"Seek out the company of those who are searching for the truth, but doubt those who claim to have found it!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Draw Out Thy Soul to the Hungry

Draw Out Thy Soul to the Hungry

The last couple of weeks have been an interesting roller coaster, though it could probably be said that each and every week is a roller coaster here on the mother ship that is our Earth.  I am knee deep in starting up a business – which I’ll briefly touch on at some point in the future as it relates to the times and seasons we’re now approaching – and have been spending a fair amount of time noodling different ideas, iterations and options.  Sometimes I get to the point where I don’t really know what to address here on this blog.

This [blog] truly has been something which was created and started as a way to journal my life and thoughts for this year 2010, not knowing if I would/will go on with it after that point.  I have come to appreciate many blogs out there on the ephemeral internet we so much rely on in today’s society but they all, in one way or another, leave a noticeable void.  It has taken me a while to understand why and, even though I do not fully understand this void and what it means to me personally, I hope that mine leaves a void in your life as well.  

Why this is so will be explained later on, but suffice it to say that everything you encounter in life, everything you experience, everything you do, should be seen as a mere stop along the road of life.  Nothing short of Christ and Zion should ever be seen as a destination.  Though it is true that there are plateaus along the way, the rest stops we see on virtually every interstate highway should be just that in our life…mere resting stops. 

We all need them.  But we must all leave them, too.  They are never meant to be our end all or anything more than a night’s stay in some hotel room in the middle of this journey.  Therefore, no matter what you find here, rest assured that it will never save.  It will never exalt.

There is a reason why I lay this out.  That reason is a bit difficult to explain, but I will try.  In the past couple of weeks I’ve met some wonderful – new to me – people who are helping me along my journey to Christ.  They do not know that they are helping me, as I’ve never been one to express my gratitude in such evangelical terms.  I am the worse for it, but I do offer silent gratitude when in secret, which I hope eventually reaches that person, in some karmic way.

This is a struggle at times because, as many of you may have noted, truth is all too often veiled in human understanding, relative meanings, or, worse, purposefully hidden from the world.  How this relates to some of those people I’ve recently met is that often, at this stage in life, how I find truth is predicated on a couple of things.  Most of the truth I find only comes after I ask for it…but rarely (not yet, at least) does it come in the form of direct content from Christ, the Father or any other divine being.  Usually, it’s through those that read this blog, friends I speak with, websites (blogs) I visit, books I read and so on.

I admittedly struggle with the reception of truth in this manner.  My struggle largely lies with trying to understand at what point am I relying on faith for the truth, and at what point am I relying on the books?  Is there a difference?  If I ask God for truth and God, in His ultimate wisdom, wants to give me the truth of such-and-such a thing, then how will He give it?  Will He give it to me in the form of revelation?  Will it happen in the form of something I stumble across – be it a book, website, blog, etc?  How do I differentiate between something that is from faith, and something that is from seek[ing] diligently?

The reason for these questions has only, once again, come to the forefront of my mind because of something one of these recent acquaintances stated.  Their statement was based on having God fill voids, fill our minds, fill our hearts, teach us, inspire us, etc., and refraining from seeking validation from others, other groups, other websites, other people.  So, in thinking on this person’s response, the questions I previously posed once again came to mind.

Where and how does God inspire and teach us?  This is no vain question…I really want to know.  I really want to know how to learn by faith.  What does it mean to learn by faith?  How does God fill my own voids as I seek to replace the cracked foundations of my childhood with stones hewn by Christ himself?

When I think of voids being filled, Nephi’s story is the one which typically comes to mind.  His father, in the opening chapters of 1 Nephi, relates a dream or vision he had on the subject of God’s love.  Nephi heard his father’s story, then turned to validation from God.  Laman and Lemuel heard the same story, but turned to Nephi for validation…and hardened their hearts.  This then leads to Nephi receiving instructions on how to build a ship…a boat built after the manner of the Lord (verse 8).

Though this is all well and good, what did Nephi do during the “many days” they were in the land of Bountiful?  Did those “many days” have anything to do with his ability to hear the voice of the Lord?  Even this line of thinking, in my view, is faulty.  These questions – and similar questions – are all built off the foundation of one person, one person acting for him or herself with disregard to others.  Is it fair to go down a route where we consider only what Nephi was doing for Nephi and in the best interests of Nephi?

