I am just sitting here thinking how grateful I am for the last few years and what the Lord has been doing with me to try to teach me. And I am grateful God is patient and uses persuasion and not control or force.
The Lord is always gentle with me.
I have talked about this before, but I can look back over my life and see God leading me the whole time. But He doesn’t push or force, and so I see that I have to show I really do want what I get, and I have to actually be willing to sacrifice what it takes to get it and what comes as a result.
I am thinking about the catalysts for what I have learned and experienced the past decade or so. I think there are a few things that allowed the Lord to teach me so much more stuff, and to give me more experiences to learn from.
First, I had this love for Jesus and a desire to be like He was from a very early age, which I have talked about before on this blog. I think that was a gift, and probably something brought with me from before this life.
Second, I studied certain things for decades. And I was restless with the status quo. Because of what I learned, I knew that experiencing the same things for decades, and really not learning all that much more, was not the way it was supposed to be. Yes, I had great experiences with people and with God, but when I look back, I can see there was not a whole lot more insight or knowledge of the things of God that I gained, no matter how much I read or studied through those years.
Third, miraculously I was led to the further information I had been searching actively for, for all those decades. I attribute that totally to God, but I also know that if I hadn’t been searching, He wouldn’t have forced the information on me. And if at any point I had (or if I do now) rejected what I was being given, He would have stopped giving me what I didn’t want.
Fourth, I finally (after a long time of being foolish) took a step away from the control of men and followed what the spirit of the Lord was telling me, and then miracles happened that opened the way for me to learn so many things.
Fifth, that led to more stepping away than I ever imagined I might have to do. I had to sacrifice what I had often before described as “my whole life.” What I learned through doing that was that I had conflated an institution and the control of men with what was ACTUALLY my whole life.
Sixth, I learned that life could be even harder than I imagined, but that in the midst of that, I could still be thankful every minute for the greater knowledge and understanding I was given. It is worth it.
I am thankful every day for this new path. Many things are sad and hard. Harder than I ever imagined things would be, as I said. But never, not for a moment, have I felt it is not worth it. Truth is delicious, as Joseph Smith said. And the more I learn and understand, the more I realize I don’t know and don’t understand. I have had to lay what I thought I knew, and what I thought I understood, on the altar, so the Lord could really teach me. It is an incredible journey which both breaks you and heals you. And it doesn’t end, if you don’t want it to.
Another word about truth. It may not always feel good to hear it in the first moment. It may sometimes be VERY uncomfortable to hear the truth. We may think truth is false at first when it goes against something we believe, when it makes us feel uncomfortable and bumps up against our cognitive dissonance.
Truth, or things God asks of us, do NOT always “feel” good or give us “warm fuzzies.” There are examples of that over and over in the scriptures. I used the example of Samuel the Lamanite in another post. The people shooting arrows at him certainly took the truth to be hard because what he was saying went against what they believed.
But truth is worth whatever we have to sacrifice. We may have to join Samuel on the wall and have arrows shot at us also. In the 6th Lecture on Faith, paragraph 9, it says “the knowledge that men have that they are accepted in the sight of God is obtained by offering sacrifice. And in the last days before the Lord comes, he is to gather together his saints who have made a covenant with him by sacrifice. Psalms 50:3 – 5 [Ps. 50:1]: Our God shall come and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant unto me by sacrifice.” (reference here) The words I put in bold in that quote show that we can’t just make a covenant “to” sacrifice, we make a covenant “by” sacrifice.
There is always sacrifice. In the next paragraph from Lectures on Faith: “Those, then, who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on Eternal life and will be enabled, through faith, to endure unto the end and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who do not make the sacrifice cannot enjoy this faith because men are dependent upon this sacrifice in order to obtain this faith, therefore they cannot lay hold upon Eternal life because the revelations of God do not guarantee unto them the authority so to do, and without this guarantee faith could not exist.” (reference here)
I thought I was sacrificing before. There was sacrifice for me before, but it was not the same. It is clear there are levels upon levels of sacrifice. We have only to look at the atonement to know that.
Anyway, it has been beautiful to me, this last decade especially, no matter the sacrifice. And I am forever grateful. I hope I can learn everything it is possible for me to in this life, and that I can do whatever the Lord wants me to do. I only can with the Lord’s help. That I do know.