I was asked to speak in church today and I thought I would share with you all what I talked about.
When I first learned of the “land flowing with milk and honey” a few thoughts ran through my child mind. First, I imagined rivers of milk running through valleys & hills made of shiny gold honey. My next thought was of all the honey I could eat. The image I developed of myself was like that of the infamous “Winnie the Pooh” (cue the “Winnie the Pooh” theme song). Soon, however, the thoughts of a tummy full of honey turned into concern for the lack of fluids for me to wash the honey down with. Sadly, I am lactose intolerant so the rivers of milk would be of no use to me. I realized I would probably not survive in such a place & if I could I would have to pack my own lunch which I was too young to do at the time. I abandoned all hope & any thoughts of this peculiar place until I joined the Church & started attending institute.
In one particular institute class we were talking about the Christ child & reading out of 2 Nephi 17:15 (also, Isaiah 7:15 in the KJV):
“Butter and honey shall he eat that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good…”
My institute director , Brother Abbott, explained that this was important because butter & honey were rare luxuries in Biblical times. Since butter & honey are now staples in modern family kitchens it was hard for us to imagine. So, Brother Abbott had us imagine that we were raised on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of Cheetos & Twinkies. Ideally, when we would grow up we would choose the good healthy food over the bad processed food (my parents & I definitely missed this memo/idea). Then he likened the good & bad food to righteous & unrighteous actions & desires. These examples helped us to understand Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father throughout His mortal life. I, also, realized that wherever Christ was it became a “land flowing with milk and honey.”
Reflection on this lesson I realized that today we have some things which have become rare luxuries. Some of these are lettering writing, the practice of cursive in school, and Oreos that taste better because they had lard in them. But the rarest things of them all are kindness and loving service. How could this be? Didn’t the Savior teach us this in John 13:34, He said:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you…”
Indeed, kindness & loving service have become as rare in these days as butter, milk, & honey in the days of the Old Testament.
Now, what if I told you that rather than thinking of “the promised land flowing with milk and honey” as a final destination it is really a journey…? And the purpose of this journey is to create a land flowing with milk and honey wherever you step… That definitely changes the image of such a land & the purpose of our mortal journey.
Before you despair & worry about all the grand extraordinary acts of kindness you now feel you must do. Let’s begin by starting very small. Even the smallest drop of honey is super sweet.
The psalmist gave some good advice when he wrote:
“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”
A kind word can make a huge difference in someone’s day.
I’ve recently experienced this first hand. I work as a caregiver to the elderly, my main jobs are to cook and cleaning for them. I started working with a woman who has severe OCD about cleaning. From the second she opened the door she was in tears about the state of her apartment. After calming her down as much as possible we set to work. Soon she was insulting & doubting my cleaning abilities. I wanted to be mad & say equally rude things back, but the Lord bound my tongue (thankfully!) & gave me a clear mind so I could see the situation as it really was. This poor woman was already so afflicted with her own inner torment that it would do no good for me to add fuel to the fire with mean words. Instead, I explained that I had never cleaned the way she was accustomed to so she was teaching me something new! I gave her a genuine smile (which even shocked me) & thanked her. This touched her in such a way that she has now stopped insulting & doubting me but is kind & gives me a hug when I see her. The Lord was entirely in control in that situation & He gave me a hands on lesson with creating a land flowing with milk & honey, at least for a moment, in that lady’s home.
In a recent General Conference address, President Monson shared a poem that I now understand & hold dear to my heart:
“I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind
But I never have yet
Felt a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind.”
The Savior taught through King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon that:
“…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are also in the service of your God…”
As for the rivers flowing with milk I imagine that the milk may mean pure intent. Doing kind acts of service with real intent makes the milk filling to those we give to drink. President Ezra Taft Benson once said:
“The pure love of Christ seeks only the eternal growth & joy of others.”
Since we are Jesus Christ’s disciples we should pray for love like His, so we can spread His love to those without.
Brothers & Sisters, I know that we can make wherever we are a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Even a land of Zion. I know that Jesus Christ lives, He is our Savior, & our perfect example. I know that Heavenly Father and the Son loves us perfectly & knows exactly what we need. I know the Holy Ghost will guide us to serve & bless the lives of others if we listen to it’s still small voice. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.