But All Things Are Numbered Unto Me

Yesterday morning I was feeling pretty down. Really overwhelmed and a bit hopeless.

I became almost consumed with the current struggles of our family, and as I thought about reaching out to Heavenly Father in prayer, I felt almost ashamed.

Who am I to ask for help, I thought.

Yes,  I was struggling and yes, my troubles were feeling overwhelming. But they seemed so small compared to what other people are going through around the world.

My mind filled with images of fires, famines, people literally running out of water in South Africa, children being neglected, families falling apart, the homeless, the sick, wars, terrorism, etc., etc.

Who was I to ask for respite when so many others with so much more need were calling out to God for help?

I felt ashamed and very small. I felt that I was so far down God’s to-do list that I couldn’t even pray.

It was one of the worst feelings I’ve experienced.

I didn’t want to go to church but knew that I needed to. If for nothing else than to just go through the motions.

In Sunday School we studied the first couple chapters of Moses. I sat there, not paying much attention until a verse pricked at my soul.

Moses 1:35. God is teaching Moses about the creation. It says,

But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

Glacier National ParkAnd innumerable are they unto man, but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

My emptiness began to be filled at that very moment.

Yes, there are many here who need God. We all need God. So many, that man cannot count.

But God is not man.

And he knows each of his creations. He knows and cares about each of us, no matter how insignificant our problems might seem. If they are significant to us, they matter to him.

Maraine LakeI was reminded of a talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf in the October 2011 General Conference, in which he says:

The more we learn about the universe, the more we understand—at least in a small part—what Moses knew. The universe is so large, mysterious, and glorious that it is incomprehensible to the human mind. “Worlds without number have I created,” God said to Moses. The wonders of the night sky are a beautiful testimony of that truth.

There are few things that have filled me with such breathless awe as flying in the black of night across oceans and continents and looking out my cockpit window upon the infinite glory of millions of stars.

Astronomers have attempted to count the number of stars in the universe. One group of scientists estimates that the number of stars within range of our telescopes is 10 times greater than all the grains of sand on the world’s beaches and deserts.

This conclusion has a striking similarity to the declaration of the ancient prophet Enoch: “Were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations.”

Given the vastness of God’s creations, it’s no wonder the great King Benjamin counseled his people to “always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness.”

But even though man is nothing, it fills me with wonder and awe to think that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.”

And while we may look at the vast expanse of the universe and say, “What is man in comparison to the glory of creation?” God Himself said we are the reason He created the universe! His work and glory—the purpose for this magnificent universe—is to save and exalt mankind. In other words, the vast expanse of eternity, the glories and mysteries of infinite space and time are all built for the benefit of ordinary mortals like you and me. Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters.

This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God.

While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.

Steven in Lynn Canyon ParkI recognized that it was not anything from God that kept me from praying that morning. Satan wants to keep our connection to God as limited as possible. He knows that when we are in the depths of sorrow and humility, that is our greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. So what does he do?

He makes us feel shame or guilt for wanting to reach out. He whispers in our ears that we are not important enough to God.

For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray. But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint…

2 Nephi 32:8-9

President Monson has said, “He who notes the fall of a sparrow surely hears the pleadings of our hearts.”

Mount Hood VistaGod is aware of us. Not only aware, he knows us. He loves us, each of us, personally.

All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

 

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A Special Holiday

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Last Sunday in Primary, the sharing time teacher asked the children if they knew what General Conference was.

One adorable little boy raised his hand and said, “It is a special holiday where we stay home from church and watch it on TV.”

I loved his words. ...A special holiday. So true!meme-mcconkie-words-prophets-manna-1389784-print

We all have holiday traditions. For Christmas, we always get our tree and set things up the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Every night we have our advent gifts and study the life of Christ. On Christmas Eve we always see a movie and go out to dinner. Stockings always have the same goodies- I have one child who makes sure of it. Thanksgiving, Easter, even Halloween for some people. We love our traditions and it makes the day even more special and meaningful.

Well, many of us also have traditions for General Conference weekend (called GenCo at our house). Many of them may have started out of desperation when our kids were young, in order to keep them still for at least a few minutes. We have always had a buffet, and gathered in our pajamas with comfy blankets and pillows. We look forward to it every 6 months.

