Keep Doing What You're Doing (Ether 15)
There is a quote that is often used in motivational speaking that says, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." The point of this quote is to recognize that the way things work out in various areas of our lives are often a direct result of what we do in those areas. If we keep doing something the same exact way, the results will probably be pretty much the same. If we want the results to change, then we need to change what we do.
Perhaps the Jaredite civilization would have survived if they had only known this definition of insanity.
In Ether 15, the last of the Jaredites are divided into two groups with everyone — men, women, and children — included as part of one army or the other. The two sides go to war and, after a fierce day of fighting, each side suffers many deaths. In each camp, the night is filled with "a howling and a lamentation for the loss of the slain of their people; and so great were their cries, their howlings and lamentations, that they did rend the air exceedingly" (verse 16).
After this horrific night, the people go out the next day and…do the exact same thing. Again, many people are killed on each side, and another night of howling and lamentation is spent. The cycle is repeated the next day and the next, over and over again, until eventually everyone is dead and the Jaredite civilization is no more.
In the above account, each day was an opportunity to do things differently and achieve different results but instead, the same actions were taken, resulting in the same outcome — many deaths.
In our own lives, each day is an opportunity to change the way we do things. If the results we are seeing in any area of our lives are not what we would like them to be, then doing the same thing over and over in that area will probably result in the same unacceptable outcome. As servants of God, we have the opportunity to approach the Lord in prayer and ask for His direction. If He directs us to change our behavior in one of these areas, let's be open to making those changes. Doing the same exact things and expecting different results is…well, you get the idea.
Although this concept is always taught from the perspective of wanting to change your results and therefore being willing to change what you are doing, it occurs to me that the reverse would also be true. If you're happy with how things are working out in a specific area of your life, you probably don't want that to change, so then you want to keep doing what you're doing. Changing what you're doing and expecting the same good results you were getting before — well, it may not be insanity but it's risky and probably unwise.
When Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, He told His apostles:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20)
Notice how the statement is structured — They were to do certain things (teach all nations, baptize them, teach them to observe what Jesus commanded) and the results would be that Jesus would be with them always. Over the next few hundred years, church leaders gradually did things differently — not surprisingly, the results were also different, as the Lord was no longer with them.
In The Church of Jesus Christ today, we do our best to follow the teachings and examples of Christ in areas such as baptism, communion, feet washing, etc. As we do these things, we feel the Lord's presence with us. We don't want this to change, so we are careful to not change these ordinances. Even when it's difficult — such as during a pandemic — we need to keep doing what we're doing in order to ensure the same result.
In your own life, think of a time when you felt close to God (hopefully, it's today). What personal activities contributed to that result? Perhaps some combination of fasting, praying, reading the scriptures, actively attending church, etc. If you do feel close to God today, keep doing what you're doing. If you don't feel close to God, don't resign yourself to that condition — do more of the things that you did when you did feel close to Him, and you should see better results.
When we stand before God when this life has ended, we will be admitted into His eternal kingdom if our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. If your name is written in that book today, you definitely don't want that to change, so keep doing what you're doing for the rest of your life (also referred to as enduring to the end) and you can look forward to a most blessed result — a mansion in the kingdom of God.
All the Ether Blog Articles
Today's post covers the final chapter of Ether. If you missed any of the previous articles, here's a list:
|Chapter||Link to Article|
|1||Keep Speaking the Same Language|
|2||Seeking, Receiving, and Following God's Direction|
|3||The Light of the World|
|4||Taste the Grass on the Summit|
|5||The Power of God — Not to Be Denied|
|7||There Are 2 Kingdoms — Pick One|
|8||God Sees Us, Whatever We Do|
|9||The Lyin' King|
|10||We're Done Living in Captivity|
|11||Don't Shoot the Messenger|
|12||Believing Is Seeing|
|13||A City of Peace Provided by God|
|14||Lost and Found|
|15||Keep Doing What You're Doing (This Post)|
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.