Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Journey: Calling and Election Made Sure...



My husband pointed out that I have been blessed with the gift of time.  We are in the last leg of our pregnancy and expect our baby any time this month.  Our home is clean, organized, and all of the baby projects are finished.  My goal was to finish  homeschool curriculum by the end of March and we did meet that goal.  I facilitated for the last time in my 12-step group.  I taught Gospel Doctrine for the last time until after post-partum.  The past week has been fun for us to kick back, relax, and just keep things tidy until little Shipton arrives. My time is shifting and will shortly be filled with baby cares.

I have recently realized that there may be some big holes to any readers as to how I got from where I was to where I am now.  I feel strongly to share more details of my journey the past 5 years.

As I have reflected on where it actually began, it was 5 years ago this month.  We had an inspired Stake President who encouraged us to go home after an adult stake conference session and pray to have our calling and election made sure.   Being the dutiful person I was, that night as I said my personal prayers, I also added in the request of having my calling and election made sure.  I do not intend to make light of such a sacred request, but at the time, I did not fully grasp the meaning.  I remember how full of pride I was, yet completely oblivious to that fact.  I had been baptized, was sealed in the temple, held a current temple recommend, and of course was doing everything right all of the time...check, check, check...  It was as if I had a mental list I was checking off all of the reasons.  I literally remember praying that night with a "hit me now," mentality feeling that the only thing that was holding me back from having my calling and election made sure is that I never had asked before.

Yesterday Leland told me of his plans to jump from a high place and that the invisible balloon he was holding on to would raise him up when he jumped.  I lightly chuckled, did my best to speak to his young-mind, and gently helped him get down.

I deeply appreciate Heavenly Father's patience!  I'm sure it may have hurt Him that night, but I also have come to know His sense of humor.  I'm sure He may have chuckled a bit too just like I did with Leland yesterday.  I know He thought my prayer that night was a good idea and although saturated with pride, He knows my heart and potential.

He answered my prayer....

but not at all as I was expecting.

"Sure, Katy.  Let's get you on that path; HOWEVER, there are  things we need to take care of before you would be ready for that."

It may be a weak analogy, but it's my feeble attempt to discuss the infinite with finite abilities. In "another life" I was a registered nurse.  In order to get my nursing license, I had to pass the state boards.  I spent months preparing for the written exam.  The test was administered via computer.  A person could get anywhere from 75-265 questions. The software was designed pretty impressively (in my opinion).  If the hopeful nurse answered the first question correctly, it would feed the next one slightly more difficult.  The questions would increase in difficulty until one was answered incorrectly.  Once answered incorrectly, it would back down in difficulty.  A person could go up and down or stay within a pretty narrow range during the exam.  When the software was 99.99% sure (or whatever the real percentage is), it would shut off and the test would be over.  The test shutting off could happen, again, any where from 75 questions, up to 265 questions.  It is possible to pass OR fail at the minimum number of questions (75), or to pass/fail even at the maximum number.  When the software knows that the participant is at or above the passing level, it shuts off with a pass.  Vice versa for below passing (fail).

I think that making one's calling & election sure could be described as a similar process.  The biggest difference from my licensing exam, being that God is 100% sure where we are at. There is no margin of error.  In this process, He seeks after all of the tender places in our hearts.  We are thoroughly tried and proven.  Another difference is that when my nursing exam shut off at only 75 questions, I worried quite a bit because I didn't feel like there were questions warrant of a competent nurse (We paid for a really awesome exam prep course and I paid the price of time and effort to prepare well with it).  Unlike my uncertainty as I walked out of that testing center that day, when we have our calling & election made sure, we will know.  After my nursing test shut off, I walked out of the building because the test was done. The calling & election test "shutting off," however, doesn't necessarily mean death.  Additionally, when the calling & election test "shuts off," there may be more testing that still continues.  We just already know the results as we press forward.  The "shutting off" simply means that God knows our hearts and that we will serve Him regardless of the challenges we may face in the future.  He has proved us and there is no doubt that we are on the correct path.  It doesn't necessarily mean that we are exempt from facing future difficulties.

Just like with the state exam, the details of this journey will be different for each of us.  Some may only need 75 questions (or maybe a shorter amount of time or a fewer number of trials) for God to know our hearts.  Some may need the full 265 to get there.  I have a few friends who failed the nursing exam the first time.  Since this is my analogy, I can stretch it how I want to, right? ;)  If we miss it the first time, so what?! We can always try again.  There is always a next step from wherever we are. We are never lost to God.  Satan is eager to jump right in at times like this and whisper such lies that keep us from trying again or progressing. As my GPS says often, "recalculating."  You bet.  Because of Jesus Christ, we can have as many do-overs as we need---however long it takes. Whatever steps that are necessary for each of us are okay...as long as we get going!

That prayer that night began the major course corrections that were (and are) necessary for Him to answer my prayer.  It was difficult at first for me to believe there was anything major lacking.  Similar to the Pharisees of the Christ's time, I had all of the outward appearances. I quickly began to learn that outside pretenses wouldn't be enough for God to answer this prayer. Little did I know that this prayer had set me on a path of refinement where God would seek out all the tender places of my heart...where He would give me the chance to give my whole heart to Him, holding nothing back.  This prayer this night was the first step on my journey.  This prayer marked the beginnings of my learning how to "be still."

THEREFORE WHAT?!
Because you have read this, what are you going to about it?  Here are a few resources below to consider studying this topic and I challenge you as I was to get on your knees and utter similar words.  Seek and ask.  I know God will answer you. Maybe you really will be as ready as I thought I was. All that was lacking was your asking.  Maybe it will begin you on the path of fiery trials to clear away the dross, like it has for me.  Maybe you will have something completely different than either of these.  The point is, get on your knees and see what happens.

1. from the BYU website
2. from templestudy.com 
3. Roy W. Doxey (from the Ensign)
4.  Bruce R. McConkie (lds.org; the D&C student manual); "D&C 132:7. read the section What Does It Mean to Be 'Sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise?'"

Also a few talks on learning to be still.  These two talks articulate much better than I can about this process:
1. Sister Wixom (given to women at BYU-Idaho). "Live in the Present, but Keep Your Eye on Eternity" I listened to this one and right from the start, there was such a powerful feeling of peace in her words.  From her talk: "Have you discovered the peace you can feel when you are alone, when the world is quiet and your thoughts explore into the corners of your mind, when you can quietly pray and talk to God and then take the time to listen for His response? Jeremiah teaches us there is rest for those who quietly walk with God.  He said, 'Thus saith the Lord, Stan ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk [walk with God] therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.' 'Be still, and know that I am God.'"

2. Elder Hales, "Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ" I felt like I was underlining the whole talk because each paragraph had something insightful!  He describes the whole process in detail, so I would strong encourage you to catch the entire talk.  I feel like I catch more from Elder Hales when I read it.  Listen to this gem: "Being temperate in this way, we develop patience and trust in the Lord. We are able to rely on His design for our lives, even though we cannot see it with our own natural eyes.14 Therefore, we can “be still and know that [He is] God.”15 When faced with the storms of tribulation, we ask, “What wouldst Thou have me learn from this experience?” With His plan and purposes in our hearts, we move forward not only enduring all things but also enduring them patiently and well."

My journey.  Next post HERE

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