I remember sitting in the conference center as they announced two-hour church and the greater emphasis on teaching in the home. Initially, I was excited. Then almost immediately I thought… “Oh Father, help me to do this longer than a few months”. I start everything full force but have a harder time keeping momentum. I also thought about new members and people on the margins of the church. How would this benefit them? I resolved to include my ministering sister in our home lessons. I perked back up and thought that this solution would benefit her and me.
This week in relief society I was asked to lead a discussion on President Eyring’s talk, Women and Gospel Learning in the home. I wasn’t really sure what direction I should take. I called up a few sisters, texted and emailed others. I wanted to get there thoughts and opinions on the subject.
There was such a range of emotions and reactions. Oddly, I was the only one taken with the scripture at the beginning of Elder Eyring’s talk. He quotes a scripture from Doctrine and Covenants 121: 33. This section is famous for Jospeph Smiths desperate plea to find where God is in his life and the beautiful tender response the Savior provides. In the middle of his response, God asks a question.
“How long will running water remain impure?”
What? It just jumped out at me and so I had to investigate further. I asked my one scholarly friend who almost immediately gave me a response. (I wish everyone to have a friend like this. He is constantly studying the gospel and is a wealth of knowledge and information; let me know in the comments if you want to be added to his email list… he sends out his personally created study resources and they are phenomenal!)
This is what he said, “Running water does purify itself. Sediments drop out and the turmoil of the water brings in oxygen which is an oxidant that also breaks down impurities. It’s a biologically correct metaphor.”
I knew from hiking the Rockies with my husband he loves getting mountain water. He always places the bottle by the moving water and drinks the refreshing liquid. I was always leery of this act but this last summer I drank from this fresh water and it was delicious! Well, at least refreshing! I didn’t get sick the water was pure.
One of the sisters sent me a little clip on youtube. It talked about the Jordan River. It feeds two large bodies of water. The first body of water is the Sea of Galilee. In this sea, the water keeps moving. It flows into other areas and has unique flora and fauna and provides many other useful services.
The other body of water that it feeds is the Dead Sea. Which isn’t a witty title but an accurate description of what lives there. Because the Dead Sea water is stagnant it contains massive amounts of salt making it almost impossible of any organism to live there. Only a few organisms can survive in this extreme environment.
When given in the context of the Lord’s scripture, the running water, the Sea of Galilee keeps moving… keeps purifying itself. The Dead Sea stops and starts to stagnate.
The scripture continues:
My friend also explained, “the Missouri River is not a crystal clear stream. Everything we do in our lives, everything that the Church has done, or that has happened in the Church is not crystal clear. We’re all a little muddy. However, if we keep moving on, following the covenant path… then no one can prevent the Lord from blessing us and that moving water will become purer and purer. The restoration isn’t over for the Church or for us as individuals—we’re moving downstream. The only danger is pulling out of the current and finding a shallow backwater pond where we will surely stagnate and putrefy. ”
It was really interesting to discuss Elder Eyring’s talk with this idea about how do we get moving? How do we get purified? What does it look like to be still water in prayer, or what does it look like to have moving water in prayer? What does “flowing fresh water” scriptures look like and if we were stagnant in the scriptures can we get back into the flow?
It was common a response when Elder Eyring said, “the Lord.. has made clear that the daughters of Heavenly Father will play a primary role in that miraculous acceleration,” that many women thought I am already stretched thin… how can I be more responsible for gospel learning in my home?
One sister who I had asked for her comments early in the week sent me how upset she was by this news. It wasn’t the first time I heard it expressed and as I went into the lesson I prayed that the Spirit would help me be sensitive to everyone’s needs in the class. I didn’t know how or what I would say. Fortunately, I ran into her in the library before. She thanked me for the opportunity to read and think about the talk. She had taken her concerns to the Lord and He had answered her questions and then she asked if it would be okay to share her wrestle with the class. It was beautiful and tender to see her faith as she took action and experimented on Elder Eyring’s call to action.
Even Elder Eyring poses the question, Why, then, does a daughter of God in a united and equal relationship receive the primary responsibility to nourish … a knowledge of truth coming from heaven?”
Fortunately, he answers his own question, “As nearly as I can see, that has been the Lord’s way since families were created in this world.”
Was it not Eve who “received knowledge that”Adam had to eat the fruit to keep all of God’s commandments? Another example he quotes was the faithful sons of Helaman who entered young into a war without fear of death for their mothers taught truth that God would deliver them. Women naturally can consider more than themselves in choices. We “have an innate and great capacity to sense the needs of others and to love. That, in turn, makes you more susceptible to the whisperings of the Spirit. The Spirit can then guide what you think, what you say, and what you do to nurture people so the Lord may pour knowledge, truth, and courage upon them.” Wow, what a beautiful talent we possess because we are women.”
So with this gift comes the responsibility to seek to bless all of God’s family. We can’t do it without the Holy Ghost. We must, “ask the Father in my name in faith, believing that you shall receive, and you shall have the Holy Ghost, which manifesteth all things which are expedient.”5
So how do we become more pure, moving towards the goals the Savior has in store for us? I love Elder Eyrings counsel:
“You will take more time to pray, to ponder, and to meditate on spiritual matters. You will have knowledge of truth poured out upon you and grow in your power to nurture others in your family.”
If we can learn to hear and trust the Spirit knowledge will be poured out… moving water… the “Living water” poured through us.
He does warn us, “there will be times when you feel that your progress in learning how better to nurture is slow. It will take faith to endure.”
But he gives us this beautiful hope from the Savior, “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”7
As I read the book of Mormon this year this phrase stuck out so strong to me, “how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.”9
Isn’t it beautiful to think of the safety and love of a chick under a mothers wing. I remember in Seminary my teacher showing my a prairie hen had tucked her babies under her wing. A fire had spread across the prairies and the mother was charcoal… but her chicks were protected under her wing.
This very first week of two-hour church our area authority was attending and he spoke to us. He explained the scripture in 3 Nephi 17:3 in a way that I had not considered. He told us this extra hour is not to have one more hour of rest. But he gave us the invitation Jesus gave to his people thousands of years ago, “Go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, …and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.” As we teach and take the gospel teaching back into our homes, we can invite the Savior back every day into our homes. Isn’t that magnificent.
I have to include this glorious promise that Elder Eyring gave to us, “You will bring your inherent feeling of charity into changes in activities and practices in your family. That will bring greater spiritual growth. When you pray with and for family members, you will feel your and the Savior’s love for them. That will become more and more your spiritual gift as you seek it. Your family members will feel it as you pray with greater faith.
When the family gathers to read scriptures aloud, you will already have read them and prayed over them to prepare yourself. You will have found moments to pray for the Spirit to enlighten your mind. Then, when it is your turn to read, family members will feel your love for God and for His word. They will be nurtured by Him and by His Spirit.”
The same outpouring can come in any family gathering if you pray and plan for it. It may take effort and time, but it will bring miracles.”
May we each find the ways that will contribute to the outpouring of truth in our homes, ward, and world. May we see the areas that we have become stagnant and may we start to move and become pure. May we bring healing, cleansing, nourishing water to all who thirst.
The whole process of restoration both personally and for our church is the rolling waters. Switching to a two-hour block and expecting more of as women, as nurturers in gospel learning, is rolling water. Running water doesn’t purify itself. The action of moving drops particles out and allows oxygen to enter breaking down the impurities. May we ever be moving to allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our minds and hearts, maybe we ever be repenting to remove unnecessarily sediment, that the Lord can enter and purify us… and just like we sing..,, “more used would [we] be”
I look forward to the wonderful miracles that will follow as we start moving and following this new inspired program.