Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why it is so Important to Let the Spirit do the Teaching

I was asked to share my testimony of the scriptures in Relief Society last Sunday. This post will finish some concepts that were left unfinished.

An example of my inadequacies
I was given a very important learning experience a while back, that was both embarrassing and discouraging. I have it spread across several pages of my journal, and though I was tempted to rip those pages out, the Spirit lead me to leave them in. They were important to remember, my failures, and should remain right alongside my triumphs. And just as He has instructed me to share personal spiritual experiences, He has also prompted me to share my failings, both so that others may benefit.

Yes, I am ignorant (Hey, but so was Joseph Smith, so I'm in good company)

At the time, I was reading in the New Testament. Studying it (or so I thought) when I came to the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). I thought this parable was a good opportunity to stretch my spiritual muscles and determine it's meaning. I completely forgot that Jesus interprets this for His disciples in the verses following the parable.

I filled up THREE pages of my journal with what I thought this parable meant. I remember feeling so smart. The answers were coming so easily, made so much sense, and yet I kept altering them, having three separate versions in the end because each new one made more sense than the last. I remember how excited I was over all this. As the ideas kept flowing, I remembered thinking I got this, I got this. And in saying this within my mind, I later realized I wasn't allowing the Spirit to speak to me about it because I already had it. I even attributed my brilliant understandings to the Spirit. I understand so much! It must be the Spirit!


Yeah well, all my ideas were wrong, aside from one. The part that the adversary represented.

The Aftermath

I was so discouraged by this, by my own failure, my ignorance, that I put my scriptures away for longer than I should have.

I was so discouraged that I wondered how the Lord could love someone so foolish (though I knew that He did and does). I wondered how I could ever really achieve understanding if I was so good at standing in my own way.

The Note I Left For Myself

As I mentioned at the beginning, I contemplated ripping the pages out, then was leaning more towards crossing it all out. Instead, I felt impressed to leave them and left this note at the bottom of all my mistakes:

This whole dissection of mine of Matt 13 is evidence of my own foolishness. And will be left to remind me of my flaws and humanity.

I'm an Idiot. Teach Me.

Lucky for me, this whole thing was exactly the experience I needed to get past my own bright ideas, to push aside my own understandings, to let go of concepts I'd been taught by others more knowledgeable. It is the basis for this post here, and probably one of the most valuable lessons I've learned in my life.

The phrase above will sound familiar to those who were in Relief Society on Sunday.

This is the way I prefer to approach the scriptures now, as someone who needs to be filled. Someone who needs to be taught. Someone who doesn't already have the answers. Someone who can't even figure them out without the Spirit.

There is a quote from Avatar that I love that is relevant here. The naavi agree to teach Jake Sully because he isn't already full of his own knowledge, like the scientists that came before him were.

Moat: It is hard to fill a cup that is already full.
Jake Sully: My cup is empty. Trust me. Just ask Dr. Augustine. I'm no scientist.

It is because of this that they take him in and begin to teach him how to be one of them.

The Lord has said something similar to this:
2 Nephi 9:43
And whoso knocketh to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches--yea they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.

2 Nephi 9:28-29
O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailities, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

2 Nephi 26:20
And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.

Realizing that we don't have all the answers and letting go of the ones we think we already have, gives room for the Spirit to teach us.


Don't be a cup that is already full.

The scriptures we have, are given to us to try our faith (3 Nephi 26:9-11), and for good reason. Our modern way of thinking, our understandings, learnings, and wisdom, get in the way of the message the Lord is sending to us through His prophets, we get in the way of that message, but the Spirit can make them plain to us.

And if we open ourselves up to teaching from the source of all truth

We will be taught.

We don't have to be a scholar, or a scholar of scholars to understand the word of God.

We just have to listen the Spirit.

If you come to a passage of scripture that confuses you, use it as an opportunity to ponder, to pray, and let the Spirit bring understanding, until you get it.

The Spirit will make us God's scholar.

Final Note:

As I have presented above, I make mistakes. I do try to write these out as prompted, but I am human.

If I have spoken true, then the Spirit will be my witness.

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