Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Setting up Stakes... in a bad way

The word "stakes" in an LDS setting is usually used in one of two ways. One is used in describing the different stakes of the church (or group of wards), the other is in the context of campouts and staking a tent (a great deal of that revolving around scouting, I'm sure). Because of this, the first time I heard it used outside of these two contexts, used to denote something negative, I was very confused and had to look into it a bit more.

Here are some quotes from Joseph Smith, using "stakes" in a third way:

“The great thing for us to know is to comprehend what God did institute before the foundation of the world. Who knows it? It is the constitutional disposition of mankind to set up stakes and set bounds to the works and ways of the Almighty.” History of the Church, 5:529–30
“I say to all those who are disposed to set up stakes for the Almighty, You will come short of the glory of God.” History of the Church, 5:554
“I cannot believe in any of the different denominations, because they all have some things in them I cannot subscribe to, though all of them have some truth. I want to come up into the presence of God, and learn all things; but the creeds set up stakes, and say, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further”; which I cannot subscribe to.” DHC 6:57
Used this way, setting up stakes is like putting down anchors around ourselves that keep us from progressing. Joseph warned us that it's the disposition of man to do this.

I've seen it in family members, in my friends, and, of course, in myself, this staking of ourselves to a certain place. It's as if we are telling God, "I'll go here, but no further." or "I'll believe this, but don't ask me to believe anything across that line over there." We make expectations for how God can work in our lives. We limit what we are able to learn, by striking things off the list of what we are willing to learn, willing to accept. We tether ourselves to our traditions, to our fears, to so many other things.

God is merciful, and He's willing to work with us. He will reveal our stakes to us one by one, and help us remove them... IF we are willing to let Him. IF we want to follow Him and come to Him more than we want to cling to our precious stakes. If we really do love Him more than that.

The thing about some of the biggest stakes we put down, is that we often think they are from Him, and we are unwilling to listen when He tries to explain that they are not.

I have this image in my head of a gigantic hand of God reaching down to pluck something away from an individual, and the individual clinging to this object like a life raft, saying "Stop! I need that." And God gently explaining, "No, you really don't. Trust me."

Let's listen to His Spirit a little more, and learn to trust Him more than we have.


I was mulling over this post this morning, feeling like something was missing until I realized what it was: specific examples from you good people! Please, if you read this post, put a comment finishing the phrase: "I will follow you, God, but..." Your addition should be a stake you've discovered and had to remove in order to follow God. I've opened up the comments for a limited time so that everyone who wants to add their comment can.

I think it may potentially be eye-opening for us to see what others have recognized, in case we have pounded in that same stake.

I have tons of answers to use, but I'll start it off with one: I will follow you, God, but not if you tell me I'm wrong, when I think I'm right.