what is a squiggle?

According to fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Hill, a squiggle is a beginning point, a small, wiggly line on a page with the potential to become something more--a brilliantly drawn fifth-grade picture!

A beginning point. A silly phrase from my preschooler, my teenager rolling his eyes, or my kindergartner deleting my entire 3rd chapter...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Matthew 14:24-31

"But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
"And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
"But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
"And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
"And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
"And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"

Apparently, I still have faith on my mind. Peter didn't suffer from "blind faith;" he knew that Jesus could and would let him walk on the water. And he was doing fine until he let himself be distracted. So, even strong faith can waver if we take our eyes off the Savior and start worrying about what's going on around us.

In his October 2010 conference talk, Elder Richard G. Scott offered some ways that we can keep focused on the Lord when we are exercising our faith:

  • Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
  • Obedience to His commandments and a life that demonstrates that He can trust you.
  • Sensitivity to the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit.
  • Courageous implementation of that prompting.
  • Patience and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and when answers come a piece at a time over an extended period.

To help calm our fears when we see "the wind boisterous" in the world around us, Elder Scott promises:

"Satan's increasing influence in the world is allowed to provide an atmosphere in which to prove ourselves. While he causes havoc today, Satan's final destiny was fixed by Jesus Christ through His Atonement and the Resurrection. The devil will not triumph. Even now he must operate within the bounds set by the Lord. He cannot take away any blessing that has been earned. He cannot alter character that has been woven from righteous decisions. He has no power to destroy the eternal bonds forged in the holy temple between a husband, wife, and children. He cannot quench true faith. He cannot take away your testimony. Yes, these things can be lost by succumbing to his temptations. But he has no power in and of himself to destroy them."

I find this promise to be a tremendous boost to my faith. Sometimes it does seem like Satan is winning, in control. What a peaceful feeling to be reminded that he cannot win. Jesus has already taken care of that. I think knowing this makes it easier to ignore the distractions around us that try to tell us we can't, or it's impossible, and allows us to keep our focus on the Savior.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Mark 9:24

"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

I've always struggled with the meaning of this scripture. Does he believe or doesn't he? We're always told that doubt and faith cannot coexist, so he must either have the belief or the unbelief, not both.

He had to have some faith, because Jesus healed the man's son. So that brings us back to the question: what does this scripture mean?

In a religion class at BYU I learned some interesting things about obedience--especially the difference between blind obedience and intellectual obedience. Blind obedience is obedience because the prophet or someone we trust told us to do it. Intellectual obedience is obedience based on our own knowledge that we should do something, not just because the prophet said it.
This knowledge only occurs after prayer and study.

Maybe the same idea can be applied to the question of belief. Recently I struggled with something that I wanted very much. I prayed hard and long that this thing might be granted to me. I believed, like the afflicted child's father, that the Lord had the power to give me my desire. But, oh help my unbelief! I doubted that the Lord wanted to give it to me.

My thoughts are that blind faith would be faith in the Lord's ability to work miracles, but lacking an understanding of His will. Intellectual faith would be faith based on the Lord's matchless power as well as His will, which is revealed through the Holy Ghost. We must, therefore, study and pray, learning to feel and be guided by the spirit, so that our belief is directed at what the Lord has in store for us.

I think a beautiful example of both blind faith and intellectual faith can be found in the experiences of Alma and Amulek in the city of Ammonihah. The two men watch in horror as the people of Ammonihah put to death the families of the believers. In agony, Amulek turns to Alma and asks, "How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."

Amulek knew the Lord had the power to save the innocent from their suffering. What he had not yet learned, was to recognize the spirit, which could help him to know the will of the Lord. Alma, on the other hand, had plenty of experience with the spirit and recognized its guiding influence.

He told Amulek, "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord recieveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just..."

Alma knew the Lord could free the people, but his faith was intellectual, based on what was in agreement with the Lord's will as revealed to him by the spirit.

I believe. But I need to increase my receptiveness to the spirit so that I may know when my desires are in harmony with what the Lord has in mind, so that I can exercise my faith to its fullest.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Scripture Squiggle: Alma 23:17

"And it came to pass that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites."

As I've read about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies the past few weeks in my personal scripture study, I was puzzled anew about their choice in a name. Obviously they didn't want to be known as Lamanites any more, rejecting any association with their wicked brethren. But the name always came across as negative toward the Nephites as well. I remembered learning something in Seminary way back when that had helped clarify things, but alas, I could not recall the information.

Amazing what moving can do! I found my old Seminary folder in a box and yes! the paper was in it. The following is from Jeffrey Chadwick, a professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU.

A Proposal for the Meaning of the Name "Anti-Nephi-Lehi"

"In Alma 23 we find that the people converted by the sons of Mosiah no longer wanted to be called Lamanites. They desired a name that distinguished them from their non-believing Lamanite brethren. Verse 17 tells us "that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no longer called Lamanites." An intriguing question over the years has been what is really meant by the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

"Sidney B. Sperry believed that the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi meant that the converted Lamanites were now opposed ("anti") to their brethren who lived in the land of "Lehi-Nephi." Hugh Nibley went one better by suggesting that the meaning of "anti" was really "ante," which connotes "being before" or "facing," suggesting that the converted Lamanites were now imitating the Nephites. For various reasons I had never felt comfortable with either of these theories.

"Having done quite a bit of work with Hebrew and Egyptian lately, I decided to apply some principles of those languages to difficult Book of Mormon terms (such as Anti-Nephi-Lehi, Rameumptom, and others) and see what could be learned. The attempt to write "Anti-Nephi-Lehies" in hieroglyphics was most instructive, and suggested a new and simple meaning for the term.

The key was the prefix "anti," which in Egyptian can only be rendered as...a pair of arms with open palms in question mode. The consonant value of [this symbol] is n. This term can be translated a variety of ways, such as anti, opposed, non-existing, never, etc., but the most basic meaning is non or not. The Oxford Universal Dictionary reveals that the English word "anti" not only connotes being opposed to something, but can also act as a simple negator, such as the words non or not.

"Now it seems clear from the text of the Book of Mormon that the "Nephi-Lehi" portion of the new name directly refers to the converted Lamanites, not to the Lamanite land or the Nephite people. For example, in Alma 23:17 the converts (plural) were referred to as Anti-Nephi-Lehies (plural), but in Alma 24:3 a single convert was called Anti-Nephi-Lehi (singular). With all of this in mind, may I suggest that the term Anti-Nephi-Lehi means Non-Nephite-Lehite, and the plural term Anti-Nephi-Lehies means Non-Nephite-Lehites, or in other words Lehites who are not Nephites.

"Remember that the motive for the name change was that the converts no longer wanted to be called Lamanites, a label which was associated with the tradition of a wicked and unbelieving ancestor. But what could the new converts call themselves? Nephites? No, they were not his descendants. The could, however, go one step beyond Laman to their common father Lehi. But to call themselves Lehites might still give the impression they were Nephites, since Lehi and Nephi were always on the same side (opposite Laman) on so many issues. To avoid any confusion the new name Non-Nephite-Lehites (or Anti-Nephi-Lehies) was perfect. It probably sounded a lot better in their language than it does in ours, and less clumsy too. Most of all, it was accurate. They were now, after all, faithful Lehites who were not Nephites."

*Note: I could not figure out how to show the symbol for "anti" so I had to remove it from the writing.