At Thankgiving we give thanks, and spend time with the ones we love. Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, and at Easter we remember and celebrate His atonement and resurrection. Our thoughts are turned to important, eternal things on these special holidays. It is the same with General Conference.

first-presidency-lds-477209-printWe are so flippin lucky! Think about it- we get to be directly instructed by a prophet and apostles of God! Twice a year! Us Mormons seriously have it good- 2 extra holidays a year, which fill us and teach us and increase our capacity and ability to love and to work our way through this life.

Like many holidays- let’s be prepared. For Thanksgiving, we plan and prep the meals with care. At Christmastime we decorate and prepare gifts.

What about General Conference?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said,

“As you prepare for general conference, I invite you to ponder questions you need to have answered. … There are messages in each general conference given as a gift and a blessing from heaven specifically for our personal life situations.”

And from Elder Robert D Hales:

“As the time for conference arrives, we sacrifice other activities, laying aside the things of this world, to seek for the things of a better. Then we gather our families to hear the word of the Lord, as King Benjamin’s people did.”

So how can we prepare?

  1. Pray- we all have something going on in our lives right now. We all need direction. Write down what you need, and pray and ponder on it over the next week so that you are prepared to receive answers during conference.
  2. Actually watch (or listen to) conference! It’s 2 days that will fill you for 6 months or more. Set the time aside. Sacrifice the things of this world for something better.

By coming to conference with a soft and open heart, and laying aside the things of the world, we will be ready for what God would have us hear. And we will be ready to implement those teachings into our lives.

Decide now to make general conference a priority in your life. Decide to listen carefully and follow the teachings that are given. Listen to or read the talks more than once to better understand and follow the counsel. By doing these things, the gates of hell will not prevail against you, the powers of darkness will be dispersed from before you, and the heavens will shake for your good.              – Paul V Johnson, of the Seventy

What a blessing!

What a special holiday!

 

One Step Enough For Me

I am an impatient person. I like to be in control. And anyone who knows me knows that I’m a planner. I like to know what’s coming and I thrive on a schedule.

Carey and I are a little nomadic at heart, longing for change or a new adventure every year or two. When we moved here to Lake Oswego things really clicked for our boys and we decided that we would stay put for them so they could go through junior high and high school in one place, with the same friends and peers. We had our escape plan though- the moment our youngest graduated from high school, we’d move on to our next adventure.

Then something odd happened. We got comfortable. Happy. We began to recognize how blessed we are to live here. We truly love the people in our ward, and the idea of growing with them for many years started to sound really nice. Carey’s job was great and we were feeling good.

It was the end of November when I said to Carey, “What if we just stayed here, after the boys are gone? Like forever.” He thought that didn’t sound so bad.

A few days later he was laid off from his job, and everything became uncertain.

All of a sudden my calendar was up in the air. Our big vacation plans, our budget, our health insurance, any plans were dampened by the uncertainty of when and where Carey might be working. We hoped that he would find something really quickly, but that hasn’t been the case.

This was torture for me at the beginning. I needed to know what was going to happen! I couldn’t function, except to stare at a computer screen and try to find my husband a job. I knew that Heavenly Father would provide something, but I also knew that we had to do our part. So I frantically worried about missing the right job or the right contact or the right prompting. I needed to know how this was going to end, and I needed it to end like now!

light-from-cloudsThen something amazing happened. Carey and I started attending the temple weekly, and it began to bring great peace into our lives. Between that, studying scriptures, and prayer, I was able to start letting go and letting God be in charge

The fear that we wouldn’t find the right path or see the big picture began to fade as I was able to accept that God sees that big picture and I don’t need to. I really don’t! I just have to trust that God will lead us along, and won’t let us go down the wrong path.

There is a hymn that has been ever present in my mind over the last month- Lead Kindly Light. The first verse says:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene–one step enough for me.
path-of-life
One step at a time- that is how Heavenly Father is leading us right now.
Last week Carey had two job offers on the table. Both were good, and would have given us great security. As we fasted and prayed about each of these, we felt strongly to turn them both down.
The first one wasn’t so difficult, but the second one brought the fear right back. The fear of making the wrong choice, of missing out on something. But then we decided to trust in the answers we had been given and were immediately blessed with peace.
So we’ve made it a few more steps along the path, and continue in faith for the light to illuminate where that next step will be. I don’t need to see the distant scene. God see’s it and knows the path perfectly. One step at a time is enough for me.