Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Provident Preparation: Temporal & Spiritual Journey of a Prophet and Us

The Hanson family rises around 6AM most mornings, whether by familial prompting, self motivation or blaring alarm clock. The purpose of this early ushering in of our day is to unify our hearts, study God's word and pray. Many prayers are thoughtful, others at times rushed and/or sleepy. Regardless of the personal state of the voice of the prayer, the family benefits from this morning ritual and our day starts off on solid ground, the foundation being the Lord. This morning was no different but the message I took away from the scripture study and discussion was timely.

When you think about the prophets of old and consider the one that prepared seeds, animals and built a large boat, you naturally think of Noah. And rightly so as through him the world was purged by water (a baptism if you will) and mankind started again with a temporal and spiritual clean slate. This morning's discussion centered around another prophet that prepared seeds, animals and built a collection of boats, or barges, and put his trust in the Lord. It wasn't in times of flood or famine but there was a spiritual decay on the earth that warranted the building of the boats.

In the Book of Mormon, the Brother of Jared, set out into the sea with his family, animals, seeds and provisions and denied himself of the comforts of experienced wisdom. The boats he built were "tight like unto a dish" meaning they were water proof, air proof and light obscured (windows would be dashed by the waves and sea creatures). The boats, as I pointed out to my kids, did not have a rudder, no motor, no sail, no GPS, no way of navigating the seas and oceans en route to the "promised land." The Brother of Jared received a miracle by the hand of the Lord and light was provided as well as a mechanism whereby air could be obtained and while these are at the heart of the story, what I obtained from the experience this morning was a bit different.

When The Brother of Jared prepared every needful thing (food, shelter, provisions), he put his faith fully upon the Lord and His power for deliverance and safety. When it would seem impossible to be safe, the Lord provided all that was necessary temporally and spiritually. The boats were pushed out onto the waters, being blown by the wind the Lord caused to come one the waters. The boats were buried by "mountain waves which broke upon them." The people cried unto the Lord for deliverance when they were buried deep in the waters and who could blame them (think atmospheric pressures). The story also goes on to state that the people sang praises unto the Lord during their journey to the promised land. Through it all they never lost sight of who was delivering them.

I related to my kids this morning that the boats were powerless, unlike the huge cruise ship my wife and I sailed on last year. Even with it's massive size, we felt the swaying motions of the calm waters and though medicine prevailed through the journey, my wife felt after effects for a week, causing her balance to be off and feeling nauseated. The people in the story sailed for 344 days. No medicine. Smaller vessels which I'm sure pitched and groaned through most of the journey. And they "did sing praises unto the Lord." Think they had faith? And after they arrived, "they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his tender mercies over them."

Here's where it hits home for me. There are many principles that can be applied through this experience but for me the meaningful and applicable principles are preparation (food, shelter, temporal needs) temporally and spiritually (prior relationship with God) then complete and utter trust in the Lord. The people prior to embarking on the journey were faithful. They had to be. It wasn't a matter of building the boats blindly then suddenly being filled by the Spirit and expressing their faith in the form of casting out onto the waters. The preparation was essential. The trial of their faith is what carried them through the seas and finally to their destination of the promised land. Is our journey any different? Do we not want to arrive in a promised land where we're free from sin, from corruption, from pain and temptations? Do we not want eternal joy? In order to embark on that trial or journey of faith, we need to prepare, both spiritually and temporally. And now, if you haven't previously begun, is the time to prepare (though some may think the time is already past).

I can see the journey beginning for many of us and the waves will crash, our spiritual and temporal vessels will be buried in the depths of the world seas. But I trust in the Lord for deliverance. He is at the helm of this unnavigatable boat we're trying to navigate through. His Hand steers the faithful through the seas and He sends the winds, which seem adverse, to help push us forward to our endpoint. May the journey not take 344 days, several years or a lifetime. Regardless of the time of the journey, I will sing praises and pleading prayers to Him for deliverance as it is only He that can deliver.
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