I’m times of darkness, I pray more earnestly

For better or worse, I’ve prayed more earnestly during the last several months. Overall it’s for the better, but I’ve been more earnest because life has been harder. So I’m not sure my motives are the purest.

I’ve needed more help, so I’ve asked for it. And that’s not a bad thing.

I need help in my life. I always will. I hope I can set habits to be consistently more forthright and meaningful when I pray, so I am as focused during easy times as I am during difficult ones.

For now, I’ll be ok with being more earnest overall. Good things have come from it. I’ve made a few new friends, I’ve received help when I’ve needed it, and I’ve been constantly aware of a loving Father who constantly watches out for me, even if I’m not always able to see how.

How will come. Explanations will present themselves. In the meantime, knowing He is there needs to be enough.

Dear sister in the parking lot

I saw a sister walking at the front of the building as I drove into the church parking lot today. When I walked to the back door, she passed me again and I saw her face. I glimpsed it for only second, but there was anguish laced across it and she was on the verge of tears.

I did the normal smile-just-before-you-pass-and-then-put-your-head-down. However, before I started that process, though I saw her face and realized my smile would have little effect. I felt as though I should ask, “Can I do anything for you?”

But I didn’t. I let the moment pass.

It would have been weird to ask a complete stranger what I could do for her. She could have taken it wrong. I might have been embarrassed. She might have ignored me and passed by still sobbing.

All that might have happened. And all of it has happened in my mind many times since passing her by. But more importantly I’ve realized something more embarrassing occurred: I chose not to follow a prompting.

It was small. It was quick. It required immediate response. I didn’t jump at the chance, and I should have.

Although I regret not following the prompting, I take major comfort in one thing: I recognized it. For a lot of months, I was so embattled within my own head that I couldn’t recognize pain in others’ faces. I wasn’t receiving promptings to help others because I wasn’t in a good place myself.

So I rejoice that I saw another’s pain and received a prompting to do something about it, and I recognize the next step: acting on it and doing something about the prompting.

My dear sister whom I saw in the parking lot,

I’m sorry I saw your pain and felt prompted to ask whether I could do anything for you and did nothing. There are a lot of things that went through my head in that split second, and none of them are adequate excuses for not acting.

I’ve thought about you during every moment of the meeting, I’ve prayed for you that my missed chance will not negatively affect you, and you’ve been the muse for a blog post. So maybe two people beside me will pray for you also (my blog doesn’t have a consistent readership), but that’s two more than you had, so maybe that’s not nothing.

I don’t know why you are pained. I hope Father wrapped his arms around you since I passed you by, and I hope you’ve been courageous enough to reach out to friends.

It isn’t as meaningful now, and it doesn’t help you now, but I pledge to be stronger in the future and to follow promptings in the moment they come.

You likely hold no grudge or ill will against me, but I hope you forgive me for passing you by and not reflecting you Father’s love with anything more than a smile.

I wish you the best, Anonymous Sister.

Lee J Hinkle

Our challenges affect us forever

I didn’t ask to have the year I did. In fact, I fervently prayed for a completely different set of experiences. I worked really hard for things that I felt inspired to pursue, things I knew would be blessings in my life. I strove to land a full-time teaching job. I worked to be appointed as a head coach. And I fought tooth and nail to keep my relationship together and make progress toward making eternal covenants with her and God.

Now, none of those things exist in my life. I have no contact with the girl, I don’t teach for pay, and I no longer am the head coach. All those things I worked for, all those things that mattered most have been taken away. To top it all off, I experienced depths of depression I never thought possible, I mourned more deeply than I expected I could, and I quit the things I thought would bring me the most long-term joy.

But my heart is opened. I feel more deeply now than I ever have before. I’ve learned to draw on the pain I experienced and the worries I have about my future to empathize with friends who experience trials and challenges in their lives.

I wrote last week about seeing the people behind their trials. The things I experienced make me better. The long-term perspective shows that I am more like Father than I was last year.

But I am not the things I experienced. I am not a failed teacher. I am not a depressive. I am not a bad coach. I am not a failure as a boyfriend.

Viewing myself as these things limits my growth and improvement. Taking these experiences and recognizing lessons I can learn from them, has shown me to see my friends behind their trials.

The largest take-away is I must actively be pursuing the things that matter most. I value helping others. I value serving. I value following Father with trust and faith.

What I experienced this last year teaches me to be spiritually strong. It teaches me to follow God and be more like Him. I will be forever affected by my experiences, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Bible

My brother, like myself, was a strong proponent for Prop 8 (and as the legal fight continues remains so). On his blog, or facebook, or myspace–something–a friend of his posted the comment ‘F… the Bible’ in reaction to my brother’s defense that the Bible condemns the practice of gay marriage (or gay anything for that matter).

