Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A strong, steady current

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Sunday afternoon session from the October 1974 Conference.
In church today we were talking about trusting that the Lord will guide us. I have struggled with that at times, but I seem to have absorbed that lesson mostly, and I believe it. I know that God has helped me so often in the past, that surely he will again. But during the lesson I realized that what I DO still sometimes have trouble believing is that the Lord IS guiding me, right now. I'm so hopeful that I'm going to get the revelation I need, but I often feel discouraged that it isn't coming yet, and I go through all sorts of uncertainty as I question every variable: if I'm doing enough, if I need to ask differently, if I'm getting an answer but just not recognizing it, if I'm not worthy enough, if I've somehow misinterpreted the bits and pieces I have received—I can talk myself into quite a state of doubt this way. And again, it's not that I really doubt the ultimate result: I believe things will work out and I'll get the answers I seek. But I always keep thinking that time is somewhere in the future.

Now, obviously, sometimes the answer IS in the future. And it's good to be willing to wait. But when I'm looking backwards, it's common for me to recognize multiple instances when I WAS being guided and led without even knowing it. And that implies that all along, even during the times I thought protestingly, "Hey, when's the help going to come?"—the help had already come—it was IN PROGRESS, it was ongoing, and if I'd just known that and been patient, maybe I could have calmed my fearful mind down a bit.

I loved President Kimball's talk in this conference session about Ocean Currents. And I loved it for the first application I got from it, that of reassurance about wayward children. President Kimball talks about how ocean currents are less obvious, but ultimately even more powerful than winds and waves and tides. He says:
If we can create in our families a strong, steady current flowing toward our goal of righteous life, we and our children may be carried forward in spite of the contrary winds of hardship, disappointment, temptations, and fashion.… 
I have sometimes seen children of good families rebel, resist, stray, sin, and even actually fight God. In this they bring sorrow to their parents, who have done their best to set in movement a current and to teach and live as examples. But I have repeatedly seen many of these same children, after years of wandering, mellow, realize what they have been missing, repent, and make great contribution to the spiritual life of their community. The reason I believe this can take place is that, despite all the adverse winds to which these people have been subjected, they have been influenced still more, and much more than they realized, by the current of life in the homes in which they were reared. When, in later years, they feel a longing to recreate in their own families the same atmosphere they enjoyed as children, they are likely to turn to the faith that gave meaning to their parents’ lives.
I love that comforting doctrine, and President Kimball goes on to talk about specific WAYS we can create an underlying "current" of righteousness in our families that can influence and carry our children along. He mentions things like a committed, secure marriage; helping our kids get to know their relatives; saying "I love you" and expressing love in other ways; letting our children participate in service and paying tithing; and having regular prayers and blessings. All very doable things that don't take a genius to implement, and will pay off even if they are done imperfectly!

So I loved that. But I also felt led to another application of this principle, and it's in my own life, specifically related to the trust in God I talked about above. President Kimball says:
It is true of us, as of icebergs, that our course is, in important measure, determined by forces we only partly perceive. It is true also, however, that we are more like ships than icebergs. We have our own motive power, and if we are aware of the currents, we can take advantage of them.
So, first I was thinking of the currents we create for our children that will help bring them back to us, and to God. But at this point I realized that there is a stronger, deeper current: the one that Heavenly Father has created to bring US back to HIM! And this current is our desire to know and follow the Savior. It struck me that even if I'm asking the wrong questions, misinterpreting the answers, overthinking, underestimating, and all the other things I'm afraid I am doing—still, my desire to follow Christ places me in the power of that current, and it will sweep me along to where God wants me to be! I'm not saying I don't have to make any individual effort, of course. (I have to know where the current is and head for it!) And even then, it often isn't obvious when I AM being carried along—thus my frequent worry that I've somehow drifted off course. 

But I love how President Kimball compares it to a sailor that knows about and uses the ocean currents. I know what small things I have to do daily to keep myself within reach of the current. Read the scriptures, pray, go to church, repent, seek knowledge. But then, I need to trust that I am, in fact, being carried along! The Lord is carrying me along. If our faithful mortal family life, imperfect as it is, is a strong enough current to bring drifting children back to us—how much more will our pre-earth preparation, our premortal family life with perfect Heavenly Parents, serve as magnet and current to bring us back to them?

So, my personal lesson from this talk is that I can trust that the current is there, right this minute, real and strong: guiding me, influencing me, putting me in the places I need to serve, leading me to the people I need to learn from, and helping me travel at exactly the speed and depth my Father wants me to. I can have faith that I'm being carried constantly and specifically to where I need to be, whether it's clear TO ME that I'm moving the right way or not (and it's often not). I can trust that as I desire God's will, I'm within the pull of that strong, steady current and not only am I going to END UP exactly where I need to go—but I'm already on my way there.

Other posts in this series:

1 comment:

  1. Oh this was so beautiful it made me want to cry! Because yes! I believe he is leading me and guiding me . . . until I fret about my weaknesses and likely inability to always hear and follow correctly. But this current application is so lovely and so hopeful! Not just for us and our children, but the further application you drew just made so much sense and made God seem so loving and felt so encouraging!

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