How can I want revelation when revelation led me here?

I’ve always tried to follow revelation as best as I could. When I recognized I should do something, I did it with the expectation good would come of it.

While talking with my bishop yesterday, he said I should seek revelation about dating. That set me off and contributed nastily to the spiral I was already in.

How I can I want to seek revelation when following revelation is what landed me in the situation I’m in now? How can it possibly be a good thing to specifically seek revelation about dating when the last time I did that I was in a relationship for 16 months that I was expecting never to end? How can I seek for revelation when I was told in words as clear as “if you both work hard at it, you’ll have a very good marriage” and then not have that ever happen–God knowing full well that the girl is/was not in a place where she trusts herself enough to be in a relationship of that level of commitment?

How can I trust God not to put me through the ringer again when He knew the outcome of that revelation that started this entire experience more than two years ago? How can I want to seek divine guidance when I followed it to become a teacher and then had to leave for my sanity’s sake?

How can I want to do that to myself again? How can I want to seek for something that theoretically makes my life better when for the last year doing what I felt inspired to do has left me a humiliated shell of who I was?

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Given a choice, I would never go back and change the decisions I made. Starting to date the girl based on revelation was the best decision I made to that point in my life. God knew how strongly I’d fall for her. He knew that giving me clear revelation about our potential future would cause me to do certain things. I wouldn’t trade those 16 months for anything.

Revelation gave me the best things I have in life. Revelation also caused me to end the relationship when she didn’t have the strength to. Revelation encouraged me to leave my job and protect what little of me there was left. Revelation helps me rebuild myself each day.

Trusting Father is difficult. I don’t expect He’s enjoyed watching me suffer. I don’t expect He will stop my suffering, either. I have some expectation that, no matter what, He is in charge, and because He is good, the things He gives me can only be for good.

The things I’ve been asked to do, and the consequences of my actions have been more difficult than I ever expected I would deal with. I daily ask for strength to deal with the difficulties of that day. Asking for more is thinking too far ahead.

But I don’t want to again go through what I’ve been through. I don’t want to have my heart and my being torn out and shredded into pieces. Thinking of that and considering it as a possibility causes me to spiral out of control. But if I must go through it, I will. Jesus drank His bitter cup. Mine is not the bitter cup of the world’s sin, pain, illness, and struggle. Mine is specific to me. I may ask for its removal, as He did, but when faced with it, I will not shrink.

Connections between scripture and my life

Mark 6:48 tells the first part of a story most of us are familiar with. Matthew 14:26-31 continues and finishes that story. 

Mark 6:48 And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Three important points stick out here. Jesus saw his disciples toiling in rowing. He came to them. He came in the fourth watch. 

The fourth watch is the last watch before dawn. It comes after everything else that might happen at night. 

I worship a God that sees me toiling as Jesus saw His disciples. I worship a God who comes in the fourth watch. Through three watches I may feel abandoned, but He sends peace and relief in the fourth watch. 

I worship a God who sends relief at the end of a long, dark night of struggle–a God who loves me. He will come when His time time has passed. He will invite me, as Peter, to join Him on the waves before He enters my boat. 

It is ok if I doubt, as did Peter, after I step onto the water outside of my boat with nothing under me: Christ will save and support me, but I should not be afraid to step out of the boat. 

The winds and the waters may be boisterous, my boat may be tossed, water may be entering it, water may be sinking it. But I cannot be so engaged in bailing out the water that I do not see Jesus coming to me, walking on water, in the fourth watch, waiting for me to see Him, so He can tell me to “be of good cheer” and bring safety, peace, and salvation in my times of great trials. 

I’m afraid, really afraid

I moved this week. As this posts I will be sitting in church with people who have known me for several years, and whom I feel comfortable around.

The familiarity and sociality of these people is the main reason I chose to move. A week ago Friday it wasn’t on the radar, but when I was offered a contract on Saturday, I spent the next 36 hours considering it and chose to make the move.

The things I’ve dealt with the last several months are real. I have yet to really understand the breadth or depth of how I am affected by them, but I know I’ve faced the darkest most difficult times of my life.

I did it alone, and as I felt some of that depression returning to my life, I felt that moving to where I have social support would be a positive choice.

