Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Whoso climbeth up by me shall never fall

“whoso…climbeth up by me shall never fall” (Moses 7:53)

This is a very simple idea, but it also has embedded in it some important principles which are taught using the image of climbing to a higher place.

A climber has to grab something to pull on and push off of it to make any progress. They have to be supported by something. In the above line, Enoch learns that in life, Jesus is that support. A climber has to believe that what they hold on to will not move and will fully support their weight. Likewise, we must believe that Jesus can fully support the weight of our sins and sorrows. We must believe that His grace is all-sufficient.

The other thing we learn is that even though Jesus is our support, we make no progress without climbing. Our total effort and commitment is required.

One final thing I learn from this line is how necessary it is to make sure we are climbing by Christ and not by something else. I’ve done some climbing of rocks and (small) cliffs and learned that sometimes what I thought was a secure handhold loosens. (I learned to test my hold before putting my full weight on it.) If we try to climb up by anything besides Christ, those supports will ultimately fail and we will fall.

I'll give you a recent, rather painful example of how real this principle has become for me. For the last year I have been trying to become a seminary teacher. That’s what I wanted to do. Last week I was told that I had not been chosen to become one, and there was no opportunity to try again. I thought a position as seminary teacher would be perfect for me. I could think of so many ways that I had been prepared for something like that. Now I have no idea what to do instead. I’ve been praying for help to know what I should do. I’ve also begun to encounter subtle temptations from Satan; he tries to get me to think that because I’ve been refused, none of that gospel stuff and scripture stuff really matters any more, since I won’t have a job teaching it. Blatantly false, I know, but I still have to resist it. And the non-acceptance into seminary teacher-land has thrown me for a loop to the point that I’ve felt spiritually like I’m falling.

So this is why the above line from the scriptures has struck me as so precious. I’ve thought, If I feel like I’m falling, then perhaps I was not climbing up by Christ and was climbing up by seminary teacher-ness. Somehow, imperceptibly, I got off the real support onto something that could fail me and drop me. I’m trying to learn the difference between a temporal support (job) with spiritual elements and a true spiritual support.

In no way do I fault those instrumental in my rejection as a candidate. I’m not a perfect teacher and I know some of my faults; other candidates were better than I at connecting with teens.

For now and always, I have to climb up by Christ; any other way will drop me.

Will you tell me about a time when you had to learn this through difficult experience?

Image: Watchmojo,


Barbara said...

You would have been an awesome seminary teacher! I'm so grateful I came across your blog last year - it's really blessed my life and helped in my understanding and desire to study the scriptures more thoroughly. All I can say is I trust God has something better for you. In the meantime, don't feel bad about grieving.

DCtS said...

I too, have taken strength from your words of wisdom these past several years. One of your entries on the sacrament has changed my life.

How I wish that I could send you a formula for despair, despondency, and disappointment, but you know as well as I that the answers are in the scriptures.

May I instead pray for you and your current challenge. There is strength in numbers!

Jocelyn Christensen said...

When I was first getting into a career in television. People would ask me (especially in the church) WHY I would want to do such a thing. My biggest answer was "because it would be the coolest thing ever" but the answer I'd give was "I want to be an example to others of Christ's church and I can do that on a big scale if I'm on TV." I really did want that, but my first desire was a more selfish thrill-seeking one, and I knew it. I always felt that the Lord knew it too, but he was kind enough to let me grow into the more altruistic desire. When I read the D&C and see the Lord chastising people for the intents of their heart...I know that he is probably thinking the same things about me too. It's a fine line. The Lord gave me what I wanted, but it was behind the camera, not in front of it. And I am happy with what he gave me.

Rach said...

I thought you were a seminary teacher in the past 3-4 months I've been following are a really good teacher anyway...maybe not in the way you hoped and worked for, and I'm sorry for that. I sincerely wish you the best job your way!!

Michaela Stephens said...

To those two people who commented besides the above, please know that I did not delete your comments. Blogger was having troubles yesterday and a bunch of people couldn't log in, so I figure that when the situation was fixed a number of comments made on that day were deleted. I did get to read your comments and I appreciated them.

grego said...

