“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A rod of Iron

note the rod railing on the left of the photo

I have had times in my life when I have had to hold on tightly to a rod of iron. Once, when I was walking atop Stone Mountain where the incline became steep and the surface slippery with rocks and leaves, I welcomed a iron rod fence. Also when I visited N.Y. City and toured the Empire State Building a rod of iron encircled me and kept me safe.

Rods are often used to straighten. Rods of Iron are known for their strength and surety of purpose. Still there are many different definitions of the term rod...

A Rod can mean: a thin straight bar, a wand, a staff, a slender shoot growing from a tree or bush, a stick used for caning or flogging, a fishing pole, a linear measure, (5 1/2 yards) or (160th acre), (25.29 sq miles), a pistol, a light-sensitive cell found in the eye, steal rides on freight trains, to rule someone or something with strict control or harshly,

Which definition do you believe fit best in Lehi's dream? It is a dream. It is meant for metaphorical interpretation. If it were my dream, I wonder what definition would best suit me?

A famous proverb from the old testament that comes to mind:

Spare the rod and spoil the child has often been interpreted to mean that if we don't physically punish the child we spoil their personality development.

But when you consider that a rod can also mean "the word of God" or a strict pathway of discipline, or something to hold onto, and then it takes on a less harsh meaning. If parents spare the rod, they tend not to teach or discipline with the Word of God. I like this interpretation best.

The rest of Lehi's dream revolves around his discovery and understanding of the rod of iron that he sees alongside the river of water (being interpreted filthiness or disconnect with God).

(Words and Phrases)

they would not come unto me (vs. 18) I remember when my children were young and learning to think for themselves. We went through periods where they would not mind me. This became very concerning for me because I worried what might happen if we were out in public and I called to them to protect them from danger (a car, dog, etc). What would happen to them if they did not know how to listen to my voice of love and discipline? I worked really hard to teach them the skill of obedient listening. When I read this, I think of how important it is to teach your young children to be obedient. And then to love them and call to them often so that they might come with the hope of your love. How can you save a child's life or protect them when they refuse to listen to voices of warning? Lehi is warning his sons, he is beckoning them, and he is pleading with them. He knows that they are in danger for they are standing to close to the river of water.

I beheld a rod of iron (vs.19) - As a parent I can feel Lehi's distress. He is calling to his sons and they are refusing to listen. They do not see the danger. They ignore the distress in their father's voice. I imagine that Lehi, desperate for them to come to him, confused as to why they do not see and desire the pure sweetness of the fruit, he looks for a way to save them. What does he see? A rod of iron. Where is it? along side the river. Where does it lead? To the tree of life. What does this mean? That God in his wisdom placed a way (a rod) by which we can hold onto as we travel along side the river of life. That if we follow it, it will lead us along a narrow path, to the tree of life.

strait and narrow path (vs. 20) I am reminded of how large the field was (the world) with its many choices. I am reminded how spacious (encompassing) the world is. But there is only one tree of life. If we are to have this tree of life we must follow the narrow path. With every choice we choose either to walk toward the tree of life, or toward the spacious field.

The irony here is that many people believe there is greater freedom within the spacious field. Many equate the multitude of choice with freedom. Freedom comes not from having many choices but rather from making the choice that will lead you to your goal and destination of desire. We have to first know what we want before we can make the right choice. Every choice leads you down a path. Is it the path you want to travel?

pressing forward (vs. 21) What does this mean? These people seem to want to know the truth. They are pressing... pressure. effort. desirous to find the pathway of truth. Pressing means of great importance and actively involved. So if these people were pressing forward they were actively seeking to find the straight and narrow pathway. But the question is... not were they on the path but what were they doing to stay on the path? Remember the iron rod that God put next to the river and along side the path? How many held to the iron rod to help them along their way?

as if they were ashamed (vs. 25) What amazes me here is that these people have worked hard to find their way to this tree of life. They have walked along a narrow path, held to an iron rod, tasted of the sweetest fruit, and now they are embarrassed? Why do people become ashamed for doing and feeling something so good? Why do we feel ashamed for doing what is right. What part of us makes it hard for us to feel comfortable with love, goodness, cleanliness, and hope? Is it because once they reached the tree and partook of the fruit they let go of the rod of iron (the word of God)? Is man so arrogant that they believe that once we have obtained our prize we no longer have need of discipline, of correctness? How great is our need to be part of a crowd?

it stood as it were in the air (vs. 26) Where was the foundation of this great and spacious building? What did it stand for? What does it stand for? Where does it find its strength? As a building it (to me) represents man's ability to build, construct, educate, think, discover, ponder, create, and do all things of their own strength. This arrogance of man does not teach that we should remember the spiritual foundation of our soul. In stead it mocks anything that does not applaud the strength of man.

