26 February 2012

Not after the manner of men

One day my daughter said something to me that most teens say to their parents. "You're old and don't understand what it's like to be a teen." I hauled out my journal and read a few lines to her, then said "Believe me, I was a teen and I remember well all those teenage emotions and hormones and physical changes."

Human emotion has never changed. Since Adam and Eve had teenagers, human emotions have not changed. Technology changes, and maybe some other things, such as foods and fashions, change, but feelings human beings have don't change.

I was talking to a neighbor seated next to me at a Veteran's Day program at our high school. He made a disparaging comment about teens as we watched them mill about and take their seats waiting for the program to begin. I responded that I love teens! They have vigor and enthusiasm and high hopes and dreams. I said that if we could just channel their energy and enthusiasm into the right things we could change the world.

Heavenly Father loves teens too. He has used them through out history to change the world. Joseph, Samuel, David, and Daniel for just a few that come to mind from the Old Testament. Mary was probably a teen when she gave birth to the Savior of the World. Joseph Smith was certainly a teen when he was blessed with a vision that forever changed the world. One of my favorites, though, is Nephi.

At the beginning of their adventure leaving Jerusalem, he describes himself as "being exceedingly young".  After about eight years they are at the seashore and he has married, had children and just completed the ship in which they will cross the waters to their promised land.

He says, "Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men." (1 Nephi 18:2)

That is one of my favorite scriptures! Let me share why. When we began homeschooling our oldest child, Noble, in 1994, my parents were not very supportive. They criticized us and worried about our children and all that they would lack being deprived of the public school experience. Fortunately for us we lived across the country from them and we didn't have to deal with any interference, just the fears and criticisms in letters and phone calls.

One day, after a few years had passed, as I was studying the Book of Mormon I read that particular verse in First Nephi and it was one of those Joseph Smith moments. You know, where he says, "Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart." (JSH 1:12) That's how I felt!

I realized that we were building an education for our children "not after the manner of men," but after the manner to which we had been led by the Lord. And just as he blessed Nephi with instructions "from time to time" (1 Nephi 18:1) we were shown and led to the resources we needed to accomplish our task.

You should hear my parents praise our efforts and our children now! They are so proud of the way we have raised them, taught them and the way our adult children have turned out. But I don't think it is so much because of me. I just followed the instructions from the Lord, and He had sent me some pretty good spirits. I give all the credit to Him. He knew what our children would need, and He provided the way for them to get it.

I've often thought about how many other things we are building in this life that are not after the manner of men. Here is my list:
1. Healthy bodies - we believe in the Word of Wisdom
2. Wardrobe - we believe in modesty and setting our own style
3. Finances - we pay tithes and offerings first, and live on what's left, saving for a rainy day and preparing for future needs.
4. Missionary Service - Thousands of our young men (and some young women) and hundreds of senior couples interrupt their live and pay their own way to give unselfish service building the kingdom.
5. Education - The Glory of God is Intelligence; and as it says on the sign at BYU: Enter to learn, Go forth to serve.
6. Taking care of the poor - See Provident Living
7. Entertainment and Recreation - "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report of praiseworthy, we seek after these things."
8. Dating - We follow the counsel given in For the Strength of Youth
9. Marriage - We still believe in it! See The Family: A Proclamation to the World
10. Family - We believe in having children, and lots of them! We believe that families can be together forever. We believe that our family on earth is preparation for life in the Celestial Kingdom.

I'm sure there are more ways we are building something not after the manner of men, but after the manner which the Lord has shown us. In just another month we'll gather to hear the living prophets and apostles give us counsel, instruction and encouragement at General Conference. This will be the "from time to time" instructions from the Lord. I'm looking forward to hearing it.

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