“F… the Bible’ is a strong comment. It comes from someone who doesn’t recognise the foundation upon which Western society is built. The Bible is more than just the bestselling book of all time, it is the moral foundation upon which our society was laid. And, to all those who look, is what kept the world relatively pure for so many years. As we fall away from discipleship to Christ and, as my brother’s friend said, ‘F… the Bible,’ our society will follow. The fact we even had to vote on Prop 8 shows way too many people are saying ‘F… the Bible.’
And sadly too many Churches are saying the same thing. Churches that use the Bible each week during their sermons are saying ‘F… the Bible’ because they aren’t willing to stand up for what it teaches. They piddle away the blunt passages in Exodus, Romans (really blunt in the Greek), and Corinthian as mistranslated, unimportant, or ‘hatespeech.’
Funny that this book which has given the moral guidance to our society is being decried as ‘hatespeech.’ Stranger still that a 20th century word is used to devalue the most important book in Christian history–and it’s working.
Now is the time for those who are disciples of Christ to stand for what they believe, what the scriptures teach, and face whatever persecution comes. We only stand for morality, for life, for our Saviour. 
Speaking of the times in which we live, Jesus prophesied:
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
So where do you stand? Will you endure? or will you succumb? There are only two choices.

The Samaritan Woman and Us

It seems that every time I got to my New Testament class my respect for women grows. Much of my astonishment come from realising the negative connotations women had in that time. So as I see the high praise women are given in scripture it sharply contrasts with the societal conventions of the day.

Today we discussed John 4 when Jesus converses with the Samaritan woman at the well. According to Jewish tradition Samaritan woman were perpetually unclean. Thus anything accepted of the by any Jew was unclean and the Jew would then be ritually unclean as well.
Yet Jesus asks her to draw water for Him. Imagine her confusion, knowing the Jewish tradition, to have this asked of her. But He then teaches her of the water He has to give. Over the course of their conversation she realises who He is and why His water will truly quench thirst eternally.
I love the symbolism of what she does as well. Because she is a woman, she likely makes the trek to the well daily to draw the water she will use to clean, cook, and give the thirsty inhabitants of her house. This water is life-giving. It is necessary to the survival of all. But it is necessary she draws it from the well daily, for they will surely thirst again.
So as she learns of the water Christ gives, she leaves her waterpot behind to tell the men in her house of Christ. In the same way she brings the water of physical life to her house each day, she brings the water of eternal life when she finds it.
What I love is this is not a role relegated to this woman alone. It is a divine role given to all women. Each is to bring that water of eternity to her home, what a blessing she has in being given this privilege!

Promises of Scripture

As I was reading my scriptures this morning, a passage struck me. In The Book of Mormon, a passage from the Book of Ether struck me. This interlude by Moroni was particularly interesting considering current world events.

Speaking of the American continents, he says,

9 And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity.

  10 For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off.

  11 And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done.

  12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. 

We live in a land of promise. A land wherein if we keep the commandments of God, we will prosper. It is one of the Book of Mormon’s main messages. But the inverse promise also exists–and is often recorded as an example for us: if we will not follow God, we will be cut off. There will be punishments for our iniquitous actions. Moroni does not give this warning lightly.
It is evidence to me of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon: its truths speak to us. They are applicable to our day. More importantly, though, as I read it, the Spirit of the Lord tells me through my thoughts and my feelings that the book is of God.

Becoming Children

I learned an interesting thing today (surprise! Its from the New Testament.) When His disciples ask who is to be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven, Christ invites a child over and says to his disciples, in so many words, you must be like this child or you will never see the kingdom of God. 

I had always thought along the lines of ‘I need to be like a child, but they really aren’t very disciplined.’ This, I thought, couldn’t be what Christ meant. And it turns out he doesn’t. Children are, because of their youth and inexperience, willing to (and sometimes insistently) rely on their parents for help, assistance, advice, and more. This reliance, and subsequently humility are the qualities we need to garner within ourselves. This will make us ‘like children.’

But this concept was taken one step further. We are not just to become like any children. We are to become the children of God, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Now, wait, you say: the scriptures already tell us we are children of God (see Romans 8:16-17). True. They do. But this isn’t the easy ‘Oh yeah, I’m a child of God’ relationship. That isn’t the doctrine Christ teaches.

Christ teaches we must do and not just hear. We are to become disciples, followers who will do all He asks them to. And the blessing that come is we will receive the inheritance Christ did. But to receive the same inheritance, we must follow his example and do all in our power, relying as we do on His infinite grace which will help us rise above ourselves.

The idea of inheritance is obvious: the gifts are God’s to give and it is God who sets the terms we must meet in order to receive them. Like with earthly inheritors, there are some gifts we receive solely because of who we are. But also like earthly givers, God is (1) much more likely (infinitely so) to give to those who keep His commandments (not just the Ten) and (2) not going to give His children what they don’t deserve or never worked to obtain.

So our goal is to work to be able to be blessed as Christ was, therefore becoming the children of the Father, the same children who will submit their will to His and do all he asks of them.

So my eyes were opened and I realised I lacked quite a bit as I strive to be like Christ. but I know as I do, I will truly become the child of Father, so my relationship with Him will be as Christ’s and I can say to my Heavenly Father, as young Jewish sons say to their earthly fathers with respect and affection, Abba, Father.