Saturday, January 25, 2014

Allowing and Receiving the Lord to Comfort Me

Some counsel I've been given in my life is to allow the words of the prophets to comfort me.

It has taken a long time to learn how to do this.  As my life has been in tumult, I've screamed wondering where my comfort is as I was expected to comfort those around me, and what comfort I did have, didn't seem nearly enough to fix my problems.

I recently learned that when life is out of control - repent.  Why?  Because its about the only thing I have control over and it brings the blessings of the Lord into my life much faster than trying to change life but not myself.

By controlling myself and bringing myself into harmony with the Lord, the chaos of life fixes its self really quickly. I've also learned that when life IS out of control, it is God's way of showing me things I need to fix and that he wants me to fix so I can be blessed.  It's an opportunity to refine myself.  How I am grateful for life's storms!  And....that I only have to do this one time in eternity.

Bummer it's taken me nearly 40 years to learn that.  I'm so grateful I learned it though.  40 years was worth it for the peace it has brought.

But what of comfort?  I've learned I have to receive it.  The Lord gives it.  But I wasn't receiving it.  It is all around us to be had in a moment if we are able to receive it, but if we can't, it eludes us and so does peace.

So how do I receive the comfort of the Lord amidst the hellish storms of life?

For me one of the big breaks came when I realized what the atonement covers.  All these storms of life? There's a purpose.  And when I stopped asking "Why" or "What about me" (believe me, I did!) and started asking "What am I supposed to learn?" and recognizing that what was wrong would be set right with the resurrection and atonement....suddenly the storms weren't as terrifying anymore.  I knew some things I would just have to wait on was going to be okay.   Horrible situations suddenly looked tenable.

They weren't fun.  But suddenly, I was able to stand amidst them, and realize....he was there.  He was actually there, I just had to recognize it.  And when I did this, and was able to start hitting my knees amidst the storms, I was making them end, rather than begging the Lord to stop them for me.

I realized he gave me the tools to stop the storms myself.  I just had to identify them and use them and learn about them.

The main tool I've used is repentance. We make the grave, grave, grave mistake of listening to Satan's prideful lies who tell us "Repentance is for those who go see the bishop!  You don't do anything bad bad bad, you're fiiiiine!" when we think we don't need to repent or are afraid to.  No, my Latter Day Friends, this is a lie.  There are things we do wrong, as well as things we don't do that are right.  Simply keeping the word of wisdom isn't enough.  Simply showing up to church isn't enough.  It goes much much deeper than this.

At one point, when my wife and I were struggling in our marriage, I was off balance and she asked if we should "talk."  I usually don't enjoy those "talks."  But I realized.....talking wasn't going to solve our problems or our life at that point.  I told her I wasn't going to talk.  I told her I was going to act and told her to watch what happens because I was going to fix it and not talk about it.  I told her she could derive comfort as I repented of my sins and sought the Lord's counsel. I told her to just watch and have patience, and she did.  And soon she noticed things were getting better as I sought the Lord's help and counsel and actively repented.

From that day, our life, our marriage has improved at an exponential rate.

Why?  Because I realized the Lord WAS there.  He was there all along.  It wasn't that he wasn't saving me.  It was that I wasn't saving myself.  The line was there, his hand was out. I just didn't take it.

Why?  Because I didn't believe it was what was needed.  I believed I needed the things of life fixed and didn't see how the commandments of the Lord were going to help.   Yes.....I didn't see.

Ahhhh, that was my mistake.  The Lord works in mysterious ways.

As I buckled down and did home-teaching, families were blessed and I brought home the spirit.  As I watched my language I began to express myself more by the spirit and the Lord communicated to those around me.  As I confessed to the lord that MY life had become unmanageable without his help - not life - MY life - and that MY attempts to do it without him weren't working, and did what it took - no matter the cost......and sometimes it was devastating blows to my pride.  Oh, it was painful.  The most painful relief I have ever felt as I finally changed.  Life improved!  And sweet bliss has begun to fill it ever since.

