|Jacob teaches words of Isaiah|
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
for your sakes 2 Nephi 6 Elizabeth Smart My Story
Somewhere in our discussion the thought came to me that when we teach one another, as my son did tonight, we are serving one another. We want others to learn of God. We want them to glorify God. and we want our loved ones to know to whom we can "depend for safety" (vs. 2 ). During Jacob's time, it seems the people had looked to Nephi as a king, but mostly as a protector and someone who would provide them with safety. Jacob points out that he had been ordained and consecrated by Nephi to serve the people through the teaching of the word of God.
All of this made me think of Elizabeth Smart. I recently read her book, "My Story." As I read this chapter where Jacobs teaches the people about safety from those who do not believe, and how the Lord will protect them that do believe, her story kept playing in my mind.
I recognized how the words of her father, mother, her grandfather and even her Sunday School teacher were spoken in service, "for her sake." How they were spoken with sincerity and love and backed up with good works of caring. Their words gave her strength to endure and continue to believe in a God who did not forsake her. When it came down to the very base of her trials, it was the words of the prophets and the faith she had in those whom had served and taught her that gave her the strength to carry on. Through the midst of her trials, she would gain her own witness that what they had taught her was true.
Jacob speaks for the "welfare of souls, with great anxiety and with diligence." (vs 3) He taught them the words of his father Lehi and of the prophets of old that told of the world's creation. He taught them of present truths and of future truths. He speaks of Isaiah that they "may learn and glorify the name of your God." (vs 4)
We all hope that the words we hear will sink in and we can know their truth based on the experiences of others. No one signs up to be the messenger of our own experiences. We all hope we can learn from others. Elizabeth had experiences that no other child her age should ever have to endure. And as I think of her story, I realize how her story relays to us how faith in God precedes our modern day miracles.
She was like Isaiah described when he spoke of the Gentiles who believed in Christ, "they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children." And she knew, like the Gentiles after their trials, "of the Lord" and she was not made to be "ashamed." For there is no shame in her trial. She bore it with courage, and strength and a faith that most girls her age have not been taught how to cultivate. Because of the love of her family, because of the service of her community of which she both partook and received, she learned to trust that a higher power would bring her home to her place of safety.
Isaiah speaks of those who wait on the Lord. He says "for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me."
I believe that those who believe in Jesus Christ as Jacob goes on to teach about - his birth and life here on earth - those who believe in him have learned to serve and to nourish their faith with patience and temperance. They have learned to combat the tug of war of life with service through word and deed.
We all look for safety in this world. We build our homes, we create networks of friends and associates for safety, we attain an education, we seek shelter from storm and financial crisis, and we strive to prepare for all that might go wrong. But what Jacob was teaching was that the best safety comes from believing in a the power of the covenants that we make, as children of Israel, with God. He wants us to know that in the end of our trials, if we have kept our covenants and kept our hearts pure, we need not be ashamed, "and the people of he Lord shall not be ashamed." (vs 13)
I was struck by Elizabeth's story in a most amazing way. You would have imagined that after her return home, she would had needed untold hours of therapy and counseling. That she would not have been able to return to school or a "normal" social life. That because of what someone tried to take from her she would have naturally felt great shame. But if she was ashamed, she did not show it, nor does her story convey it. Why? I believe it is because she never gave up on her God. And God responded to her faith, providing her with miracles that continued long after her rescue, guidance and opportunity to regain her life.
On the third night of her thirst, when her tongue was thick and dry, while her captors suffered in their sleep, she awoke to a tall glass of cold ice water. In a camp where there was not one drop of water and where the spring was a distance down the trail, God had sent her manna from heaven. And when her captor had left her for 7 days without food or water, God sent rain to fall only on her tented secluded valley. God heard her prayer and knew the sanctity of her pure heart. There were many miracles that spoke to the relationship between her and her God. As long as she kept God in her trial, she had no need to be ashamed.
And consider verse 14. "he will manifest himself unto …the destruction of their enemies, when that day cometh when they shall believe in him, none will he destroy that believe in him. Elizabeth knows that statistics that she should have been. The miracle of her life is that she has lived to tell us. Seventy-four percent of abducted children who are ultimately murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction and twenty percent of those reported abducted by non family members are not found alive. (Child Abduction Facts, www.parents.com)
Elizabeth was kept safe by powers higher than the world is capable of defining. Jacob believed that teaching the people about safety through the words of Isaiah was a good way to convey the strength of the Lord's power. Isaiah taught about the destruction and eventual regathering of Jerusalem so that the people would know that God will protect his covenant people, "for the Mighty God shall deliver his covenant people. For thus saith the Lord: I will contents with them that contendeth with thee." (vs 17)
All this so that we might know… for our sakes… that "all flesh shall know that I the Lord am they Savior, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." (18)
I wonder how Elizabeth's story might have been different if she had not been served in her parents teaching, for her sake. Or if she had not listened to the words of her Sunday School Teacher or felt the sincere love and faith of her parents and grand parents? I wonder if she might have had the faith to survive and endure all that she had to suffer. I wonder how differently the story might have been if she had not known faith as a child?
Her words were not defiant or rebellious. Her story was one of hope and deliverance for those who have ever felt a trial of unspeakable terror and fear. Her story was given with grace and with dignity that only a woman of God and of faith could give.
I watched a few interviews and again I was taken back by the courage she portrays. She was not bitter nor angry but emitted an aura of faith and sureness that comes deep from within the heart of a person who has known of God's love and safety.
And that is what Jacob wanted us to know. That is what Elizabeth wants us to know. That faith can be taught through words and service, and how once taught and learned well it can help us all to "learn and glorify the name of our God."
How the word of God is the best safety. And it is given with a hope that it will save not only our sake, but the sake of our families. The word of God is after all as Jacob taught "for our sakes."