09 August 2020

Me, a marathon runner? Nah! Or am I?

We all started out as babies, and almost every one of us learned to move, then to turn over, to crawl, to toddle, to walk, to run.

Some of us went on to run in school races. Some to school competitions, inter school competitions, regional competitions, provincial competitions, inter-provincial competitions, national competitions, international competitions, and a small number to a global arena like the Olympic Games!

Some of us ran because our parents encouraged us to. Some ran because our friends ran and we were just following the crowd. Some ran because we became seriously passionate about it and because the runners' high was so - well, worth it!

Running is wearying... It comes with discomfort, sore muscles and blistered feet, sweat and probably tears.

Whatever the reason that we ran, we would have felt some benefits of running. These include the runner's high, feeling good about the achievement (improved self-esteem), burning calories, shedding and burning fat from the body - and keeping it off, and low-cost exercise... An internet search for 'benefits of running' shows that there are many other benefits to physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health from running.

I never was a marathon runner, but I did participate in inter-school badminton (and I was not particularly good in inter-school cricket...) and so I can relate in a small way to the satisfaction that comes from working at sport. I did some cross-country races, sprinting, hurdles, high jump, and other athletics at school, but I was not passionate about that. But I do take off my hat to those who have a passion for, and who excel in, running marathons and other great achievements.

But - can you consider someone who regularly ran marathons, initially because her parents expected it of her while at school, then her peers dragged her along, then she became a self-starter and ran for the love of it. And she really loved it! She has certificates showing her accomplishments. She has several witnesses to the fact of her running, completing gruelling marathons - and loving it! But life changed. She lost interest, stopped exercising, stopped enjoying the benefits of running, and even became very deriding of anyone who runs. She denies that she enjoyed it. She always blames her parents for making her run against her will. She has become flabby and insulting of those who run, telling of many important reasons to not run - why no intelligent person would run.

Does that sound like a story that I concocted, or are there people like this? Do you know people like this?

Paul related Gospel living to running a race (1 Cor 9:24, Heb 12:1) and says of himself that he had 'fought a good fight' and finished his course (2 Tim 4:7). I have known so many people who have run valiantly and have medals, certificates and witnesses to prove that they ran spiritual races. The evidence attests that they ran with great passion and success while they were in trim spiritual condition, exercising every day by studying, pondering, praying, fasting, obeying the commandments, and that they had felt that spiritual runner's high. They personally spoke of their love for running spiritual marathons. 

I know that there is a real spiritual scientific experiment that has been conducted by thousands of people. They have studied the subject, applied the method, tested the promises, obtained the results, and reached the conclusion that the method is sound and the results are consistent. I know that if anyone will follow the same method and apply the same tests that they will obtain the same results and draw the same conclusions. 

Despite all of this evidence, there are people who have never conducted the experiment who are certain that the results are false and the conclusion is erroneous. There are those who did conduct the experiment and who experienced the results and bore personal testimony that the results were sound and true, but have changed their mind after ceasing to live the way that yields the results of spiritual health and well-being.

So - while I was never a marathon runner like the tens of thousands who run the Two Oceans or Comrade's Marathons in South Africa, or the over 800 marathons run throughout the world each year and almost on a weekly basis, I guess that I can say that I have been running a spiritual marathon for just about all of my life. There were times when it was because my parents encouraged me, or friends were dragging me along, but most of it is because I have kept going because I have felt the benefits of maintaining that level of spiritual fitness - and revelling in the runner's high.

I have come to know God. At school, church and university I learned about the scriptures, religion, god, evolution, natural selection, and other philosophies. Through my personal study and exercising my faith I have come to know God and that the scriptures are His word to us. I hope that I shall always keep myself in spiritual peak condition so that I can continue to feel the spiritual runner's high. It is a wonderful feeling - and it can only be appreciated by personal experience - no-one can adequately describe it to persuade anyone that it is worth the effort required to experience it. I hope that this inspires you to work on being spiritually fit so that you will enjoy the benefits of running our spiritual marathon in order to reach the finishing line with honour. I know that it is worth every effort!

See also:

31 May 2020

Sumerian tablets - are they in harmony with the writings of Abraham and Moses?