I even dropped graduate school classes to focus on drawing closer to the Lord because I wanted this peace.  I wanted to be with him.  And I knew spending time chasing money in my career wasn't going to help me do it.  I needed to be with my family and available to serve the Lord.  I needed to put my trust in God, not mammon and the philosophies of men to help my career.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God......and all else shall be added to you. is a leap of faith.   And sometimes it seemingly costs us - but the Lord has never asked us to sacrifice anything where we weren't blessed tenfold for what we gave up.  An hour of sleep to be at church on time? spirit is more at peace because I went and I sleep better with the sleep I do get from going, rather than the extra hour I "gain" by not.

Alongside it, take no thought for the things of the morrow....

I began to trust the Lord.  

I let go of the things I thought were most important but that I couldn't hold onto very well and give the care and attention they deserved in my life.  Oh, I didn't drop them.  No.  HE is holding onto them for me, I handed them back to him and said "hold this for me for a second while I get a grip and get a better footing.:  I had to stand up myself and get a better foothold so when he's ready to hand them back to me....I'll be able to receive them.

We have to allow the Lord to comfort us.  And we have to receive his comfort.  WE have to do it.  If we scoff at his comfort he offers by his spirit in those hellish times, and say "NO! I want you to fix THIS!" (and believe me I have) well....we're missing out that he IS offering to "fix this" AND give us peace at the same time.  It was so hard to see but it was right there the whole time.  And each of us has to discover its own unique ways and applications for ourselves.  Your life isn't my life, my problems aren't yours, and the Lord is waiting to help you individually and personally in your unique situation, but the general recognition and principles are the same for all of us.

But we have to trust in him and do it his way.  God doesn't work the way man thinks he should.  I think he does it deliberately just to teach us trust so that we can begin to bless ourselves.  Actually, I know this is the case.

So it is with the temple as well.  The temple wouldn't benefit someone just walking in off the street.  The covenants there require faithfulness and practice before they are made.  That's why we keep our baptismal covenants first.  Attend church at all costs even if it costs us sports or school or jobs - whatever.  We have to be willing to sacrifice to receive the kingdom of God and keep our temple covenants because those covenants are serious and are the most serious of covenants!  And so he tests us beforehand.  Not just tests us, prepares us.  And prepares us to withstand all tests.

Then when we have learned all this.....and only then.....does the comfort of the Lord become a covenant relationship - a two way relationship, where we seek him and he comforts us when we find him.  When we know he's there and seek him, and he comforts us. Many times I have been guilty of saying I wanted the comfort of the Lord but wasn't willing to do what it took to be comforted.  I didn't believe or have faith in him or his commandments.

It was only when I was at my wits end, when he finally "broke" me and I had nowhere else to go but to him and was willing to do what-ever-it-took that he could help me. 

Kinda like Meatloaf's lyric "I would do anything for love....but I won't do that."   Yah, I would have done ANYTHING for life to be better.  But I wouldn't do the things I was being told to do - no....that was too high a price to pay.  I wanted box seats to the grand opera of celestial life but only wanted to pay dollar store prices for them.

Doesn't work that way.  And yet, what seemed a high price was nothing compared to what I was being given.....

But when I finally admitted "....I can't do this myself on my own, I need help.....I'll do anything.....and accept whatever you have to give and will trust you and wait on you" suddenly.....things began to move.  And move fast!  It wasn't me waiting on God.  It was God waiting on me!!!

Oh, let us not make the mistake of thinking God's timeline is just his own.  No, God's timeline is very often....him waiting on us.  Waiting for us.  Because he loves us.

He doesn't want us to suffer.  But he does know that if we are to inherit eternal life, what suffering we endure to teach us the lessons that prepare us for eternal glory, and help us avoid eternal suffering...he's willing to let us stay there because it is a much much smaller price to pay.  Even in our dark moments, us remaining there, can be and is an act of love while he waits for us to learn to take the hand that is outstretched to us and right in front of us.

It sucks when you got a strong spirit like mine.  My strength was my weakness.  But now my becoming my strength.

I know all of this is true, and I know the Lord is there ALWAYS, was there always! We just have to seek him, and do what he directs faithfully, and we are and will be blessed, and I write this in Jesus name and testify of it, Amen.

Now...having finished this I would say to myself, "now go....repent....and enjoy life and have it whatever you have to at all costs....go....and return with honor, and be happy." 

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