The Nephites had rebelled from God, from His blessings, and from the knowledge and covenants that they had received from Him.
“For behold, the Spirit of the Lord hath already ceased to strive with their fathers; and they are without Christ and God in the world; and they are driven about as chaff before the wind.
They were once a delightsome people, and they had Christ for their shepherd; yea, they were led even by God the Father.” – Mormon 5:16-17
The Nephites no longer had the spirit with them. They were without God, they were without Christ – and what was the result: a meaningless life.
Once, they were led. Once, they had direction, and now they were just blowing in the wind.
I know that this can sound like some kind of romantic idea – no rules, no direction, no religion, nothing forcing us to go somewhere. We have songs about this concept of “nothingness.” And I think that there are times when we have intellectualized ourselves into believing that this lack of purpose is somehow superior than some other kind of life.
I think it’s depressing! Being driven about as chaff before wind? Personally, I find no joy or hope in it, and I think that’s because there is no purpose in such a modality of living.
The truth is, purpose and meaning is what will bring us joy – even in the most difficult of circumstances. I can’t help but think of Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Understanding his meaning and purpose in life gave him the tenacity he would need to endure three years in concentration camps. Believing in “nothing” will not give you the strength to endure the trials and adversities we face in our lives.
In fact, Frankl has said something very interesting about freedom:
“Freedom, however, is not the last word. Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. Freedom is but the negative aspect of the whole phenomenon whose positive aspect is responsibleness. In fact, freedom is in danger of degenerating into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness.” – Viktor Frankl
Blowing about in the wind as chaff sounds like freedom, in a way. But it’s not the “whole thing.” That’s not the real freedom that God offers. Freedom isn’t only the “negative” aspect. It doesn’t only mean that we have the freedom to choose or be. It also means that we are free from (fill in the blank). We are free from – sorrow, fear, addiction, etc. This kind of freedom only comes through discipline, or as Frankl describes it responsibleness..
Our freedom can degenerate into arbitrariness (doesn’t that sound like chaff blowing in the wind) unless we will have discipline!
Follow the Good shepherd. Then our lives have meaning. Then our lives have purpose. Then, our lives have joy.