Friday, June 29, 2012

Recognizing our Personal Liahona, Part 3: Timing is Everything

And the trilogy continues... :)

In part one of this trilogy I talked about a scripture in 1 Kings 19. As I was writing my thoughts about this scripture, I had to go in take care of something. As I was away I had another thought about that scripture. I figured I would just work it into the original post but as I continued with it I realized that would have made it way too long! I mean let's be honest, it is already a fairly long post. I didn't want to make it any longer than I had to! So I decided I would just write a separate post about this idea. I am glad I did that because over the past few days I have thought of a few other things to talk about with this idea so now it gets to be a regular sized post instead of a short post with a random thought attached to it! :)

In the previous two blog posts, I have been talking about the Holy Ghost and how to feel and recognize His promptings. This post is still about the Holy Ghost, but I am going to take it in a different direction than the others. This time I want to share another insight about not just how the Holy Ghost comes to us, but rather when He comes. In 1 Kings 19 (this is the scripture that prompted this thought!) we read,
"And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice."
In the first part of this blog trifecta I used this scripture to point out that the communications from the Holy Ghost are small things that are hard to notice. As I thought about the verse, I learned something new that I had never seen before! I have always loved these verses because they explain how the Holy Ghost communicates, but up until a few days ago I never realized that they also explain when the Holy Ghost talks with us. Notice the order in which things happen in these verses. The Lord tells Elijah to go to the mountain. While he is up there, he experiences a strong wind that breaks parts of the mountain he is on, then a strong earthquake, then after that a fire, and finally the Lord sent the Spirit to him!

That is a really interesting thing! The Lord tells Elijah to do something so he faithfully obeys. He doesn't know why he is supposed to go on the mountain, but he knows that God told him to so he obeys. He follows God's commandments and while he is doing this he faces a lot of opposition and it isn't until after he endures through those things that he feels the still small voice of the Lord.

How often do we experience that in our own lives? We feel prompted to do something so we obey then as we are going along we experience opposition that tempts and tests our dedication to follow God. What do we do? Do we give up and let the wind, earthquake, and fire overcome us or do we stand our ground, wait out the storm, and then continue following God so that we can receive the promised blessings? Sometimes the Lord makes us wait to receive an answer to our prayers to test us. Sometimes He holds off a bit to see if we are really ready to receive the answer; to see if we are willing to put in the effort to find it; and to see if our faith in Him is enough to know that He will answer in His own time.

I was reading in my scriptures last night and I found a story that demonstrates this quite perfectly! The book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon is kind of a confusing book. There are a lot of story lines that are going on and a number of groups to follow. It can be quite easy to get lost in all of it, but as I learned last night, understanding how those stories connect is very beneficial! I will do my best to summarize what you need to know in order for this scripture to make sense.

In the days of the first Mosiah, king of Zarahemla, a group of men left to go to the land of Nephi and were never heard of again. Two generations later, the grandson of king Mosiah (also named Mosiah) sends out a little search party led by a man named Ammon to find what happened to their brothers who had gone on this expedition. In their voyage, Ammon and his group actually happened to find them! They stumbled upon king Limhi, the grandson of the man who initially left the people of Zarahemla, who tells them about everything his people have been through over the past two generations. He tells Ammon about a group he sent out to find the people of Zarahemla that they had been separated from. In Mosiah 8, we read,
"And they were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Isreal."
So Limhi sends out this search party who gets lost and wanders around in the wilderness for who knows how long! But they didn't give up. They were diligent and kept doing their best to find Zarahemla. Because of  their diligence, they didn't find Zarahelma, but found another land with many things--breastplates, swords, and most importantly records of the people--which play a crucial role later on in the Book of Mormon. In fact one of the books contained in the Book of Mormon, the book of Ether, is a summary of those records that they found! Even the system of government that is set up among the people comes as a result of lessons learned from those records!

So how does this relate to the timing of God answering our prayers? There are times in our lives when we embark on great journeys. Whether they are physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, or whatever, at some point we all set out on these journeys. But often, we run into road blocks and trials and get lost. So what do we do? The men in this story were good, God-fearing men so I'm sure they did what any religious person would and asked God for help. Whenever I get lost in my journeys, I always pray and ask God for help. But we can't expect that help to come right away. Just like the men in this story, we often have to wander around for a while. As we are faithfully diligent in reaching our goals instead of just quitting, we show the Lord how badly we want His help and how much trust we have in Him. As we do this, He blesses us!

A picture of an event from the
records they found
One thing I think is important to notice is that these men never found the land of Zarahemla. They wandered and wandered and diligently sought after their desires but in the end they didn't obtain it. They found something far better! Had they found the land of Zarahemla, we would never have had the record of the Jaredites. We could never have learned some of the amazing lessons like my amazing friend Al Fox shares in this great blog post. If they had found what they were initially after, the world would be missing out on so much!

What I learn from this great example is that as we pray and do our best to earnestly and diligently seek for our goals, with God's help, He will answer our prayers. He will send us the Holy Ghost which will guide us to what is best for us. It won't always be to what we want, but just as with the expedition that Limhi sent out, we can be assured in these situations that God will lead us to what will help us the most not only right away but in the long run as well. After all, the people of Limhi eventually were reunited with the people of Zarahemla! Things will work out but it often doesn't work out immediately.

If you have heard the voice of the Lord telling you to follow a certain path, do it! If you are on that path and are facing opposition, continue. Our Father in Heaven loves us all and will never tell us to do something that will not benefit us. Remember that direction you received from God, follow it no matter the opposition you may face, and have faith in God. We came to this earth to be tested and proven. Why would we think that following God would be easy if our purpose for our mortal existence is to prove that we will use our freedom of choice to follow Him? If we didn't have that opposition, there would be nothing to prove; the choice would be easy!

This is an amazing video of clips from a talk by Elder Holland, one of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This has become one of my favorites because it goes along with exactly what I have been talking about! Check it out!

As I have pondered this blog post over the past few days I have realized that almost as important as being able to recognize the way in which the Spirit helps us is learning the timing in which the God sends the Spirit to us. If you are doing your best to follow the directions that God has given you, you will be tested and tried, but after that test you will once again be guided by the Spirit and become closer to being able to live in God's presence again. I testify that that is true. I have experienced that over the last month or so of my life and I can once again say that I am being guided by the Spirit and what a great feeling it is!

These things are true. I know they are. If you are unsure, I invite you to pray and ask God. He will always answer our sincere, heart-felt prayers. We just need to learn how to recognize the answers and remember that they come in the Lord's time. Those are things that I have struggled with and I pray that by sharing the things I have, somebody else will be more able to recognize the Holy Ghost in their lives.

1 comment:

  1. I've really enjoyed reading your "blog trifecta" over the course of this past week. It's a wonderfully comprehensive lesson on the Holy Ghost that has renewed my faith and confirmed the truths I have learned. Thanks so much for being willing to share!