Friday, May 28, 2010
"Even In A Dream" 1 Nephi 2:1-12
I dream. I know that everyone does not dream, or at least remember what we dream. It has been explained to me that we all dream. It is a biological fact. So I wonder, why do some of us not remember? What keeps us separated from our sub-consciousness that we can not remember anything that happened to us while we sleep? I wonder if it might be our desires?
Desires it seems set our goals, our schedules, our tasks, our "to do" list, our priorities. Desires it seems become the barometer for our consciousness. Speaking from my own personal experience, I have noted that when I am driven to accomplish, when life has taken hold of me and has caused me to focus more on earthly success, I dream less. Or, I don't remember my dreams. I don't have time. I have too much to do. Too much else crowding out my subconscious mind.
Lehi dreamed. When Nephi described his father's reasoning for leaving Jerusalem, Nephi said it was because of a dream. Lamen and Lemuel, however called it "vain imaginations of his heart."
What is the difference? What did Lamen and Lemuel value that caused them to see their father's leadership in such a negative connotations? What did Nephi value that helped him see it as "direction from God?"
Phrases and Words
(these are my comments on phrases of words that jump out at me)
even in a dream (vs 1, 2)
thou hast been faithful (vs2) - We know. In our hearts, we know when we do good. We know also when we do wrong. The difference lies in how we react to each. When we do right, we are apt to continue doing right. Similarly when we do wrong we are apt to continue. The difference is that doing right relies upon our convictions. Doing wrong relies upon the lowest common denominator that we associate with. Our convictions are closely related to our desires.
When I read this phrase "thou hast been faithful" I realize that the Lord does honor his covenants with us. When we are faithful we are promised protection, guidance, and acceptance. If Lehi had loved anything more than goodness, obedience, or the understanding of God's higher purpose it wouldn't have worked. He would have second guessed himself and not followed through. God would not have honored his convenants.
Herein lies the beauty of this story. How do you know its the Lord in your dreams? How do you know the Lord? You know! We all know goodness. It's not always what we know, sometimes its what we love most.
What is a dream? Is it something we aspire to? Is it something we gain grater insight from? Is it something we find ourselves in? Dreams uniquely are our own. Like our relationships with faith, with God, with our own conscience. Dreams help us find our path. When we do or see evil, our dreams warn us. When we hope for and see good, our dreams guide us.
600 B.C. (vs 4) - I wonder what else took place in 600 B.C. At this time in history the calendar works backward. So the century is from 600 B.C - 501 B.C. So as we move closer toward the birth of Christ we are counting down in years. Lehi leaves Jerusalem around 600 B.C. and in about 587 (13 years) Nebuchadnezzar II captures Jerusalem. He carries away it's people to Babylon or various other cities within the Neo Babylonian Empire. This empire was also called Chaldean.
land of his inheritance (vs 4)- family, hills, dales, familiar places, memories, friends, acquaintances, anything that would make you feel connected to society and feel like you had a life. What was so wrong in Jerusalem that Lehi lost all feelings of being connected with everything he had grown accustomed to in his life?
gold, silver, precious things - Jerusalem had become prosperous because of trad with other nations. This trade led to the great diversity and the watering down of their religious beliefs. It really comes back to what do we desire most in life? Prosperity or Joy? What was truly valuable to him?
he came down ... into the wilderness (v5) - Lehi left civilization, a better way of life, to go into the wilderness. He came down out of Jerusalem, out of Judaea. Why would Lehi leave the safety of his homeland? Why would he leave the security of friendships? My guess is that he would leave only if he recognized they were no longer safe. Was there imminent danger? Yes, for his life. What happens to those who spread bad karma? It comes back to them. Would you want to be in the same place with someone who you know is going to get their bad karma returned to them? He was seeking for a better way. But why did he believe he would find it in the wilderness? In the Bible the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they had left behind all of the bad karma of the Egyptians. It was the Lord's way of helping them learn to rely upon Him for guidance. In the wilderness they could not turn to others for help, they had to figure things out. If they were to survive, they had to have faith in God. Also. God had commanded him. He did not necessarily know why, but he knew God and he know that all good comes from God.
he pitched his tent (vs5) This seemingly simple phrase hold more meaning than one might think. To pitch a tent means more than to put up a tent. It means to set it up and fix it into a definite position. When we camp I know the position of my tent is crucial to how well I sleep. Lehi pitched (purposefully set and fixed) his tent in a valley, by a river. Here he had water to bathe, to drink, to wash, to cook with. Here in a valley he was protected from the dessert storms, the wind the weather and the harshness of the wilderness.
He set up protection, he stopped and rested and what was the first thing he did?
built an altar (vs7) First things first. 1. Built an altar 2. made an offering 3. gave thanks. This really made be think.
Could I have given thanks? Would I have murmured? 3 days out it would have been easy to turn back. How do I react to the change the Lord brings into my life?
fountain (vs 9) - When I think of a fountain I think of downtown Cleveland where there is a burst of water that pours out of a statue. A fountain really means "source". Webster says it is a "source of desirable quality". When Lehi says to his son that he wishes that he would always run to the source of righteousness, he is asking that his son will always desire to bring forth good.
foolish imaginations (vs 11) This is a well known phrase. As I think about Lehi I am reminded that Nephi called his father's beliefs a dream. Lamen and Lemuel however, now that they are three days out in the wilderness and the excitement of the adventure has died down, call it "foolish imaginations of his heart". This is really a defining moment for everyone. When we are faced with challenges that will take us from our comfort zone, our way of life, our addictions, our routines, what do we call the "word of the Lord" (vs 3)? Is it a dream? A desire to live righteously? Is it vain imaginations that don't know reality from fantasy?
In the end there is no one answer. To those who have their hearts set upon the "real" world, the earthly riches, the comforts of this world, it is vain imaginations. Why? Because if you can't see anything more than what is in front of you, if you can't see the spiritual world that your conscience possesses then it is all in vain. But to those that believe in the dream, To those who have the ability to let their conscious mind live and breath and not be silenced by all of the demands of a capitalistic society, then dreams are real. Why? Because dreams represent the true spiritual nature of our being.
Like I said at the beginning. We know. We know truth when we see it. If we don't then we should listen more carefully. God brings goodness. God brings light. God brings hope and safety and security. These are things that Lehi left Jerusalem for. Jerusalem had lost its way and they had killed the prophets who would help them find their conscience.
When one's conscience dies so does his dream... When one's conscience dies it is replaced with desires for wealth, and fame and strength and power.
As a mother of a large family, I have to believe that Lehi felt the need to leave Jerusalem because he felt the weight of his parental responsibilities slipping away. The first thing he does three days out is to pull his children aside and tell them how much he loves them. What a beautiful statement"... "Oh that you might always be running toward the source of all goodness." Oh that I love you so much that all I ever wanted for you was to run to the God and see of his goodness.
I hope that I will run to God daily. I hope that I will run to the source so that I will not be carried away or lost in the wilderness of life. How do I teach my children to do this? How do I teach them to understand God's love for us? How do I teach them that we are not unlike Lehi in our journeys, in our ability to listen to the prophets, in our ability to find direction within our dreams of righteousness. I think I teach them by doing what Lehi did, letting God's love direct me, "even in a dream".