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“For a Little Season”: Moving Forward with Life When Life Doesn’t Seem to Move Forward Scott C. Esplin Church History and Doctrine Brigham Young University.

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Presentation on theme: "“For a Little Season”: Moving Forward with Life When Life Doesn’t Seem to Move Forward Scott C. Esplin Church History and Doctrine Brigham Young University."— Presentation transcript:

1 “For a Little Season”: Moving Forward with Life When Life Doesn’t Seem to Move Forward Scott C. Esplin Church History and Doctrine Brigham Young University 2009 OPAC Conference

2 Misunderstandings in Scripture Think of prominent misunderstandings or misinterpretations in scripture, times when the person or people misunderstood the Lord’s will for them. What patterns or lessons do you see?

3 Doing Right at the Right Time “In all the important decisions in our lives, what is most important is to do the right thing. Second, and only slightly behind the first, is to do the right thing at the right time. People who do the right thing at the wrong time can be frustrated and ineffective. They can even be confused about whether they made the right choice when what was wrong was not their choice but their timing.... Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. We should not try to impose our timetable on His.” Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Oct. 2003, p. 10

4 The “Whys” of Life “When you face adversity, you can be led to ask many questions. Some serve a useful purpose; others do not. To ask, Why does this have to happen to me? Why do I have to suffer this, now? What have I done to cause this? will lead you into blind alleys. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Rather ask, What am I to do? What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to change? Whom am I to help? How can I remember my many blessings in times of trial? Willing sacrifice of deeply held personal desires in favor of the will of God is very hard to do. Yet, when you pray with real conviction, “Please let me know Thy will” and “May Thy will be done,” you are in the strongest position to receive the maximum help from your loving Father.” Richard G. Scott, Conf. Report, Oct. 1995, p. 18

5 What Am I to Change? Facing Fear with Faith –D&C 9 –D&C 67 Moving Forward Without an Answer –D&C 58:26-27 –D&C 60:5; 61:22; 62:5, 7 How to Act “For the Present Time” –D&C 48:3-6; 51:16-17

6 Facing Fear with Faith “I would like to have a dollar for every person in a courtship who knew he or she had felt the guidance of the Lord in that relationship, had prayed about the experience enough to know it was the will of the Lord, knew they loved each other and enjoyed each other's company, and saw a lifetime of wonderful compatibility ahead--only to panic, to get a brain cramp, to have total catatonic fear sweep over them. They "draw back," as Paul said, if not into perdition at least into marital paralysis. (cont.)

7 Facing Fear with Faith “I am not saying you shouldn't be very careful about something as significant and serious as marriage. And I certainly am not saying that a young man can get a revelation that he is to marry a certain person without that young woman getting the same confirmation. I have seen a lot of those one- way revelations in young people's lives. Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don't give up when the pressure mounts. You can find an apartment. You can win over your mother-in- law. You can sell your harmonica and therein fund one more meal. It's been done before. Don't give in. Certainly don't give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. "Cast not away therefore your confidence." Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.” Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Speeches, March 2, 1999

8 What Am I to Change? Facing Fear with Faith –D&C 9 –D&C 67 Moving Forward Without an Answer –D&C 58:26-27 –D&C 60:5; 61:22; 62:5, 7 How to Act “For the Present Time” –D&C 48:3-6; 51:16-17

9 Moving Forward Without an Answer “Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act -- without having to be commanded ‘in all things.’ This attitude prepares men for godhood.... (cont.)

10 “Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward.” Ezra Taft Benson, C.R., April 1965, p Moving Forward Without an Answer

11 “What do you do when you have prepared carefully, have prayed fervently, waited a reasonable time for a response, and still do not feel an answer? You may want to express thanks when that occurs, for it is an evidence of His trust. When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. As you are sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit, one of two things will certainly occur at the appropriate time: either the stupor of thought will come, indicating an improper choice, or the peace or the burning in the bosom will be felt, confirming that your choice was correct. When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 2007, p. 10

12 What Am I to Change? Facing Fear with Faith –D&C 9 –D&C 67 Moving Forward Without an Answer –D&C 58:26-27 –D&C 60:5; 61:22; 62:5, 7 How to Act “For the Present Time” –D&C 48:3-6; 51:16-17

13 Making the Most of “Now” “This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now. (cont.)

14 Making the Most of “Now” “I am what my wife, Frances, calls a ‘show-a-holic.’ I thoroughly enjoy many musicals, and one of my favorites was written by the American composer Meredith Willson and is entitled The Music Man. Professor Harold Hill, one of the principal characters in the show, voices a caution that I share with you. Says he, ‘You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.’” Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, November 2008, 84

15 What to Do in the Meantime? “ The timing of marriage is perhaps the best example of an extremely important event in our lives that is almost impossible to plan. Like other important mortal events that depend on the agency of others or the will and timing of the Lord, marriage cannot be anticipated or planned with certainty. We can and should work for and pray for our righteous desires, but despite this, many will remain single well beyond their desired time for marriage. (cont.)

16 “ So what should be done in the meantime? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares us for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares us to deal with life’s opportunities— to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost. In the exercise of that faith, we should commit ourselves to the priorities and standards we will follow on matters we do not control and persist faithfully in those commitments, whatever happens to us because of the agency of others or the timing of the Lord. When we do this, we will have a constancy in our lives that will give us direction and peace.” Dalliin H. Oaks, Ensign, Oct. 2003, p. 10 What to Do in the Meantime?

