Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kinda Hungry

Driving home the other day I noticed a little light appear on the dashboard of my car. The symbol of a gas pump was an indicator that I was running low on fuel. Knowing that many drivers are like me, the light was designed to turn on in advance to protect the driver from being stalled on the road. I’m never excited to see the light, especially with rising gas prices, but I am grateful for the warning.

Fortunately I haven’t run completely out of gas for several years. The last time I did, I was lucky to have a cell phone with me. I called my wife and she helped me on the side of the freeway.

The incident reminds me of a parable Jesus told to his disciples about ten virgins who had gathered for a wedding. They were waiting for the bridegroom, but half of them did not bring oil for their lamps. When the bridegroom finally arrived, it was later than they had expected and they were not prepared. The five who lacked oil left to buy more and were not able to attend the wedding. What a sad ending to a happy story, at least for those who weren’t prepared. (See
St. Matthew 25:1-13)

I wonder if a dashboard indicator would have been helpful to the five who missed the wedding. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an appropriate warning that you are running low on fuel? Whether it is increasing dusk or an emptying fuel tank, lack of preparation is something that creeps up on us if we are not watching.

The oil referred to in the parable is a symbol our spiritual preparation. This example prompts the question, “Do I have enough faith to sustain me through sunset that may precede the wedding?” The foolish virgins had lamps but chose to ignore the lack of fuel.

Fortunately we each have a low-fuel indicator to warn us. The light of Christ is given to everyone to know right from wrong. The question is whether or not we choose to act. I believe we can recognize these spiritual warnings in much the same way that we receive physical warnings from our body when we are hungry.

My young children have a tendency to become grumpy when they are hungry or tired. Basic functions of the body are strained because the supply of nourishment is inadequate. They compensate by subconsciously diverting available but limited energy away from their good manners to more important priorities.

The older I get, the more I realize that I am no different from my children. My circumstances are more sophisticated, perhaps, but I have the same motivations for comfort and satisfaction that they do.

One difference between me and my children is my ability to recognize what my body is trying to tell me. It’s one of the things that we get with age and experience. When I get hungry, I am quicker to recognize what the problem is. I often feel a need for nourishment before it becomes critical. Quite often I am able to recognize what type of food my body is lacking, be it protein, carbohydrates, or some sort of vegetable. This is simply because I have a craving or appetite for a certain type of food.

Communication to our spirit happens in much the same fashion. Warnings come from the Holy Ghost as feelings or impressions. Instead of the calm peaceful feeling that comes when we are doing what is right, the impression may be that something is missing, or that we are running low on strength. As we learn to recognize these promptings, and act on them without delay, we can keep ourselves properly nourished.

The spiritual fuel we need is that which sustains and increases faith. It is the word of God given through revelation to his servants the prophets and recorded for our use.

The ancient Israelites were given manna daily by God to sustain them. Jesus taught that he was the bread of life and the staff that would uphold us. It is his word that we are invited to feast upon. There are junk food counterfeits that seem to satisfy for a while, but they do not sustain us. Only the word of God will satisfy us and stay with us.

I am grateful for inspired individuals who have recorded God’s word for our benefit. Like the ancient prophet, Nephi, I feel to say, “my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” He recorded his experiences and inspiration from God so that others could feast upon them as well. Nephi stated, “And upon these I write the things of my soul…. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and profit of my children. (
2 Nephi 4:15, 16)

We live in a time when our fuel tends to run out quicker. The opposition to making good choices is increasing. I see many who are looking for a clear direction but are confused about what is right and wrong. There are also those who are quick to offer spiritual junk food in this climate of confusion. Instead, we need to be consistent in providing proper nourishment for our spirits. We need the word of God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men have come to speak of revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead. It is my duty to say to you, that the need was never greater of new revelation than now. It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.”

How blessed we are to live in a time when apostles and prophets still teach us God’s word. They are not just spiritual leaders of ancient history, but are an active part of God’s plan for his children. God still speaks to his prophets and they do in fact still teach his children. One such opportunity is approaching in a couple weeks at a General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints.

Whether it be through scripture recorded by prophets gone before, or the word of the Lord through living prophets and apostles, the word of the Lord is sweet to me. It brings peace to my heart and light for my path.

I know God lives. I know He loves us, and He wants us to know just how much. His words will heal us. They will sustain us in difficult times and increase our gratitude in times of plenty. I am grateful for the scriptures and the words of the prophets. They always satisfy my hunger.

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