Friday, September 16, 2011

How the Lord removes our stumbling blocks

1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—
2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded. (1 Nephi 14:1-2)
I love this scripture. It really speaks to me right now. I know we often apply it to ourselves as something that has already happened once we have accepted the gospel, but I believe that it is a process that continues beyond that. The promise isn’t just that we’ll be numbered among the house of Israel, it is also:
  • they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever;
  • they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and
  • the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.
(This also implies to me that it is possible to be numbered among the church and still be cursed, captive, and confounded because of our stumbling blocks!)

These verses teach us that the Lord will manifest Himself to take away our stumbling blocks in three ways:
  1. In word
  2. In power
  3. In very deed
these take away our stumbling blocks, which I interpret to mean our:
  • mistaken notions and incorrect traditions
  • our sins that we think are harmless or even good
  • our faults
and IF WE HEARKEN, we’ll be blessed forever, set free, and be no more confounded. (Stumbling blocks gone forever!) (Incidently, confounded means confused, perplexed, and unable to think clearly. In what ways have you seen that your stumbling blocks confound you?)

Even after becoming members, we bring lots of incorrect traditions and wrong-headed notions with us that affect our acts in negative ways that we don't realize, and the Lord intends to purge us of these of little by little. Having the gospel in our lives, we have access to holy teachings that in every respect are calculated to manifest the Lord to us “in word, in power, and in very deed unto the taking away of our stumbling blocks.” I've learned that because of this promise, I should be ready to hearken to the Lord at all times. I have to stay willing to change, even though change is hard. I know a log-load of truth, but there are still those gaps between knowing and doing that I have to eliminate. That’s what the Atonement is for.

I love how it says the Lord will take away my stumbling blocks. First, through His word. Correct principles are so that I can examine myself and find where I need to change. Once I am given that word, the Lord manifests Himself through power (the Holy Ghost), testifying that the principles I have just learned are from Him and that I should apply them. Then, the Lord manifests Himself “in very deed,” which means that He gives me good examples (including His own) to follow and He helps me through His grace to DO what I must do.

One way the Lord has been helping remove my stumbling blocks has been with respect to work and self-reliance. I regret that sometimes I have been so stubborn that some chastening has been necessary, along with some cursings, some captivity, and some being confounded. (I hope you don’t have to go where I’ve been.) It’s far better to listen immediately instead of delaying.

Another big example of how the Lord manifested Himself in word, power, and deed to take away my stumbling blocks was in helping me learn to understand Isaiah better. I learned a lot from writing Isaiah Insights to Teenage Temptations and the principles I learned from that took away more of my stumbling blocks. Other examples of having my stumbling blocks removed have been learning not to be accusing or blaming, learning to admit when I’m wrong, learning how to sacrifice my time, learning to put the Lord first…

Let’s talk in terms of the family. What stumbling blocks do we have in our families?

I’ve already mentioned the stumbling block I had of accusing and blaming (especially my husband!). One day I ran across a verse in Revelation, which said this:
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Rev. 12:10)
It was a surprise to me to learn that Satan was called here “the accuser of our brethren,” and I didn’t want to be like that. It showed me that accusers are cast down, and I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I made a decision that I needed to squelch my accusing and blaming behaviors and attitudes. Heavenly Father helps me notice when I’m in an accusing and blaming frame of mind. I try to muster the desire to pray to not accuse and blame and instead to be understanding and charitable. Heavenly Father has also shown me in very deed how unpleasant it is to be on the receiving end of accusations and blame, so I don’t want to put others through it any more. Because I have had this stumbling block removed, I feel like my relationship with my husband has become a lot more loving and supportive. As a result mistakes in our family can be a growing experience rather than a demoralizing experience.

What stumbling blocks has the Lord removed from you? Will you share with me about how He did it? How has this blessed you and made you free?


Curls said...

Oh my, I think you and I share some of the same stumbling blocks. I too accuse and blame my husband, and your thoughts on this were quite inspiring. I better stop that!

I also know I am a VERY prideful and arrogant person. And unfortunately this has led to chastening as of course I didn't see this as a fault and try to use the word and power first. I always assumed I'd have a masters by this point in my life, and yet I still have yet to finish a bachelor's. And I know it's because I need to learn some humility.

Michaela Stephens said...

I'm glad you can see where your stumbling blocks are.

Here's a question for you (and anyone else who wants to chime in)-- how do you tell the difference between identifying your stumbling blocks and blaming/accusing yourself?

Ramona Gordy said...

Hi Michaela
This is a great post. I have not given enough thought to "stumbling blocks", but I have been pondering them since you posted this.I realize that in recognizing that we have stumbling blocks and their effects on our lives, both spiritual and temporal, helps us not to be "acted upon".

My question is this, Does the Lord remove our stumbling blocks in total when he returns?
I feel that stumbling blocks are that "opposition" that is spoken of by Nephi.

2Nephi 2:11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things..

D&C 29 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—

I understand how we can get into a vicious cycle of blame and recrimanations when we encounter the same situation or stumbling block. My husband and I experience these things,and what has helped us is to take a step back and really look at the situation.The attacks of the enemy are subtle and covert.As husbands and wives we need to be "one" in everything. We are weak,we really are, but the Lord gives us strength in so many ways to overcome. The adversary as you mentioned,loves to bring up our past, but we need to be strong, and call a lie a lie. Alma asks us if we have been spiritually born of God. Have we experienced that mighty change of heart. Change is foil for stumbling blocks.

I remember a favorite gospel song,I love it. The title of the song is "Lord Don't move my Stumbling Block".
The chorus is pivotal, it goes like this
Lord don't take away this mountain, just show me how to climb it.
Lord don't move my stumbling blocks,just show me the way around them."
You are absolutely right on that Heavenly Father removes our stumbling blocks in his Word,his power and his deeds.
We have that,as we continue to trust in him, employ a measure of faith and obey his commandments, I can testify that he will "show us a way around a block, or teach us a way to climb any mountain or obstacle.