One of Benjamin’s favorite games is hide n’ seek. I’ll have to admit this is one of my favorite games to play with him as well. The only problem is he has a hard time staying hidden. When I go look for him, he will inevitably shout out something like, “Dad I’m in here. You can’t find me.” This little two-year old who is so full of light and energy is like each of us when we receive the gospel. We cannot be hid.
Ye are the Light
On Thursday, we invited the missionaries in for a glass of water. Before they left, they shared Matt 5:14, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.” As I was reading this yesterday, I realized that it says it gives light to all that are in the house. We must be that light to those little ones within our own home.
Good Examples brought Catie
In addition, we must be that light to our neighbors. Catie has told me several times that part of the reason she accepted the missionary discussions is because of the neighbors she had who were great examples of what members of the church should be. She is always telling me stories about the Andreasens and the Braithwaites helping her family.
Catie shared a scripture from Joshua about the Israelites who had escaped physically from Egypt but were having a hard time escaping the culture of Egypt. The Lord has always used various cities, such as Egypt, Sodom and Gomorrah, or Babylon to represent the world and our need to flee from the bondage of sin therein.
Brother of Jared
The brother of Jared’s story is one that has become our family’s theme scripture. It is a story about a group of people fleeing from the city of Babel, the original Babylon. When they come to the Ocean they have no source of light until the Brother of Jared refines some stones and asks the Lord to touch each of the stone so that they can give light. They then put two stones in each vessel and cross the dark, scary waters. Finally, they arrive at the Promised Land.
Here is Moroni’s summary of this account: “Thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children, that they might not cross the great waters in darkness. . . And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mare them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.” I believe that we are those cold, hard stones. Once we are touched by the finger of the Lord, our light shines.
This last conference Elder Christofferson said, “The Lord calls upon us to be beacons of righteousness to guide those who seek the safety and blessings of Zion . . . that the gathering of Zion may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm.” I think that’s interesting when it’s connected to Ether 6:10. I don’t know if Moroni meant this but it fits. He says no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them [semicolon] and they did have light continually. It’s almost as if he is saying that they could not be harmed when they were in the storm-tossed sea because they had light. The light (which for the purpose of this talk is members of the church) protected all who were in the vessel.
On the other hand, Catie and I also know people who will not accept the gospel because they know a member who did not let that light shine as bright as it could have or in the direction is should have.
In addition to hide n' seek, my son loves playing with flashlights. It’s kind of annoying because when I was trying to fix my car, the batteries of the flashlight were dead. One day he discovered that if he shined the light in our eyes we would make a funny face and close our eyes. While this was great fun, his parents soon got tired of the blinding light, so we took the light away. I think that sometimes in our zealousness for the gospel we end up shining that light in our friends’ eyes more than on the path. This is especially dangerous when we don’t light the path in between shining it in their eyes. I think this happens most often when we aren’t genuine in our love or friendship.
Catie mentioned that while she was preparing her talk she came across a story of a family who thought they were being great examples. However, they had neighbors who didn't agree. These neighbors were not members of the church. The family never spoke to their neighbors until one day when the family invited their neighbors over for dinner. They were superficially nice. Then, before the neighbors left, the family invited them to hear the missionaries. Needless to say the neighbor didn't respond well.
Even worse is for a member to shine that light down the wrong path. Remember Christ said the light cannot be hid.
Corianton is me
Alma’s son, Corianton, was one of these types of members on his first mission. However, as I read this scripture, I realized that Alma is not talking to Corianton. He is talking to me in an analogy. I’m not confessing adultery with the harlot Isabel. Many times the scriptures refer to the Israelites as brides who leave their husband, the Lord, to become harlots. This situation is a little in reverse, but it still works. I am the missionary leaving the ministry for the harlot, the world.
“Have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold has he not set a good example for thee?” This scripture is talking about Corianton’s brother, Shiblon; however, I changed the he to refer to my older brother Jesus Christ.
He then describes Corianton’s sin involving the harlot. In verse 10, he tells him how to overcome his bad habits. Again, I change the brothers from Helaman and Shiblon to the Savior. “Counsel with your elder Brother in your undertakings; for behold thou are in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your Brother. And give heed to his counsel.”
Behold o my son, how great iniquity ye brought the Zoramites (could be your neighbors or even your children); for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.”
We must be a Zion people
Our examples must be that of a Zion people. Elder Christofferson gave three qualities that we must master to be a Zion people, unity, holiness, and caring for the poor. It is highly important that we have overcome jarrings, contentions, envyings, and strifes. As Christ continued the sermon on the mount, he said “if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come, and offer thy gift.”
The Paper Boy
President Monson told a heart wrenching story a few conferences ago. His paper boy had a difficult time getting the papers on the porches of his customers. Many of the neighbors wanted his wife to sign a petition against this young boy. Gratefully sister Monson did not sign. A few weeks later, this boy committed suicide because others in the neighborhood did sign this petition.
The Savior was critical of some of the early saints for their lustful desires. These were people who lived in a non-television, non-film, non-internet, non iPod world. In a world now awash in sexualized images and music, are we free from lustful desires and their attendant evils? Far from pushing the limits of modest dress or indulging in the vicarious immorality of pornography, we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. To come to Zion, it is not enough for your or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. . . let us once and for all establish our residence in Zion and give up the summer cottage in Babylon.” You’ll recall that Lot’s wife had a hard time leaving that summer cottage in Sodom and Gomorrah. She became salt that had lost its savor.
The Lord has placed each of us in a position to be a light to someone’s vessel. We must counsel with our Elder Brother to determine how we can allow our stones to shine brighter, let the Lord touch those stones, and give heed to his counsel.