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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Alignment, Part 5 of 6: See the Light

In my most recent post in this series, I invited you to "Come to God weary him until he blesses you" - an invitation which originated with Joseph Smith himself. I hate to put words in Joseph's mouth, but I'm sure he'd agree that you should never give up. You may be one prayer away from success.

There's a natural link between asking God for blessings, prayer and thanksgiving:
"But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the Spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils." (D&C 46:7; emphasis mine)

Love Notes From God


As you interact with God more and more, you'll become more and more familiar with His personality. What He's really like. You'll learn He has a really cool sense of humor that you can relate to. You'll see how He renders compassion at every turn, and is, if anything, overly anxious to forgive you. He's in "child saving," not "judgment" mode.

And as you become more familiar with His personality, you'll become closer to Him, as He will to you. In fact, you'll discover that He's far more anxious to interact with you than you've ever suspected.

He'll leave you love notes along the journey of your life. They may be in the form of a hearing a baby's giggle, seeing an awe-inspiring sunset, a goal at a kids soccer game, hearing a song on the car radio that hits you - or getting a call from a friend - at just the right time. Maybe His love note to you is found in the mere fact that you woke up, you have food to eat or you have a bed to sleep in.

And you know all those blessings you asked for, and are wearying Him for, in point #9? You'll learn that nothing - absolutely nothing - compares to just being with Him.

Not surprisingly, as you find yourself in this ever-deepening relationship with Him, you are internally motivated, at the spiritual level, to thank Him. I mean, you can't help but be thankful when you feel Him so close to you throughout the day. This may even motivate you to thank God for the smallest things throughout your day, as you recognize this mound of love notes from Him that seems to be relentlessly piling up all over your life.
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (1 Thessalonians 5:18; emphasis mine) 
"And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance-
Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments." (D&C 59:15-21)

The Gratitude Journal


My friend, John, reached a spiritual breaking point about eight years ago. He needed help climbing out of the pit of alcohol addiction. He had developed lots of bad habits. He had become controlling, manipulative, judgmental, critical, cynical, depressed, anxious and desperate man.

God used the habit of gratitude to help change John's attitude and outlook on life. The first step in developing this habit was to keep a daily gratitude journal of three items - wholly unique every day.

At first, it didn't change any of John's feelings or actions. He kept the list begrudgingly at first because he had been asked to do it. John's attitude was not yet transformed.

After a few months, John noticed himself paying more attention to the good moments in his day, to the kind acts of the people around him, and to the beauty in the world. Why? He was looking for items for his gratitude list. He'd become accustomed to focusing on the good, and his focus on the good had minimized the appearance of the bad.

Lo and behold, a few years later, gratitude had become the norm, and the grumbling, whining, self-pitying and worrying began falling to the wayside.

The more John focused on what he had to be grateful for, and the more energy he expended thanking God and thanking others - either in words or actions - the less time and energy he had to dwell on things that bummed him out, made him worry or ticked him off.

And gradually, but imperceptibly, John was physically, emotionally and spiritually enhanced (click here, or to the left, for a super cool video on how gratitude affects you; you can also find a transcript here).

Today, John makes gratitude lists in his head and on paper. He chooses to bite his tongue when he wants to whine and moan, and instead, tries to say something positive - usually expressing gratitude for someone, or pointing out the good around him. John gives gifts - whatever he has to give - because his heart is full of gratitude for God's love and the miracles He's done in his life. Giving to others gives John an outlet for that love.

He deliberately looks for opportunities to thank people who've made a positive difference in his life. He tries not to post negative comments or updates on his personal social media pages or blogs; instead, he chooses to share what's good.

When Sore Trials Come Upon You


John (and two other friends of mine, Elizabeth and Jennifer) kind of remind me of the Texas Aggies college football team. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this team, you may be surprised to learn that Texas A&M has no cheerleaders - just five, all-male, non-gymnastic student Yell Leaders (video here or to the left) who are elected to their positions annually by the student body. They lead the Aggies in a dozen or so yells. And let me be very clear with you: nothing gets these guys down. Nothing. So, how do the 20,000+ Aggies who attend these games know these yells? They practice them after each football game. No matter if the team is victorious, "outscored" or "runs out of time" (because "Aggies never lose"), a mini-Yell Practice is held at Kyle Field before the crowd disperses.

Sometimes we win our games. Sometimes we lose them. Bad things happen to these friends (whom I mentioned above) all the time. But when they do, they thank God for - and ask for more light and knowledge about - the lessons God is having them learn. I know this doesn't make sense to many, but even amidst the most difficult circumstances, they thank God for being with them, for loving them, for teaching them.

Their "yells" are authentic. Their rejoicing is real. They are metaphorically slamming their foot down, saying "I am not going to lose. This negative experience is not going to win today." They also encourage others to be similarly grateful, because if the people around them are positive and thankful and mindful of God, then they'll encourage and motivate my friends in return.

Blessings Which Surpass Expectations


By looking for opportunities to be grateful, then expressing that gratitude to God and others, God then justifies exceeding our prayerful requests. This daily expression of gratitude to God and others literally kicks open the windows of heaven with blessings far surpassing our expectations.

(Which is another attribute of God - He delights in [I mean, is really, really thrilled with/gets a kick out of] exceeding our expectations of His goodness and mercy).

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;
And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.
And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more." (D&C 78:17-19; emphasis mine)

Shine Forth


As your gratitude towards God and others grows, you find yourself gravitating more towards God's light, and the light that's in others, no matter if they see it or not. Rejoicing is contagious. It affects your whole environment. As you see the reality of this in your life, you - yes, you - become a living, breathing manifestation of D&C 50:24 and Moroni 7:48:

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48)

2 comments:

  1. Awesome post, my friend. :o) Thank you!!!

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  2. So I was skeptical and I didn't really know what to pray for, but once I got the message of what was important to pray for I tried the hands to heaven, and BAM revelation before 8 am! A question I was pondering last week was clearly answered!

    ReplyDelete