Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Life of a Tree - Merry Christmas

Hello Everyone, I hope you had a great week.  I know I did, but my week's happenings aren't the purpose of this post.  This week I'd like to talk about the life of a tree for a while.  

I was inspired this week in my Book of Mormon studies to bring up the oft told story in Alma 32 of likening our faith unto a seed.  I've read this passage many times, but something within me says I need to share my insights and feelings on this great parable.  I've taken time to split the life of a tree into 5 parts.  As you read, look inward and see where you land in the life of a tree.  

Part 1: A Seed is Planted 

Lets ponder on what seeds do.  By themselves they do nothing.  Given no water, soil, or sunshine a seed will not grow but will lay dormant.  These seeds will lay dormant until given soil to lay in.  Alma tells us that our hearts are the soil for faith, like true soil is for a seed.  Once you plant the seed, then miraculous changes can happen.  But these miracles of faith won't happen by themselves, just as a seed won't grow to it's full potential just by being placed in dirt and left alone.  

Our faith, like a seed, must be nurtured diligently.  A seed requires regular water and good soil to begin to grow.  Faith requires spiritual nourishment.  By reading from the scriptures and praying to our father in heaven we give the seed of faith what it needs to grow.  

The key to growth in a seed and in faith is diligence.  Watering a seed once when you first plant it will not ensure it's success, just as reading in the scriptures once will not set you for salvation.  It takes daily nourishment for a seed to grow.  And if your faith is like a dormant seed, those consistent acts of spiritual nourishment will serve as the foundation for the great things that are to come.  Take care with this seed of faith, a seed that has not sprouted is vulnerable and has no root, you must actively strengthen it.  

Having planted a seed once I know that they are notorious for growing at their own pace, and no amount of sternly staring at a bit of dirt will make that seed grow any faster.  A seed will take it's time to grow and become strong.  Do not be disheartened if your faith hasn't grown or if you don't see the blessings yet.  As with planting a seed, the blessings come later, after diligent work has been put in.  

Part 2: The Seed Sprouts

As you nourish your faith like you would nourish a seed, you will come to notice that "the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow." (Alma 32:30)

If a seed is good it will begin to grow.  A sprouted seed has finally surfaced and has taken a little root. But this doesn't mean that your job of caring for the seed is over, a sprout, like a seed, is still vulnerable and great care must be taken.

"But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away".(Alma 32:38)

Do not neglect your faith.  When your faith grows, you will notice the comfort and peace that come from Christ and his teachings.  But now that you can see the seed growing, you know the seed is good.  With that assurance that the seed is good, you can now move forward in faith and have your sprouting faith grow in strength.  

Part 3: A Sapling Comes Forth

Sweet, now your seed has turned into a little sapling.  The sapling has taken greater root and grown in strength, and now isn't as vulnerable to strong winds, summer heat, or clumsy hikers that run into it.  

If your faith is like a sapling, you have seen some of the benefits that come from this gospel, you know that this is good, but you have not yet come to see all the blessings that come from living in line with Christ's teachings.

Just as in the previous parts of a seeds life, that constant nourishment is what is going to result in a full grown tree or an unshakable faith in Christ.  Now you can see that this tree has great potential.  When it was a seed or a sprout it didn't appear to have any characteristics of strength or power, but now as a sapling you can look forward to greater blessings if continued care is taken.  

"But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root;and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life." (Alma 32:41)

Part 4: A Tree Takes Root

And now the moment you've been waiting and working so diligently for.  Your sapling of faith has grown under your care and nourishment and now it is time to harvest the fruits of your work.  A full tree is steadfast and unshakable.  It has that complex, strong, and fortified root system to bear the weight of the world.  Your tree of faith has reached maturity, and now it is ready to bring forth the fruit of your tree.  And when "ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which ismost precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet".  Now that you have been diligent in your faith and consistent in nourishing what started out as a simple seed, you can now see the true potential of the tree you planted long ago.  

Alma promises us at the end of the chapter that "ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you."  All of the blessings of Heavenly Father and Christ are available to those who diligently act in faith.  

Part 5: Tree Care

Now this is the end of Alma's teaching and the beginning of my advice.  

Your tree is now fully grown, but your work is not done, not by a long shot.  No farmer I have ever met has harvested once from a vine or a tree and then stopped caring for it.  The tree has so much more to give than just one harvest.  Likewise the blessings of a solid faith in Christ aren't noticed or given at one time.  

We must all constantly care for our tree, whether it is fully grown or a seedling.  Take care to prune your faith of any doubts, prideful habits, or stumbling blocks.  What kills a grown tree won't be a  bump from an animal or a gust of wind, but a more subtle disease.  Take care to look inward regularly and check yourself to see if you are honestly in line with all of the Saviors teachings.  If you aren't, do not be discouraged, this is the point of repentance and the Atonement.  I exhort you to rid yourself of all ungodliness, even if it is a only slight problem.  Careful pruning and maintenance of faith will guarantee many harvests in this life and in the eternities.  

There is another bit of advice I would give to anyone who believes themselves to have a solid tree of faith.  Spread the gospel.  Just as a tree grows to maturity and spreads it's seeds around, so must we spread this gospel.  Spread the gospel by planting those seeds of faith, no matter how small, and by nourishing others as they grow.  A tree does not grow old so it can be strong by itself.  A tree grows old so that it can create a forest around it.  

In summation: 

To those of you with a seed of faith: Nurture it consistently and carefully, you will see it grow as you do.  The blessings and knowledge will come.  Maybe not today, or next week, but I promise you with every fiber of my being that they will come.  

To those of you with a mighty tree of faith and a sure foundation: Continue nurturing and pruning your faith, and do not fear to spread the seeds of the gospel.  None of us are perfect, and we all can use extra faith and joy in our lives.  This message was to be shared to the whole world.   

I understand this blog post isn't easily related to Christmas, unless your tree of faith is a pine tree.  But it's my goal to strengthen someone through my weekly posts, and having been prompted the whole week on this subject there must be someone out there who needs it.  I pray that it finds you.  

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Love, Elder Gailey

No comments:

Post a Comment