But the thought hit me today:

What if this divine door to a more supportive area/ward was opened because I’m not even close to coming out of the darkness I’ve been in and it will get worse for a long time before it gets better? What if this move is meant to provide me support as times get only more difficult?

That scared me shitless. All I could think was, “Dear God, Please No. I don’t need that.”

I couldn’t do anything but cry and pray and beg that wouldn’t be the case. I want some relief. I want to be myself again. I want to be able to talk and laugh and not have thoughts of incompetence plague my brain.

As those thoughts went through my mind, it was hard to believe the incredible blessings that were being pronounced as I participated in temple initiatory.

One day my shoulders may be able to support the burdens I am given. One day perhaps I will have a testimony of being able to endure and overcome this.

For now, I have only a belief that I will not be given more than I can overcome. And if things do get harder, I’ll know I have people around me who know and love me. I hope things get better, and eventually they will; but I’m tired of struggling being the current purpose of my existence.

Season of thanks: The Gospel of John

As a Christian, I am familiar with the Gospels and their accounts of Christ’s life.  I’ve read each several times and feel I know them pretty well.  At the behest of a friend, I started reading John four days ago.  To mix things up, I have been reading aloud (I feel the reading experience is much improved when the auditory senses are also engaged).

To that end, I’ve always been slightly disappointed that the writers of the gospel seem to make Jesus’ words easily understandable (to say nothing to Biblical translations that trade beautiful poetry for accuracy in modern language).  However, John has been a relief from that.  John seems to have maintained the intelligence and the poetry with which Christ taught.  When confronted by the Pharisees, Jesus not only teaches them true doctrine, but does so in a convincing, intelligent way.  He leaves no room for misunderstanding nor argument.  He is the master teacher.

I guess the point is I am grateful for intelligent argument in defense of Truth.  Too often I find people that say, “I know it’s true.  That’s enough for me.”  In recording Jesus’ full defense f His actions, John wants to raise the reader to a higher level: he wants us to know why we believe what we do and why Jesus’ teachings are correct.

Season of thanks: Empathy

The footballing world was shocked by the announcement of the death of Gary Speed today (article, ESPN).  The former Premiership great and current Wales manager was 42.

I’m grateful Heavenly Father has blessed us with empathy.  Because we all need support, we have been given the ability to understand the feelings of others.  Obviously we can never understand exactly how someone feels because that is directly determined by each person’s interpretation of his/her life experiences, but we can get close to understanding them.

My heart reaches out to express my condolences to the Speed family, to Mr Speed’s wife and children.  Only in my imagination can I begin to imagine what it would be like for my father to die at his own hand.  But I know it would be a horrible feeling and those children will be affected forever.  I empathize with the psychological struggles they will have as they search for understanding of their father’s action.

I know enough from my own experience being single and enough learned from talking with single parents that I would never want my spouse to die, let alone at such a young age or while children were at home.  Honestly, that may be one of the things that scares me the most about getting married–potential to end up where I am now before I’m out of my 20s.

So as I feel for others’ pains and struggles, I am grateful for that capability.  It helps me understand what Jesus did while He was in Gethsemane.  He experienced all the pain, sorrow, guilt, sin, and consequences thereof of every one of God’s children.  He did this to pay the price and so when we are in our darkest times, we can take comfort and strength in knowing we are not alone.  Not only can He empathize, He went through it.

But giving us the gift of empathy, we can begin to understand what He did for us.

Peace

As you might gather from reading the myriad things I blog about, there’s a lot going through my head.  It can get really loud in there.  Between over-analyzing almost everything I hear and thinking about far too many things, I find I need to do a clean-out nearly weekly.

I find the best thing for that is to attend an LDS temple.  The closest one for me is in Provo Utah, pictured below (link).

My appreciation to Kevin Miller photography for posting this picture.  He’s got a great eye.

Anyway, aside from being picturesquely located across the globe (an image search for LDS temples can back me up), temples provide a place where members of the LDS Church can go to worship God, perform saving ordinances for those who have died, and receive revelation.

