I have been thinking a lot this week about this:
This is caramel and chocolate with sprinkles of Oreo on top. Looks so inviting. It almost seems irresistible. Until…
This is how the adversary creeps into our lives. Oft times, the things that he offers seem truly sweet, inviting, and appetizing. It doesn’t always come in the forms of direct sin; it can come in the form of busy-ness, comparing, pride, gossip. Sometimes you won’t even recognize it until the nasty taste is already in your mouth. Then, it is difficult to shake the taste.
The thoughts about seeking the sweet took me to two places in the scriptures. First, it took me to Exodus 16: the children of Israel have been led out of bondage by Moses into the wilderness. They start complaining–they are hungry. It was difficult to hunt for food and planting crops was impossible with their ongoing travel. They were given a promise by God. He would provide manna for them.
Manna is by definition “sweet” like honey. There was a rule with the manna: it had to be collected daily. If one tried to collect enough for more than one day and keep it, it would stink and become wormy. The only exception was on the Sabbath. On the day before the Sabbath, the people could collect enough for two days.
As I pondered “manna”, I realized that this an analogy for spiritual nourishment. We can’t “pack it all in” on Sunday and just hope that carries us through the week. Spiritual nourishment is a daily gathering. It is a daily process. We must seek the truly sweet daily, through scripture study, through prayer, through sincere pondering.
This gathering of manna teaches us to be reliant on God, and not on ourselves. We must do things. We must try. We are responsible for our progress, but true reliance must go to Him. As Moses said: “This is the thing which the Lord commandeth…. that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 16:32) God is the one who brings us out of the wilderness. We cannot forget who is the source of our nourishment.
So, the question arises, where do we find the sweet?
This takes me to the Book of Mormon and the other scripture related to sweetness. In 1 Nephi 8, Lehi has a dream about the tree of life. First, he is in a dark and dreary wilderness, but man in a white robe appears and Lehi follows him. After many hours, they arrive at a tree. Here is Lehi’s description taken from 1 Nephi 8:10-12:
10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
The tree is symbolic of the love of God. Elder David A. Bednar stated: “The fruit on the tree is a symbol for the blessings of the Atonement. Partaking of the fruit of the tree represents the receiving of ordinances and covenants whereby the Atonement can become fully efficacious in our lives. The fruit is described as “desirable to make one happy” and produces great joy and the desire to share that joy with others.” (Lehi’s Dream: Holding Fast to the Rod)
As Lehi’s dream continues, he sees a rod of iron, a strait and narrow path, and a tall and spacious building. For those of you that know the story, this is all old hat. You could tell it in your sleep.
The rod of iron symbolizes the word of God, the “manna”.
The strait and narrow path leads to the tree, or the love of God.
The tall and spacious building represents the pride and temptations of the world, or the caramel onions surrounding us.
The interesting part is this: there are four groups of people in Lehi’s vision.
1. Those walking along the path who do not hold to the rod and fall away (1 Nephi 8:21-23)
2. Those clinging to the rod, who partake of the fruit. They cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed and then fall away. (1 Nephi 8:24-28)
3. Those who are continually holding fast to the rod. (1 Nephi 8:30)
4. Those lost in strange roads, headed towards the tall and spacious building. (1 Nephi 8: 31-33)
I had to really think about where I was. There have been times when I am not “partaking of the manna” daily. There have been times when I have. Perhaps in times of trouble I “cling” to the rod, but then my grip loosens when the trials of life subside. The real question arises: Where am I on the path?
I can still smell the rankness of the onion. As I cut it open, it leaked all over my fingers. Although I did not partake of it, being near that onion, cutting it open, left me with its presence. This is so symbolic to me of the world. We must live in this world, and there are many, many beautiful and wonderful things we can partake of here, but we must be very careful of what we allow into our lives, our homes, our computers, and our time. I must admit that I love life now probably more than I ever have in my adult life. But, I also realize that occasionally I have found myself holding a caramel onion. Perhaps it came in a moment of pride, comparing, or gossip, but it left me feeling lost. I imagine that is what Lehi saw as he watched from the tree. He saw many fall away into the mists of darkness, lost in strange paths.
It is a good reminder to me that I must partake regularly of real sweetness. The Bread of Life is through the Savior, Jesus Christ. I know it. I feel it.
Thank you for sharing a piece of that with me today.