7.01.2007

If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God

This is a Sunday svithe for a Monday because I never got my act together enough to put it up yesterday.

I was asked to give a 10-minute talk in church on how my testimony has grown as I've read the Bible. I gave the talk last week and worked out my thoughts on the computer beforehand, so for the first time ever I practically had the whole thing written out. I figured I might as well put it up here just in case it could be of use to anyone. Forgive me if the notes are rough--I was just using them as a guide. Also, I realize that I keep using Elder Oaks and no one else. It's not my fault that he gave 2 great talks about the subjects I was interested in.


My Talk

This past year or so my testimony has grown as I’ve come to know the Bible as a source of personal revelation, especially personal revelation of the Lord’s love and concern and plans for me.

2 Timothy 3:15–16 From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks says, “What makes us different from most other Christians in the way we read and use the Bible and other scriptures is our belief in continuing revelation. For us, the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge, but what precedes the ultimate source. The ultimate knowledge comes by revelation.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan 1995, 7)

We have an open canon of scriptures—the scriptures are not closed and continued meaning and interpretations can come through prophets and through our own personal revelations. Elder Oaks goes on to say . . . “the teaching of the Holy Ghost is a better guide to scriptural interpretation than even the best commentary” (ibid). Not only that but that “scripture reading may also lead to current revelation on whatever else the Lord wishes to communicate to the reader at that time” (ibid). Elder Oaks says the scriptures can be a tool to help us receive personal revelation. So it’s not just the words that we’re reading, but what Heavenly Father is trying to tell us as we read. By reading the Bible we invite the Spirit to teach us.

I was away at school for a year in England. It was a wonderful experience and I am so happy that I went. But it was also a rough year, filled with anxiety and uncertainty. I had questions about relationships and the stress of my program and my uncertain future, with worries about what to do when I’d finished. And yet it was also the year that I learned more about the Spirit and felt more protected and blessed and carefully led than I’ve ever felt before. Most of this guidance came as I read the scriptures.

One experience that was especially meaningful happened when I was troubled last spring about what to do when I finished the program. Where should I live? Where will I go? How long will it take to find a job, and how will I support myself? I couldn't shake the anxious feelings and finally I sat down with the scriptures, said a prayer, and told Heavenly Father that I would keep reading until He showed me something that would help me.

(I know this next bit is kind of cheating because even though the same passage is in the Bible I was actually reading the Book of Mormon at the time. Sue me.) I was reading along as Jesus taught about the lilies of the field, and came to this:

3 Nephi 13:30 – 34

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.

(At this point I started thinking, "Wait--is this for me?")

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But aseek ye first the bkingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

There was my answer: Stop worrying. “Your heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” He wasn’t going to let me end up on the streets. And He hasn't. He absolutely took care of me.

This year I had another experience with the Bible. This time the words themselves were not an answer to prayer, but they opened the way for the Spirit to teach me something I needed to hear. In Sunday School one week we read in Luke:

Luke 5: 4-6

4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.

The teacher went on to discuss this, saying that Simon and the others had been working all night with no results. They were tired and discouraged and didn’t want to keep going. Maybe they even thought they’d been doing something wrong. But they hadn’t—there was a reason why they hadn’t caught anything. It was about the moment that the Lord had chosen for things to happen--and he chose a moment and a way that let the disciples see His power.

This really struck me and I kept working it out in my head as the lesson went on. The Lord asks us to launch out into the deep and let down our nets. Sometimes we feel like we’re not seeing any results, that we must be doing something wrong, that we’re wasting our time. We see this with our callings, our visiting and home teaching assignments, with friendships, family relationships, dating, with work, with school. But we don’t know what the Lord’s timetable is and what moment he has chosen for the nets to fill. We just have to move forward so that when He is ready to show his works and possibly use us as an instrument, we’ll be there.

Elder Oaks gave that great talk on timing when I was at BYU, where he says, “If we have faith in God and if we are committed to the fundamentals of keeping His commandments and putting Him first in our lives, we do not need to plan every single event--even every important event--and we should not feel rejected or depressed if some things--even some very important things--do not happen at the time we had planned or hoped or prayed.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Timing,” Ensign, Oct 2003, 10–17)

I have one more experience where the Bible taught me about the Lord’s timing and about his absolute care for us. In John we read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead:

John 11: 32-40

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

I saw myself in their question. He could have stopped this—why didn’t He stop it? How often do we ask why Heavenly Father doesn’t prevent bad things from happening to us, or doesn’t send us the good things as soon as we would like them or in the way we think they should come? These were women who had anointed the Savior’s feet. They had such faith in him—why hadn’t he repaid their faith by saving their brother? “I’ve done everything I was supposed to—why are these things happening to me?” What they didn’t know was that because of their faith, not only had he not abandoned them, but he had chosen them to witness the greatest miracle he had accomplished at that point in his ministry.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

He raised Lazarus from the dead and restored him to his family. But He also allowed Mary and Martha those 4 days of feeling absolutely helpless and full of despair and wondering why He hadn’t stepped in to help them. They didn’t know that the moment was coming when they would be happier than they could have imagined, but He did.

