and thought I’d share. These are the notes I worked from, so you’ll have to fill in some of the transition phrases. 🙂 I was asked to speak on being “stirred to remembrance”.
Stir to remembrance
This phrase is used many times in the scriptures. Prophets throughout time have used this technique to help their people.
Looking through the scriptures, we see that prophets stirred their people to remembrance of their duty, God, their duty TO God, oaths and covenants they had made, gospel principles that lead to exaltation, words of holy prophets and commandments of God .
And why did they do this? Mosiah gives us the reason clearly:
“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah 4: 11)
If all of love and knowledge and remission of sin is dependent upon us remembering, I can see why President Kimball, in an address in 1968 said that perhaps the most important word in the dictionary is the word “remember”.
So if we liken the scriptures to ourselves, who was stirred?
Those who knew/had known. You can’t remember something you don’t know or haven’t been taught. The Israelites seemed to be constantly forgetting the things the Lord had done for them and being stirred to remembrance. The Nephites were stirred to remembrance many, many times when they were being very wicked, as were the Lamanites, once they had been taught. But King Benjamin’s people were also stirred, as were the Early Christians, and that happened while they were being righteous.
I’m reminded of the talk last week about repentance; how it is a process of changing and becoming more like God, not just righting wrongs. We all have work to do in that regard, and this process of remembering helps us to do that. When we are stirred to remembrance it makes us want to do better, to work harder, to be more humble and more dependent on the Lord. It helps us do course corrections when we have diverged, even slightly- from the path of God. For the wicked, those corrections are huge. For the righteous, they may be very small.
The degree to which the people of scripture diverged influenced the manner and intensity of their “stirring” process.
Before we talk about those people, let’s talk for a moment about the implications of the word stirring:
It’s interesting that in each case it says “stirring to remembrance”, not “brought to remembrance” or “reminded”.
Stirring is an action word. I think of stirring soup, or stirring from sleep; something that starts small and gets larger and all encompassing. Those motions suggest to me spiritual movements over mental thoughts, and indicates the process of the Holy Ghost.
We know the ability of the Holy Ghost to affect us depends on our receptivity, on the hardness or softness of our hearts.
In the scriptures, those with hard hearts / not righteous are like a week old stew left on the stove, where everything has settled to bottom, yucky, stiff, stagnant. This stew has forgotten what it feels like to be fluid, and perhaps is happy being “solid”. Perhaps it thinks it’s discovered its true form. For it, stirring is an upheaving process. If you think about stirring such a stew, it would take big motions, and a lot of effort. If you were the stew, it would be painful and uncomfortable.
For the Nephites, many times this was the Lamanites, who were to be “a scourge unto thy seed, to astir them up in remembrance of me. “ (2 Ne 5: 25)
Other times it was hardship: “when they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty. (Mosiah 1: 17)
Later, in the time right before Christ, Nephi and Lehi asked the Lord specifically to intercede and send famine to stir the people to remembrance and repentance. (Hel 11: 4)
The Lamanites who had been taught by Aaron and his brothers but rejected their words were stirred to remember their words in the midst of the horrors of war, and many of them were converted.
The wickedness of Alma’s people was such that he left the judgement seat “that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them. “ (Alma 4:19)
I would love to hear Alma’s testimony, but I’m sure that was scary and intimidating. – The power of a prophet of God directly calling you to repentance.
And the prophet doing it was one who himself was powerfully stirred to remembrance himself. This is the guy who was completely wicked, and was confronted by an angel, and for 3 days was unconscious and:
“ 12 … racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was bharrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
23 But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.
24 Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Talk about yucky. hard stew being stirred into good soup! Nice, creamy soup that is easy to stir. Maybe a nice tomato.
When we are closer in spirit to that smooth creamy soup the Lord wants us to be, the stirring process is easier. No upheaval, no uncomfortableness. Sometimes during the process, He is even able to stir in more ingredients: greater understanding, even new covenants.
This happened with King Benjamin. His people’s hearts were in such a state that the Holy Ghost could bear witness of his words and stir them to the desire to make greater covenants. After they did that, he “appointed priests to teach the people, that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made” . (Mosiah 6:3)
Peter stirred the Early Christians to remembrance with the gentle words and counsel in his epistles, and he reminded them to look to earlier prophets and commandments of Christ.
Much nicer than famine and war and affliction and loss, don’t you think?
So how can WE remember, so that we don’t become yucky, stagnant stew? Especially in the midst of struggle and affliction?
First we need to remember that just because we’re having trials doesn’t mean we’re wicked like the Nephites, trials come to everyone, and are an opportunity to turn or keep close to the Lord. It’s interesting that the two uses of stirring in the scriptures of stirring are stirring to remembrance and stirring to anger. We can allow our struggles to bring us closer to God, or we can get angry. One takes us closer to soup, one closer to stew.
The scriptures suggest a number other things we can do that can stir us to remembrance.
Mosiah speaks of the law of Moses as “a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.” (Mosiah 13:30) They were given a great many things to remind them, but when they took them for granted, and no longer remembered, the Lord had to use other means. They were given manna every day to remind them of their dependence on the Lord- when that miracle became commonplace for them and they complained about not having meat, he told them He’d give them meat until it came out their noses.
We no longer follow the Law of Moses, but we also have ordinances and performances to help us remember, and we need to be just as careful not to take them for granted. We are provided with the opportunity each week to partake of the Sacrament in remembrance of Christ- do we make the most of that? Some of us have participated in ordinances in the Temple. We’re lucky that we live close to the temple so we can return often and remember those covenants that we’ve made.
We also have “performances” that are suggested to us that can stir us to remembrance on a daily or weekly basis.
As Alma suggested, we can ask ourselves if we have “sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?” (Alma 5:6) How do we remember the things the Lord has done for people who lived before? We do that by reading the scriptures and knowing them. We can also look to our literal fathers, and read family histories or other accounts.
We are told to offer ourselves in prayer upon our knees before God, “in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant. “ D&C 88: 131
Moses speaks of a book of remembrance that was kept among Adam and his family. Do we keep a journal? Do we record the things the Lord has done for us?
We’ve been counseled by latter day prophets to hold Family Home Evening, and to have pictures of Christ and the temple in our homes.
The words of those same latter day prophets can also stir us to remembrance. I’m thinking of Elder Holland’s talk this last conference- I think it stirred a great many people to remembrance of the things Christ has done for us.
If we do these things, in addition to their stirring us to remembrance, we will be worthy to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, who we are told brings all things to our remembrance. (John 14:26)
And when we do remember, we are told to “ Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. “ (PS 97:12 )
Because if we don’t remember now, we’ve been told that will remember later. “ Or otherwise, can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having a remembrance of all your guilt, yea, a perfect remembrance of all your wickedness, yea, a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?” Alma 5:18
“When you look in the dictionary for the most important word, do you know
what it is? It could be remember. Because all of you have made covenants –
you know what to do and you know how to do it – our greatest need is to
remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every Sabbath day –
to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that ‘they may always
remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.’ Remember is
the word. Remember is the program.” Kimball, Spencer W. “Circles of
Exaltation,” Address to Seminary and Institute Personnel, BYU, June 28,