Thursday, June 9, 2016

Moving Forward with an Eye of Faith

I've always had a bit of a tendency to worry.  I remember in high school going to my mom in tears, spilling all of my worries to her about how overwhelmed I felt by what was required of me (I also had a tendency to feel overwhelmed), and she would gently talk me down from my hysteria, helping me to identify the things that really needed my attention at that time, and setting aside the things that were either out of my control, or so far in the future that they didn't matter in the moment.  I needed to eliminate the distracting and worrisome thoughts of the future, and focus on what I could do in the here and now.

Years later, I found myself swept up in watching FOX News (because that is fair and unbiased, right?), born out of my good desire to be informed and a good citizen.  I liked a few of the news programs, and wanted to keep watching, but they got me all riled up about the state of the world, and I didn't like that feeling.  The more I continued to watch, the more I felt the Lord teach me gently that I didn't need to worry about those things.  They may be true, they may be important to be aware of, and they may even be important for some people to worry about, but they were not the things that I should devote particular attention to.  I had other things I needed to focus on.

And then came the end of the world.  Well, a lot of people predicted that the end of the world  would happen on a certain day or week.  But I'm still here, and so are they.  The important thing I learned from that experience related to what happened before that day came and passed.  There was a great increase of posts on my Facebook newsfeed about prepper sites and food storage.  I have always been interested in emergency preparedness.  I am CERT certified.  I have had varying amounts of food storage in my pantry ever since I was a newlywed, and have recently felt very under-prepared in that category.  And since it has long been the counsel of our prophets to have a year's worth of storage, well, I felt that I wasn't obeying the Lord's counsel.  

I remember starting to get caught up in the prepper craze, reading blogs, reading predictions, and then expressing my concerns to the Lord in prayer.  "I don't even have food storage!" I lamented.  The answer that came was powerful, "I will give you food storage, but you MUST learn this lesson now!"

It brought me up short.  I knew I was in the midst of some serious learning.  I knew it was important. But it was at that time that I realized I had been distracted.  And because of the distraction, I was unaware of HOW important that learning really was.

The thing is, the adversary knew how important my lesson was.  And if he could distract me with worries and fears about coming events--real or pretended--then my essential spiritual learning could potentially be cut short.  And if that were cut short, I would be less effective in the battle being waged against good and evil.  I would be less effective in teaching my children those things that are of CRITICAL importance for them to not just know, but to understand, practice, and KNOW with every fiber of their being.  I would be less prepared to serve my Heavenly Father's children.

The world is full of distractions.  And the adversary is good at using them.  There are some people that (I believe) the adversary knows he will never be able to persuade to commit grievous sins.  But if he can DISTRACT them?  Just as good.  And what are some of those distractions?  Uncertainty. Worry. Fear.  Doubt. Questions.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Keeping up with the Jonses.  Overwhelm. Inadequacy.  If he can keep righteous, covenant-keeping men and women focused on those things rather than on the power available to them through our Savior, Jesus Christ, then our effectiveness in the battle will be reduced.  

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is that of the Stripling Warriors, found in Alma chapters 56 and 57.  In chapter 57 verse 46, this band of young men says to Helaman, their leader, "Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth."

What optimism!  What faith!  Can you imagine the difference in the outcome of those key battles if these faithful young men had been distracted by doubt?  About their inexperience in battle?  About their lack of physical strength against well-seasoned soldiers?  (I have a tendency to believe that they were not all as buff as the picture suggests). But distracted they were not.  Alma 57:27 tells us, "Their...minds [were] firm, and they [did] put their trust in God continually." They knew where to put their focus.

I have also been recently reminded of the optimism of our prophets, and how they encourage us to be optimistic as well.  Is it because they live in a bubble, out-of-touch and unaware?  I am here to tell you, kids, they know.  They know far more than you or I understand. That doesn't mean they know everything in detail, or that they know now everything that they will know in the future. But a lot of what they know is not taught, because it is not the time for the church as a body to know these things yet.  That also doesn't mean that the members of the church are not being taught by the Lord. Many of our good brothers and sisters are catching glimpses of what the future holds, and how their gifts will be used to bless Heavenly Father's children.  In fact, in recent General Conference talks we have been counseled to up our game and seek this kind of personal revelation.  We are being taught to take our spiritual learning to a higher level.

I watched this devotional address from Sheri Dew yesterday.  She has long been one of my all-time favorite speakers.  Her talk had such an impression on me that I want to watch it again and again, because there is so much good and important information there.    You can watch it here (and I HIGHLY recommend you do!).

Our world is changing at a rapid rate.  The question is not whether we can keep up with the newest technology, or with the demand for STEM knowledge, or with the rate of inflation.  The real question is whether or not we can keep up spiritually with what is required of us, and with the blessings the Lord is ready to pour out upon us.  And that is much easier if we recognize the distractions, and let the Lord guide our focus.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written. There is such truth and wisdom in this post. Thank you for sharing.