At this point it is good to explain how the Saints were looking forward to finally knowing where Zion was to be located. I like to show the map and let them see where the temple was to be built. Usually at this point, some kids ask questions regarding the Second Coming and Jerusalem, so be ready for those types of questions.
In this section the Lord tells the Saints that they are about to experience some serious tribulation. I liken this time in Church History to a time in the life of my students where if they can just hold on, great blessings await them. Just as the Saints felt that they were not in control of their lives during the Missouri period, the youth often feel as if their parents are dictating to them what they can and cannot do. Once they make it safely across their teenage years with faith in Christ and a solid foundation, they will be the recipients of tremendous blessings. But making it through your teen years can be tough. Most of the folks who make it through the Missouri period end up faithful and make the nucleus of the saints who make it to Utah.
This section outlines 5 things the Saints need to do to be a Zion people.
5 Things they need to do
You cannot see what I see- verses 1-3
Whenever a prophet speaks, we should ask ourselves, “I wonder what he sees?”
TPJS p.34 I have always expected that Zion would experience some affliction
It’s coming, so how do I survive it?
#1- obey the prophet -verse 6- be obedient
#2 – Verse 8- make a feast and invite everyone to come to the feast= do missionary work!
Where did we first go? England. How are we doing there now? Not as well. But we are succeeding in some of the developing countries. The Lord wants the elders of the church to invite everyone to the wedding feast, to prepare for His coming. A Zion people are a missionary people.
#3 Live Consecration– Verse 19- my law shall be kept on this land. We have to live consecration (D&C 42), if we can’t do that, we can’t have Zion.
#4 Be anxiously engaged in building Zion= work hard! Verse 26-28
#5 Build the temple – verse 57
I take the students back to verses 26-28 and we spend some time looking at what the Lord is asking of us.
It’s as if the Lord is saying, “If you need a rulebook on how to live your life, you are no good to me. You need to think, act and live according to what you know to be true!”
What are some things that you don’t have to do, but it would please God if you did it anyways?
How do you illustrate this?
We all are told to go on a mission- but how do you go? Prepared, having read the BOM, with a testimony. Being anxiously engaged doesn’t mean going beyond what has already been said, we have all been invited to be all we can be. Are you a body filling a suit in the mission field, or are you an excited, vibrant, testimony filled missionary?
What does an anxiously engaged seminary student look like?
What does an anxiously engaged basketball player look like?
One student shared this quote in class:
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”- Michael Jordan
Think about the act of actually being engaged- what are some things you do to get someone to like you?
You do some pretty crazy things when in love. The Lord is basically saying, if you really knew how much I love you, you would be anxiously engaged!
Other illustrations on being “anxiously engaged”
Are there things that we want to do but we are afraid we will look bad if we try?
What are they?
Missionary work, asking a girl out on a date, trying out for a sport, taking the initiative in making a friendship, etc.
One of my students, Arthur, shared how he works at Lagoon and one day he decided to “put himself out there” by engaging with the people who rode the rides. He joked with them, made up cheers and got the patrons excited to ride the roller coaster before it started. People would come back to the park and ride the rides he was operating because of his enthusiasm. Arthur learned that sitting back and being passive was not as fun as engaging with people and taking risks. His supervisors noticed this and promoted him.
McKenna shared how much she feared snowboarding. For the last two years her friends had always begged her to come snowboarding with them. At the last minute, she would always cancel – mostly because she was afraid to look stupid in front of her friends. This last break she had 10 days off school and for the first time, she took to the slopes on her snowboard. Not only did she love it, she found that she is actually a good snowboarder. After she shared this experience, other students in the class began to see this idea come together and they shared their stories of the value of this principle.
We tied this into the Atonement by stating that the Savior did not go through what he went through for us to sit by passively watching life pass us by. He sent us here to actively use our agency to bring to pass His cause, because He should mean that much to us.
In some of my classes I shared this story which illustrates the idea being taught.
The Empty Pot
A long time ago in China there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom. Up came flowers, bushes, and even big fruit trees, as if by magic! Everyone in the kingdom loved flowers too. They planted them everywhere, and the air smelled like perfume. The emperor loved birds and animals, but flowers most of all, and he tended his own garden every day. But the emperor was very old. He needed to choose a successor to the throne. Who would his successor be? And how would the Emperor choose? Because the Emperor loved flowers so much, he decided to let the flowers choose. The next day a proclamation was issued: All the children in the land were to come to the palace. There they would be given special flower seeds by the Emperor. “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time,” he said, “Will succeed me to the throne.” The news created great excitement throughout the land! Children from all over the country swarmed to the palace to get their flower seeds. All the parents wanted their children to be chosen Emperor, and all the children hoped they would be chosen too! When Ping received his seed from the Emperor, he was the happiest child of all. He was sure he could grow the most beautiful flower. Ping filled a flowerpot with rich soil. He planted the seed in it very carefully. He watered it every day. He couldn’t wait to see it sprout, grow, and blossom into a beautiful flower! Day after day passed, but nothing grew in his pot. Ping was very worried. He put new soil into a larger pot. Then he transferred the seed into the rich black soil. Another two months he waited. Still nothing happened. By and by the whole year passed. Spring came, and all the children put on their best clothes to greet the Emperor. They rushed to the palace with their beautiful flowers, eagerly hoping to be chosen. Ping was ashamed of his empty pot. He thought the other children would laugh at him because he couldn’t get a flower to grow. His clever friend ran by, holding a great big plant. “Ping!” he said. “You’re not really going to the Emperor with an empty pot, are you? Couldn’t you grow a big flower like mine?” “I’ve grown lots of flowers better than yours,” Ping said. “It’s just this seed that won’t grow.” Ping’s father overheard this and said, “You did your best, and your best is good enough to present to the Emperor.” Holding the empty pot in his hands, Ping went straight away to the palace. The Emperor was looking at the flowers slowly, one by one. How beautiful all the flowers were! But the Emperor was frowning and did not say a word. Finally he came to Ping. Ping hung his head in shame, expecting to be punished. The Emperor asked him, “Why did you bring an empty pot?” Ping started to cry and replied, “I planted the seed you gave me and I watered it every day, but it didn’t sprout. I put it in a better pot with better soil, but still it didn’t sprout! I tended it all year long, but nothing grew. So today I had to bring an empty pot without a flower. It was the best I could do.” When the Emperor heard these words, a smile slowly spread over his face, and he put his arm around Ping. Then he exclaimed to one and all, “I have found him! I have found the one person worthy of being Emperor! “Where you [all] got your seeds from, I do not know. For the seeds I gave you had all been cooked. So it was impossible for any of them to grow. I admire Ping’s great courage to appear before me with the empty truth, and now I reward him with my entire kingdom and make him Emperor of all the land!”