I live in the most beautiful Pacific Northwest. Currently - we are experiencing a MAJOR rain situation and everyone's power is supposed to go out and trees are going to fall over and wind is going to blow everything away etc. etc. ("like the storm of '93!!!") But! All of that got my thinking about a talk given by President Uchtdorf and a concept that has been on my mind a lot lately.
He speaks of God being so willing to shower us with blessings, and how often times we are reluctant to receive them.
Part of our challenge is, I think, that we imagine that God has all of His blessings locked in a huge cloud up in heaven, refusing to give them to us unless we comply with some strict, paternalistic requirements He has set up. But the commandments aren’t like that at all. In reality, Heavenly Father is constantly raining blessings upon us. It is our fear, doubt, and sin that, like an umbrella, block these blessings from reaching us.
I was visiting my family the other weekend and before I left my Papa gave me a Father's blessing. Essentially what this is, is a prayer and blessing that my Dad will give me on behalf of my Father in Heaven. Being as I live far from family at the moment, these blessings tend to sustain me in the time I spend away from home. In the blessing, my Daddy made a specific point that God has tremendous blessings in store for me, but that I have to be willing to ACCEPT them. I have to be willing to take the initial steps, have confidence, push fear from my mind and heart, and ACCEPT blessings from God. I was speaking with a friend the other day, and he pointed out to me that he thought I was afraid of what I wanted most. A pretty profound observation. And why do I do that?!?? How infuriating it must be to God that I am not willing to accept the blessings that I want most! It makes no sense and I look like a loon.
It is easy to understand that we deny ourselves from being blessed when we sin. Many of God's promises to us as His children are contingent on our obeying the commandments. When we don't do that, we are choosing to forgo those blessings. However, how often do we think about denying ourselves blessings because of FEAR or DOUBT??? I never put blessings in that context, but I think it's important. I pray SO fervently for some things to happen in my life, but if I stop to think of them actually happening, I get so anxious I want to throw up. Which is ridiculous.
So! My challenge to all of you is to ALLOW God to bless you. Don't be so discouraged or fearful that you don't allow your life to be as full as it could be. Sometimes I think we will get to look back on our lives and will get glimpses of what could have been if we hadn't been so afraid. And I will want to kick myself over it! And God will say, "Hey - I was trying to help :)" (Ok - maybe He won't say that and I'm sorry if I sometimes seem too casual but I really do think of my relationship with God a lot and this is how it plays out in my head #thoughtsbysara)
I love you and want you to receive everything God has in store for you. And the best part is that He wants it even more :) LOVE YOU TOO MUCH! Thanks for reading :)
Here I sit alone in my office at work surrounded by things that are left to be cleaned up in the aftermath of yet another #LDSConf weekend and despite the fact that I have worked more than 30 hours in the last three days and feel absolutely exhausted, it hit me a second ago that I feel unbelievably grateful.
Warning: Before you continue reading, I should warn you that my thoughts might not be completely coherent at this point.
For those who don’t know, twice a year the LDS Church holds a general conference where members around the world attend, watch or listen to nearly 12 hours of talks given by church leaders. I am employed by a news organization in Salt Lake City that is owned by the LDS Church and during conference, we create content to circulate the messages shared in conference via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and our own website.
Today, the last image quote I made during the afternoon session of conference said, “The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel.”
I am grateful for a job where I get to share the good news. In a world where jobs in journalism are difficult to come by, I am blessed with the opportunity to do what I love by writing. I am thankful that in a world where good news is hard to come by, I am able to write about it every day.
But it hit me today that more than anything else I am just grateful to know that there is good news.
In his talk this afternoon, Elder David A. Bednar said something that struck me.
He said, “We often testify of what we know to be true, but perhaps the more relevant question for each of us is whether we believe what we know.” This statement caused me to reflect on things I believe and why I believe them. Why is sharing the things I believe so important to me? In thinking about it, I realized that my beliefs are the sum of experiences I have had and experiences others have shared with me. They are the precious things that I know because I have seen too much evidence to deny them but they are also things that I believe deep within my soul. They are the things I feel.
These things I believe are based on little experiences that may not seem much by themselves but when added up they sustain me, keep me going and bring me happiness.
I had one such experience earlier this week. I was sitting out in my backyard reading one of my favorite books, “A Quiet Heart” by Patricia Holland, when I decided to pray. The scriptures talk about praying in your secret places and on Wednesday afternoon, I guess mine was on a blanket in my backyard.
About a year ago, I really thought I had my life together but on Wednesday afternoon I was sure it was crumbling around me. So I said my prayer in the backyard.
I walked God through my life (as if he hasn’t already been watching the whole thing), thanking him for my blessings but then I got to the present and I expressed to him my frustrations and the things that I didn’t feel were going right. I told him that I was sorry if I had done something wrong that had caused what seemed to be this crumbling of my life and when I was done, with tear stains on my cheeks, I laid back down on my blanket and started to read again.
“There have been times in my spiritual life when I have felt as settled and immovable as the rock of Gibraltar (see Morgan in October 2015). And then comes an upheaval, a mighty change,” I read. “Sometimes the upheaval comes from outside circumstances, and sometimes it comes from within. Often it comes just when I’m feeling that my weaknesses are forgiven, that they are finally becoming strengths, just when I feel my current opportunities for service have put me right before the Lord. That is when it seems the Lord chooses to shift my circumstances, and everything seems to tumble around me like a large set of dominoes.”
“Yes!” I wanted to scream there alone in the backyard. An upheaval, dominoes, whatever you want to call it, THAT is what has been happening to me. I kept reading.
“At those times, my first thought is often, ‘He is angry with me. What have I done wrong? What sin did I commit? Why have I been moved out of my comfort zone, and how can I get back in it?’ But I am getting older now—we all do that—and I am growing out of those reactions,” Sister Holland writes. “I am not seeing God’s stretching of me as punishment but as reward because it has always led me on to a higher level of spiritual understand and always—always!—has brought me unanticipated and seemingly unearned blessings.”
The questions I had asked in prayer minutes before were being answered.
“It isn’t God’s anger that allows change and upheaval and, from time to time, suffering in our lives,” she continues. “It is in fact his tenderest love that allows it. Through all of this I am learning that God doesn’t want me to take much notice of external things, doesn’t want me to try to find rest in outward circumstances and the vanities of the world. We are forced to keep looking beyond those, especially when they disappoint us or let us down. We are forced to keep looking to him.”
In that moment I believed completely. Have I had moments of weakness since then? Sure. Have there been and will there continue to be times where his answers are not so instantaneous? Of course. But in those moments I will remember the time he answered my backyard prayer and I will keep trying to share the good news of his gospel.
He is the best news and I am just a girl who gets to deliver it.
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