Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 8:13-18

13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.

14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.

15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,

16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him:

We often speak of Adam and Eve as the beginning of our race, and of the Garden of Eden as being humanity’s original home. And all this is true, but we also have another origin point in Noah disembarking after the flood. In fact God even repeats His original commandment for the animal life to be fruitful and multiply to fill the earth.

The slate had been washed clean, it was a new world. And into upon this virgin soil Noah and his family and the animals must have seemed like aliens from another world. An old and dead world.

This is, of course, a symbolism of baptism, of death and resurrection, of giving up the old carnal way of life and being spiritually awakened. Yes, the occupants of the ark were remnants of the prior, evil world, but they were plucked off so that they would no longer be a branch of that world, but the trunk of a new one. So, too, when we are spiritually awakened we wash away the sin, but save the best parts that were already within us, and set them upon a new foundation.

The Need for Refreshing- Summary

This study has been an excellent grounding experience for me. I have, at times, made the mistake of reaching for the great and monumental things at the expense of the daily essentials. This study helped me to verbalize the folly I always felt in that.

Since I was a small boy I have had daily and weekly rituals, such as reading the scriptures, praying, and partaking of the sacrament. Usually I did not come to them with real meaning, though, I came only to check them off a list. It was like I came to a feast, but only to watch others eat.

Within the last two years I have made a real effort to start feasting for myself. It is amazing to me how much richness I was missing out on, how much strength comes from these little, regular observances. Having had such an awakening, I decided to do a study on why these small moments matter so much. Here are three key principles that I found.

Discipleship is Built on Regular Consistency

We always love to hear stories of monumental moments. Things like a heavenly vision that turned a sinner into a saint, or a noble stand that defeated every enemy, or a single sacrifice that made up for all wrongs.
We wish to have these moments in our lives. Some quick, intense fix that will forever turn us into the people we wish to be. A moment of such magnitude that its ripples course through us all the rest of our lives.
It’s a nice thought, but that simply isn’t how it works. Life does not come with a “flip of the light-switch” solution. Life was not given to us as a single day, but as thousands. Our victories are not meant to be measured as one great rock, then, but as thousands of small stones, accumulated one at a time, and carefully stacked into a great whole.
Isaiah 28:10- For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little
Alma 37:6- Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass

Sacraments Refresh the Spirit

Aristotle observed that “we are what we repeatedly do.” I wish to be a disciple of Christ, and so I must consistently follow His example.
But there is to every regular practice a resistance. Some days discipleship comes easily, it feels like the most natural and fitting thing to do. But many days it feels like it doesn’t fit me at all, like I’m trying to wear a coat that is too big. The natural inclination is to say “maybe tomorrow, then, but not today.” We might even reason to ourselves that forced discipleship isn’t even discipleship at all, so why bother? The Lord loves a “cheerful giver,” not a begrudging one, right?
But that is the beauty of the sacrament, and prayer, and scripture study. They are designed to take the crufty heart and breath new life into it. Come lethargic, come worn out, come feeling incomplete and unworthy, all are welcome. But do, at least, come willing to let the light in.
Romans 12:2- And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Jeremiah 31:25 (BSB)- For I will refresh the weary soul and replenish all who are weak.

God Sends Us Reminders

Sometimes we forget that God is fighting fiercely for us. At least I know that I do. I tell myself that I darn well better be consistent in my spiritual exercises, otherwise I’ll lose myself and no one will check up on me. I suppose if we’re only talking about other mortals, then there might be some truth to that. I don’t have anyone calling me up and asking “Did you say your morning prayer today? Did you lay your sins on the altar when taking the sacrament? Do you feel spiritually awake right now?”
And sometimes I would have liked to have had someone to call me out, because I didn’t have good answers to those questions and I needed someone to awaken my soul. But then, as I think about it, each one of those times someone did come knocking.
Because, you see, every time I miss a prayer, there was a person left waiting at the table who felt my absence just as much I feel His. There is someone who knows that just as much as I need to recommit to Him, I also need to feel again His commitment to me. There is someone who is asking me every day to let Him love me. And He doesn’t stop until at last I do open the door and I weep for having ever shut Him out.
Revelation 3:20- Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

That They Might Have Joy- Personal Example #1

One of the motivations for this study was that I have been feeling an increase of joy over the past year and wanted to examine the reasons why. As I’ve considered the matter I have identified three basic reasons. Today I’ll discuss the first.

My discipleship is in the best place it has ever been. A little over two years ago I decided to really try to be my best self. All my life I was raised in a religious environment, and I definitely “wanted” good things for myself and the world…but if you had asked me what I did to actively promote that goodness I wouldn’t have had much to say. That I just wished for goodness, maybe? Suffice it to say that I was a very passive follower of Jesus.

After some dramatic life events I knew it was time to take my faith seriously and finally listen to all of the things that my conscience was trying to say. I didn’t want to try and make one little change here or there, I felt a need to let the light of Christ pervade my entire life.

So I started exercising, I brought better focus to my work, I started meeting with a therapist, I made a habit of studying the scriptures with real intent, I decided to put my phone away and really be there for my wife and son. Most recently I’ve added reaching out to my brothers and sisters and nurturing a forgiving heart to the list.

Now I have a long way to go before I’m perfect in any of these practices. Several of them have been on-again/off-again, but I am making a point to not lapse back into complacency. I try, I waver, I recommit. And in that imperfect trying I already feel so much more awakened, so much more like I am living the way I was intended to live. It just feels so right.