The most important things I’ve learned in the last year by reading the Bible is that the Lord will use it (and His other scriptures) to speak to us, and that the Lord keeps His promises. If He promises something to us, either through a priesthood blessing, or through the words of the prophet, or through His scriptures, we can have faith that He will do exactly what He has said. He says, “if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God.” I bear my testimony that this is true.

11 comments:

Mary said... [reply]

Nem, I don't know what to say. You've made some points in here that I earnestly needed to hear. What a fantastic talk. Thank you for posting it.

Anonymous said... [reply]

I sure needed to hear it. I also heard a talk by Elder Oaks when he was president of BYU on tv this morning. It was very old. They had just had their last baby. He is such an awesome speaker. He mentioned that one of their families greatest accomplishments was his wife finally finishing her degreee, fourteen years and five children later. I know that has nothing to do with your talk, but that was counsel given a long time ago so I am even more sure it's relavent now.

Also, I am so proud to be your mom!

Nemesis said... [reply]

Thanks, Mary. It was actually a recent post of yours that made me decide to stick this up here!

Mom, your check is in the mail. ;-)

Jenny said... [reply]

I'm almost always proud to be your sister. Do I get a check too?

maple said... [reply]

Thanks for this beautiful collection of thoughts and scriptures. I've been learning much of the same lately but I was really struck by your reading of these familiar passages -- and I'll keep hoping that I'm not catching fish for a reason right now!

photogenic said... [reply]

So, I didn't leave a birthday comment (I forgot and, besides, it's harder with google reader) but thank you for posting your talk. It was just right.

scienceteachermommy said... [reply]

Having recently justy caught a big load of fish makes me embarrased for the lack of faith I have shown this past 18 months at times. Excellent analogy.

I also liked E. Oaks' point about the ongoing revelation. On my mission a comp and I came up with a good analogy. Trying to organize a church by merely reading the Bible is like burying a year's worth of Ensigns in the ground, digging them up a thousand years from now, translating them and then trying to recreate the Mormon Church. While each Ensign might be a gem full of insight written with precise relevance to the time it was created, you could never capture the church God created without his intervention to help it all make sense.

Lizardbreath McGee said... [reply]

Thank you. This is pretty much exactly what I needed to hear. Exactly. Kind of strange, actually. And wonderful. Gotta love the way the Lord works.

Jimmy said... [reply]

So many times I come here, I leave with a good feeling. Your humor really makes me laugh; your insight into the quirks that people display with alarming regularity really makes me take notice.
But tonight it's a different kind of lift that I got. We were in the same place at different times. I'll avoid going into it too much here or this comment will never end, but if your goal was to offer some inspiration, you definitely achieved that end. I really want to say thank you. While we're of different denominations, your words make it clear that God talks to all of us though His Word, but I don't believe it's just limited to a Bible. You were right citing the comment that the message is what God means to say to us at the time, and I believe this was meant for me to see this very night.
I hope to some day to get back to the state of spirituality that you seem to be graced with. My faith, I sometimes feel, is being intensely tested these days, but if I can say one thing to you tonight, it's that this entry was a major reminder to me that I need to stand up and keep that faith. I just want you to know that we all try to say things that really matter, and I believe you truly have tonight. Thank you so much.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments. I felt like I was taking a little bit of a risk, putting that up there because it's not the usual fare. But I also know that the people who read this blog are wonderful people and that even if this weren't the sort of thing you cared to read you would still be nice about it and not flame me. So thank you for that! :-)

And for those who did get something out of this, I'm really glad. There have been so many of you who have said the perfect thing at times when I needed to hear it, so I felt like it would be ungrateful of me not to share the experiences that have really helped me.

Th. said... [reply]

.

I remember that talk on timing; I remember thinking about it a lot at the time.

Sounds like a good talk--but I would expect nothing less from a right-thinker like yourself: You have an obligation to the rest of us to model not-idiocy.

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