Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Adversity - Yoked Through Love

Lately I've been thinking a lot about adversity. I know it's foolish or short sighted to think about the rotator cuff surgery I am facing as adversity, but to me that's what it is.  It's a kind of adversity that won't last too long. I've faced adversities before that have lasted decades. Some kinds of adversity I have been struggling with for perhaps a life time! Today a scripture from the Bible came to my mind:

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

This is a very well known New Testament verse. But do we know what it means? I think, perhaps, that we slip on past the details and slide into the notion that Christ's way is the easy way, or, at the very least, the easier way. This seems like an almost seductive notion. But that makes no sense at all, so how does this verse address adversity?


In biblical times the yoke was a device of great assistance to those who tilled the field. It allowed the strength of a second animal to be linked and coupled with the effort of a single animal, sharing and reducing the heavy labor of the plow or wagon. A burden that was overwhelming or perhaps impossible for one to bear could be equitably and comfortably borne by two bound together with a common yoke.

Some of us know this bit. We remember this from a lesson on the pioneers, or from an episode of Little House on the Prairie, or maybe from reading some Louis L’Amour westerns. But somehow we get the idea that the creature in the other bow is Christ. That Christ is the other ox. But Christ isn’t the other ox. It’s His yoke; He owns it. In this metaphor, Christ is the driver.

So who’s in the other bow? We are taught from a very young age that we are the Lord’s hands, that God accomplishes His work through us. WE are, every one of us, yoked to each other—with Christ’s yoke. We are yoked through covenant, and, more importantly, through love.

So it’s no surprise that nearly every church or Bible lesson is a discussion of histology: the knitting of souls, one to another, like cells into tissue, tissues into organs, organs into systems, and the systems into the organisms—children of God, knit together into the Body of Christ.

How are we knit together? One of the things that knits us together is how we react to adversity. Do we take on the Yoke of Christ? Or do we take another path? Do we “mourn with those that mourn”? Do we “comfort those that stand in need of comfort”? Do we “stand [in the place] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places”? (Mosiah 18:8-10) Adversity really is part of God’s plan for our eternal progress. It’s a personal crucible that burns away our impurities, that points up the cracks in our shells. But it’s more than that, really. Adversity is an opportunity for us to seek out others, and together build the Body of Christ.

Lee Williams

Sunday, October 5, 2014

His letter to me—The Bible and the Book of Mormon

Rodman is an inmate in a California prison. Many members of the tenth ward may recall my earlier comments about my association with him.  Rodman asked me to publish his testimony because the tenth ward has been supportive of him and his family. Here are Rodman’s words:

“I know that Jesus is my Savior and that he restored His church and priesthood through the prophet Joseph Smith in these latter days and that He directs His church through a living prophet and apostles.  I believe that any man, woman or child can draw closer to God through prayer, scripture reading and doing good.

“My name is Rodman, and if this is your first time getting to know me, I hope you will be able to embrace me for who and what I am and the things that I stand for and the way I see my life.  I am faith-based and family-focused, but it has not always been that way.

“I’m not as interested in the past as much as I am in the future.  However, I must bring up some past.  Just over a year ago a friend sent me a Book of Mormon.  I was open minded reading it because I had heard a lot of things about the LDS and in all honesty I thought the Book of Mormon would be just another “religious” book.  I had read so many already, but at the time my friend Dave sent me the book I had no idea that what I was about to read would send incredible shock waves through my life.

“The love of God for me was revealed in His letter to me—The Bible and the Book of Mormon.  By God’s grace, I reflected on His light in the dark times I was in; reading the scriptures helped me begin the process of putting my past into the proper prospective.

“My past was so painful to revisit, I stuffed it down in my mind, trying to forget much of it.  At age 11 of my mother told me I was the product of rape, and that began a withering process in my heart, a loss of worth and vitality.  It became difficult to identify with family pride, faith in gentleness or any kind of tenderness.  So I chose to deal with it in negative ways.

“As a teen I tried everything the streets had to offer.  I found out the hard way that sin was a very slippery slope.  At age 13, I joined a Crip gang in L.A.  I was troubled and there weren't many Christians coming to the front porches to minister to kids like me and my homeboys.  We ignorantly believed Christianity in any form was based on a European god, and there was no way any of the guys I hung with would worship a racist God.

“That attitude landed me in prison where, as I mentioned, my friend Dave sent me a Book of Mormon.  He helped me overcome a few of the issues holding me back.  Encouraging me in prayer, God stilled my heart and quieted my mind.  Dave shared scriptures with me and talked to me patiently.  I learned praising God came naturally when I counted my blessings.

“I also realized that others could teach me the principles of their faith, and that each of us must come individually to a lasting and personal faith in Christ.  For faith to be real, it must become rooted and established in the faith.

“I began to really study scriptures daily and attend meetings.  I finished reading the Book of Mormon.  Then I re-read it.

“I know now that the Book of Mormon is a true book along with the Bible.  I know God’s hand is stretched out to all who seek him and that we can be cleansed from all sin through the atonement of Jesus Christ by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, and being baptized by one having authority.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Unwaveringly PUSHing forward,
(PUSH stands for “Pray Until Something Happens”)
Rodman

Over the past few months, Rodman has placed 12 Books of Mormon and is bringing fellow inmates to the LDS study meeting.  I'll be happy to pass on any comments you have for Rodman (dave@keepwriting.com).