The Fruit of the Tree of Life and Joy

Joy and Thanksgiving ButtonJoin me for the next two weeks as we study Joy and Thanksgiving. This is part One of my thoughts as I study the assignments.

The scriptures, like any form of literature, is rife with symbolism. One symbol used often is the tree of life and it’s fruit. Studying this symbol will help us to learn more about joy and how to obtain it.

Soon this fruit will be filling me up with joy. :)

Soon this fruit will be filling me up with joy. 🙂

Lehi’s Dream

Before I really talk about Lehi’s dream, I want to discuss the end result: Lehi and others partake of the fruit of the tree of life. Nephi teaches us about this fruit:

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” – 1 Nephi 11:22-23

So, not only does Lehi partake of the fruit of the tree of life, but this fruit is amazing. It tastes great and fills him with joy. He desires to share it, and many other people partake of the fruit.

Now, as this dream opens, Lehi is suffering in a dark and dreary waste. He suffers in this state for many hours until finally, he decides to pray. I wonder, is there a point that the Lord would have just shown him the tree of life, even if Lehi didn’t pray? I doubt it. I think that Lehi only progressed because He prayed, and the Lord answered His prayer.

Additionally, the Lord didn’t simply hand Lehi a piece of fruit after Lehi uttered his prayer, instead, Lehi had to embark on a journey. But the path was laid out before Him, and he was taken from the dark and dreary waste thanks to the mercy of God.

After going to the tree, Lehi was able to experience the opposite of what he suffered before. He partook of the fruit of the tree of life which was sweet, desirable, and better than anything he had ever tasted. It filled his soul with joy.

I love this example because it is a reminder to me that we must struggle a little bit before we are able to partake of the fruit of the tree. And when I struggle, I know where I can turn: the Lord.

The Struggle

We learn a little bit more about obtaining the fruit that Lehi ate. There are a few struggles that must be endured before partaking of the fruit.
The Mist of Darkness
Before partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, we must pass through the “mists of darkness.” In my life, I guess I could say that there have been mists of darkness that I have passed through–depression, difficulty, the death of loved ones, divorce, loneliness, sickness, etc. These are dark times, and it can be easy to feel lost as trial seems to choke your ability to see even the next step ahead of you.

The Great and Spacious Building
Not only do we pass through tribulations as we press forward to the Tree of life, but we must also endure the temptations of the world. This seems especially hard these days. We are bombarded with images and ideas that tell us if we just buy x then we’ll be happy.

An interesting thing to note, even when we partake of the fruit of the tree of life, we have the agency to accept it. Some of those who partook of the fruit then chose to feel embarrassment and shame as they allowed the voices of those in the great and spacious building to interrupt the joy of partaking of the sought-after fruit. As a result of this distraction, they left the fruit of the tree of life, then wandered off into strange paths and were lost.

The Lord won’t force us to choose happiness. It is always our choice.

Alma’s Analogy

Later on in the Book of Mormon, Alma taught the people about faith. He compared faith to a seed. Often, we think of this story solely as a story of faith, but it is so much more than that!

The seed of faith will eventually sprout, and if we nourish it, it will turn into a tree that produces fruit. Alma describes the fruit:

“the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.” – Alma 32:42

Does this fruit sound familiar???

The sermon given by Alma is basically amazing. There is one part that especially struck me this time:

“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.” – Alma 32:40, emphasis added

Looking forward with an eye of faith is the real way to one day partake of the fruit of the tree of life. This is the way that we will be able to make it through the mists of darkness. Having an eye of faith will help us to discern that the taunts of those in the great and spacious building are nothing but lies. We won’t be overwhelmed or distracted when we keep our eye on the prize: the fruit of the tree of life.

I struggle with this at times. I’m not the best at visualizing or imagining my success. I just think, “geez, I hope…” and then proceed with naivete. But the thing is, I realize that won’t be enough to get me to the tree of life. I want to partake of this fruit. It is the most difficult thing that any of us will ever do. It requires constant attention and effort. And, at this point in my life, I can see how we get burned out. I can see how, if we don’t have this vision in our hearts, then we can be overcome by the constant barrage of Satan’s temptations and distractions. We have to be able to envision this fruit if we want to someday experience it.

***
What have you learned about Joy through the symbol of the fruit of the tree of life?

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Joy and Thanksgiving: Symbols – Fruit

I absolutely love the symbolic imagery that we studied today! I love thinking about the gospel, and symbols help me to understand the abstract concepts of the gospel so much more.

So – today, we’re studying the symbol of the Fruit of the Tree of Life.

“And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” – 1 Nephi 8:10-12

When Lehi partook of this fruit, he was filled with joy! This sounds more satisfying than: It tasted really good. His entire soul was joyful. It’s pretty straightforward – Lehi ate the fruit→He was filled with joy.

A consequence of feeling this joy, he desired to share it with others. Isn’t that the way it goes? When we experience something that brings us joy, we want to share it with others – especially those we love. Joy is contagious.

Nephi explains more about the fruit of the tree of life:

“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.”- 1 Nephi 11:21-23

Here we learn more about the fruit of the tree of life. Not only will our souls be filled with joy, but the fruit is actually the love of God. His love – is pure, and it is the most desirable thing. Another word for Our Father’s pure love: Charity.

Charity is the most desirable and joyous to the soul – That’s so true!! – I know that when I experience the pure love that Christ has for me, then I’m filled with joy. I’m filled with hope and peace. I want to do more to keep the commandments, and I want to do what I can to continue to experience His love and Joy.

Charity sheds itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men. That’s so true!! – When we experience charity, we are moved to also give charity. When we experience God’s love, then we are able to express God’s love. When we feel the Love God has for us, we begin to understand that He loves everyone. And it fills our souls with joy – even if those we share this charity with don’t end up accepting it. (We feel bad, but we still have peace).

The more I study this, the more I want to partake of this fruit.

We can’t just walk up and partake of the fruit, though. It requires a bit of work. We need to take a hold of the Iron Rod and overcome the conditions of the road ahead. In other words, we need to come to the Lord and take a hold onto His word and then overcome the conditions mortality. It isn’t easy, but if we follow the prophets – who, like Lehi, beckon us from the tree to come and partake, and if we press forward, holding onto the Rod of Iron, we will make it. We will be able to pass through “mists of darkness” such as depression or other kinds of trials. We also will be able to overcome the “shouts” we hear from the world and put off the natural man, so we can partake of the fruit.

The people who made it to the tree of life and partook of the fruit (and stayed faithful) didn’t go too quickly. They didn’t cling. They didn’t get distracted. They took it a step at a time. Because of their steady discipline, they eventually partook of the fruit.

Another mention of fruit

” 41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

42 And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.” – Alma 32:41-43

Does it excite any of you – to no end – that the seed of faith that we plant in our hearts may one day be the fruit of the tree of life? I love when things like this happen in the scriptures. We can see that the gospel is radial.

This is how I mark a symbol I find in the scriptures.

Alma teaches us that when we partake of this fruit, we will not hunger or thirst. We will be satisfied. We will be filled with the Love and power of God.

So – joy is available to us. This joy isn’t just a fleeting pleasure. It is Christ’s pure love. It motivates us to share. It satisfies and fills us. Even though we don’t experience this in full now, we can continue to press forward faithful. We can continue to nourish the seed of faith in our hearts. When we do these things, we will have the potential to partake.

Pretty cool.

***
For tomorrow’s assignment, click here.

Scripture Study Tips: Symbols

The scriptures are totally loaded with symbols. Looking for symbols and understanding them are a helpful way to get more meaning, and hopefully application, from the scriptures. Plus, symbols are fun!!!

Here is one of my favorite:

“And they thirsted not; he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also and the waters gushed out.” – 1 Nephi 20:21

First of all – some background. This scripture is found in First Nephi, but Nephi is actually quoting Isaiah. (See Isaiah 48:21).

This scripture references Moses and the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. The children of Israel were thirsty. They begged Moses for water. Moses, smote the rock, and it brought forth water that they could drink. Of course, Moses didn’t do this in and of himself. He did it through the power of the priesthood – and because of the suggestion of the Lord – Jehovah.

So, Jehovah saved Israel. (He did that so much!)

This scripture has so many awesome symbols.

Symbol Meaning
Desert Mortal life – especially being cut off from God
Israel Children of God – all of us
The Rock Jesus Christ
Waters Jesus Christ
The cleaving of the rock Christ’s atonement
The gushing of the waters Christ’s ability to heal us

I think it is interesting that this scripture reference has two types of Christ in it. However, because of the use of these two references, we can understand more about the role of the Christ’s sacrifice and crucifixion and how it brought about the atonement. It isn’t until the rock is smitten that the waters gush. Similarly, it wasn’t until Christ was smitten of men (and subsequently resurrected) that He was able to save men.

I love finding examples of symbols because they help me to understand the scriptures better. They help me to understand everything of the gospel better. In this example, I am better able to understand that Christ needed to suffer in order to bring us the peace and redemption we desired. As sad as it is to know that He suffered, I’m grateful that He did so willingly, and that we are all beneficiaries of His sacrifice.

I think that you can also look at this symbol in our own lives, too – as we seek to become Christ, we will have times when we feel smitten (through trials or adversities), and it is when we navigate these times, with the Help of our Savior, we begin to see how the Living Water can be found within us, too.

What are your favorite symbols in the scriptures???

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