A few things I've learned through the *many* disappointments and "failures" in my life:

1. Good intentions are good; just not always part of the plan.
2. Sometimes, we didn't do our part.
2. It is true, that people often "get in the way" with what could or should have been, especially in the "how" (but not in the long run!).
3. That sometimes happens to keep us from our unseen mistakes or consequences that might hurt us or others, especially eternally.
4. (And/ or) That often happens to allow us to open up to something bigger and better, if we are humble.
5. Or at least, a more suited way for us to fulfill those desires based on principles, not our worldly/ concrete interpretation of those principles.

Ramona Gordy said...

When I joined the Church of LDS,I had no idea what a calling was or what role they would play in my life and the lives that I would eventually touch.
My first calling was to teach the Gospel & Principles class,which was a struggle to say the least. I can only hope that I was not the cause of anyone leaving the church.LOL:) Mercifully the Bishop removed me from that calling and against my better wishes appointed me Secretary of the Relief Society, which I am sure is an honerable calling, but to me, most miserable. I did my best,but alas I was not allowed to remain in this calling for long and now I am a primary teacher.
What I have learned is that I could not approach any of these opportunities like a job.
In a job all of our preparations are done so that we can impress the potential employer. I realized that we are called as teachers from the very foundation of the world and the Lord has prepared our hearts to teach.He is aware of what our credentials are,so we don't have to do anything really but show up and bring a desire to love and teach his children.
I really appreciate your teaching on this blog. I have learned so much, and have been inspired by your knowledge to dig deeper into the scriptures. I have come to really appreciate the Book of Mormon because of your insightful posts. Don't stop, keep doing what you do. The adversary would love for us to shorten our strides, and fall back.
Thank you for all that you do,I believe that you are being prepared for that calling that the Lord knows that only you can fill.

a reader said...

Since you asked, I'll share an experience I had where a righteous desire went unfulfilled. I think everyone to some degree or another has dreams/goals that they have righteously desired, prepared for, and worked diligently to achieve only to have things "not work out" despite their best effort. I know that has happened to me repeatedly.

I worked as an apartment manager for the first 3 years that my husband was in medical school. We scrimped and saved and barely made ends meet. Our 2nd daughter was handicapped and required a lot of time and attention. Because of our diligence, we managed to save enough for me to stop working about the same time our 3rd child was born.

Because we were living in the apartment complex where we managed, quitting also involved moving. We found an amazing house that backed up to a city park, and was one block from the community center where we did swim therapy with our daughter. it was perfect. It "checked all the boxes". I could walk my oldest daughter to school, and take my children to the park daily. I was sure it would be a blessing in the lives of my children to live there. I prayed perfunctorily, sure that heavenly Father would approve of my choice. There was nothing selfish in my was all about providing the best life I could for my children. I didn't get that reassuring feeling, but felt no sense of foreboding either. I went ahead and filled out the application to rent the home. We were approved and I took the security deposit check to the owner to secure our contract.

As I wrote out the check a sick feeling came over me. I was sure it was the thought of writing such a huge check--more than we had ever paid for rent -- but we had the money, and writing big checks always gives me indigestion (I'm such a cheapskate). I left the check with the owner and got in the car to go home. By the time I drove the 6 blocks to our tiny apartment, I was crying. I KNEW we weren't supposed to rent that house, but I could not understand why. It was perfect for our family. I fought that feeling for another hour before I knelt down and prayed "just to make sure" it wasn't me. The impression was undeniable -- the words came as a command, more assertive than I had ever felt, "Do not rent that house". I called the owner in tears and asked him to tear up the check. He was confused as I told him I loved the house, but we just could not move in.

A few nights later, I had a dream that we were living in that house, and enjoying it immensely. Then I left the front door opened, and my handicapped daughter, who did not understand the dangers of crossing streets, got the screen door opened and attempted to cross the busy road in front of the house. I woke as I heard the sound of screeching tires in my dream and knew heavenly Father had blessed me to understand the "why" because I had acted in faith.

He does not always bless us to know the "why" (I've never before or since been blessed to know the "why" of any other difficult decision), but he has a plan, and He knows the end from the beginning. We may not understand why we must take a certain road when it appears the other road would be better for us and bless our families and others as well, but he sees the road ahead, beyond the curve, where we cannot yet see.

You are touching lives with your blog, and you are teaching. You are encouraging gospel scholarship and understanding. I've only been following your blog for about a month, but I love reading your insights and pondering them. Keep it up. Someday, in this life or the next, you will know that "why"....

grego said...

a reader,

Thank you for sharing that!