I want to focus on the last point.  Because my mind is so busy, I face two big problems: (1) I have so much vying for thought resources (I’m describing my brain like a computer…) that it’s hard to take time to seek revelation, and (2) revelation comes so quietly that I often don’t recognize it, or I just ignore it.

Knowing this, I’ve tried to be more still mentally, but that hasn’t always worked.  At the temple, I choose to focus on only one thing: serving God and those who have passed before me.  In doing so, I quiet the other thoughts rampaging through my mind.  Peace comes.  Other important thoughts surface (think balls that have been underwater coming to the top–sometimes they surface and jump up, sometimes they just come to the surface.  Because I am at peace, the thoughts tend to come gently and one-at-a-time.  This allows me to handle each one in turn and set my thoughts (and my life) in order.

I leave refreshed and prepared to face another week.  I am grateful to live five minutes from one of the beautiful places of worship.  My consistent attendance and service therein have immensely blessed my life and have prepared me to face much more than I could have otherwise.

Experiences there and throughout my life have convinced me I have a loving Heavenly Father who cares about every experience I have.  And because He is a loving God, He loves each other person on Earth just as much.  We all experience different trials, but there are meant to prepare us to live with Him eternally.  Temple attendance brings me peace and clears my mind so I can focus on what is eternally important, and not just what my scattered mind tells me is important.

Christmas

Christmas is about potential.  We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who grew up to be the Saviour of all men.  We collect as families and close friends to celebrate what will be.  Maybe I’m not making sense.

Before the world was formed, God had a plan.  His spirit children (us) needed a world to come to and experience life in a body and learn how to master bodies.  He knew we would make many mistakes and needed a way fo us to be able to return to Him.  (He is perfect and imperfect people can’t come back to stay.)

Jesus Christ volunteered to come to earth as a mortal, like us, and suffer more than any man had ever suffered.  He would experience the entirety of human experience and atone for all pain, lost, sickness, and sin–all imperfections–so we could return to God and live with Him forever.

We had known Jesus for a long time, and knew He was the only spirit sibling we had who could possibly make good on such a promise.  We supported this and looked forward with faith to His life.

On Christmas day (or what we celebrate as Christmas day), Jesus was born to a virgin mother.  Heaven had such trust in Jesus that angels proclaimed his birth across the world.  A new star appeared, telling everyone the Saviour was born.

It is the beginning of His perfect life we celebrate today.  We celebrate the potential of a tiny baby child; born in the muddy, flea-ridden stable; lain in an animal’s feed trough for a bassinet to become the perfect example to all mankind of how to live and how to return to God’s presence.

Christmas reminds us of our potential.  Each of us can choose to be like Jesus.  We can live following His example, repenting of our mistakes because He atoned for our sins.  His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary’s Cross allows us to repent and have our sins, though as scarlet blemishes on our souls become white as driven snow (see Isaiah 1:18).

Jesus allows us to fulfill God’s plan, to fulfill our potential as children of the Most High.  We can achieve limitless heights because He performed His mission on earth.  We each must do the same.  We must follow all His commandments and help other do the same.  We must find and fulfill our purpose of life.

Then we, too, through Jesus’ atonement that rights every wrong, will realize our potential as we stand before God and are ushered into His loving arms once again.

Jesus Logic

At first this may sound a little blasphemous. It’s not, I promise. (As an aside, I freaking hate toaster ovens. I can’t even toast things properly.)

