My husband and I have been studying the topic of “faith” in great detail. It seems that the circumstances of our lives have never been easy, and that one trial of our faith has instantly followed upon the heels of another. You might say that we have been blessed with a “steep learning curve.” This is undoubtedly because we are 63 and there isn’t much time left! Seriously, I am sure that the real reason has more to do with the Lord’s desire to prepare us for the increasing trials of the last days.
A scripture during our study entered my heart with full force.
It occurs when Helaman is advises his sons Nephi and Lehi before they go out on their missions. He said: And now, my sons, remember, remember that is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yeah, his shafts in the whirlwind, yeah, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down into the gulf of misery and endless woe, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall. (Helaman5:12)
Following this advice from their father, the following event occurred during their missionary labors: And after they had been cast into prison many days without food, behold, [their enemies]went forth into the prison to take them that they might slay them. And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch theat they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear, lest they should be burned. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned; and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned. (Helaman 5:23)
Now, of course, we may not be in danger of this literal burning, but what about the trials that face us in this day?
Will they cause us to be "dragged down to the gulf of misery and endless wo? Will "hail and a mighty storm beat upon us"? Will we be shafts in the whirlwind"
I am using this new year to quietly assess all my values and all the activities that I chose to use my precious time on. Are these activities building my foundation? Are they tied to my Redeemer? Or are they frivolous wastes of time, that have no connection to the daughter of God within me?
If my life, in every respect, is built upon the Savior, then I can expect to prevail, though the winds be strong, and the gulf of misery deep.
How do we build this kind of foundation?
As I attempt to do this, I realize that the first, and most vital key, is to listen to my Redeemer’s words and counsel, whether they be by personal revelation, through the scriptures, or (most often) through the words of the living prophets. My husband I have been doing companion study for several weeks now, studying the attributes of the Savior in depth, and evaluating our behavior next to his. We now feel we need to turn our attention to the great atonement sermons of Lehi, Jacob, King Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, and Moroni. These will point the way to our achievement of our goal to take upon us the attributes of Christ. Next, as a companion to our New Testament study this year, we plan to read Jesus the Christ this year.
In doing this in the early morning, we have found that the practice sets our compass in the right direction for the whole day. We do first things first, and down our list of tasks with joy, because our daily goals have been made through consultation with the Savior in our morning prayer and scripture study.
When, on the few times that we have failed in this, we found we are blown about from task to task, achieving little, and certainly making no progress in building our foundation.
The second thing is prioritizing, and this is very important, because we both have ADD. We may get blown off track because our minds skip around so much, but we achieve extra help in staying on track through the Enabling Power of the Atonement (see Bible Dictionary under Grace), which helps us make up for our extensive weaknesses.
When things don’t go well (as often happens), we look back to the promise that the Savior gave through Lehi (and in many other parts of the Book of Mormon) and know that as we are attempting to build on a sure foundation, we will eventually be blessed, even if we have to go through the fire first.
For all of us, our lists of priorities will be different. But there are certain things that our prophets have told us must be the same:
Love of the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength (which entails humility, repentance, prayer, meditation, studying about Him, and accounting for our actions, remembering Him each week as we take the sacrament).
The second great commandment the Lord has given us, requires moving out of ourselves: raising our families in the Light, and doing our visiting teaching, home teaching—bringing the Spirit of Christ into the lives of those for whom we are Christ’s hands. It also involves service, not only in our callings but "in doing many things to bring to pass much righteousness." Some of us may be ill (as I was for many, many years), homebound, or deluged with business, but if we are prayerful, the Lord will show us how this can be done, using His "enabling power" to increase our personal abilities.
Our talents were given to us to magnify the Lord. As we spend time developing them and using them to build Zion, we are adding to our foundation, and blessing others.
As I plan my days with my little computer-generated task list next to my calendar, I pray that I will be sensitive in choosing between my comprehension of my priorities and the Lord’s. I pray that each day will meld me with more fastness to the Rock of the Lord.