One day, I got a crazy idea that I wanted to learn how to sew. My mother didn't sew very much (who had time with all those kids around) but it looked interesting and challenging so I decided to try to make something.
Unfortunately, since I had no experience, I didn't know how to start the process. A friend suggested I get a pattern and start there. At the fabric store, I found a simple pattern, some material, and a few other things that seemed to be appropriate for the endeavor.
|Who can interpret this stuff?|
I sure couldn't.
At home, I took out the items I had purchased and began the process of learning how to sew. While my pattern was simple, it wasn't simple enough!! The paper for the pattern was thin and frail and easily torn and there were all these strange symbols printed on it that made no sense. No matter how hard I tried there was no way I could interpret the markings, lines, words, or ideas the pattern and instructions were trying to convey.
|As I recall, my attempt was a t-shirt kind of like this.|
Eventually I just gave up and donated what was left to the thrift store.
Since that time I have learned that in order to be successful at sewing you need more than a desire and a good pattern. You also have to know how to lay that pattern out on the material and cut it correctly. Of even more help is to have practiced simple stitching and tailoring before embarking on a whole shirt. Maybe I could have succeeded if I had understood the process a little better.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with patterns designed by our loving Father to guide us in our lives. The patterns are all throughout the scriptures and words of the prophets and are found in the form of commandments. It’s pretty easy to recognize the laws God asks us to live but we often struggle in understanding WHY God wants things a certain way?
What I have discovered is that each of the commandments our Heavenly Father gives is part of a larger, more complex pattern designed to help us achieve or obtain something beneficial for life. And if we aren't careful and prepared for each step, we may destroy the ‘thing’ we are trying to create from the pattern.
Let me share a scriptural example of what I’m trying to convey. It’s well-known and simple but each step, seemingly independent as a commandment, is very clear to the reader.
At the closing of the Book of Mormon, Moroni offers a challenge for coming to know the truth of the record. Here’s how he states it:
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moron 10:3-5)
This is the Lord’s pattern for finding the truth of the Book of Mormon or anything else we want to know.
So, what’s the pattern?
And what is the expected result from following the pattern?
Step #1 – Read these things – Moroni is speaking specifically about the Book of Mormon, but it could be anything we might need or want to know in our lives. Not everything is a book so we might have to modify the word to include study, consider, or other action verbs. The point is that we have to begin by doing whatever it takes to become acquainted with the law or principle God is offering.
Step #2 – Remember – The more I study God’s plan, the more I recognize the need to remember things. Remember that God HAS a plan. Remember that we are THE reason for the plan. Remember that God is doing all He can to INVITE us to become like Him. The more we remember……the less we make the mistake of forgetting!!
Step #3 – Ponder it in your hearts – Like remembering, pondering helps us focus. To ponder is to think often and deeply about a subject. That subject then becomes much clearer to us and we can identify truths that might have escaped notice with a more cursory glance.
Step #4 – Receive these things – To receive is to take it in. Ideas, thoughts, or truths that come from God (as we ponder or pray or study) are only valuable when we internalize them and practice what they teach.
Step #5 – Ask God in the name of Christ – Since we are focusing on learning gospel principles it is appropriate to ask our Father what He thinks. After all, it is His work and glory (see Moses 1:39) we are experiencing. But, we must be specific in what we ask. Vague questions are most often answered vaguely.
Step #6 – With a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ – In many ways, these three are inseparably connected to each other. Our heart must drive the intent of our questions or we will not be sincere. And everything we do must be grounded in an abiding faith in the Savior to be recognized by the Father.
Step #7 – He will manifest the truth of it unto you – Every good pattern has a finished product that can be seen upon completion. In this case, the product is a testimony of truth, accompanied by a witness of the Holy Ghost. There is no mistaking the “goods” that will be the fruit of this pattern if done in the order and manner expected.
This is only one of many patterns that God has given us for our benefit. Others are found in the scriptures (I will list a few at the end for your perusal) and the words of living prophets.
Following each pattern, using the order given, and carefully obeying the instructions will always result in an amazing (at least by our own individual standards) experience.
Patterns are God’s way of helping us see why we should obey and how He provides the necessary attributes for returning faithfully to His presence.
Moroni 2-5 (four different patterns)
Luke 15:3-32 (three patterns)