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Monday, September 4, 2017

FEARLESS


In my immediate past post, "Lectures on Faith 6: A Sacrifice That Means Something", I mentioned two movies with concepts we would be wise to remember:

  • "Small moves, Ellie. Small moves" comes from the movie Contact. It reinforces the fact that God is a god of gradualism, who gives unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little (D&C 98:12; Isaiah 28:9-10)
  • "Taking the Leap of Faith" is accompanied by a scene from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", where Indy must take a literal step into thin air in order to retrieve the Holy Grail and save his father's life.
When I posted these segments to this blog, I was unaware that I wasn't the only one who held these scenes in special significance. Others did as well. In fact, they had been taught identical concepts using these movie clips as teaching tools...sometimes, within the temple.

I'm grateful for these blog readers coming forward to share their parallel stories, which witness each other -- as well as my previous blog post -- that when we learn the will of the Lord and then do it, we are empowered to become

FEARLESS



"I need you to hold my hand and leap with me."


I need to tell you a story. In fact, I felt prompted to tell you this story a couple of weeks ago but I felt like the time wasn't right to tell you and that I needed to wait for some unknown reason. And now I know why. It's because I needed to tell you now, after your last blog post.

Last year I made a goal to go through the temple every week. I live in ___________________ and the closest temple is _________ which is about an hour and a half away. My job is such that I have free days during the week, and while my kids are in school, I have just enough time to rush down to the temple do a session and rush back.

During the year while serving in the temple, I started to learn about the law of sacrifice. I started to wonder about it. I started researching it and praying about it. I was terrified of the law of sacrifice. Something about it brought fear straight through me. I read lecture on faith number 6 and really tried to overcome this fear. One day while I was sitting in the celestial room, I was praying about the law of sacrifice. I knew that it was something the Lord was asking me to do and I didn't even quite understand it. I was shocked at myself because I was sitting in the celestial room, terrified. I'm actually quite afraid of heights and I felt the same amount of fear as if I was standing on a cliff, "glued to the wall." I sat there for a long time talking to God and the conversation went something like this, "God I can't do it. I'll do it but I'm just not ready. I need more time. Help me to learn and understand this principle and not be afraid of it. But I'm just not ready to live the law sacrifice right now. I know you're asking me to give this to you but I am so afraid, that I can't right now." I was afraid that if I gave in and agreed to live the law of sacrifice that I get a phone call on the way home from the temple that my husband had been killed at work or my children would be kidnapped or something horrible like that. I just knew that if I gave in I was killing off my family.

So, I sat there terrified in the celestial room begging with God not to ask this of me. And then he showed me, while I was sitting in the celestial room, the clip from the Indiana Jones movie the Last Crusade where he's standing on that ledge and he has to take the leap of faith from Lions head and hope that there is something solid to land on. Even through my fear I had to giggle that the Lord was showing me an Indiana Jones movie in the Celestial room. (I asked him why he was showing me that video and he said it was because it was a reference I knew.)

And then something happened. I was begging to not do this and then something changed in my heart. It was like a switch had been turned. And all the sudden I Let Go. I surrendered and my conversation with God turned to, "Okay. Okay, I'll do it. I'm Yours. Whatever you ask me to do, I'll do it. Whatever you ask me to go through, I'll do it. If it means my husband is going to be dead when I get home, I'll do it for you. I'm going to leap off this cliff, but I need you to hold my hand and give me something solid to land on. I can't leap from this cliff without you. I need you to hold my hand and leap with me." 

And then the Lord's response to me was, "__________, I will never ask anything of you that you will not later consider a blessing." 

I lept. And when I got home, my family was all still alive. Nothing horrible happened and no huge unbearable trials have come my way. 

On the drive home that day the Lord said to me, "Is coming to the temple every week a sacrifice to you or a blessing?" I told him that it was a blessing and that it was the best part of my week. He said, "Is your house any messier since you started coming to the temple once a week instead of having a day at home to do all the housework?" 

"Well, yeah." 

"And you're spending more money on gas to get down here once a week than if you didn't come?" 

"Well, yes, but it's worth it." 