Some time ago, while working in the garden, I listened to something about Sumerian tablets. I had also listened to other reports about ancient civilizations and subjects. My thoughts were turned to my readings of the BibleQur'an, several of the works of Charles Darwin and other valuable and interesting books as I listened. I found a wonderful harmony between each of these - a reminder to me that there is one story of the creation and early history of man that has been passed on through generations in different groups of descendents of Adam and Eve who have changed the story according to their traditions and cultures. My impression was that there is a common thread in each of the accounts, and I can see the basic harmony with the account of the creation as told by Abraham who lived about 2000 years after the fall of Adam and the start of mortality. Abraham lived about 2000 years before Jesus Christ, and we live about 2000 years after Jesus Christ. Adam lived for nearly half of the time between Adam and Abraham, and many patriarchs who would have faithfully recounted the stories lived to ripe old ages and would have shared the more true accounts with their descendents who would listen. We are told in the Book of Moses that there was a book of remembrance kept in the language of Adam, so I am confident that there is a reliable source of the true story.

The world as a whole have the account of creation as given by Moses who lived about 500 years after Abraham. We know that Abraham had taught the Egyptians of the creation, history, astronomy, and versions of the same stories would have been recounted in all civilizations before and after the time of Abraham.

It is not surprising to me that there are many versions of the same story. If we look at our own history, there are many versions told in official sources and newspapers of the same events. There is a common element to each story, but each account differs. There are some fictional and non-fictional accounts including research tomes, historical novels, fantasies, and representations of facts that add embellishments to the simple stories. I would not be surprised of some of the differences in ancient records are similar in their telling about the stories.

There is one God who does know the actual facts, and each of us can look at whatever version of the story we have and ask that one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, what we need to take from the account that we read in order to be faithful followers of His plan for us. He will help us to have insights to guide us in our individual understanding of the fundamental principles. It is not likely that He will give to each and every person an individual audience to hear the full story, especially if we fail to do what we can easily do to find what is readily available to us to read and ponder, then to pray for confirmation or guidance. 

We are able, particularly in the year 2020, to gain access to the alternative accounts of the story and not rely only on the one with which we grew up if there is more truth available. The interpretation of what we read is guided by the spirit of God with which each of us was born. The Spirit will guide the honest reader to the most reliable account of the story of the creation and the plan of life and salvation. If the reader lets God lead him or her to truth, God will lead, because He wants us to know Him. I was impressed that the Qur'an advises the reader to read the Torah - and I understand this advice because the Qur'an talks about Abraham, Adam, David, Aaron, Noah, Solomon, Jesus, Mary, John, Zechariah, and other biblical characters, but does not give as much detail as is in the Old Testament and New Testament.

I have conducted the experiment that millions have conducted and I have come to know God. I have studied the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price containing the books of Abraham and Moses, Doctrine and Covenants and other words of modern representatives of that God who spoke to man from the days of Adam and continues to do so today. I have learned about these scriptures, and have come to know them rather than simply knowing about them. I have come to know God rather than simply knowing about Him. 

I have come to know personally that, if any person will do the will of the Father, she or he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or if they are simply the stories of men. I have knocked and the door has been opened. I have done my seeking and I have found. I have asked and I have received. I know you can too.

I have come to know that simply being exposed to facts does not make the difference. The children of Israel personally experienced the sea parting and themselves walking on dry ground, they saw the pillar of fire and the cloud, they were eating the manna, and yet they hankered for the flesh pots of Egypt because they were not switched on to trying to do the will of Jehovah. Laman and Lemuel had seen an angel, felt the shock when Nephi touched them, but were failing to do the will of the Father and just said that God did not make such things known to them. The citizens of Jerusalem saw Jesus of Nazareth, but some cried out 'Crucify him!' while others followed Him.

There is an abundance of fascinating information available, like decoding the Exodus, and other speculations and deductions relating to the stories told in the Old Testament. I have been edified considering many descriptions given by people of their research into these ancient events and accounts. 

The main thing is to go to the source of the scriptures - if they are true, as I am confident that they are - then there is a Heavenly Father who loves His children and will want to manifest Himself to those who diligently seek Him. But it does not help drinking from the water downstream after many people have paddled and done other unmentionable things in the water before it reaches you when the God who revealed His word is waiting to speak directly to and guide you and you can enjoy the perfect living water right at its source.

28 May 2020

Congratulations, Dad. You can bless the sacrament

I remember one day when I was very young running up to my father after the Church meeting and congratulating him on being able to bless the sacrament!