“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

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

Sunday, August 1, 2010

In the Midst of Fire (Helaman 5: 21-27)

Helaman 5:21- 27

In the Midst of Fire

There are times in our lives when we find ourselves in prison. Hopefully most of us will avoid the physical prisons where we must pay a debt to society. For those of us who do manage to lead respectable lives and avoid a prison term, we must still be aware of circumstances that imprison our minds, our finances, our time, or our souls. Life has many prisons to be aware of.

Sometimes when we are doing everything right, when we are doing exactly what the Lord wants, others maneuver to place us into prisons that bind our circumstances, and even our choices. When this happens we need not fear. God will provide. He will give us strength and power to overcome the negative circumstances that would bind us. He will encircle us by his fire.
In 1998 DriverDad was called to be the Bishop of our Indiana Ward. At the time he worked for an insurance company that was doing very well financially. Shortly after he was called a new family moved into our ward that also was employed by this insurance company. Their father was an accountant and had come to the company via a buyout of their Minnesota company.
The company began to experience a great deal of success. Soon they offered company stocks and "suggested" that all of the management purchase a certain number of shares. This "suggestion" was not to be ignored or taken lightly. The real attraction to the deal was that the company would loan you 100% of the money to buy the stock and you didn't have to pay interest for 5 years, but you had to pledge your personal assets as security. Of all of the management, DriverDad and the other LDS employee refused to do so. They were the only two members of management to refuse this "offer". Their reasoning was simple. The prophet had wisely counseled against going into unnecessary debt and to diversify your investments.
Shortly after coercing it's employees to participate in the investment of company stocks, the company stock fell from $57.00 a share to less than $1.00 a share. (at one bleak point it was at .05) Those who had borrowed against their assets were now bound to the company. (Golden Handcuffs) They could not leave their jobs even if they wanted to, for to do would cause them to file bankruptcy and lose all of the money they had invested in the company stock. To make matters worse, the current lead management became very difficult to work with.
They had an agenda that did not take into the consideration the welfare of all of their employees. Because our DriverDad was also serving as Bishop of our ward, he had no intentions of succumbing to their bullying tactics. During this time of upheaval within the company he had his car windshield smashed, his car keyed, and many other sundry offenses that were not respectful of his titled role within the company.
So here he was serving long hours as Bishop for the members of our ward, doing what the Lord expected of him. He was teaching the gospel, doing his best to live the gospel, and helping others find their way. Although he was not put into a physical prison where men tried to slay him, he was put into a situation at work that bound him. He felt he could not leave. I personally believe his being free to choose and having an "untainted" perspective of the company is what caused one particular "boss-lady" to persecute him with great vigor.
Eventually he was fired. But it was under false pretenses. When we took his case to a lawyer, the lawyer responded by asking us to let him represent us for free. He believed that DriverDad's case was the most blatant case of reverse sex discrimination that he had ever seen. We chose not to file suit but instead took a job that God opened up for us in Georgia. We sold our house (not once but twice (after the first contract fell through) ) within ten days.
The Lord takes care of those who serve him and keep his commandments. He encircles them with fire. A fire that would protect them from those that would do them harm.
What amazes me about this story is that Lehi and Nephi were unaware of the fire that encircled them. They found out when they saw the amazement in the faces of those that would hurt them. I imagine those that keyed my husband's car and quietly persecuted him to the point of criminal activity, were amazed when he continued to do his work with a smile.
In our story, I was amazed at how the Lord took care of our family. He took care of us by 1. seeing that our house was easy to sell 2. Helping us find work quickly 3. Keeping us from being bound by the evil designs of the company leaders. 4. Having members of God's church help us understand that God protected our family from those who would do us wrong.
In thinking back on this time in our life, I believe we still are unaware of how the Lord encircled our family by a fire that protected our father and my husband. Within two years of leaving the company, the boss-lady faced numerous law-suits from the many others whom she had wronged. One infamous law-suit was the class action Sex Discrimination Suit filed by all of the men whom she had erroneously fired and financially ruined.
The Lord holds us in the psalm of his hand. We need only believe. We can, like Nephi and Lehi take courage to speak the truth and stand up for what God would have us do.

Words and Phrases

Vs 21 cast into prison - Life hold many different prisons in our lives. We should fear the prison of man, for they are representative of man's law. The real prison are the prison's of our mind that keep us from serving God and others. The prison's that bind us and rob us from choices. Although Lehi and Nephi were physically bound, their minds, their spirits, and their faith was not bound.

vs 22 that they might slay them - There are those that do not want to hear the truth. They believe that if they slay those that tell the truth, the truth will go away.

vs 23 encircled about as if by fire - were not burned - the fire was not a physical fire of this earth. It was a heavenly fire that protected them from those that did not believe. God protects those that do his work. He provides a way for us to do his work. We need only believe. We may not always see the fire that he encircles us with, we may not always know exactly how he carries us when we need him the most, but he does. He has encircled my family and protected us from those that would harm us.

vs 24 their hearts did take courage - When you are within God's fire, you are not burned. It is a fire (like Moses burning bush) that burns but does not consume. It empowers, teaches, and directs you as you go about doing the Lord's work.

vs 25 dumb with amazement - for an unbeliever I can see why they might be struck dumb. If you did not believe in dinosaurs and then one day you saw one, you might be amazed. If you did not believe in God and then you saw his work in action, you might be amazed. But to see his work undo your own selfish work, that is amazing and somewhat fearful. It might just mean you are not on the right track.

vs 26 It is God - What else could the explanation be. Let's review the facts.... 1. Nephi and Lehi were teaching when they were thrown into prison. 2. the people did not want to believe but wanted to slay them 3. God protected them by encircling them with fire. 4. The people want to kill them. 5 Instead they see a miracle

vs 27 the earth shook exceedingly - an earthquake? the power of God? both? What caused the walls to shake? So now the people are seeing the fire and feeling a quake? They are being prepare to hear the truth. We begin to see that the ones who will be converted are not the ones who want to slay Nephi and Lehi but rather the ones who were once converted but had left. I imagine if I had it in my heart to slay someone and when I went to do so, a few mighty miracles happened, I might rethink my actions and motives.

I believe we can all live in the midst of God's fire. The fire of testimony. The fire of the HOly Ghost. The fire of righteous living. The fire of friendship. The fire of desire to serve God. The fire of loving others more than ourselves. The fire of the Gospel of Jesus Christ's atonement. There are many fires that the gospel brings into our lives. These fires serve to warn us, to empower us, to protect us, to teach us, and to light our paths as we strive to serve God.

What fire are you standing within today? What fire am I striving to keep burning. I know that if I can keep the fire of God's love around me, he will protect me from the evil I cannot see. I know that the day will come when I will look back (it's been ten years now) and see with clarity the fire that encircled my family and brought us safely from the prison walls.

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