Tag Archives: revelation

Can You Hear the Voice of God?

Mathew 7:7-8

Have you ever wished that God would speak to you and give you answers for the challenges in your life? Have you wondered why He doesn’t talk to you?

You can hear His voice in your own life. Chances are that He has talked to you many times, but you may not have been listening for the right things. You have to be prepared to listen and accept His will, and to receive His answers in the way He chooses to give them.

I have asked for answers from the Lord on problems ranging from a challenge to my faith or a serious physical threat to something so mundane as a plumbing problem when no help was available. I have never seen an angel in answer, or heard the voice of God speaking to me audibly. Answers have come sometimes as words in my mind, sometimes as new ideas on how to approach the problem, and sometimes from someone with greater experience who just happens to drop by in the moment of need.

I do not say this to boast. I am ashamed that I do not receive answers more often, because of my lack of faith. Sometimes I want to cry out, with the man whose son was healed by Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!” (Mark 9:24; see verses 17-29.)

A loving Father in Heaven respects the autonomy, or agency, He has given us so much that He will not violate it. He never forces us to do His will. When he intervened in the life of Saul on the road to Damascus, He simply asked a question: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Saul received direction only after, chastened and humbled, he asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (See Acts 1-7.) As Saul followed the direction he received, the Lord turned him into a great prophet and teacher.

In ancient America, a young man named Alma spent his time trying to destroy Christ’s church organized among his people. As he was going about this work, an angel appeared to him to ask, “Why persecutest thou the church of God?” Alma was admonished to remember the Lord’s power to save those who have faith in Him. Then the angel commanded him: “Seek to destroy the church no more, . . . even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.” (Mosiah 27:16, Book of Mormon. See Mosiah 27:10-16.) Like Paul, Alma repented and turned to faith, and the Lord made of him a great prophet and teacher.

Both Paul and Alma chose faith. If we choose faith, we can get answers, but we have to get them the way Jesus taught. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7; emphasis mine.) We have to ask and seek His help—He will never force it on us—but when He gives it, His help will often be more generous and abundant than we could ever have imagined. It may lead to a much more healing or strengthening solution than we could ever have expected. The new ideas that come to our minds may lead to lasting changes that alter our behavior and our lives. When the Lord sends someone else to help us, both of us are strengthened.

James1:5-6

Sometimes, when answers don’t seem to come, we may need to realize, like Paul and Alma, that we are the problem. We may need to soften our hearts to accept His counsel. When we do that, He always rewards us with the same mercy and love Jesus showed to every sinner He healed.

Sometimes when answers don’t come in the way or the timeframe we want, we may need to understand that patience is required while the Lord teaches and strengthens us. I can look back over decades and see that I am more spiritually capable now of acting on His counsel than I was when, as a younger man, I wanted those answers right now. Back then, I never concerned myself much about long life, believing that the Lord’s timetable was out of my control. But in recent years, I have sometimes asked for more time to learn mortal lessons before I pass on to the next life. I need all the spiritual development I can get before earthly opportunities are past.

God, our Heavenly Father, wants to give you the answers you seek, but only rarely has He spoken to men and women on earth in person. For His mortal children in general, He gives answers through the teachings of Jesus Christ and through prophets on the earth in our day. But to us as individuals, He is glad to give answers for our own lives. We only have to ask with humility in our hearts, willing to obey His counsel, and learn how to listen in our hearts, where He speaks Spirit to spirit.

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Freedom, Part 2: Toxic Activism

Forty years ago, while reporting on an environmental symposium at a major university, I heard a conversation among colleagues in which one expressed simmering frustration that he could not make any headway with his proposals to stop environmental damage.

With some bitterness, he said he hoped the fossil fuels would all be used up soon because then everyone would be forced to recognize that he had been right all along and they would be forced to do just as he had been advising. The consequences for others or for society as a whole did not seem to concern him.

While I believe strongly in protecting the environment, I could never join a cause led by a person like him. He practiced what I call “toxic activism.”

You know people like him. You’ve met them. At a family reunion they would be the in-law who insists on digging up the hatchet that everyone else in the family buried 30 years ago.

When toxic activists have what they consider a worthy cause, and when they’re in your office, your neighborhood, your church, or your children’s group of school parents, they’ll use that cause to bludgeon you.

No matter what the cause—civil rights, the environment, liberal or conservative politics, gender politics and equality—if your response doesn’t match theirs in intensity, then you obviously are an uncaring and ignorant individual. Ironically, they may accuse you of being so focused on your own small world that you have no time for the more serious cosmic problems that should concern you. Toxic activists are very good at laying guilt trips on others.

