A God of Patterns

Come Follow Me: Doctrine and Covenants 94-97

What do a conch shell, a honeybee colony, and the human body all have in common? A mathematic phenomenon called The Fibonacci Sequence can be observed in each of them.[i] This unique pattern is repeated in nature enough to be called “The Golden Rule,” and is studied by scientists, artists, and students the world over. In this week’s Come Follow Me reading, the word “pattern” comes up quite a few times. Joseph Smith was instructed by the Lord to pattern His temple after those from antiquity, namely King Solomon’s temple, and the ancient tabernacle. He also instructed the temple dedication be conducted after the “pattern of the priesthood.”[ii] It seems to me, the Lord loves patterns. What can we learn from this method of teaching? What spiritual patterns appear in our lives, and what is the Lord trying to teach us?

Patterns teach consistency. Like a lot of children, my kids attended swimming lessons at an early age. They were taught to kick their legs like scissors and to reach their arms out in front of them like they were scooping ice cream. The pool can be a scary place for anyone learning to swim, but they were told by the teacher if they followed his instructions, they would swim and not sink. Just as the instructor promised, consistent effort in following his direction with exactness kept them from drowning every single time. Imagine how empty our beaches and pools would be if water suddenly changed its nature, and scissor kicks and ice cream scoops no longer worked to keep us afloat? Patterns can teach us everything from how to dance a ballet, to building a fighter jet. Patterns have been established before we set out. They have been tested out by others and have proven their success. There are always obstacles and outside forces of nature, but patterns can help us to move toward goals we set in all aspects of life and help us find comfort in being on the right track.

 Spiritual patterns are every bit as real as the ones we find in science and art. Elder David A. Bednar uses the imagery of patterns in his media message, “Patterns of Light,”[iii] where he compares the intensity of the Holy Ghost’s promptings to different forms of light. Perhaps the greatest pattern for each of us to discover is to learn the pattern the Lord uses to speak to us, individually. Patterns are important mechanisms for truth because they work every time. One of the most prominent patterns to be learned from in the Book of Mormon is the Pride Cycle. We know from this pattern that every time people experienced peace and prosperity and stopped turning to the Lord, happiness ceased.

As I’ve been more carefully observing how I strive to “Hear Him,”[iv] as President Nelson has challenged, I’ve looked for patterns. We already know from the prophet’s wise counsel that we can more easily hear God when we read the scriptures, or when we find ourselves serving in the temple. Are there other places we feel closer to God? A walk in nature always seems to instantly connect me to my Father in Heaven. Have you ever noticed if there is one time of day you receive promptings from the Holy Ghost more than others? Although promptings can and do come anytime, many of mine seem to come to me late at night, perhaps when it is quietest around me, and my mind is most free. I look to these spiritual patterns for peace.

As we strive to discern the spiritual patterns God has placed in our lives to help us hear Him, it is important to remember the great counterfeiter, Satan. The adversary utilizes patterns, too. Patterns of addiction, consistent negative self-talk, and holding grudges are all brought to pass through clear repeated action that takes place day after day. We can be mindful of both the negative and positive patterns in our lives with the help of the Holy Ghost. Enlisting the help of church leaders, loved ones, and mental health professionals can also help us to identify and change destructive patterns in our lives.

Confidence in thoughts and feelings that come to us through the Holy Ghost comes as we align our lives with the teachings of the gospel and strive to stay on the gospel path. Learning from on high is possible as we make room in our minds for God’s instruction. Cutting out distractions and learning more of our Savior, Jesus Christ, helps us to truly know the sound of the voice of the shepherd that calls to us, and keeps us from being drawn away by other enticing voices that might be within earshot.

Just as the swimmer will not make it back to land by only kicking her legs, we too must allow the Savior to mold us into what He would have us be. As we try our best to listen to His voice and notice the beautiful patterns placed in our lives designed to help us to hear Him, He will be there alongside us to strengthen our efforts and to get us safely ashore.   

[i] Lamb, Robert. “How Are Fibonacci Numbers Expressed in Nature?” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 30 June 2020, science.howstuffworks.com/math-concepts/fibonacci-nature.htm.

[ii] “Doctrine and Covenants 94.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/94?lang=eng.

[iii] Bednar, David A. “Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation.” Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation | Latter–Day Saints Channel, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/inspiration/latter-day-saints-channel/watch/series/mormon-messages/patterns-of-light-spirit-of-revelation-1?lang=eng.

[iv] President Russell M. NelsonPresident of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Hear Him.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2020/04/45nelson?lang=eng.

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