Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gospel Fire 1



by Bradly Baird (bio)



If when on a winter's night you sit feasting with your earldormen and brumali --- and a simple sparrow should fly into the hall, and coming in at one door, instantly fly out through another. In that time in which it is indoors it is indeed not touched by the fury of the winter; but yet, this smallest space of calmness being passed almost in a flash, from winter going into winter again, it is lost to our eyes. Somewhat like this appears the life of man --- but of what follows or what went before, we are utterly ignorant. -- The Venerable Bede

I reached a plateau a few weeks ago and am feeling very flat, spiritually speaking. The fire for service in the gospel that has pushed me to run at top speed for the last two and a half years has dimmed considerably and I feel a little muddled at the present time. It might be that I am tired and somewhat burned out from all of the work that has been required of me, or it might be that I have taken too much on and need to pull back and recharge my batteries. Who knows why I am feeling this way, but I do know that my inner gospel fire seems to be low on fuel.

This does not mean any lessening of my testimony or the knowledge that I have about the gospel. It does not mean that I am going to start skipping sacrament meetings or slack off in my commitments to building the Kingdom of God. This is absolutely the Lord's work and I know my place in that work and the direction that I am going. But, I repeat what I said previously; I am feeling flat and the gospel fire is not burning brightly right now.

Neal A. Maxwell suggests that this flatness is a natural part of life and that we all go through it from time to time. He repeatedly speaks of times throughout our lives where we will feel "flat" in terms of our spirituality and our spiritual growth; not because we are committing aggregious sin or are lacking in our duties, but simply because that is the nature of life. He suggests that often these periods of "flatness" come along because we need time to pause and check in on our growth, be sure we are on track, chart a new direction, and re-commit to another period of increasing our faithfulness:

"It was brought forcibly to me that the seeming flat periods of life give us chance to reflect upon what is past as well as to be readied for some rather stirring climbs ahead. Instead of grumbling and murmuring, we should be consolidating and reflecting, which would not be possible if life were an uninterrupted sequence of fantastic scenery, confrontive events, and exhilarating conversation." (devotional address given at Brigham Young University on 27 November 1979)

That's a really nice truth, and should be reassuring. But, it isn't. This particular period of flatness is proving very difficult to move away from. I can't seem to stoke up the fire and move on. I feel so very tired and exhausted whenever it comes to anything spiritually-related. Even when I am teaching all my wonderful teenagers in Sunday School or am working with missionaries at the Missionary Training Center on Saturday mornings, I simply feel exhausted and bereft of the usual energy.

So, I open up the floor to all of you and ask for suggestions. Please offer up ideas about how to climb out of these massive spiritual doldrums into which I have fallen. I can't see my way out of this one and I would very much like to recharge and enter into another period of growth.

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