"Coming to the temple is a sacrifice for you and your family. But you see it as a blessing. That is how every sacrifice I will ask you to make will be. Some will be very difficult, but in the end you will see them as blessings. I'm not trying to hurt you and punish you. I'm trying to help you to grow. I want to give you more." 

I know that I'm not "done" with the law of sacrifice. I know there is much more that will be asked of me. But now, I can feel confident that no matter how hard it is to bear, it will be worth it, and there will come a day when I will call those trials of my faith blessings from the Lord. 

I'm happy that He's using the Indiana Jones reference on more than just me. : ) That clip will always be special to me now."

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"It'll be OK"


Back in the latter part of 2008, I felt that I was ready to assume a greater and more profound relationship with the Lord. So, in 2008, the Lord pretty much pulled out a megaphone and said YOU ARE READY FOR THIS! THE ONLY PERSON HOLDING THIS UP IS...YOU!" I remember that moment like it was yesterday.

Unfortunately, it took me four years to pull my head out. Four years of living every day knowing that I was ready for something bigger. And the only thing holding me back was my fears.

Then came the first part of 2012. I started getting this inkling of "It'll be OK". Then a couple of weeks later, another subtle "It'll be OK". First part of March 2012, seven different friends called me up within about five days. None knew each other. Each called me up and said something to the effect of "I don't know why I'm calling you to say this, and I don't know what this is about, but I just had this feeling I needed to tell you that it'll be OK".

One friend. And another. And another. Another and another and another and another.

So, I proceeded forward. I won't exactly detail what I did, other than to say Joseph Smith had the right idea in the Grove.

I like what you said the other week about being an ordinary person. I can relate. I could be a primary worker, a Sunday School secretary, a Webelos Den Leader. You don't know what ward I'm in, but suffice it to say I have no significant calling, no significant Mormon pedigree and definitely no significant home, car or income!

I also like your one page where you say God is no respecter of persons. 

For three plus years, my fears held me back from enjoying a greater fulness of Jesus Christ in my life. But in the end, I, too, remembered that "Leap of Faith" Indiana Jones video. I tried it. And thanks to God, I landed on solid ground, not air.

Has life been all rainbows, unicorns and puppy dogs since then? Nope. But I do feel profoundly closer to the Lord in my life. I laid everything in my life on the line for Him, and because of that, I enjoy a closeness with Him that I never thought I'd ever have in my life.

My Leap of Faith was one of the greatest moments of my life so far. I now have a testimony that the last thing the Lord wants is for us to fall. He wants to raise us to higher heights.

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"You’re My Ellie”


What you shared in your last blog post was a real second witness for me.

First, that what God is teaching me is so similar to what He’s teaching others, which is a witness in itself.

Second, that He tends to use the same or similar means to do it. I’ve always loved movies, and tend to find myself seeing spiritual connections in them that mirror what we experience in this life. However, the movie Contact has absolutely been the most used overall theme the Lord has used to teach me who I am, how He sees me and what my potential really is.

One day, I was really grappling with a tough experience in my life where I felt the Lord was telling me something beyond my ability to understand and trust. This led me to realize I needed His guidance and direction to discern more clearly, but what that experience actually revealed to me was just how inexperienced I was in discerning His voice and trusting in His plan. In my own mind, I needed guidance and direction and I needed it now. But these things cant be learned in an instant. It’s just not possible for us to grow that quick spiritually. (“Small moves, Ellie”).

So this particular day, I found myself in the temple, praying and pondering and crying in my heart that I wanted and needed to know His voice beyond anything I had ever wanted in my life. Just then, the movie Contact was brought forcefully to my mind. I saw and literally felt the part in the movie where the main character, Ellie, is being put in the device that will take her on a wonderful journey to another place beyond her comprehension.

As I sat there, I could feel the vibration of the machine, the stress and fear of not knowing what was going to happen, but willing to move forward. The words she kept saying in her head at this point in the movie “I’m OK to go” repeated in my mind again and again. I felt like the Lord was saying this was me. He was taking me on this fantastic journey to find Him. And even though it was scary, I was “OK to go” and He was immensely pleased.

