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.


  1. you nailed it. I like the definition of putting up stakes in my mind it's the same as 'putting God in a box' or limiting things. I have been REALLY good at doing that. I am learning to shatter the box/ stop putting up stakes and be willing to learn and grow how, when, and where the Lord wants me to. Very liberating and freeing. I am free IN Christ.

  2. I will follow you God, but not if its outside the lds church (until he was able to get through my hard heart and help me see the knowledge that I was missing and the God that I thought I knew, but didn't )
    I will listen to you God, but only when I'm kneeling in prayer ready to converse (until I realized He is ALWAYS trying to converse with me)
    I will be yours God, until my heart aches so bad because I realize there are things (like being misunderstood and judged by so many loved ones) that feel so painful. Then He comes and fills my heart with so much love, and compassion for those that mock, and I can't not want to give it all up and be His.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to reflect on this this afternoon.

  3. I will follow you God, unless you tell me to change my apparel to reflect that I am different. Oh boy!

    So timely. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I will follow you, God, but...
    Not if it hurts.
    Not if I have to lose something I love.
    Not if it opens me to ridicule.
    Not if it costs me family or friends.
    Not if it means disobeying a leader.
    Not if it takes me "out of the boat."
    Not if it means risking everything I have.
    Not if it means becoming vulnerable.
    Not if it means depending on another.
    Not if it goes against my current belief system.
    Not if it gets me in trouble.
    Not if it means even more time, energy or effort.
    Not if it means being an outcast.
    Not if it requires I change part of my identity.
    only if doing good brings financial prosperity.
    only if everything is sunshine and roses.
    only if it makes life easier.
    only if I can have a simple, black and white set of rules to follow.
    (This could go on indefinitely)

  5. Only if you explain why first...
    Only if prove to me I can depend on you first...
    Only if you show me the end from the beginning...

  6. Sometimes, or often times in my case, when the Lord calls, His voice reaches me from out of a place that is hidden and shrouded in darkness. In order to hear the voice of my Shepard, I must step out into complete darkness, with paths hidden and the only guide His voice, at first so faint and distant, and then the voice stronger and more confident.

    I am currently studying Isaiah chapters 2-4 as though they are one whole. Last night I began to have my eyes opened in a new way regarding these scriptures, and in my pondering and excitement, fell asleep for the night. I went in and out of sleep several times, having little bits of dream learning that I struggle to bring with me back to the surface of reality. After three such awakenings, as I closed my eyes to sleep again, I prayed another internal prayer asking for continued dreams and a full understanding of the dreams and what the chapters meant. I fell asleep again. Having experienced some sort of dream, at least I assume I did, as I woke for the fourth time, I had nothing. No fog in my mind that was the memory of dream. I did not even think I had dreamt anything. My mind was filled with black nothingness.

    I have decided that it is time for me to again walk out into darkness, in the direction of that distant and unknown voice, and test out the fruits of my dreams and see if the path doesn't begin to appear at my feet, and if the voice doesn't become strong and confident.

  7. What this sparked in me, although perhaps not exactly related, is how we often make up our own rules for things... for example, God is trying to give us a blessing but we demand or have it in our heads that God can or will ONLY give it or do it in a specific way... A way we have learned by hear say not the word of God from God, and thus we miss the blessing or knowledge they are trying to give or show us until we bend our minds to match their minds!

  8. As long as I am not an outcast or seen as peculiar. But then through studying the scriptures, particularly Isaiah, I realized God's people are always outcasts and it felt ok if I were one too, so in my mind, God can ask me to do anything and I'll do it.