A combination of recent events have left me and my spirit wrestling with God. Or, better said, wrestling mightily with myself. I want to be a person of faith, but so often I find myself buckling under fears that threaten to crush the light out of my mind and heart.
A combination of thoughts collided tonight and I wanted to record some of them.
I’ve been thinking about the power of covenants and how really, when all is said and done, if my relationship with God is in line, everything else really can fall into place. I needn’t worry about what I might do or say in any situation. All I need to do is keep myself connected with God and HE will let me know what to do, what to say. I’m continuously amazed at how this truth reveals itself to me time and time again. So why should I fear?
Piggybacking off of that idea is a blog comment from a friend that I re-read tonite. It’s about women and the priesthood, so it may seem unrelated but hang with me here. I think her comment captures a powerful truth that I think extends beyond the Ordain Women issue. “It isn’t about having the priesthood ordination, it is about living up to what God asks us to do. I have found great power in yearning towards what God HAS called me to do. If he asked me to be ordained to the priesthood, I’d engage in that with the same fervency that I am trying to engage in the work He has called me to so far. I’ll do whatever He wants, just to be a part of His work. What exactly I do is mere unimportant details…when I’m truly being honest with myself.”
To generalize this principle of my friend, when I’m honest with myself, I often get into these wrestle matches when I’m either afraid of what might happen in the future or when I’m wallowing about what has already happened in the past. (Wallowing to me, by the way, is different from wanting to understand the past or heal from it. Self-pity is different from earnest seeking.)
Either way, through looking back in anger, envy, or self-pity or looking forward with anxiety, I’m missing out on the blessings of simply letting God be in charge of my life in the present. In contrast, when I “trust…my all to [His] tender care” (Hymns, #270), what do I find? His tender care! He is such a loving, amazing God. Why do I fear?
Isn’t the essence of being Christlike being submissive? My friend’s comment is so profound. There is power in being submissive to whatever it is that God has given us, allowed, or asked of us.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:
“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (In Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 30; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 24.)
I’ve started the Book of Mormon over again and one of the patterns I’m noticing is how much Nephi talks about obeying God’s commandments. What is interesting to me is that the commandments to which he refers are usually not the Ten Commandments, general-purpose type of commandments; rather, they reflect personalized commandments to him and to his father, such as getting the plates from Laban, leaving home and comforts to enter the wilderness, returning to Jerusalem to find spouses (why didn’t the Lord just have them do that while they were living in the city?), building a ship, and creating a community that unfortunately had to separate from Laman and Lemuel.
In all of these things, Nephi went and did what the Lord commanded, and found that “the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them, that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). (As a sidenote, Nephi reflects a similar sentiment in 1 Nephi 17. I was struck by his particular concern for the women and their journey in the wilderness, and how the Lord blessed them in that journey.)
Nephi wasn’t without his own wrestles with the Spirit. His psalm in 2 Nephi 4 reflects that, but always, always, Nephi’s home base is submission to God and a celebration of His mercy, love, and goodness.
I don’t need to fear the future. I don’t need to live in the past. All I need to do is seek my God, today, and seek to do His will. When I do that, I find that He really does prepare the way, in miraculous ways.
What helps you keep faith and trust God when fear or pain enter your life?