I then heard and felt these words in my mind. “____________, you’re my Ellie.” And I realized that any and all of God’s children who seek to hear Him and see Him as intensely as she did in the movie was so precious to Him. He actually valued and found joy in that seeking and couldn’t and wouldn’t move forward until we make the first steps of actually listening for His voice. Just as the character Ellie spent years searching the heavens for any kind of contact outside of our world, we, too must listen and seek for His voice.

I wish I could say after that wonderful experience that I got it all together and moved forward with faith, but that was just the beginning. There was still so much more to learn. Over and over again the Lord showed me my fears were overwhelming my faith, and He would quietly and patiently give me more and more reassurances that He was with me and talking to me. I knew I didn’t deserve it, but He was so eternally patient with me. I am still in awe of it! But the adversary is real and he would come in next and do all that he could to make me doubt those experiences and second guess myself, which then left me devoid of faith once again until the Lord would build me back up.

This rollercoaster of faith and fear repeated itself for several years because I could not see how to just believe and move forward in faith. It was one of the most wonderful, heart wrenching experiences I’ve ever had in my life. It was truly a season of stretching and growing! I can see what the Prophet Joseph meant when he said the Lord would wrench our very heart strings because mine were being wrenched, and hard! So many times I wanted to just give up, give in, and take the easy road of mediocrity but God wouldn’t let me. I knew in the core of my heart it would be wrong and I couldn’t bring myself to do it so I held on, like a cat on a ledge at times.

Then the Lord finally brought it into my heart that I needed to just decide what I was going to believe and move forward. This is where the second movie you mentioned, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, fits in. Over the years, the Lord has used this visual of Indy stepping off that ledge to show me what that leap of faith looks like, but this time I realized it was time I actually practice it. Again and again, this visual and a visual of myself stepping forward off that cliff kept coming to my mind. I would hear phrases like “what if you just took that leap” coming into my mind randomly, out of the blue with this visual in my mind. Finally, I knew it was time to eradicate the doubts and step forward in faith. And so I did, and after three and a half years of vacillating between doubt and faith, I was finally willing to make that step/leap of faith for good. It took a lot of courage (more than I thought I possessed), but because the Lord had showed me over and over again that I could trust Him in many other ways, and because He had helped me develop my spiritual hearing, I was finally ready to step forward.

I am still in the free fall mode between the step and moving all your body weight into the forward motion, knowing there is no turning back, but I’m perfectly at peace about it. Something I have wrestled with for years and now, in an instant, fear is gone, faith is present and joy has filled my heart. The next day I felt so light, so joyful, that I could hardly contain myself! I finally trust He’s got my back and I’m excited to see how this all turns out.

It has been such an eye-opening experience for me. Despite all the emotional turmoil it created, I’m grateful for every moment of it. I know the timing was perfectly suited for MY needs and not everyone will take as long as me to “get it”, but I am left with a perfect faith that it was exactly what I needed. In the end, I realized the thing I hadn’t truly given the Lord, and which kept me from full faith, was trust in His everlasting care. I hadn’t been willing to sacrifice what He was asking me to sacrifice (namely my plan, my timing and my will) versus His perfect plan for my life. I thought, erroneously, He somehow wouldn’t deliver on His promises and I would be left with a shattered heart. I thought I was willing, but throughout this experience, I learned that I needed to give my whole heart, my life and the direction it flows all to Him and that He would make more of it than I ever could. And I really believe that!

Image suggestion courtesy
of my sister. Love ya, sis!

In Conclusion


A friend of mine recently said,

"We suggest what we know. We become so entrenched in our own familiar thinking that it becomes the 'go to' for all problems. We are admonished to trust in the LORD with all thine heart and LEAN not to your own understanding. When we lean, we become off-balanced, no longer centered! We must trust in him with all our hearts. ALL."



1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love that the Lord uses the same teaching tool on so many of us. I feel like it's another testimony of Him. What a kind and merciful God He is!! That's what struck me most about this post, that He loves us SO much. That He's working FOR us. We really are His work and His glory, aren't we!?!

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