By going in order through the Doctrine and Covenants, the Come Follow Me lessons sometimes show the concerns of the Church at a particular point in time. The seven sections included in this lesson are quite varied, but all demonstrate temporal concerns — where to put all the immigrants arriving in Kirtland, how members should share what they have, how should church members fulfill the command to gather to Missouri and who should be doing the printing of Church publications.
But despite these temporal concerns, in these sections there are clearly spiritual lessons which are germane to the temporal needs and directives. These include learning to become a faithful, just and wise steward, and learning to be pure in heart.
Being a Faithful Steward
Eliza R. Snow is likely considered to be a faithful steward by most Church members. But like most of us, she had to make the decision to follow the gospel. She wrote about that decision in the following poem, and of the stewardship responsibilities that came with that decision.
When I espous’d the cause of truth
Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”-Matt. 7:14
- When I espous’d the cause of truth,
- The holy spirit, from on high,
- Promply instructed me, forsooth,
- To lay my youthful prospects by.
- I saw along the “narrow way”
- An ordeal, which the saints must meet
- To gain the prise: I therefore lay
- My earthly all, at Jesus’ feet.
- My life committed to his care,
- With food and raiment I’m content;
- While with the “faithful,” I share
- The glorious blessings, God has sent.
- Who, thinks beneath life’s golden sky,
- To reach the upper court of God!
- Who, can the christian armor ply,
- In lifes gay pathway, smooth and broad?
- With purpose fix’d, we must presume
- An onward course, with steadfast aim;
- And keep perfection’s mark in view,
- Reckless, of grandeur, ease and fame.
- Alas! for some, who lately shone
- Resplendent, like the orbs on high:
- Who’re waning like yon late full-moon,
- That now seems verging from the sky!
- Can man secure the great reward,
- And from thy holy precepts stray?
- Take not thy spirit from me, Lord!
- But keep me in the “narrow way.”
- Oh! let me never never prise,
- Thy favor, less than earthly good;
- Nor thy prophetic voice despise,
- Like those that perished in the flood!
Being Pure in Heart
Another of the principles covered in these sections is becoming the pure in heart, those who the Lord wants to bless. I haven’t been able to identify the following poet, Esther R. Bowen, but her poem does communicate something important, I think, about becoming pure in heart — the focus on others, and on this case some of the most vulnerable among us.
A Teacher’s Prayer
by Esther R. Bowen (1941)
- Our kind and Heavenly Father,
- With all Thy loving care,
- Wilt Thou grant me this petition
- And hear a teacher’s prayer.
- Help me to live so close to Thee
- That I might have, I pray,
- The shining light of love to teach
- These children of to-day.
- These little ones have come to me,
- And may I always know
- Just how to guide their footsteps
- In the paths where they should go.
- Grant me strength and wisdom
- That I might evil stem,
- And help me to be pure in heart –
- I would be one with them.
- And when I stand before them,
- May I so humble be,
- That the radiance of Thy spirit
- Might shine on them through me.
- To teach these little children
- My joy will be untold,
- If through my earnest efforts
- I can keep them in Thy fold.
[HT Ardis Parshall at Keepapitchinin]
It is nice to read some elevated poetry on the Zion-related issues of being a faithful steward and being pure in heart, but being a results-oriented and temporal kind of guy, I wonder where the real Zion is. I see the date on the first poem is 1841 and on the second poem is 1941. As far as I can tell, nothing much happened about creating a real Zion in that 100 year stretch, and nothing happened about creating Zion in the next 80 year stretch up to the present. One might conclude that we haven’t the slightest idea of what a temporal Zion should look like nor how we should get there. Maybe this is what we should be talking about today. Is “Zion” nothing more than a vaporous, otherworldly, or heavenly concept or should there be some very serious earthly manifestations? With the forces of societal dissolution raging all around us, it seems to me that we could use some “Zion” at this point in time, but we don’t seem to have done anything to leave the purely poetic wishful frame of mind.