pointing their fingers (vs. 27) I think of how we always cast blame on someone other than ourself? When things go wrong we are quick to point the finger away from ourself? When things go right we are quick to point the finger toward ourself. When others do not join us in our "pride" it is easy to point a finger of scorn. To blame. to accuse. to label and find fault. It is easy to put others in categories and forget to see and feel of God's love for them. When we cannot have what others have, do we point with scorn?

because of those that were scoffing at them (vs. 28) - I wonder how often I have listened to the words of scoff and scorn? How often have I wanted to feel of the pride of the world and feel that I belonged in the world? When do I most often listen to these quiet murmurings within me? When I allow media to lead my decisions. When I am lonely, angry, tired, hungry, or worn down. When I forget to remember to serve others. When I forget to learn and put God's word in my life. When I find myself in times of trouble. When I separate myself from God's love? When I lower my defenses and allow the world to cave in around me. That is the way of the world. It does not build us up. It does not strengthen or fortify so that we can continue on in life. It wants most to beat us down so that they (others) can beat us out.

press their way forward continually holding fast (vs. 30) Rather than listening to the words of scorn, I can choose to press (move with action and purpose) forward toward the fruit that God has prepared for me. I can hold fast to the iron rod. I realize that there are times in my life when I will press forward one hand after another and then there are times when I will merely hold fast to the rod. I will merely find place and stay there until the mists of darkness quite overtaking me, until I find strength again.

the feeling of a tender parent (vs. 37) Am I a tender parent? Do I exhort my children to repentance? Do I love them enough to help them want to live the gospel and find hope in God's love? Do I act tenderly toward my children or do I press upon them? I fear for them as Lehi feared for his children. I feel hope for them and am grateful for the blessings they bring to me through the choices they have made. I am grateful to have children and a family and often reflect on how different my life would be without my children.

Do I hope that the Lord will have mercy on my children? Do I hope for their reconciliation with God and their ability to find Joy? Yes.

I think that is it funny that Lehi used the words exhort and tender in the same sentence. When I exhort I usually am very passionate that my tender feelings do not come across tenderly.

All I want is for my children to find joy in their choices. To use the iron rod (God's word) as a barometer in their life? I too have dreams that God sends to my subconscious mind to warn, teach and help me find the answers to my family’s problems. I believe that Lehi's dream is one that we all can have. A dream for all of our family to find joy in the love of God by living His word and following the path to the Living Tree. I believe that we all have the ability to share the blessings of having partaken of God's fruit and that this fruit is the kind that does not perish, but gives us eternal hope in the realization of our gifts and abilities.

I truly love the rod of iron. For me it is not a fishing rod, it is not a branch on a tree, it is not gun, or flogging stick. For me the rod of iron is something that I can use every day to measure my distance to God's tree of life. It can help me find my way spiritually by helping me realize that I don't have to "heed" the words of scorn, I don't have to be ashamed, or embarrassed for the choice I made to walk differently from the world. I don't have to belong to a building of great choice. I only have to make the choice to hold to God's iron rod and to press forward upon this rod until I taste of the sweetness of His love.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the older children remember a different version of the rod of iron in Cleveland... When we moved there I worked downtown near the shore of Lake Erie in the Bond Court building on East 9th street just up from where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would later be built. There were times when the howling winds coming off Lake Erie were so strong that it would literally knock down people walking on the sidewalks around the building - particularly in Winter when the snow and ice made footing less than sure. As a result, the Bond Court building, along with a number of other buildings near the lakefront, had iron railings along the sidewalks so that pedestrians could have the support needed to continue walking on their paths.

    I have thought about the applicability of these supporting rods of iron and some of the challenges of mortality. When we know about a particular challenge in our life (a howling wind) do we struggle to walk unaided in our paths in spite of the challenge or do we seek to establish in advance rods of iron that we can hold to for support as we try to walk our paths. Depending on the nature of the challenge there are many potential sources of support we can rely upon - family, friends, scriptures, prayer, faith, the Holy Ghost.

    It's also important to note that while some of the challenges of life may directly or indirectly result from choices that we make, other times the challenges are merely the result of the vicissitudes of the winds of mortality that blow in one degree or another upon all who sojourn in this earthly existence. For such challenges, which come unbidden and unexpectedly, the strongest and most reliable support is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ - a faith which must be continually built-up for those times when we need to make withdrawals.

    It is my hope and prayer that each of us will take time daily to make protective deposits against the time, which surely will come, when the howling winds will blow in our lives.


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