Today’s Reading ~ 1 Nephi 2 ~
And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea a land which is choice above all other lands
God calls us out of our captivity and bondage. He calls us to escape the destructiveness of our substance use, gambling, eating disorders, sexual integrity issues, and other compulsory behaviors. Our initial spiritual awakening experience involves coming to terms with the reality of our present situation. Our Heavenly Father is calling us to depart out of this city of despair.
“And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family and provisions.” ~ 1 Nephi 2:4 ~
We leave everything behind us. All that we had gained does not compare to the value of our own lives. This is what recovery teaches us. We are more valuable than those things we have come in to possess.
It is difficult to imagine being a wealthy individual and suddenly pack up one’s family and leave everything behind. Certainly there would have been some consternation about giving up all that one person owns. However, we come to understand that this was the culmination of a process that occurred over time. Lehi new it was time to depart. His heart, mind, and soul had been prepared.
That is the key principle. There is a period of preparation that takes place where the time comes when we are ready to move forward and out of our present and destructive lifestyle. It becomes the motivating factor that thrusts us forward into the wilderness of our own recovery.
In the classic literature The Pilgrims Progress we encounter the conversation Christian has with Evangelist:
Now, I saw upon a time, when he was walking in the Fields, that he was (as he was wont) reading in his book, and greatly distressed in his mind; and as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying What shall I do to be saved?
I saw also that he looked this way, and that way, as if he would run; yet he stood still, because, as I perceived, he could not tell which way to go. I looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist coming to him, and asked, Wherefore dost thou cry? He answered, Sir, I perceive, by the Book in my hand, that I am Condemned to die, and after that to come to Judgment; and I find that I am not willing to do the first, nor able to do the second.
The conversation continues:
The said Evangelist, Why not willing to die? Since this life is attended with so many evils? The Man answered, Because I fear that this burden that is upon my back, will sink me lower then the Grave; and I shall fall into Tophet. And Sir, if I be not fit to go to Prison, I am not fit (I am sure) to go to Judgment, and from thence to Execution; and the thoughts of these things make me cry.
Then said Evangelist, if this be thy condition, why standest thou still? He answered, Because I know not whither to go, Then he gave him a Parchment-Roll, and there was written within, Fly from the wrath to come.
The Man therefore Read it, and looking up on Evangelist very carefully; said, Whither must I fly? Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide Field, Do you see yonder Wicket gate? The Man said, No. Then said the other Do you see yonder shining light? He said, I think I do. Then said Evangelist, keep that light in your eye, and go up directly thereto, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do.
Without hesitation, The Man (Christian) Left all that he had behind and headed toward the direction of the light. He flees leaving behind his home, wife, and kids. Pilgrims Progress is an allegory of our life. An allegory with significant meaning – especially for those engaged in recovery. When one is fully prepared, spiritually awake and convicted, one is ready to flee from their destructive lifestyle toward something that has more meaning and purpose.
Symbolism of the Wilderness
In scripture, the wilderness (which typically is the desert) signified separation, isolation, fear, hunger, thirst, and potential danger. A person is vulnerable and susceptible to all types of harm. However, it is the wilderness where we come to truly experience the Grace and tender mercies of God. In Genesis 2:5, the primordial earth was a vast wilderness of chaos:
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground.
Two key principle teachings here. First, the wilderness does not have any significant growth. Second, there is no person available to cultivate and work the ground. What this teaches us is that when Our Heavenly Father called out men to leave behind their homes, and all that it represents, they are called to wander in the wilderness in order to begin working on cultivating a relationship with God so that they are planted in Him.
This is important to understand as we come to the next component of understanding the process of recovery. Early recovery is our wilderness where we are vulnerable, uncertain of which direction we ought to go, facing our own fears and being isolated from our previous forms of comfort and security. Being in this wilderness, one also experiences discomfort. What we previously enjoyed and believed to be pleasant is no longer part of our present situation.
This wilderness experience is also all about survival from day-to-day. As we struggle, we are working to overcome those emotional and mental, relational, physical and nutritional, financial, and spiritual deficits that have weakened us. It is a place where we come to realize how significantly important our dependency on God becomes.
However, there are some promises God provides us when we enter into our own wilderness – trusting in His guiding counsel, mercy, and grace.
Like unto this river – Like unto this Valley
There are two significant truths we are able to apply as we begin to work through a mindful and spiritual recovery program. Speaking to his two elder sons, Lehi reveals his desire for them: The first to be like the river that flowed into the Red Sea. The second, to be like the valley the family is traveling through.
The river symbolizes life. Life feeds into the nature and power of righteousness. What this teaches us is that we are to become focused on our efforts to move toward Jesus Christ. The second symbol refers to stability. Through our obedience to God’s will and desire, we become stable in our journey toward something greater and more significant.
A prepared land of promise
The final thought on this reading is that through our commitment and obedience to step out, in faith, to journey through the wilderness; Our Heavenly Father will guide us toward a land He has prepared for us.
Recovery is a transformative process we are engaged in on a day-to-day basis. Significant and necessary change takes place in this “wilderness” of our lives. However, we will eventually reach a place where we have come to obtain and maintain a life that has meaning, purpose, and worth living. Yet, this is only achieved when we walk in obedience to God.
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all lands.
Our faith motivates us to diligently seek after God. Lowliness of heart means we are humble and free from self-assertive pride. This helps us walk in obedience to God’s will and desire. His promise is to prosper us, lead us toward a place that He has already prepared for us. The descriptive choice above all others symbolizes that our own personal life will become something worthwhile. A life we desire and want.
Action Steps – what you are able to implement for your own personal recovery
1 – Focus on the nature of how you were brought to a place where you are called to leave behind your previous life of toxicity and dysfunction. Reflect on the nature of how God brought you to a place of humility and how He has (or is) called (calling) you out into your own wilderness
2 – Understand that the nature of the wilderness is to experience God’s divine and sovereign providence, guidance, counsel, and where we begin to learn to grow spiritually and resilient.
3 – Focus on the promises of where God is leading you by seeking Him each day. By focusing on centering self on the teachings and truths of God, one will grow in spiritual truth and enlightenment.
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