Ezekiel 11: 19-20
19. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
This has become one of my favorite scriptures over the last few months. To me it speaks of new beginnings or at least the hope of new beginnings. We can go along for years and years stuck in a leveled off spiritual rut. After a while, we aren't able or even willing to get ourselves out of it. Most typically while in this rut we have stopped attending church meetings, reading scriptures and praying. While we aren't particularly doing anything wrong... we still are serving others, and doing good works and keeping the word of wisdom and not breaking any law and such... we aren't in the places doing the things to get us out of the rut. One of my favorite series of books is called "Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites." I believe in the 2nd book: Gadiantons and the Silver Sword, towards the end of the book, there's a passage that goes something like this:
Lucifer doesn't need good people to do bad things, he just needs good people to do nothing. If you're striving to reach the Celestial kingdom and have become discouraged and stagnant and decide to strive for the Terrestrial kingdom then he has served his purpose. He has accomplished his goal. If he can get us so busy doing other good things and distracted from doing the basics: Church meetings, prayer, Family Home Evening, Temple Service, Scripture reading etc, he has accomplished his goal. Lucifer is tricky. He is the father of all lies. ALL LIES! He doesn't need us to be out doing bad things. He needs us to no do anything... ESPECIALLY pertaining to ourselves. I'm not saying don't go out and serve others. Because we should, we are to serve one another. But we are also to build up the Kingdom of God. That includes doing more than eating, sleeping and being merry! And those of us with children have a responsibility to not only teach them, but to BE THE EXAMPLE. We ought to be visual examples of the Gospel. IF we do not share with them our testimonies, how can we expect them to have one? If we do not go to the temple, how can we expect them to make that a goal? If we do not attend all of our meetings and engage in scripture reading and prayer with them, how can we expect them to do those things?
While we are omitting these things in our lives, although we aren't out and about doing bad things, we become numb sometimes. It takes more then should for our hearts to be effected by the Holy Spirit, which moves and impresses us and bears witness of God and his son Jesus Christ. We start doing little things, such as criticizing church policy, then church leaders. Even down the the basic levels of church leadership. We become frustrated and in some cases angry. And that halts us from wanting to deal with these people. Eventually we don't even go to church anymore. We think we know more or better than those in authority over us. And sometimes we do, however, they have to learn just as we had to learn (Heavenly Father's ways are not our ways. ) We justify it. And actually believe our justifications. Sometimes we even over compensate our acts of kindness and good works to make up for what we may be lacking spiritually, because it makes us feel good ... temporarily. It's like a hole that keeps draining out, it's never really filled.
However, in those moments of silence when your mind, heart and soul begin to speak to you, and the guilt and sorrow comes and speaks to you, you have option of listening or pushing those feeling away. Our stony hearts will push them away and the hardness of our hearts will not allow them to enter in. Why? Because of the pain, sorrow and anguish it will cause to soften and make the changes. We've become to proud to submit to the Holy Spirit. I speak of these things because I lived in that place for a few years. And I fought to stay in that place because it came comfortable to me. And in doing so, I've lost a few friends, created a few enemies and missed out on A LOT of blessing that could very well effected my daughter and line of posterity. We fail to think of the blessings we're withholding from our posterity by our own actions or lack of actions. It really does become unfair to them. When I think of the temple work alone I could have accomplished in that time I actually shed tears. When I think of the blessings I blocked out because I chose my pride over the Holy spirit, I get angry at myself and aske the Lord to not with hold them from those around me who are deserving.
The longer you allow yourself to be in this place, the more difficult it is to leave it. We become attached and comfortable with people and things that again aren't bad, but they don't don't propel us in the direction to prepare our eternity. That comfort will keep us there, sometimes til the end of our lives. This is what happens when we settle. (Brings new meaning to the words settlers, huh?) And when we settle we don't recognize the Lord's hand in things, we justify it with coincidences. The spirit needs to work harder on us to make its presence known.
It's a scary thing when you realize you've chosen your own pride over your Heavenly Father. That's about what it comes down to. When we fail to submit to the will of The Father, we've chosen our own pride over him. I think that's what it came down to for me. It took some months. I think I started this struggle in October 2006. Oh, I was settled before then, but then something sort of rocked me and didn't stop until I acted. And in the struggle to move from Settlersville, was difficult. Lucifer knows it's difficult. He will turn things around and cloud your vision and tell you that you are unworthy and have no right to blessings and such and there is no mercy, only the Lord's Justice. (I believed this for the longest time.)
What a punk!