Fasten Your Seatbelt (No. 8)
From his talk Overcome the World and Find Rest
Part of the President Nelson Series
All blue quotes by President Russell M. Nelson (unless otherwise noted).
Read this article at your own risk (it might undo your whole worldview).
President Nelson pokes at the very heart of our existence, our life’s emphasis, and the focus of our past days, months and years. This article is about peeling back a layer or two and looking under the hood. It might even be the kind of self-inventory you’ve not considered before. He’s questioning our whole existence thus far.
What if our lives are harder because the culture, tradition and values we’ve adhered to our entire lives made them harder? What if everything that surrounds us, (the world, society) is full of errant messages/signals about where our time, thought space and efforts are best spent?
Most of us have been following along – innocently, and understandably so. We’re bombarded with inferior influences and mixed signals from every direction.
Russell M. Nelson invites us to see through it.
Now, you may be thinking this sounds more like hard spiritual work than rest. But here is the grand truth: while the world insists that power, possessions, popularity, and pleasures of the flesh bring happiness, they do not! They cannot! What they do produce is nothing but a hollow substitute for “the blessed and happy state of those [who] keep the commandments of God.”
grand: prime, central, foremost, monumental
truth: accuracy, reality, principle, validity
A prophet just called our world out and pointed us in a different direction – can you hear him talking to you? Could his message possibly change how your day goes?
News Flash – power, possessions, popularity and flesh pleasures (including chocolate) do not bring happiness.
Instead, the consequences of those pursuits suck the joy out of everything.
Yet, what do we (meaning our culture and traditions) spend all of our time doing? We devote lots of head space to those four pursuits, plus time working to gain funds to have them. How’s that working out for all of us so far?
Under the Hood
How happy are your personal thoughts and headspace? How well do you sleep at night?
What are you willing to do about President Nelson’s monumental reality? Are you willing to chuck away the power/possession/popularity/pleasure script our culture and society have taught us to pursue? Or perhaps revisit what traditions and values our parents have passed on to us? For example, lucrative education, big job, big paycheck, big house, big vacations, expensive collections, and a garage loaded up with costly cars and toys.
We spend an awful lot of time on those things. Everything around us spends a lot of time on those things.
How much of your time and life’s emphasis is spent on acquiring entertainment and “things”? Our culture’s gods are public approval, entertainment, consumerism and materialism. Did those gods sneak their way into your life too?
They certainly did mine.
Furthermore, those gods take a great deal of energy to maintain once you succumbed to them.
So much time wasted…
President Nelson is inviting you to step back and evaluate the emptiness of that focus. At the end of the day, such things don’t produce happiness.
They don’t really get you anywhere substantial or lasting either.
An inserted quote from Dr. Gileadi fits perfectly here.
Dr. Avraham Gileadi (gill-ee-awd-ee) is a foremost Latter-day Saint scholar who speaks Hebrew. He was an Orthodox Jew before he converted to our Church. He has a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies under Professor Hugh Nibley as the chairman (who oversaw his doctoral thesis and wrote the forward in his first book: The Last Days).
First, Dr. Gileadi quotes Isaiah speaking about end-times.
7 Their land is full of silver and gold and there is no end to their wealth; their land is full of horses and there is no end to their chariots. 8 Their land is full of idols: they adore the works of their hands, things their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:7-8)
His commentary: The expressions “their land is full of” and “there is no end to” repeat themselves in parallel as if to dramatize [an excessive amount] of worldly possessions. Isaiah sums up the “silver,” “gold,” “wealth,” “horses,” and “chariots” of Jehovah’s people as mere “idols” (’elilim). Enamored with “the works of their hands,” his people have become steeped in materialism—a pernicious form of idolatry. It is at the height of this overabundance of “things” or their modern equivalents, moreover, that Jehovah’s Day of Judgment approaches for his people, hastening the time of his coming to reign on the earth. (Isaiah Explained – Chapter 2 with commentary)
pernicious: having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
The Truth Is…
The truth is that it is much more exhausting to seek happiness where you can never find it! However, when you yoke yourself to Jesus Christ and do the spiritual work required to overcome the world, He, and He alone, does have the power to lift you above the pull of this world.
There it is – yoke yourself to Jesus Christ. That’s a curious phrase!
yoke: attach, buckle, combine, fasten, couple, tie, unite
spiritual work: prayer, introspection, humble self-awareness, more prayer, repentance, resolve, evolve, upgrade, change, develop, progress, more prayer, more introspection, repeated repentance, good works, kindness, generosity, goodwill towards men, positive mindset, more prayer. Rinse and repeat.
But we can’t lift ourselves up by our own sheer effort. The gravity and pull of the world are too tremendously strong. We need Christ’s help to connect with Him and then join Him. That process is a mighty gift. Seek after it (hard).
If you would like to explore this topic more – please see “Relationship with Christ” for notable quotes and instructions from President Nelson, Ezra Taft Benson and Elder Faust.
Strength and Redeeming Power
Now, how does overcoming the world bless our lives? The answer is clear: entering into a covenant relationship with God binds us to Him in a way that makes everything about life easier. Please do not misunderstand me: I did not say that making covenants makes life easy. In fact, expect opposition, because the adversary does not want you to discover the power of Jesus Christ. But yoking yourself with the Savior means you have access to His strength and redeeming power.
redeeming: compensating, qualifying, rescuing, a buy back
power: capability, capacity, skill, talent, dynamism, effectiveness
Is there anything about the world today that hasn’t already convinced you to look for higher ground? My impressions are we need to get to higher ground and we needed it yesterday.
Our prophet just revealed a grand truth. It will take some major self-honesty to apply what he is saying. Some of us need a sizeable path change and new focus…today.
Godspeed you as you pray and seek to upgrade your life piece by piece.
For teaching helps – please see “5 Highlights for “Overcome the World and Find Rest” by President Nelson.