This week my family is preparing for Shavuot-a major Jewish holy-day. I just discovered Shavuot a few weeks ago and have been excited about it since because not only does it sound fun (you get to stay up all night reading scriptures and eating cheese cake)but it also, has important symbolism (According to one site I read, the Jewish people stay up all night to show the Lord that even though their ancestors were caught unaware when Moses finally came down from the mountain, THEY will not be caught unaware, but are eagerly waiting for him to speak to them). All of us need reminders of the importance God’s words and being prepared to receive and act upon it.
To prepare for Shavuot, my family is reading all about Moses in Exodus, and then doing activities to go with our devotional.We just read about about Moses seeing the burning bush. In the scriptures it says :
Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
I found this scripture interesting because a long time ago, when I was struggling with something I came across this talk written by Elder Eyring called Waiting Upon The Lord. The whole talk was completely inspiring to me, and I have listened to it many times since.
One part in the talk stood out for me when I first heard it, and continues to be etched in my mind. It isa quote from Heber J Grant
“There is but one path of safety to the Latter-day Saints, and that is the path of duty. It is not testimony, it is not marvelous manifestations, it is not knowing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, . . . it is not actually knowing that the Savior is the Redeemer, and that Joseph Smith was His prophet, that will save you and me, but it is the keeping of the commandments of God, the living the life of a Latter-day Saint. [Heber J. Grant, Improvement Era,”
Many times I have thought about the importance of this “path of duty”. To me, doing your duty, means to do that what you know you ought to. And most would add “even if you don’t want to”.
This duty thing has stuck with me, in part because duty sounds so grey, predictable, so. . .mundane and hard (you know that “even if you don’t want to” part). Part of me agrees that yes it is predictable, mundane and hard, and the other part of me thinks doing your duty is exciting, invigorating, fun, easy and the most wonderful thing you could be asked to do.
For instance, when I hold my babies and kiss them all over-that is NOT hard, when I go camping with my kids-that is NOT boring, when I take time to arrange a retreat with my husband-that is NOT mundane. Life is full of ‘doing your duty’, and it is because we do ‘our duty’ that we are able to enjoy the blessings, and richness that we do enjoy. We tend to think of our duty as Eeyore-grey and gloomy, when infact it is Tigger-wild, vibrant and full of life!!
It is when we are doing our duty that the really exciting parts of life come our way.
To prove my point, think about Moses. There he was, doing his duty and tending his flocks. All was going well when behold he sees a burning bush that does not get consumed!! How cool is that?! Imagine, a bush that burns but doesn’t get burnt up. Now if Moses had of been out with his buddies, skipping out on his duty, I bet that he would not have even noticed the burning bush in the first place. When you are goofing off, who notices something strange in the mountains (if he was even near the mountains at all).
Moses notices the burning bush and he then does something that seems like he ISN”T doing his duty-he leaves his sheep to go up into the mountain and see this bush.So Moses leaves his sheep (sheep are allowed to be left alone :)) and goes and says “I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.” He recognized something special when he saw it and he was willing to go aside and see what it was. The Lord honored this immediate response to his call “and when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God acalled unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses.
And he said, Here am I.” This was that pivotal moment in Moses’s life that Winston Churchill speaks about when he says: To every person there comes in their lifetime that special moment when you are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to you and your talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds you unprepared or unqualified for work which could have been your finest hour.” Moses has a great perspective of his duty.
His duty is not supposed to cause him to have a tunnel vision that blocks out anything else- I firmly believe that if we are doing our duty, we will be given experiences that will change our lives if we are willing to let them. It helps to remember that our first duty is to God. George Albert Smith, said, “It is your duty first of all to learn what the Lord wants and then by the power and strength of His holy Priesthood to [so] magnify your calling in the presence of your fellows in such a way that the people will be glad to follow you.” 8I have friends who are so concerned about doing their duty and providing for their family, that they are too busy to come home and eat dinner with their family, or lead them in spiritual matters. This is NOT doing your duty.
Not only does Moses do his duty, not only is he prepared when he is “tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do avery special thing, unique to [his] talents”, but he also ready to act upon the promptings of the Lord. Just like the Jewish people are ‘waiting upon the Lord’ during Shavuot, we too must wait upon the Lord. We must be like Moses and be ready for when God comes to us-which will most likely be while we are doing our duty (unlike Jonah 🙂 ). As we wait upon the Lord, we can be assured that the Lord will watch over us. I love the way Elder Robert D. Hales helps us see that : “in my Gethsemane” and yours, we are not alone. He that watches over us “shall neither slumber nor sleep.” His angels here and beyond the veil are “round about [us], to bear [us] up.” I bear my special witness that our Savior’s promise is true, for He says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” May we wait upon Him by pressing forward in faith, that we may say in our prayers, “Thy will be done,” and return to Him with honor.”
To remind my children and I to aways be ready, and not to be caught unaware, we made some ‘burning bush’s’ of our own. These luminar will be used on Shavuot to help us “wait upon the Lord” and slumber not!!!