Seminary…doesn’t the word just make you tired? Can you recall those early mornings, dragging yourself out of a nice warm bed, knowing that all your non Mormon classmates were still snoozing…no fair! My daughter calls it Cemetary. She feels dead in the mornings, but still manages to get up and make herself presentable and get there on time. I’m proud of her. I wasn’t so disciplined myself, however, I did manage to get in three years and one of them was the Old Testament. I’m sure we plowed through Isaiah, but I don’t remember much, except one scripture, which is actually one of my favorites, Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
I like it because it makes the Lord seem so personal to me. It’s like he’s inviting me to have a cozy chat with him and he wants to tell me what he can do to help me. He’s telling me that no matter how far gone I am, he can help me. Remember our sick friend from the last Isaiah post? Now he was pretty far gone, but there's still hope for him. This scripture also has a lot of symbolism regarding red and white, crimson and wool which is very fascinating, but I’ll have to save that for another post. For this post I’m looking from another angle.
This verse and others like it have popped up in my life a lot these days. I have been going through a trial of sorts for the last two years, and I have been trying to figure out how to best get through it. I have tried a variety of ways, but most of the time I have been hitting my head against the wall. A few months ago I had a really strange dream and I woke up wondering what it meant. I have had a lot of weird dreams in the last couple of years and I have found that if I immediately read my scriptures that I will be given some answers. So at 4:00 am, I rolled out of bed, picked up my scriptures and randomly opened them. I ended up in the last three verses of D&C 49: 26-28,
“Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Behold I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded. Behold, I am Jesus Christ and I come quickly.”
I wasn’t sure how this connected to my dream and was unclear of what I was being told; obviously I needed to repent of some sins, but which ones? I felt I had so many…and what was I supposed to ask for? I was confused, so I knelt and prayed and the thought came to me, “keep reading”. So I got back up and continued in D&C 50. The first few verses had some phrases that popped out at me and started to give me an inkling of understanding, but overall I was still confused. I cried out in my mind, "I don’t understand!", and then the very next words I read were in verse 10,
“…let us reason together, that ye may understand; Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand."
I love it when that happens, when the Lord gives a quick answer to let you know he’s there. It’s startling, but beautiful. I went on to read the whole section and I’d like to say that I came to a complete understanding of what the Lord meant and what I was to understand, but I didn’t. I found some more phrases that were clues to me, I knew I was being told something, but really, I was rather disappointed. I expected that I would find the meaning to my dream in that section, but I still came away confused. Over the next few days I kept turning to that section and reading and rereading to try and glean more understanding, but came away with little more than I was given that day. So then why did he say he would reason with me and I would understand, yet I still not understand?
What does it mean to reason? I looked up the word ‘reason’ in the Noah Webster 1828 dictionary. I use the dictionary a lot when I study because understanding the full meaning of a word will often bring added dimension. I like the 1828 dictionary because in that day Christian principles were the basis of society, so some of the definitions reflect that standard.
Reason (noun): A faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes truth from falsehood, good from evil, and which enables the possessor to deduce inferences from facts or propositions.
So reasoning is distinguishing truth from falsehood, and good from evil, but how do we know what is truth and what is not? Is the world round or is it flat? Is the earth the center of the universe, or is the sun? Centuries ago this was questionable. Well, Abraham knew, but nobody else did for a very long time; that knowledge came as men studied, observed and questioned. Then as truths were learned and principle was laid upon principle, it became common knowledge that the world was round and the earth revolved around the sun.
In order to reason we need to know what is good and what is evil. Some of that is inborn as we are all given the Light of Christ that we may discern good from evil. We are also taught, from the moment we are able to think, about choices and consequences and how to choose the right, and what happens when we don’t. As we grow older and become accountable for our sins, we learn about repentance and as we make mistakes and apply the principles of repentance we become stronger and more knowledgable about what choices bring happiness and which bring despair. D&C 50:40 says, “Ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of truth.” We grow line upon line, precept upon precept. Our powers of reasoning sharpen with each principle we come to understand.
Over the last couple of months I have immersed myself in Isaiah. I have studied my scriptures nearly every day, sometimes only for a few mintues, but more often for an hour or more. At first I didn’t enjoy it so much. Isaiah is so hard to understand and some days I felt I was getting nothing. I began really concentrating on the imagery, letting the words form pictures in my mind and then writing down all the things that came to me. My thoughts were scattered and random, but every so often something would make sense and a truth would begin to unfold. I began to see connections and my writings became more focused. Line upon line, precept upon precept I began to "grow in the knowledge of truth”.
I spoke of going through a trial over the last couple of years and recently I made a major decision that I thought would help me to pass through this trial. I had tried to make this decision before, about six months ago, only at that time it was a rash decision. I sort of prayed about it (more like I told the Lord what I was going to do) and through my scriptures I was told no, I could not go through with it. I cried and threw a fit but I didn’t do it. However, over the last couple of months my perspective has begun to change. I was able to see the situation in a different light. Through my scripture study understanding was given to me. I reasoned with the Lord about why I thought it was ok to make this decision this time. I prayed many heartfelt prayers and I fasted. I went to the temple and this time I was told yes, I could go through with it.
What made the difference?
D&C 50:21-25 says, "Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."
Through my consistency in scripture study I have grown in truth and light and my powers of reasoning have been sharpened. I was given more knowledge about this particular trial, and I can see now that had I followed through on the decision the first time, the consequenses would have been disastorous. I know that because the first couple of days were really hard. I questioned if it were right, even though it had been confirmed to me in the temple. I'm still working through the trial, but with the light being given to me I will be able to endure and even find some joy in the process. The other day I started to go back through D&C 50 and this time I have been able to understand more of what the Lord is trying to tell me. He truly was reasoning with me, I just didn't have enough knowledge to understand what he wanted me to know yet.
The world really is round! And I am beginning to see the roundness of my world. As I move Christ toward the center of my life, my world is becoming brighter and brighter, and I am more able to see the beauty and joy within.
“I believe in [Christ] as I believe the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
Have a great day!