Sunday, November 6, 2011

a very personal experience

i have to tell you about the fireside i went to.

i almost didn't go. i was planning on going but then a phone convo. went right up to 6:55 and the fireside was at 7 and i almost just stayed home... i am so so so glad i went.

when i got there, they were just singing the opening hymn. there was a prayer and a musical number and the speak got up and started telling us about when he received the phone call asking him to speak at the fireside. he said he felt a little overwhelmed at the request because he knows we often go to firesides with expectations. we have problems or questions - and we go to firesides hoping to find an answer or some direction in what the speaker says. that's a lot of responsibility and our speaker tonight said it was really important to him to make sure that we were able to be taught by the spirit tonight, and whatever it was we came looking for, we would find answers. 

i got feeling really hopeful at this point. 

he asked us to write down one questions or issue we were struggling with and pray that the Lord would bless us with the spirit to find an answer tonight. so i wrote down a concern of mine (having to do with my future - i won't get into specific detail but i wrote that i was looking for added hope and guidance). he told us that he wanted us to "get out of the boat" -- the way peter did when he saw christ walking on the water towards them. he got out and put his feet onto water that every time up until then he had sunk in...and this time he didn't sink. this time he walked on water towards the savior. he put himself in a vulnerable situation and received enabling power. (we need to learn to do the same.)

the speaker then proceeded to explain that he wanted to teach us tonight that whenever we had a difficulty in our lives we can immediately turn to the Lord -- and that we can immediately access the Lord's guidance in the Book of Mormon. he went on to explain that he had a lot of struggles as a single 29-year old mormon living in provo. there were often times when he felt there was something wrong with him, or that he was just doing all the wrong things somehow and was in the wrong place. he felt he was often attacked for being unmarried and he shared with us a couple instances of this. he explained that these experiences, as hard as they were, helped him learn to -- in those moments when he felt like "where do i go from here?" and was enveloped by frustration and at times despair -- turn to God and turn to answers in the book of mormon. specifically he said to us that when we are struggling we ought to pray and ask God "will you show me what story or experience in the Book of Mormon can help me with this problem?"

he explained that he hoped to show us tonight how the book of mormon could help us, then shared three stories from the book of mormon.

first, the story of nephi -- how he and his brothers had been commanded to get the plates and they tried the logical thing - asking for them - which failed. then they tried the next logical thing - trying to buy them - which failed as well and it wasn't until after the failure of all their ideas/plans that nephi just went into the city "not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do. nevertheless [he] went forth" one thing followed another and nephi was able to acquire the plates -- the speaker (i wish i knew his name... i missed the part where they announced it) explained that sometimes we reach a point in our lives when we have done all the sensible things we can try to do, and that for all of us there comes a time when we must learn to faithfully turn over our lives to god so that we can reach the end goal we are working towards. 

he went on to remind us of the story of abish in alma 19 -- how she had long been converted to the Lord but for reasons we don't know about had stayed in a hostile land. she may have wondered at times what she was doing there, since in so many ways she did not fit, she didn't belong there, but the time eventually came when the lord said to her "abish, NOW!" and the reason for her being there became apparent. (when ammon came and preached and converted the people) we often find ourselves in places we didn't expect, working jobs we may not have anticipated, living in a place we love and hate (he said living at home!) but we have to ask ourselves, in spite of this... in spite of all the ways this isn't what i expected or want or see the point of -- do i nonetheless feel this is right? am i at peace with this generally? can i wait and see what the Lord's purpose is for me here?

lastly he spoke of moroni -- of how everyone moroni knew and loved was killed. how he said in Mormon 8 that it basically didn't matter where he went from there. and so he wandered and it wasn't until years later that he writes the book of moroni and says, well i'm still alive so let me say a few things -- and it was that time that he spent wandering that prepared him to say the things he then said, to testify of christ is a personal and powerful way. his "hopeless" situation was not hopeless, and he learned from his struggles, and it led him to be able to say "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise" (moroni 7:41).   

he ended by referring back to "getting out of the boat" -- that like peter we need to step out, and even when our faith falters, when we struggle -- we can cry to the Lord and know that the lord will catch us, IMMEDIATELY.

Matt. 14:29
 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

And holding our hand the Lord will walk us back to the ship, where -- once we are back IN the ship -- the winds will cease. And not only will they cease, but they will make sense. Why our plans didn't work out, why we found ourselves in situations we didn't expect/understand, and why we had to struggle for so long. 

I can not begin to emphasize how strongly I felt this entire talk was directed towards me. it was like God had told the speaker what was going on in my life and he stood up and looked right at me and talked right to me. i HAD gone in with questions. i have been struggling with that issue i wrote down for a while now, but i've felt it pulling me down especially strong these last few weeks. i have cried to the Lord for answers and for help... and in a VERY real and meaningful way I had every question answered and every concerned addressed. not just in the manner of the talk, but in the actual stories and scriptures. i felt the spirit so strongly. i have had this happen in bits before -- having a little thing here or there stand out -- but i've never had it happen so completely... i've never felt that an entire talk was so directly meant JUST FOR ME.

The young man who gave the closing prayer prayed that we would remember these things, and remember to write them down so that they could help us in the future. (that is part of why i am writing this.) 

i hope that you find things in here that bless you. 

i know that God hears our prayers and in HIS time, when the timing is right and we are ready, he answers them. i walked out of the chapel feeling SO LOVED. I am so grateful to know and feel he is aware of me and that he loves me.

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