Answers From The Dugout

dugout

TheDiscipleMD

Inspiration is a tricky thing! We feel impressed to do something, and most often it is right but sometimes, well…..it doesn’t work out like we thought. Because we are a faith-based church, which strongly teaches that it’s members are entitled to divine inspiration and revelation, we often feel that this “process” of communication between God and us is infallible. When in fact, it is sometimes not easy to distinguish between our thoughts, and the thoughts revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Occasionally in our zeal for quick answers, we become very receptive to any thought that gives us the answer we want or desire. And, I might add, there are some of us who desire for the Lord to dictate the nature of every decision we make, thereby relieving us of any responsibility for our decisions. After all, a person can reason, “I am not responsible for my actions if the Lord “sanctioned” them,…am I?” Or we may say to our spouse, child or friends, “The Lord told me to do this or that!” And that pretty much ends the conversation. Because, I mean, who can argue with that?

Over my lifetime I have seen in a number of cases, parents or spouses who exercise control over their loved ones with just such conversations. Their private line to the Lord is clear and without static. They have learned that “thus said the Lord” provides them with a clear advantage in getting what they want. It is an unfortunate fact that some of this type of “coercion” goes on within our membership. This type of behavior falls under “unrighteous dominion”. But I think most of us desire to get the truth, it’s just that sometimes it takes more work than we are willing to give.Therefore, we must be vigilant in developing the spiritual skills needed in order to better understand how communication works between ourselves and Deity, lest we fool ourselves into believing that the thoughts of man are the desires of God. A few years ago Elder Richard G. Scott gave an outstanding talk on prayer. Among his words were these:

“Often when we pray for help with a significant matter, Heavenly Father will give us gentle promptings that require us to think, exercise faith, work, at times struggle, then act. It is a step-by-step process that enables us to discern inspired answers. I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust. Seldom will you receive a complete response all at once. It will come a piece at a time, in packets, so that you will grow in capacity. As each piece is followed in faith, you will be led to other portions until you have the whole answer. That pattern requires you to exercise faith in our Father’s capacity to respond. While sometimes it’s very hard, it results in significant personal growth.” (“Using the supernal Gift of Prayer”).

I once attended a meeting with Elder Scott where he told of how he labored with the Lord in prayer for five years before he got an answer to a question that was bothering him. I recall thinking at the time that if an Apostle had to labor for so long, might not I too have to labor to get answers to my questions. Once I was fasting and pondering on whether I should marry a certain girl; one of the most important decisions you can make in this life. Since a temple was not close by, I choose to retire to the baseball dugout of the college I was attending to pray for direction. Humorously, I have stated that it was the closest place I could find to a real “temple”, as I was sure that baseball is the game of the Gods. There in the dugout, I felt I received confirmation that this was the girl I was to marry. She too independently came to the same conclusion. And so we became engaged. But, the engagement didn’t last long and thankfully the marriage was called off. I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. It troubled me at first. I spent time thinking about what went wrong. I pondered on the matter. I read the scriptures. Shortly thereafter, I met my wife.  I am so happy I married her! I can’t imagine my life without her!  I don’t know what would have happened had I married the other girl. No one can know for sure but I suspect that if we had gone through with our plans neither of us might have lived as happy a life as we both do now.

The point is that I wanted to marry that girl. I asked the Lord and maybe I got what I wanted for the answer. Or perhaps the Lord said, “Go ahead, you’ll not be as happy as you would be with someone else I have waiting for you, but you will be alright. Perhaps I was as guilty as Oliver Cowdery was when the Lord reprimanded him because he “took no thought, save it was to ask me” (D&C 9:8). Maybe I’ll never know the why’s of it all. But I do know that after that I was more careful in how I approached the Lord in prayer. I did what the scriptures tell us, which is “to study it out in our mind”. After doing all that I can on my own, I then have the right to ask for guidance. But, even then, inspiration can be a slow process. We shouldn’t speed it up just to get an answer that is of our own desire.

It is wonderful, this thing we call inspiration. But it is important to remember that when we use it solely as a way to control others, or we don’t fulfill our part of the equation, it is not of the Lord. Let us put forth the effort in making sure we are receiving the answers to our prayers from the Lord. By so doing we will make sure that we are not just getting them from the dugout.

 

 

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