blessing and then write down what we remember afterward. When one of my new nephews was given a name and a blessing, his mother asked me and another sister-in-law to write down what was said. My mom was scribe for one of the before-the-school-year blessings my dad gave me. Other times it is not possible to have someone else present, so it is good to write down immediately the main things that we remember from the blessing. I’ve done this a lot after being set apart for callings.

Then it is a matter of remembering the blessing every so often. I usually have a few things that I fixate on from my blessings that are very important to me and every once in a while I mentally compare the progress I’ve made to those things I remember. When I see that something is being fulfilled, I get very excited and I write about it in my journal.

If the time ever comes when the Lord asks me to bring forth the record that I have kept for Him to inspect, I want show Him a thorough job.

Image: Jesus asks for the records,,%2Brecord%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1&ei=aDIgSqawAaWkNdKYlKsJ, from The Book of Mormon Project (blog)