I have a friend who was hit by a train.  Literally.  In the midst of that experience he passed away and died.  Some of the things he remembers from his visit to the other side was how he saw his young family – his wife and kids – and the suffering they would experience with him dying.  He remembers, then, being given the choice to remain there in the afterlife, where it was blissful behind compare, or coming back to earth.  He remembers seeing the agony – and feeling the agony – of his family at the almost-loss of their father and husband.  He chose to return to earth, knowing what he was giving up, because he couldn’t imagine putting his family through that, even though it would have been great for him to remain in the afterlife.  He chose to return to earth in order to help others…

How does this relate to this post?  My question is such that I often focus on what is best for me, making sure that I’m not trying to stoke my ego and do things for my own benefit, or, conversely, not do things because I perceive the doing of said things will stoke my ego.

In listening to a book recommended to me by one of these recent acquaintances, I learned something new.  In the closing chapters of A New Earth, he discusses enthusiasm and how it relates to our work and what we do.  He stated how we are not to go to work to seek to be rich, to seek to be popular, to be a famous actor or actress, to be a famous writer or other aspirations.  Rather, we set out to do work that inspires others.  Be it a waitress, garbage man, executive or whatever your passion in life, we do it to inspire others.  To bring them into a state of mindfulness where the present has real meaning.

That, to me, applies to this situation.  Regardless of everything I’ve touched on and written above, do we do things for selfish reasons – because it will or will not stoke my ego – or do we do things to inspire others?
Tolle states it as follows:
Enjoyment of what you are doing, combined with a goal or vision that you work toward, becomes enthusiasm. Even though you have a goal, what you are doing in the present moment needs to remain the focal point of your attention; otherwise, you fall out of alignment with universal purpose.

Make sure your vision or goal is not an inflated image of yourself and therefore a concealed form of ego, such as wanting to become a movie star, a famous writer, or a wealthy entrepreneur. Also make sure your goal is not focused on having this or that, such as a mansion by the sea, your own company, or ten million dollars in the bank. An enlarged image of yourself or a vision of yourself having this or that are all static goals and therefore don’t empower you. Instead, make sure your goals are dynamic, that is to say, point toward an activity that you are engaged in and through which you are connected to other human beings as well as to the whole.
Instead of seeing yourself as a famous actor or writer and so on, see yourself inspiring countless people with your work and enriching their lives. Feel how that activity enriches or deepens not only your life but that of countless others. Feel yourself being an opening through which energy flows from the unmanifested Source of all life through you for the benefit of all.
In closing, I think there are a couple of scriptures which, paired together, get to the point I’ve struggled to arrive at.  Wherever we’re at, whatever we’re doing, there are people who need inspiration, who need the light of Christ in their lives.  If we are to establish Zion, seeking after Zion in our solitary manner, then we’ll never get there.  Zion will only come as we create a unity of faith, as we uplift others and touch their hearts.

Philippians 1:27:
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye astand fast in one spirit, with bone cmind dstriving together for the faith of the gospel;
D&C 108:7
…  astrengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.
And, lastly Isaiah 58:10-11:
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the ahungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light brise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:
11 And the Lord shall aguide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in bdrought, and cmake fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a dspring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
I think this last one is especially beautiful.  It will play an integral role in my next post as well.  How often have I approached situations wondering only what I can get out of them, how the conversations effect me personally (both from how it will stoke my ego or give me some knowledge I needed), how often have I failed “draw out [my] soul” to the spiritually hungry because I was afraid to say something, because I didn’t want to join the conversation, because I was shy or too proud. How often have I been a coward, afraid of teaching by the Spirit and thereby chasing the Spirit away, drawing in my soul from those that were hungry or afflicted?

Returning to the picture I used with this post.  I took this picture in the middle of Death Valley just last weekend, a couple of miles west of Stovepipe Wells.  Several things about Death Valley impressed me.  The landscape was phenomenal.  From towering mountains, to a small oasis (Scotty’s Castle), to sand dunes, dry lake beds, canyons and such.  Amazing diversity.  What also was impressed upon my mind was the dryness of the area.  Water, it would seem, was nowhere to be found.  The recommendations to travel with plenty of water is very apropos.  But, in relation to this post, this flower stuck out to me.  Here is a small, seemingly insignificant flower flourishing in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.  Is it, too, like many of us, in need of someone to draw out their soul to it, to feed and water it with the Living Bread and Living Water, or at the very least point out where those living essentials can be found?  Only you know the answer to that question, as it’s intensely individual in it’s application.

May God grant us all the ability and Spirit to seek and establish Zion by drawing out our soul for those hungry and afflicted souls where we can, of whom I am one.

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