Thursday, November 19, 2015

What Lack I Yet?

Another great talk I love, "Mountains to Climb," by Pres Erying
In years past I would do everything I could to dodge this.  I would throw on a so-to-speak spiritual hat and pair of sunglasses and try to sneak out of the room unnoticed.  I found myself wanting to close my eyes and ears and sing an annoying tune to block out the reality that refinement was needed.  Then after patiently waiting for my willingness, yet my rebellious attitude persisting, God would lovingly allow for difficulty in my life.  Emerging from some great trial and feeling battered and beaten down, I would start the process of hiding out all over again.  "There is no way I would willingly go through anything like that again any time soon," I would tell myself. I have heard people joke about unwillingness to pray for humility or patience because they would get it (and the experiences that come with it and opportunities to master it)...that was me, always dodging.

The best way I can liken what I have been learning in this regard is birth experiences.  Big surprise. :)  When I had my epidural babies, I could no longer feel when each pressure wave was coming.  My body was working to bring my babies into my arms, but I was no longer an active participant with my body.  With Leland, even though the circumstances were similar with having Pitocin on board and my water being broken, his birthing time was 3 hours vs 12 or 16.  For me, the difference was that I would welcome each pressure wave and relax into it rather than fight against it.  It was each pressure wave that was bringing us one step closer to his arrival. My body was able to easily accomplish what it was trying to do rather than dragging things out or me sabotaging the efforts to accomplish the needed work.  Even though I wasn't fighting against pressure waves with my first two births once I had an epidural, I could tell a huge difference when I was an active participant...when I was ACTING and not ducking my head just waiting to be slammed and ACTED UPON.  I am learning to partner with God as the co-creator of my life.  Together it has brought different experiences than when I was fighting the process.

Similarly, I am finding that when I act within my stewardship (which my willingness to become more Godlike falls squarely here), when I submit my will to God's, when I am welcoming the refinement needed, the next "line" and the next "precept" of truth, when I am not "kicking against the pricks," He can mold me more easily and quickly into who He intends for me to be.
After we were more settled a few months ago, we began to feel the need to explore all of our options for adoption.  We looked into it all and weighed the pros and cons of each.  We dreamed big and talked creatively on how to make it happen.  We kept returning to one avenue again and again.  It was something I could never have pictured myself doing before and had therefore easily dismissed it previously.  The more questions we asked, the more comfortable we felt to even step in that direction.  I will need to leave the rest left unsaid until we are ready to discuss publicly what that entails in another post.

Individually and as a couple we have been praying for the experiences that will bring the most refinement in the least amount of time.  Having experienced many fiery trials of my faith in recent years, I can say I am honestly excited for what is on the horizon.  The more He peels back the future and the more clearly I can see the sneak peaks, the more I rejoice in seeing His wisdom and awareness of me and my family personally.  I am simply amazed at how perfectly our prayers are being answered and we are being presented with opportunities to choose to serve Him in ever increasingly personal ways.  I rejoice in knowing that He loves me enough to tell me the truth about what still needs to be addressed.  There are many paths we could take that would bring refinement.  As I reflect on my life, I can easily see how God has persisted after my heart and given me chance after chance.  Although there will always be opportunities to learn and grow, there is but one that will be the most efficient, the straightest and fastest for me based on where I am right now in relation to my goal (returning Home).  This mortal journey is so brief.  I have been awakened to the ways I have wasted precious time in dragging my feet and my willingness.

As my thoughts had been exactly along these lines the past several months, I was thrilled to hear THIS talk given in the most recent conference entitled, "What Lack I Yet?"  One of my favorite things he said:

"The journey of discipleship is not an easy one. It has been called a 'course of steady improvement.'2 As we travel along that strait and narrow path, the Spirit continually challenges us to be better and to climb higher. The Holy Ghost makes an ideal traveling companion. If we are humble and teachable, He will take us by the hand and lead us home.  However, we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way. We have to ask some difficult questions, like 'What do I need to change?' 'How can I improve?' 'What weakness needs strengthening?'"

My answer was initially surprising.  A few months back the Spirit showed me clearly how I had for years dodged fully stepping into what was being asked of me.  Granted, I had most of my heart usually in it.  I had justified my actions for a lot of reasons.  One being that He had already worked with me in that area.  As the Spirit gently nudged, I initially slammed my open-mind closed because I had already gone there before.  What was left to learn?  That was true that we had worked there before and He had given my heart and mind a total revamp; however, that wasn't everything.  That wasn't the full extend of truth.  He had worked with me as much as I was able to hold at the time.  With growing has come more room to hold more truth and the opportunity to stretch and expand my understanding.  This will also need to be a separate post because there is so much we are excited to share about what He is showing us.

Bottom line is, it works.  God seeks after the tender places in our hearts.  Those parts of us that still seek to cling to the things that tie us to this world.  Those parts of our hearts that aren't quite ready to let go and give in to Him completely.  It is an incredibly personal process for all of us, but it really is that simple.  He places opportunities in front of us to choose Him and to become more like Him.  As we follow the Holy Spirit and seek His constant companionship, we will be guided step by step along our personal path back to God's presence.  Those steps and the order of steps will be different for all of us.  What is the answer for one is not the answer for another.  We must go to God directly to know our personal next step.  Also from Bro Lawrence's talk:

"The Holy Ghost doesn’t tell us to improve everything at once. If He did, we would become discouraged and give up. The Spirit works with us at our own speed, one step at a time, or as the Lord has taught, 'line upon line, precept upon precept, … and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, … for unto him that receiveth I will give more.'6 For example, if the Holy Ghost has been prompting you to say 'thank you' more often, and you respond to that prompting, then He may feel it’s time for you to move on to something more challenging—like learning to say, 'I’m sorry; that was my fault.'"

The amazing thing is knowing fully our next step through The Spirit, we can then rely on our Savior and His grace for the courage and strength to carry out what we have been asked to do.  This is The Great Plan of Happiness and HOW we can allow it to work in our lives.  Line upon allow our loving Savior to redeem us.  To accept what has already been offered, but He has been waiting for us to allow in to our lives.  To allow Him to remove all of the dross and purify and refine us.  To allow Him to justify us and sanctify us until we are ready to enter into God's presence.

He ended his talk with this:

"If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us.  Years ago I read these words of President Spencer W. Kimball, which had a lasting impact on me. He said: 'I have learned that where there is a prayerful heart, a hungering after righteousness, a forsaking of sins, and obedience to the commandments of God, the Lord pours out more and more light until there is finally power to pierce the heavenly veil. ... A person of such righteousness has the priceless promise that one day he shall see the Lord’s face and know that he is.'10  It is my prayer that this ultimate experience can be ours someday as we allow the Holy Ghost to lead us home."

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