Yesterday Elliott and I were talking about conversion and faith. I like talking to E about these things because I like the way he sees the world. We often say in the Church, the gospel is “simple”- and even if we don’t believe it, if it’s feeling complicated and deep and difficult, being reminded that it really can be simple is a comfort. That’s how E talks about the gospel. And he’s funny too, so that made it an extra treat.
I sort of forced him to share a talk with me that he gave last year when I was out of town. He’s so nice that he let me keep it. What a gent. This isn’t the entire talk, but it’s a part that I’ve been thinking about.
The brother of Jared is preparing these ships to travel across America from Jerusalem. The waters were rough and so the boats needed roofs. The problem was that in those days they didn’t have light bulbs and having a nice sun roof or windows to let all the water in was not an option. So instead of the Brother of Jared asking the Lord for his magical wand to fix the problem, the Lord expected him ([as He expects] us) to go and find a solution. The Lord will do the rest, as long as we perform our best. So he goes away and finds these 16 stones, and he gets this big fire and heats the stones to a ridiculous temperature so much that they become translucent. He then returns to ask for the Lord’s help as He promised.
“O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea. Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.”
The Brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord as He touches the 16 stones, he is stricken with fear however because he was thought he was going to be smiten and he didn’t know that the Lord had a body of flesh and bone. What happens is very interesting: the Lord says to him, because of your faith great faith, I have chosen to reveal myself unto you.
“And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie. And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence, and then seeing the lord he says Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.”
I always like to liken the scriptures to myself, and so I ask you; how have you seen the hand of the Lord in your life? I would like to share [an experience] with you that has changed me because of His touch and how He has influenced me.
I was serving as a Missionary for the Church in Australia. Even to this day I will say it was one of my most favourite areas of all time and where I grew the most. The ward was amazing, not only did the members feed us but they helped us out with missionary work and made our lives so enjoyable and easy. I was over the moon when I found out I was getting transferred there I was really excited to be with the saints the missionaries and the investigators that I would be serving. I didn’t receive any warning or bad news or problems that I should be aware of. So I thought well, I have hit the jack pot. Little did I know that those 3 months were going to be the hardest of my life. I knew that my companion had lot- and I mean a lot- of struggles with his previous companions, and so I thought I will just love him to death and we will just do the work and everything will be alright. But perhaps it was the first day together that taught me what our time together would be like.
I love to drive, and I had been out for about 14 to 15 months up and until that point I was either walking or biking, so much (so that I figured out how to ride a bike with no handlebars). So for me to know we had a car– I was stoked! But my companion was from Malaysia and wanted to drive once a week. Which, to be honest I wasn’t too happy about; I didn’t like the way he drove. Maybe it was the distance he was from the steering wheel, or that he was always eating nuts- that just put me off. However, back to our first day together. I really wanted to drive but so did he. It just so happened to be that I got out of the members’ home first and was waiting on the outside the drivers door, I said “do you still what to drive”. From that, I somehow deeply offended him, so he gave me the silent treatment for the rest of the day and wouldn’t make eye contact until we had plans. In this #annoyedatElderDavey state, he would act fine with members but gave me the evils every other time of the day.
About a month in to the companionship, I was coping but it was not healthy. I had to swallow all my pride and my will, and I learnt not to argue. I felt as though our companionship was a mine field. This was my life, I was living to keep him in the mission field, I knew if he went home he would go less-active. One morning whilst leaving our apartment to enjoy our Preparation Day, my companion was backing up the car. As a mission rule, it is the companion’s job to stand outside and make sure he does not hit anything. I saw a car driving towards us. So I put my hand to say “stop”, whilst looking at the car. The next thing I knew he was hurtling into me and I nearly fell over. I quickly recovered to see the car driving to us turn the corner. My first reaction was, “ouch that hurt” but also, “yes!” because I knew he was wrong for not stopping, for driving into me: he will say “sorry I was wrong”. As soon has I hopped in the car, he had this disappointing look about him “next time just keep backing me up”. I was angry inside and I was not pleased that he didn’t say sorry. The only thing that was good in my life was an email from my mum saying that when she was at YSA on Sunday a fit girl that fancied me (and probably still does now) was asking for my contacts details and showed a big interest in how I was doing. This was the only hope and tender mercy in my life.
But at the time the Holy Ghost whispered to me, “he loves you enough to not say sorry”. Only at that split second did that make sense to me, even now I struggle to fathom it. But it did teach me one lesson: to think what other people are thinking and where they are coming from. At that time of my life, I was closest to my saviour Jesus Christ. As I went though my Gethsemane I understood more what it took for him to do so for me and for you.
I think talking to E about this, coupled with talking to Abi about her little moment of inspiration, I began to consider how I see the hand of the Lord in my life. Is it ever a clap of thunder and a dramatically huge moment like the Brother of Jared would have witnessed? Or are those moments derived from the small whisperings of the spirit in moments when we need to hear with new ears?
E described the hand of the Lord to be almost an insight to how the Lord is merciful when we are not. Where he initially struggled to understand his companion’s reasoning and actions, he did his part, as the Brother of Jared did his part: E was working really hard, and the desire of his heart was to serve diligently. So the Lord filled in the rest: He gave E the insight to find peace in conflict. Added understanding- and it was a simple understanding- gave him comfort.
For me, those moments of added understanding have the ability to be “game changers”. Those are the moments when we are truly learning to speak the language of the spirit: to discern and judge righteously, and to be more like our Saviour.