Here is today’s reading:
“But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” – 1 Nephi 8:30
“And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.” – 1 Nephi 8:33
I know that you just read this, but I find that I really learn better when I take a second to really summarize what is happening.
Context and General Information
- Lehi’s Dream, continued.
- Lehi sees other multitudes pressing forward.
- This group catches hold of the iron rod and presses forward continually holding fast.
- This group finally makes it to the tree of life, and they partake of the fruit.
- Though this group was also being mocked by the people in the great and spacious building, they don’t give any heed to the jeers.
The Faithful Group
So – we are reading about the final group of people in Lehi’s dream. Those who partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and they remain faithful and loyal to it.
Often, I find myself comparing this group with the group of people that partook of the tree of life and then were ashamed.
And then I wonder why and how? I mean, they both start on the path to the tree of life. Neither of them are like the multitudes that ignore the tree of life altogether. They seem to have so much in common for so long. Both groups even succeed! They both partake of the fruit! Yet the success is short lived with one and enduring with the other.
Even though they both seem to have so much in common, there are a few nuanced differences.
Continually Holding Fast
Okay, so I just utilized my favorite scripture study resource (other than the scriptures)…the dictionary. Here is what we read about fast. Note – this is the first entry for the word fast
Fast – Adjectivea : firmly fixed
- roots fast in the groundb : tightly shut
- the drawers were fastc : adhering firmly
- The boards were fast a few hours after being glued together.d : not easily freed : stuck
- a ball fast in the mouth of the cannone : stable
- movable items were made fast to the deck
Firmly fixed, tightly shut, adhering firmly. This is how the final group of people we read about are described. They aren’t clinging to the rod, they are fixed to the rod.
What a difference this connotation makes!
The group that rejects the fruit were using the rod, but there was a hint of fear in how they proceeded. This faithful group, however, held fast. They adhered firmly, and were fixated on their goal rather than the world around them.
This group pressed their way forward in faith, rather than fear. In my mind, when we move forward with faith, it is closely related to creation. They had the vision in their minds – the fruit of the tree of life, then faithfully they moved forward. They wanted to create a future for themselves based on the vision they had.
I know that in my life, if I have a vision and it is based on faith – of who I want to be or accomplish, then I have more tenacity to accomplish it. Not only that, but the experience – both on the path and then the accomplishment – is more enjoyable. It is an act of creation that was based in faith. Rather than a set of reactions based on fear.
We are agents to act, rather than be acted upon. When we have faith, when we are holding fast to the rod and pressing forward, then we are creating our lives and using our agency to create the best life possible.
One last thing, because I know that I probably need to flesh this out more, and I’m not going to do that now…They didn’t create this on their own. They created while holding fast to the Iron Rod. They understood their interdependence on the Lord. They trusted in him despite mists of darkness and the loud yells of those in the great and spacious building.
And they reap eternal joy.
We Heeded Them Not
This is the other difference between the two groups. This faithful group didn’t listen to the people in the great and spacious building. And why would they?!
I think that it goes back to this ability for them to exercise agency. They lived in a faithful, rather than reactive, state. Instead of hearing the scoffing and mocking of those in the great and spacious building, and responding with fear, this group is unemotional and capable of making a smart decision.
Think about it. What do the people in the great and spacious building know about the fruit? Nothing! Why would they mock it? Why do they care so much? If the great and spacious building is so great and spacious, why are they making a point to spend their time deriding others? Go in and enjoy your building, people!
The faithful who had partaken of the fruit were exposed to the jeers. They heard the mocking. But they didn’t listen. They didn’t “heed.” They faithfully endured so much to partake of the fruit of the tree. When they finally made it to the tree of life, they fell down. It wasn’t easy. But they were filled with joy, and they were confident in their choices and abilities. The jeers didn’t mean anything to them because they knew better.
Here’s a dumb example, but it might illustrate my point
I know someone who hates guacamole. (Impossible, I know). I don’t think that this person, we’ll call her Guaca has ever tried guacamole. It would be one thing if it didn’t agree with her. I would understand if she had given it a fair chance, and then decided Nah…It’s not for me.
But that’s not the case. She doesn’t like it, and she loves to mock it at any opportunity. “Yuckamole!” Is what she calls it.
Do you know my response?
Oh well. Who cares. MORE FOR ME!!!!!!!!! HAHA. I guess the “more for me” response is probably not Christlike. But it doesn’t matter to me that she won’t eat. I shrug my shoulders like, “Wow. You’re missing out.” But I’m not shamed into giving up that green goodness. No way. Not one single iota.
Now – this example (I know that some of you reading this will be familiar with this personal example) is harmless. I know that the guacamole hater is a good person, sincere, and kind. I know that the guacamole hater would never want to keep me from that which gives me joy in my life. So, maybe I shouldn’t even use the example.
I just want to illustrate what might have been the process for those who had partaken of the fruit. The mocking, the jeers, the opinions didn’t faze them because they had actually eaten the fruit and they knew better.
Of course, all of this is a display of their choice to live in a faith-model rather than fear-model. No amount of external pressure would sway them from the truth – that the tree of life was the most desirable, sweet, joyful fruit that they had ever eaten.
I feel like there is a lot of rambling in this post. I’m sorry.
Eat more guacamole. hahaha. Just kidding.
In seriousness, I know that there are times when I let my fears get the best of me. I am afraid of looking stupid, hurting people, failing, being wrong. When I let these fears into my heart, they start to control me. I might tend to “cling” to the rod rather than press forward.
If, instead, I choose to have faith and trust in God, that it doesn’t matter what other people say or think – it only matters what God says or thinks, then I will be able to partake of that fruit. It will be sweet. I will have the discernment to recognize it’s sweetness and desirability, and I will not heed those who try to sway me from my decision.