It rained. Finally. I can't even remember when it last rained.
I've got all my windows open and I can smell the rain and feel a soft cool humid breeze. It makes me happy.
I've been focusing on rejoicing this week and wow, there are plenty of things to rejoice about.
I read Mosiah 9-15 this week - all about wicked King Noah and Abinadi. When Abinadi pointed out their iniquities and called them to repentance(they were living lavishly on the backs of their people, enjoying the company of harlots, that sort of thing), King Noah's priests responded by quoting some beautiful passages in Isaiah. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringing good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation...Break forth into joy, sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem." By quoting these scripture passages, the priests were chastising Abinadi for calling them to repentance rather than bringing good tidings. They felt justified in living lives of what they likely considered to be joy and felt they'd been redeemed so all was well.
Abinadi spoke boldly, even after being threatened with death. He laid out the commandments and quoted Isaiah right back at them he explained the Atonement and talked about what redemption really means. He explained that he WAS publishing peace, as have all the prophets, by helping people understand and live the commandments that can bring them joy in their lives while helping them understand the love of God and the beauty of the Atonement of Christ.
Anyway, along with gaining a greater appreciation for Abinadi's amazing courage and power as a teacher and a deeper understanding of the Atonement, this passage made me think about how scripture can be used in so many ways. The same passage can be used to condone and condemn at the same time. We ARE supposed to rejoice - but we're supposed to strive and strain and stretch at the same time.
God loves us and Jesus paid for our sins, most definitely, but that doesn't mean we can sit back, do whatever is easy and fun, and things will work out fine in the end. God's love is free and fully available to all of us and He's given us commandments we can use to help us make wise decisions. But when we mess up, it's up to us to reach out and draw close to Him and use the Atonement so we can get back to a place where we can honestly rejoice again. Real rejoicing comes from understanding and work and gratitude and repenting and moving forward armed with what we have learned. Real rejoicing comes from figuring out God's will and aligning our will with His and then feeling the joy of knowing we're doing the right thing (I'd like to feel this joy more often - guess I'd better be more prayerful about my day-to-day decisions). Real rejoicing doesn't come easy and often comes in scattered moments that can be hard to prolong as we have a hard time sustaining a prayerful closeness to God, doing the good things we know we're supposed to do, and staying away from sin...
And one other thing, after all Abinadi's work and sacrifice, he was mocked and put to death and perhaps died thinking nothing he said had made a difference. But one of the priests was really listening and really understanding. Abinadi's words entered Alma's heart and Alma went on to become a great prophet and leader and the father of another great prophet and leader.
I love the reminder that even when I sure can't tell if the things I'm working so hard to do are actually making a difference, if I do what I feel must be done, the right things will result. So often, I feel like what I can do for my kids, for my husband, for my extended family, and for the other moms in the world via Power of Moms is such a lot of work and is just a drop in the bucket. But drops create ripples. And ripples go on and on and on. I think my greatest moments of rejoicing come when I get a chance to glimpse the effects of one of those ripples...
OK, so that got a little deep and I'm not sure I've fully got all this. But there are some of my thoughts from this past week...