Continually Running as a River; Firm and Steadfast as a Valley

In the harsh desert climate where Lehi’s family travelled, rivers were seasonal and more often dry than otherwise, and as a result valleys were more often barren than green. After extensive days of travel through hot, dry lands, the travelers came upon a lush, green valley, fed by a rare stream of water that flowed year round. One can only imagine the relief and comfort this oasis of life gave the weary travelers. Lehi took advantage of the stark contrast between the barren desert and the thriving valley to give an object lesson to his sons, Laman and Lemuel.

“And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!” –1 Nephi 2:9-10

As I considered these words, I was struck with the contrast in the two laments; Lehi wishes one son to move–continually flow into the fountain of righteousness–but the other, Lehi wishes to be immovable. How can we make sense of these contrary images?

One interpretation is that the river represents actions, whereas the valley represents principles. Our principles should be fixed and unassailable, while our deeds should be continuously flowing forth to join “all righteousness.” Such a combination brings peace and fulfillment in our lives.

Yet how easy it is in the world to accomplish just the opposite, to have our principles be fluid and our righteous deeds sporadic or non-existent. As the forbidding desert landscape Lehi’s family passed through, the nature of man tends toward spiritually arid conditions: our lesser natures prefer self-serving deeds to selfless ones, producing fountains of stagnant water that do not flow, do not impart life; our lesser natures default to the idea that principles are relative, unique and changeable by individual circumstance and personal preference, not “steadfast and immovable.”

Yet how refreshing it is to come upon a soul who has determined to be continually running, yet steadfast and immovable.

By the Hand of Mormon; By the Hand of Toni

I, Moroni by Walter Rane

New year, time to start a new reading of the Book of Mormon. Our Bishop has invited us to participate in a 100-day reading program, and encouraged us to approach the task as Clayton Christiansen did while he was at Oxford in 1975. His story was recounted by president Thomas Monson in November 2011 at a BYU address. (See full article HERE.) Christiansen had read the Bookof Mormon 7 times, but had never received a definite answer as to its truthfulness; he decided it was time to know. Despite his busy schedule, he set aside an hour each night to read and study the Book of Mormon.

[H]e began at 11 p.m. by kneeling in prayer by the chair by his little heater, and he prayed out loud. He told God how desperate he was to find out if this was a true book, and he told Him that if He would reveal to him that it was true, then he intended to dedicate his life to building this kingdom. And he told God that if it wasn’t true he needed to know that for certain, too, because then he would dedicate his life to finding out what was true.

Then Brother Christensen would sit in the chair and read. He began by reading the first page of the Book of Mormon, and when he got down to the bottom of the page, he stopped, and he thought about what he had read on that page, and he asked himself, “Could this have been written by a charlatan who was trying to deceive people, or was this really written by a prophet of God? And what did it mean for Clayton Christensen in his life? And then he put the book down and knelt in prayer and verbally asked God again, “Please tell me if this is a true book.” Then he would sit in the chair and pick up the book and turn the page and read another page, pause at the bottom, and do the same thing. He did this for an hour every night — night after night — in that cold, damp room at the Queen’s College in Oxford.

By the time Brother Christensen got to the chapters at the end of 2nd Nephi, one evening when he said his prayer and sat in his chair and opened the book, all of a sudden there came into that room a beautiful, warm, loving spirit that just surrounded him and permeated his soul, and enveloped him in a feeling of love that he had not imagined he could feel. He began to cry, and he didn’t want to stop crying because as he looked through his tears at the words in the Book of Mormon, he could see truth in those words that he never imagined he could comprehend before. He could see the glories of eternity and what God had in store for him as one of His sons. Brother Christensen said he didn’t want to stop crying. That spirit stayed with him for the whole hour, and then every evening as he prayed and sat with the Book of Mormon by the little heater in his room, that same spirit returned, and it changed his heart and his life forever.

So I decided that I would follow Christiansen’s example. I would pray before and after each reading session to know what the Lord wanted me to learn from my reading.

As I proceeded to read the Book of Mormon, my first answer came at quickly:

“And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.” –1 Nephi 1:16

I know that I need to write down things that I have seen in visions and in dreams, and things which I have (or should) speak unto my children. And so i will make a start here. It may be a very daunting task; I love the Book of Mormon and have had much inspiration concerning it. It would certainly take longer than 100 days to write it all. But, as Nephi, “i shall not make a full account.”