17 Putting the Lord First “Whatever the circumstances beyond our control, our commitments and standards can be constant.... Wise are those who make this commitment: I will put the Lord first in my life, and I will keep His commandments. The performance of that commitment is within everyone’s control. We can fulfill that commitment without regard to what others decide to do, and that commitment will anchor us no matter what timing the Lord directs for the most important events in our lives.... (cont.)

18 Putting the Lord First “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, Ensign, Oct. 2003, p. 10

19 What Am I to Learn? Trust in God’s Timing –D&C 35:24-25 –D&C 88:68 –D&C 64:31-32 –Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The “Process of Time” –Moses 7:21 –Destination vs. Process Take the Long View

20 An Experience of Profound Trust “This life is an experience in profound trust—trust in Jesus Christ, trust in His teachings, trust in our capacity as led by the Holy Spirit to obey those teachings for happiness now and for a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence. To trust means to obey willingly without knowing the end from the beginning.... To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it. We are like infants in our understanding of eternal matters and their impact on us here in mortality. Yet at times we act as if we knew it all.” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 1995, p. 16

21 Eternal Growth and Happiness “If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 1995, p. 16

22 Trusting God’s Timing and Plan “The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best?” Neal A. Maxwell, Even as I Am, p. 93 “I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that our Heavenly Father is aware of us, individually and collectively. He understands the spiritual, physical, and emotional difficulties we face in the world today. In fact, they are all apart of his plan for our eternal growth and development.” M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, Nov. 1992, p. 31

23 What Am I to Learn? Trust in God’s Timing –D&C 35:24-25 –D&C 88:68 –D&C 64:31-32 –Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The “Process of Time” –Moses 7:21 –Destination vs. Process Take the Long View

24 Zion – In Process of Time “This promised Zion always seems to be a little beyond our reach. We need to understand that as much virtue can be gained in progressing toward Zion as in dwelling there. It is a process as well as a destination.... Many are perfected upon the road to Zion who will never see the city in mortality.” Robert D. Hales, Ensign, May 1986, p. 28

25 What Am I to Learn? Trust in God’s Timing –D&C 35:24-25 –D&C 88:68 –D&C 64:31-32 –Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The “Process of Time” –Moses 7:21 –Destination vs. Process Take the Long View

26 Taking the Long View “Do not rely on planning every event of your life–even every important event. Stand ready to accept the Lord's planning and the agency of others in matters that inevitably affect you. Plan, of course, but fix your planning on personal commitments that will carry you through no matter what happens. Anchor your life to eternal principles, and act upon those principles whatever the circumstances and whatever the actions of others. Then you can await the Lord's timing and be sure of the outcome in eternity. (cont.)

27 Taking the Long View “The most important principle of timing is to take the long view. Mortality is just a small slice of eternity, but how we conduct ourselves here–what we become by our actions and desires, confirmed by our covenants and the ordinances administered to us by proper authority–will shape our destiny for all eternity. As the prophet Amulek taught, "This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" (Alma 34:32). That reality should help us take the long view–the timing of eternity. (cont.)

28 Taking the Long View “As President Charles W. Penrose declared at a general conference memorializing the death of President Joseph F. Smith: ‘Why waste your time, your talents, your means, your influence in following something that will perish and pass away, when you could devote yourselves to a thing that will stand forever? For this Church and kingdom, to which you belong, will abide and continue in time, in eternity, while endless ages roll along, and you with it will become mightier and more powerful; while the things of this world will pass away and perish, and will not abide in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord our God.’ [CR, June 1919, 37]” Dallin H. Oaks, “Timing,” BYU Speeches, Jan 29, 2002

29 The “Whys” of Life “I have come to understand how useless it is to dwell on the whys, whatifs, and if onlys for which there likely will be given no answers in mortality. To receive the Lord’s comfort, we must exercise faith. The questions Why me? Why our family? Why now? are usually unanswerable questions.These questions detract from our spirituality and can destroy our faith. We need to spend our time and energy building our faith by turning to the Lord and asking for strength to overcome the pains and trials of this world and to endure to the end for greater understanding.” Robert D. Hales, Ensign, Nov. 1998, p.14

30 The Closing and Opening of Doors “Our Father in Heaven has invited you to express your needs, hopes, and desires unto Him. That should not be done in a spirit of negotiation, but rather as a willingness to obey His will no matter what direction that takes. His invitation, “Ask, and ye shall receive” (3 Ne. 27:29) does not assure that you will get what you want. It does guarantee that, if worthy, you will get what you need, as judged by a Father that loves you perfectly, who wants your eternal happiness even more than do you. (cont.)

31 “I testify that when the Lord closes one important door in your life, He shows His continuing love and compassion by opening many other compensating doors through your exercise of faith. He will place in your path packets of spiritual sunlight to brighten your way. They often come after the trial has been the greatest, as evidence of the compassion and love of an all-knowing Father. They point the way to greater happiness, more understanding, and strengthen your determination to accept and be obedient to His will.” Richard G. Scott, Ensign, Nov. 1995, p. 16 The Closing and Opening of Doors

32 “The Promise of Good Things to Come” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland General Conference, October 1999


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