Sunday, February 13, 2011

Walking to Zion: Spiritual Preparation

We know that in Zion dwells people who are, "of one heart and one mind, and dwel{l} in righteousness; and there {are} no poor among them." (Moses 7:18) In order to live there we must have hearts purified. What does this look like?

Before we discuss that we must understand what Brigham Young said that it doesn't look like. In speaking to the Saints he taught them why they were not allowed to stay in Jackson County. He said,

"Let them look at the beautiful land that the Lord would have given them if all had been faithful in keeping his commandments, and had walked before him as they should….the yoke of Jesus would have been easy and his burden would have been light, and that it would have been a delightful task to have walked in obedience to his commandments and to have been of one heart and one mind; but through the selfishness of some, which is idolatry, through their covetousness, which is the same, and the lustful desire of their minds, they were cast out and driven from their homes. We have been driven many times; but each time if they who professed to be the servants of God had served him with and undivided heart, they would have had the privilege of living in their houses, possessing their lands, attending their meetings and spreading abroad on the right and the left, lengthening the cords of Zion, and strengthening her stakes until the land had been dedicated to the Gospel of the Son of God." (JD 13:1)
D & C 101: 6-8 also speaks of these early saints,

"There were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
"They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.
"In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me."
We learn that the early saints possessed pride and idolatry. This is truly amazing to me. How were these wonderful pioneer men and women so full of these tendencies? I realize that if they possessed these faults then how great mine must truly be!!!! If they could not claim Zion, I am very, very far from it as well.
I learn from these quotes that in order to inhabit Zion there must be complete submission. There must be a complete removal of idols from my life.

In speaking of what we should be Brigham Young said,
"Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the Spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace; the soil of the earth will bring forth in its strength, and the fruits thereof will be for man. The more purity that exists, the less is the strife…If the people will not serve the Devil another moment whilst they life, if this congregation is possessed of that spirit and resolution, here in this house is the Millennium." (JD 1:203)
"Let our anxiety be centered upon one thing, the sanctification of our own hearts, the purifying of our own affections, the preparing of ourselves for the approach of the events that are hastening upon us. This should be our concern, this should be our study, this should be our daily prayer." (JD 9:3)
I think we begin this quest for holiness by first, "Mak{ing} the Lord Jesus Christ the living center of your home." (Elder Scott, "He Lives! All Glory to His Name! May 2010). When Christ becomes the living center of our lives/homes (and we stop serving the Devil as President Young said) then we will focus on doing all in our power to obey and cleanse ourselves.

My personal experience has taught me that as I submit to "every word which proceed{s} forth out of the mouth of God" (Moroni 7:25) that He takes me where I need to be. I have seen this pattern repeated time after time. The problem of course is why don't I do it all the time? I have great days where I submit and I learn through the Spirit what my weakness are and how I can overcome them. Then there are other days when I don't want to listen and my mind and heart are focused on worldly thoughts and ideas. I realize in these moments that I am like the early Saints who were idolatrous and lustful. Each time I focus on something besides God I am worshiping another God.

That is why this journey is a' walking journey' built line upon line. If I go too fast I will fall. But if I am patient with myself I can repent and refocus day by day. President Young also says,
"Let us take a course to be saved today, and, when evening comes, review the acts of the day, repent of our sins, if we have any to repent of, and say our prayers; then we can lie down and sleep in peace until the morning, arise with gratitude to God, commence the labors of another day, and strive to live the whole day to God and nobody else." (JD 8:124)
In order to go through this process day by day, and live moment by moment by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God we must choose to exercise faith. Bishop Edgely said,
"Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours….If your faith is proven and mature, choose to nurture it "with great care"...It needs constant nourishment through continued scripture study, prayer, and the application of His word." (Bishop Edgley, "Faith the Choice Is Yours," November 2010).
Each moment and each day we need to strive to become more spiritually pure to dwell in Zion. Each day we need make sure our family is moving closer to that wholeness. We need to do things that bring the Spirit into our lives. Elder Bednar recently taught us we do all the right things so that we can have "the ongoing companionship of the Holy Ghost." (Elder Bednar, "Receive the Holy Ghost," November 2010).

We know what the right things are. Scriptures. Prayers. Church. Sacrament. Fasting. Service. Temple. But while we are doing those things we must make sure that we are allowing the Spirit to go through us and change us. We must be progressing day by day. We must make sure that we are casting off the natural man. We must see that we are releasing our pride, our vain ambitions, our idols, our pessimissim, our doubts…

So in my Walk to Zion I am striving to purify my heart in every way. I am striving to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. I am striving to Walk to Zion in Faith.


Ranee said...

I just LOVED this! Thank you for your sweet example and for all that you teach me! :0)

Just Lara said...

I too was surprised to learn that the early saints weren't obedient enough to build Zion and were forced to come to Utah instead. I have never heard anything like it from the pulpit. It also wonder that if they couldn't do it why should we think we can? Purifying our lives to that level seems like a long road to travel but hopefully we are headed in the right direction.

Thank you for writing about these things.

Richard Renee said...

I am a grandma new to your blog. I have enjoyed it very much. I can see that you are striving to become a "Zion person" which is what we all should be doing. I want to direct you to a blog that you will enjoy about seeking Zion. It is by John Pontius. If you have trouble getting there go to He was given 6 months to live 18 months ago. The Lord has a mission for him that you might be interested in learning about. Love and blessing to you, stouthart