In Toronto I met a lot of people whose opinions about Jesus varied. “He was a good guy.” “He was a fraud.” “He taught good things.” “He was the Son of God.” “He was a charlatan.”
While opinions are well and good, we can know Truth. We can know exactly what Jesus was/is/will be. The Spirit will guide us to this knowledge as we are prepared.
However, what helps me is whether things make sense. Regardless of what my mother claims, I feel I am a logical person whose opinions are based in fact and reason. Thus we shall take a lawyer-influenced look at Jesus and His claims.
We know Jesus taught many things taken as truth and as beneficial. However, are they really? Can we really trust a man who claimed he was the Son of God? In a court case, if a witness is proven to have lied on the stand, even once in hours of testimony, the entire testimony is often discounted and the witness is assumed to have lied about everything. This must happen because picking truth from lies is impossible.
Similarly, we can put the testimony of Jesus on trial. Without doubt, the claim that he was the son of a God and a mortal woman is the most questionable he ever made. If someone can disprove that claim, the entirety of his teachings falls apart. Thus the Beatitudes become useless–for they are obviously taught by a liar, His commands to love one another become unnecessary, etc.
Following that track, any teaching that has come since derived from Jesus’ words is also false, any teaching from other perceived great men (Ghandi, Confucius, Mohammad, etc) agreeing or citing Jesus must also be taken as false. As you can see, claim Jesus is only a great man and not 100% what He said He was leads to the disruption of much of the moral code the world follows.
However, if He is the perfect Son of God–a knowledge any willing person can gain–all of His teaching (even the ones you don’t like) must be true (because He could not lie) and must be followed in order to gain the Eternal Life He promises to His disciples. This is the case because the Son of God would have full authority to speak on any subject, and His words would be eternal law. Thus evaluating Jesus’ claim to divine sonship is the crux of most arguments about Christianity.
So the decision comes to you. Will you throw away the morality of the world by believing He is less than what He claimed to be, or will you discover whether He is the Son of God?
My knowledge is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died and was resurrected so each person who ever lived may gain Eternal Life by following His teachings. Logic supports it and the confirmation of the Spirit irrefutably confirms it.

John 5:39

Here’s some vintage Lee J blogging:

I get really annoyed with people taking the scriptures out of context. Take John 5:39 for instance.
“Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”
So pretty much every person I know quotes this scripture in order to prove the importance of reading the scriptures. The logical reasoning they use is that the scriptures contain eternal life.
With a more accurate reading of the text, we realise that Jesus is rebuking people for believing that the scriptures contain eternal life. They don’t. No matter how hard you try, you will never gain eternal life from reading the scriptures.
The verses surrounding v. 39 tell us that everything Christ does testify of Him as the source of eternal life. And v. 39 supports this reading. Jesus says “[the scriptures] are they which testify of me.” They testify of Him as the source of eternal life. He follows with v. 40: “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Coming to Him is the only way to achieve eternal life. Period.
So read the scriptures right. Don’t take them out of context. Know what Jesus (or whoever is writing them) is really saying, and don’t quote it to make the wrong point. Just make sure you cite John 5:39 to prove the point that the scriptures testify of Jesus and He brings eternal life.

Jesus the Lamb

As Christmastime approaches, our awareness of the Jesus story increases.  His birth comes to our minds, and we remember why we celebrate the season.  However, one misunderstood aspect of our Saviour’s birth story helps us better understand why He is the Lamb of God: the shepherds.

We know Jesus is the Ultimate and Last Sacrifice, sent by the Father to fulfill the Law of Moses.  On the day of Atonement, unblemished lambs were sacrificed as the offering for Israel’s atonement.  With these sacrifices made, the nation once again stood pure before God.  Jesus was sent as the Final Sacrifice–the Sacrifice to End All Sacrifices by the shedding of blood.
Jesus’ entire mission was spent leading up to the hours of his Atonement, but His birth, and particularly those to whom the message of His birth was announced, give greater insight to what he was.
We learn, from Luke, that there were shepherds abiding in the fields by night on the eve of the Saviour’s birth.  Though we often think “wow, the angels came even to the lowly shepherds,” this is not the intent of the announcement.  These were not ordinary shepherd, these were shepherds who watched over the temple’s flocks (this is known because of significant internal and external evidence).  These were not the average, poor, run-of-the-mill shepherds.  These shepherds were well-cared for, well-off, and not what we think of when we think “shepherd.”
So this may destroy the popular notion that the angels came even to humble shepherds.  But there is a reason the angels came to these shepherds–a symbolic, and, therefore, much more important reason–they watched over the sheep to be sacrificed for Israel’s atonement.  The angels came, in essence, to say “Come, see the reason you have a job.  See who will end the need for animal sacrifice.”  This symbolism, of shepherds leaving their flocks and coming to Jesus, foreshadows what the early saints had to do:  leave behind the Law of Moses–it had been fulfilled–and come to Christ, recognizing Him as the great and last sacrifice.