With only 8 days of summer left, we're starting up our General Conference Lessons again. This first one I'll share with you is from Elder Oaks' talk The Parable of the Sower.
Elder Oaks explains that the condition of the ground in the parable is the condition of our hearts and the seed represents the message of the gospel. One of the most poignant parts for me was when he pointed out that we can move from good/fertile soil/hearts to stony ground if we deny ourselves spiritual nourishment. We distance ourselves from feeling the spirit and receiving spiritual nourishment by not reading scriptures for instance, by not praying, or by doing things during the administration of the sacrament that takes our mind off of communing with the Lord.
Another thing Elder Oaks warned about was having a "key hole" view of the gospel, in which we focus on one doctrine or perceived fault about the gospel or the church and completely ignore the big picture. He quoted President Hinckley who spoke about political commentators who were aflame with indignation about some news event to the point that their sour anger poured out of them constantly. He concluded that, "Surely, this is the age and place of the gifted pickle sucker."
"In contrast," Elder Oaks suggests, "to be securely rooted in the gospel, we must be moderate and measured in criticism and seek always for the broader view of the majestic work of God."
Just for fun, we pulled out a well-aged jar of homemade dill pickles from the basement to illustrate what it means to be a pickle sucker.
Each child tried the pickles (which was made even more sour by the fact that we had just finished eating sweet blueberry smoothies for breakfast!) As they tasted, we talked about which taste they preferred, the smoothie or the pickles.
We talked about how we should try and avoid becoming a "gifted pickle sucker" by seeking out the good and by having faith and looking for the eternal perspective of God's plan. It's no fun being a pickle-sucker!