Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Potpourri of Hope

waterfall

To be honest, I don’t even know where to start. I have learned so much over the last few days that I feel like I’m trying to contain a waterfall with a child’s sand bucket. I cannot pick one theme that has stood out to me, so I hope you’ll put up with a potpourri of my thoughts.

Pre-earth existence

I’ll start with something that may seem trivial, but I love. It is always fun to me when I see something in Scripture that shows the restored doctrine has always been in the Bible if you have eyes to see it. When you’ve been blind for so long and suddenly get sight, even the most average of objects can seem spectacular. So, for those of you who’ve known these things your whole lives, please bear with my “playing catch up”.

One of the hardest doctrines to understand scripturally is our pre-earth existence. While it feels right and makes sense, the recovering Calvinist in me prefers Scripture. I was reading in John 9 the other day. In verse two, the disciples ask the Savior,

“Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Did you catch that? If he were BORN blind, how could he have possibly sinned? The only possible explanation is he existed before he was born. If that were not possible, the Savior would have pointed that out to HIs followers. Maybe He would have said something like, “How could he have sinned having not yet been born?”  Instead He answered,

“Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

I know it is a silly thing to get excited over, but to me it showed that the disciples understood there was an existence before birth.

Faith

Skipping a few days in my Scripture journal brings us to the topic of faith. I have really been convicted about this topic for some time. Every once in a while I think I see some progress, but then the Lord allows something to creep in that shows me I have so far to go still.

I was reading in 1 Nephi 7.

“….the Lord is able to do all things according to His will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in Him………” vs. 12

Then later in verse 17 it says,

“….O Lord, according to my faith which is in Thee, wilt Thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren;….”

To be honest, every time I read my Scriptures the verses on faith just jump out at me. I know that Heaven works according to laws that are irrevocably set. Faith is one of the big ones. There is much our Father in heaven wants to do for us, but much of it depends on our faith.

This makes me nervous sometimes, because I know I fall so short of the mark. Whenever I read passages on faith I have such a deep, deep longing to do better, to be more than I am. When I read the passage in verse 17 that said “according to my faith..”  I wrote in my journal, “What if the Lord only did anything according to my faith? How much would then be accomplished for His kingdom?”

How painful that is for me to consider knowing my failings. I think about the father of Alma the Younger, whose faith brought an angel to call his son to repentance. Wow! What incredible faith. Though I rejoice in his faith, I’m saddened by my lack of it.  When will I get there?

Of course whenever I pray about my lack of faith and ask for the Lord to help me grow in and develop more faith, He reminds me of Alma 32. So, I guess that is the course He has outlined for me. Hopefully as I diligently follow it I will one day have the faith that can help others more readily find His kingdom.

Unrighteousness

This next lesson was not in Scripture, but through life and the Spirit. I’ve been struggling with the behavior of a man who has done several unrighteous deeds. It has caused me anguish, almost destroyed my testimony, and brought harm to my family.

I have spent countless hours in tears and prayer over it. I have confronted the man several times asking him to stop the behavior, only to have ridiculous excuses made. When I pressed him, he would accuse me of lacking charity for not accepting him as he is.

Every confrontation damaged both my soul and emotions further. It kind of came to a head this past Friday. I had lost all hope of trusting  him (or anyone) again, but thought it only fair to try again. That was a mistake and served in no way other than to make my day completely miserable and give me another few hours of tears and heartbreak.

The thought suddenly popped into my head, while praying, that this is exactly what Satan wants. I don’t think I could have hand picked a scenario more perfectly designed to destroy me. I had two choices. I could continue to struggle and try to make sense of his behavior, fruitlessly hoping for righteousness, or I could recognize that Satan was using this person to not only bring me harm, but stunt my growth, and not allow it any further.

It reminds me a little of the story of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8). The analogy doesn’t fit completely, but you’ll get the idea. Here are these people who’ve just had an opportunity to taste the fruit from the Tree of Life, but because scoffers came along they fell away and were lost.

I have tasted of the gospel. I have a testimony. I know what is true. Am I therefore to let go of the iron rod and give up the fruit of the gospel because of someone else’s indifference to righteousness? How stupid would I have to be?  Umm…don’t answer that.

Well, I wish I had more time. There is so much more I’ve learned, but I’ve got to exercise and get some wonderful children to bed. I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for His constant patience with me. I hope one day I will be the kind of person that brings Him much glory. Maybe I’ll even develop the faith of Alma, or Enoch, or ….

Oh! to be all that God wants! What could be better?

 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is why I read your blog, for us who were born in the church, we can't pick out important things like you can. You are a testimony to me. Keep the faith!

Anonymous said...

How often does the "restored doctrine" need to be restored?

Annmarie Worthington said...

Dear Anonymous (the 2nd one),

I get the impression from the spirit of your comment that you are from a protestant background, although I could be wrong. Here is what I have come to learn and understand. The reformation was a WONDERFUL thing. I will be eternally grateful for the sacrifice of the men who lead the reformation. Without the reformation and split away from the Catholic church at the time, the world would not have been ready for the restoration.

I view the protestant restoration as very godly men who saw the wrongs of the current theology and attempted to purify the church. It was a wonderful thing. However, it did not completely restore the church. The apostasy was massive and all encompasing, including the loss of all priesthood authority. Because of the sacrifice of the reformers, by the time it came for the complete restoration, the world was ready to receive it. It is such a beautiful thing to see how God orchestrates the history of man and uses men who love and want to serve him to bring about His plans from all eternity.

I'm happy to dialogue with you further about this. My email is annmarieflorence@att.net

Annmarie Worthington said...

Dear Anonymous (the 1st one),

Thank you so much for your encouraging words.