Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lesson: Waiting on the Road to Damascus

Teachings for Our Times, Waiting on the Road to Damascus,
Pres. Uchtdorf, taught by Margie Clark

Are we like or unlike Paul, on the road to Dasmascus?
... there are some who feel that unless they have an experience similar to Saul’s or Joseph Smith’s, they cannot believe. They stand at the waters of baptism but do not enter. They wait at the threshold of testimony but cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the truth. Instead of taking small steps of faith on the path of discipleship, they want some dramatic event to compel them to believe.

They spend their days waiting on the road to Damascus.
Elder Bednar's insight in The Spirit of Revelation, in April 2011 conference, tells us that revelation and testimony come in two ways:
A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing. Descriptions of such immediate and intense manifestations are found in the scriptures, recounted in Church history, and evidenced in our own lives. Indeed, these mighty miracles do occur. However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently “distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45). This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare.
If the mighty manifestation does not come to us, what do we do? We look for line upon line learning and gradual gentle understanding over time...all while our feet are moving forward.

Belief comes one step at a time

Margie gave an insight from one of her children when they were eight years old. After having been to a friend's house where the friend had every doll and outfit of a certain brand of dolls, and her daughter had a single doll and a few accessories, Margie asked how she felt about that.  The answer was 'it's okay...wanting something makes it better.'

Wanting and working for a testimony makes it more powerful and meaningful when it comes.

President Uchtdorf explains:
The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all.

Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.
This can be our experience if we move forward with faith and do not wait too long on the road to Damascus.
 Elder Benar confirms this:
I have talked with many individuals who question the strength of their personal testimony and underestimate their spiritual capacity because they do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions.

Perhaps as we consider the experiences of Joseph in the Sacred Grove, of Saul on the road to Damascus, and of Alma the Younger, we come to believe something is wrong with or lacking in us if we fall short in our lives of these well-known and spiritually striking examples.

If you have had similar thoughts or doubts, please know that you are quite normal. Just keep pressing forward obediently and with faith in the Savior. As you do so, you “cannot go amiss” (D&C 80:3).
 Try these three ideas for strengthening your testimony and commitment to serve, from President Uchtdorf...
  1. Harken and heed
  2. Serve
  3. Share
Harken and heed
I testify to you that our Father in Heaven loves His children. He loves us. He loves you. When necessary the Lord will even carry you over obstacles as you seek His peace with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

Often He speaks to us in ways that we can hear only with our heart. To better hear His voice, it would be wise to turn down the volume control of the worldly noise in our lives.
Think of a time when you felt the Lord's love carry you or speak to your heart. Turn to Him in gratitude often, for the small and big things, and you will see his love manifested in your life.

Or perhaps our morning prayers should include more often the phrase, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" as Paul responded on the road to Damascus. And then we should be up and doing.

Another reason we sometimes do not recognize the voice of the Lord in our lives is because the revelations of the Spirit may not come directly to us as the answer to our prayers.

...The answer may come through the voice and wisdom of trusted friends and family, the scriptures, and the words of prophets.
Let's look for his love and guidance all around us.

Let's be thinking and praying for others and their well-being. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own.
It has been my experience that some of the most powerful promptings we receive are not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of others. If we are thinking only of ourselves, we may miss some of the most powerful spiritual experiences and profound revelations of our lives.

Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.
There are times when the Lord reveals to us things that are intended only for us. Nevertheless, in many, many cases He entrusts a testimony of the truth to those who will share it with others.

...the Lord expects the members of His Church to “open [their mouths] at all times, declaring [His] gospel with the sound of rejoicing.”
Owenna reminded us that one may have the gift of faith and another to believe on their words, meaning one experience may be meant to be shared with all, for the benefit of all. Even recalling the goodness of God in the scriptures can become our own experience; we make it our own.

In conclusion
Brothers and sisters, dear friends, let us not wait too long on our road to Damascus. Instead, let us courageously move forward in faith, hope, and charity, and we will be blessed with the light we are all seeking upon the path of true discipleship.

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