There are many people, including me, who would be glad to help correct injustices and help undo damage that has been done in our culture or our environment. I could gladly give money and time to efforts that would help cure some of these ills.

But please don’t come at me with your list of demands. Please don’t tell me what burden of guilt I must accept on behalf of my social class, my faith, or my ethnic group before we can work together on solving the problem at hand. That’s no way to begin a relationship that will require us to trust each other.

What is it you want to happen? Do you want my cooperation? Or are you more interested in scoring some ideological points? If you try to persuade me instead of accusing me, you’re much more likely to win my support. I have time to listen to reason on an issue, but I have too little time to spend it with someone trying to bait me into contention.

Let’s talk. I am completely in favor of “equality,” “justice,” “mutual support,” and “cooperation.” But I am not likely to take up your cause unless I know just how you are applying those terms and what specific outcome you are seeking.

Getting in my face is no way to get into my heart and mind.

In my faith, we have a book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants. It is a record of revelations given by God to modern prophets. One of those revelations teaches that power and influence in the hearts of others can never be maintained over the long term through compulsion or domination; this can only be done through persuasion and patience. (See Doctrine and Covenants 121:39-44.)

Look, I’m willing to be your friend. I’d like to help your cause if it is just. But if you want to win my help, present your case and let me decide according to the moral principles that guide my own thoughts and actions. If your course of action agrees with those principles, you’ll have my support.

Perhaps there are areas or causes in which I could do more. Perhaps there are aspects of some problems that I do not understand. I am open to listening and learning.

But I am not open to being threatened or coerced.

I will be the one, not you, to decide on my course of action, because I will be the one, not you, who will be judged by God for them.

For Times of Crisis: A Silo Full of Faith

Granary Paris 2020Fe16 DSC00049

The silo John and Ruth left full of wheat.

The silo holds almost four tons of wheat. The grain was put there more than 30 years ago by two loving people who hoped to provide food for their children’s families in case they Granary Paris 2019Oc DSC01556might face scarcity or famine someday.

Now, the wheat is probably not usable for food anymore—but what those two people left behind may be much more valuable than food.

John and Ruth were farm people. They knew years when the crops didn’t grow well or didn’t sell for enough money. They had lived through the Depression of the 1930s. They never spent money they did not have or wasted anything that might be put to good use sometime. Up in the old barn there are buckets of rusty nails and bolts that John meant to straighten out, clean up, and reuse one day.

John and Ruth were my in-laws. I learned to admire them for what they had become in life and what they were willing to sacrifice to assure a decent life for others—especially their children. Inside that silo full of grain, taped to the inner door, they left a note Granary note 2019Oc DSC01547 Sspecifying what they wanted done with the wheat. “It is here to be preserved for a time of need,” John wrote. “We do not expect to live to see the day when all of this will be used for human food, but say to our family you may take from it as needed for your use. . . . We want you to respect our wish that none of it is to be sold for monetary gain but may be traded for other food items if needed. We are dedicating this wheat to help sustain the lives of those who may need it . . . .”

The grain was accumulated from their crops over 10 years, the last bags being added in 1987. The company that bagged the wheat told them it would last “for a lifetime.”

Maybe no one anticipated that the galvanized steel granary could begin to rust out near the bottom. Rodents and deer, getting at a few of the bags through small holes at the base of the silo, have nibbled at the wheat. A nutritional expert tells us the grain is probably not good for human food anymore but might be used to feed animals.

John and Ruth had faith that they were helping provide for their descendants in the way a loving Father in Heaven wanted them to do. They wrote of scriptural and prophetic counsel to store food for a future time of need. But perhaps they did not realize what kind of food they were really leaving behind: nourishment for the spirit, in a store of faith that is strongly felt in their note. It’s impossible to read their words without being deeply moved, and without asking ourselves what we might be leaving behind for our own descendants.

Ruth was an example of service to others in their small farming community.

John became one of my models of integrity in life, since I had grown up without a father.

The two of them may not have left their family worldly wealth, but I believe no parents could have done more for their children in those circumstances. Their examples have helped mold the lives of their children and their children’s children.

Now we are living in times of crisis when there is an urgent, pressing need for faith. I have to ask myself: Have I given my children and their children an example of faith that will help to carry them through perilous times to come? Surely those times are coming. How can I help them to store up the faith they will yet need?

If I could choose one thing to leave them, it would be faith to rely on prophets and the spiritual nourishment found in the scriptures and revelations given for our day.

[NOTE: The name of this blog has been changed from Searlebration. The blog began as a way of reaching our extended family, but it has grown beyond that, and the new name better reflects the subject matter. ]