Today I reviewed what I’ve written this month about the last three books of Moses and the first of the historical books in the Old Testament. Here are some concepts that have become clearer to me during that time:
1. We must worship in the Lord’s way, and we must teach in a way that works for our students.
A pair of consecutive blog posts emphasized to me the importance of being adaptable. Moses counseled the children of Israel to teach their children in a variety of settings, including informal ones (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), which mirrors Nephi’s admonition to teach our children constantly, using a variety of methods (2 Nephi 25:26).
Then, the Lord indicated that in the promised land, He would designate a location for worship. They should no longer worship wherever they wanted to worship but should follow His instructions (Deuteronomy 12:8-14).
The common denominator is adaptability. I need to get my own ego out of the way and be willing to worship God in His way and teach my children in their way.
2. God guides us through a process of spiritual maturation.
I’ve always thought of the Israelites’ forty years in the wilderness as a terrible thing. Why didn’t they have more faith? Why weren’t they willing to receive the blessings God offered to them immediately?
But this time through, I saw things differently. Yes, it would have been ideal for all of them to have the faith of Joshua and Caleb. Their years in the wilderness were difficult, but God did not abandon them. As Moses reminded them at the end of that time, God walked with them and blessed them throughout the journey (Deuteronomy 2:7, Deuteronomy 8:2-5). Just as Lehi’s son Jacob grew spiritually through his afflictions in the wilderness (2 Nephi 2:2), the children of Israel matured during those forty years until they were ready to enter the promised land.
That insight gives me hope. When I find myself in less-than-ideal circumstances, I will remember that God is with me and that He will patiently guide me as I become more mature and more capable of receiving His grace.
3. Gratitude can mitigate the negative effects of prosperity.
Moses worried that in the promised land, comfort would lead to complacency, and the children of Israel would turn away from God (Deuteronomy 32:15). This was a valid concern. Mormon recognized that this is a universal tendency. (See Helaman 12:2-3.)
As a result, Moses admonished the children of Israel to remember God’s blessings and to be grateful. This month, I have gained a deeper understanding of the layers of gratitude that we can have:
- We can be grateful for the things we enjoy that we did not build: “Wells…Which Thou Diggedst Not”.
- We can recognize that we do not deserve the blessings we have been given: “Not for Thy Righteousness”.
- We can work to help other people enjoy the same blessings: “Until the Lord Hath Given Your Brethren Rest”.
- We can adapt when blessings we previously enjoyed are no longer available: The Manna Ceased.
- And we can be grateful for blessings which we have only partially received: “There Failed Not Ought”.