Monday, October 28, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 13]

At my work we have Monday morning devotionals to start the week. Several months ago I was in charge of the thought. I don't remember exactly what it was I said (except that the comments people made to me afterward made me embarrassed at what I must have conveyed). The associate head of my department stopped by my desk later that day and handed me a card with the following written on it:

"The Lord will sometimes stretch our faith by asking us to wait beyond our own definition of a reasonable amount of time."
I guess that kind of gives you an idea of what I talked about (I think it was about blessings?).

In my reading of the 2006 BYU Women's Conference, Wayne Brickey's address "Thou Didst Hear Me" also discusses the wait for an answer to prayer. Unfortunately I can't find a copy of the talk anywhere online, so if you want to read the whole thing (recommended) you'll have to check out the book. And while you're at it you may as well read all the other talks. What an unexpected perk!

Here are a few paragraphs from the beginning of his address:

When His answer seems to be getting further away, it is actually getting closer. Now that is a simple fact, but a very important one that we sometimes forget. I repeat it in different words: The longer we wait, the more ready we are for the best possible answer. And the more ready we are, the more determined He will be to grant an answer that will surpass our greatest hopes. That is not just a fact about prayer and answers. It is a fact about Him. Knowing this can keep our hopes bright during the long wait. Remember what Joseph Smith declared: "Since the beginning of the world have not men heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath any eye seen, O God, besides thee, how great things thou hast prepared for him that waiteth for thee" (D&C 133:45).

Not only is the long wait worth it, but it makes a difference. By the time the answer finally comes, we have matured in patience. Oh, how patient our Father is. And oh, how vital it is that we become patient, too. We are learning about Him on the inside, you might say. Instead of just learning what He looks like, we are learning what it feels like to be as He is.

The long, faithful wait also teaches us to put things into his hands, to treat him as a perfectly reliable, living friend. As He sees our long-standing trust in Him, He accepts it as a token of absolute loyalty, a sign of our lasting, durable friendship with Him. When He sees to His satisfaction that we trust Him, and He finally answers, our joy is too great for words. Our relief and gratitude is nearly infinite, not just because we got an answer. We overflow with joy because we staked everything on our belief that He is a true friend, and it turned out that He was all that and more. When the long wait is over, when we contemplate the careful engineering and customizing and timing and thoughtfulness and generosity of His answer, we see that He had not once forgotten us all along.

So it isn't surprising to find our heroes in the scriptures saying things like, "Thou didst hear me." They say this with relief and joy, usually after a long wait. Here is how Alma said it: "And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity" (Alma 33:11).
God wants us to be like Him, and one way to accomplish that is to wait to give us answers to our prayers until we are ready. So have patience, have faith. Things will work out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 12]

I've been reading from the 2006 BYU Women's Conference lately -- "Rise to the Divinity Within You" -- and one talk that has really gotten my attention is "Serious Reflection Precedes Revelation" by Maurine Jensen Proctor. Here is a link to the transcript.

Here is an analogy I particularly enjoyed:

Our life is like the journey the Jaredites anticipated across the stormy sea, where the mountain waves would dash them, they would be carried here and there by the winds and they would be tossed by strong currents.  This is a journey they could not survive in the dark.

Was there anything really wrong with the way I began talking to my daughter?  Given the situation, I was fairly calm, I was clear, I was also right.  The problem was, until the Spirit stepped in with His light, I was also totally ineffective.

The brother of Jared sought a remedy for the darkness. Putting his mind and muscle to the solution, “he did molten out of rock sixteen small stones, white and clear.”  I have tried to imagine the work and ingenuity it would take to molten stones.  What kind of grueling labor in those times was required to create a heat source that can molten stones, sweat dripping from your brow? 

Yet still, after all the brother of Jared could do, after hard labor and effort, and the best solutions of his own mind, still he had only 16 dark stones.  They were only able to shine when they were touched by the finger of God.

So often we are troubled and hurried, wearied and overworked. We create the equivalent of 16 stones in our lives, and that is where we leave it.  The world is so much with us that we do not take the journey to the mountain top and let the Lord touch all our dizzying effort with his finger and fill it with light.  Until he does, however, we are still traveling in the darkness.

Busy and hurried, too often we take “natural man” solutions, rushing from one task to another, checking off the items on our lists to do in a mad frenzy without the transforming power that spiritual insight always brings.  The alarm rings in the morning, and we are off and running, too often without climbing the mountain to have the stony pieces of our lives touched with light.

The rest of her talk dealt with how important it is for the scales to fall from our eyes, and how we can take the time to prepare for and seek the revelation that we deserve. As this is something I have always struggled with, it was a real, if you'll pardon, eye-opener (it's only a joke if you read the talk I guess).

May we always take the time to be filled with light.

Monday, October 14, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 11]

This morning in my Book of Mormon reading I was in Alma 17 and identified some interesting principles about missionary work.

Picking up in verse 9, Mormon says "...they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God..."

And in response, "the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted."

Then the Lord continues, "Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet he shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."

Here are some principles I got out of this passage:

  • For an added measure of the Spirit, it's important to pray and fast.
  • The Lord will often answer prayers with comfort first.
  • Be an example. Even better, be as Christlike as possible (patient in long-suffering, etc) and doing so will allow the Lord to make you His instrument.
It kind of reminds me of Elder Ballard's fireside a few weeks ago. (It was very similar to his Conference address, actually.) He gave us an assignment that by the end of the year we should invite someone to "this great institution" (I am pretty sure he meant the Church, though some people thought maybe he meant Institute, since we were at the institute building).

He didn't go so far as to assign everyone that listened in General Conference, but this is what he said: 
We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior.

Monday, October 7, 2013

followers of my faith [Mormon Monday 10]

I like to think I'm better at this than I used to be, but does that thought negate itself?

This is a nice definition because it still leaves room for a healthy self-esteem and lack of obsequiousness. All you have to do is admit you're wrong. Easy-peasy.

On a completely unrelated note, I watched the BYU-Utah game with a huge bunch of people and it was so fun. I don't usually watch football and I remembered that it's because I get caught up and just as stressed as any of the fans. Thinking about that evening in the context of this quote (because it wasn't actually completely unrelated) is really interesting. The ratio of BYU to Utah fans was about 80/20, but there wasn't much ganging up going on (and after the first quarter there wasn't much point in heckling, was there). There were certainly lots of people concerned about who was right when it came to penalties called. But that's only to be expected, right?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

I can trace all my books [2013:Q3]

I read a lot of really great books this past quarter. And I have a lot to look forward to this next month or two, as well! (The holds I've put on are starting to come in. It's pretty thrilling.)

81. The Writing Class by Jincy Willett
82. Unnatural Creatures compiled by Neil Gaiman
83. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
84. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
85. Ruby Redfort Take Your Last Breath by Lauren Child
86. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
87. After the War by Libby Sternburg
88. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
89. Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan Mariano
90. The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson
91. Goblin War by Hilari Bell
92. Greater Than Rubies by Hallee Bridgman

93. A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
94. The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters
95. Susannah's Truth by Dana Landers
96. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
97. The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison
98. Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
99. Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay
100. Undaunted Love by Jennings Wright
101. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
102. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

103. Erasing Time by C.J. Hill
104. Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
105. Felicite Found by Julia King
106. My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
107. Pride's Prejudice by Misty Dawn Pulsipher
108. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
109. Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne
110. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by L. Tam Holland
111. Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara