Thirteen (Lucky) Reasons God Isn’t Giving You What You Want

20130701-134734.jpg

This is what I really want. Or is it?

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7)

What an amazing promise!

But then one day, you find yourself thinking:

Why isn’t God giving me what I want, then?

Because you’re praying hard.  You’re doing your best to keep His commandments. You’re exercising faith.

And still…nothing.

Take a look at that scripture again. Note how it doesn’t say “Ask, and exactly what ye want shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find exactly what ye think you want to find; knock, and the exact door ye want opened shall be opened unto you.”

After all, God isn’t a genie, bound to fulfill our every whim and wish. And after thinking some more about the following list, you might even feel inclined to say a prayer of thanks that He isn’t.

Thirteen (Lucky) Reasons God Isn’t Giving You What You Want:

1. You haven’t asked hard enough. (It needed to be said)

2. You need to learn to be more patient. (It needed to be said)

3. You’re not being specific enough.

4. He’s already given you what you want, but you don’t recognize it. This is especially true in combination with the previous point about specificity – how can you know you’ve received what you asked for if you’re not really sure what you asked for?

5. The timing isn’t right. Maybe something else has to happen first?

6. You’re not ready to handle what you want. You may want a pony, but maybe you should prove you can feed your goldfish first.

7. What you want isn’t His to give. Let me give you an example. How many times have you prayed for patience (and wanted it right away) and then found yourself failing the first test of that patience? Why didn’t God give you patience to face the challenge? As it turns out, God is happy to give us opportunities to grow, but we develop character by how we choose to respond to those opportunities. That said, He is happy to lend you His strength during the moments you really can’t handle on your own.

8. What you want prevents you from getting something you want even more.

9. What you want clashes with someone else’s free will. Sorry, teenage girls: no matter how much you pray that the guy in your favorite band will knock on your door and declare his forever love for you, it probably won’t happen anytime soon.

10. What you want is bad for you in the long run. Pay attention, above-mentioned teenage girls.

11. What you want isn’t what you need. Ok, teenage girls, I really don’t want to pick on you, but…

12. You really don’t want what you want. Ok, let’s harass the adults for a moment. You think you want that house you put in an offer on, but what you don’t realize now is that the huge mortgage will unhinge you mentally and ruin you financially. What you really want is to be happy and have peace of mind. (On a personal note, this is probably one of the reasons we didn’t get the house we put in an offer on last year!)

13. He has something much better in store for you. And that may be the most beautiful reason of all.

I’m sure this isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the point. Chances are you’d be miserable if you got what you asked for! And, if you’re anything like me, you’d probably blame God for that misery. (we humans are awesome like that)

Look at it this way: now I’ve given you thirteen additional reasons to add the phrase “thy will be done” to your prayers!

What are some things you used to want that you’re now glad God didn’t give you?

A few additional scriptures on this topic for those who are interested:

John 16:24, James 4:3, D&C 8:10, Helaman 10:4-5, D&C 82:10

Trusting the Lord: Three Lessons from Moses’ Mother

moses

You’re probably familiar with Moses, the Old Testament prophet who helped free the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt.

You might also remember the circumstances surrounding Moses’ birth. The Egyptian Pharaoh, concerned about the population growth of his Israelite slaves, ordered that every newborn Israelite boy be put to death.

Moses’ mother managed to hide him for three months. Three months that must have been precious but extremely stressful – Pharaoh was scouring Egypt for babies and babies make a lot of noise!

For whatever reason, things couldn’t continue as they had. The situation required her to act or instead be acted upon.

So she gently tucked Moses into a home-made basket that she then placed in the river. (see Exodus 2)

Wait – she did what?!

When I heard this story as a child, I never once even thought to question the mother’s judgement. Now that I have children of my own, it occurs to me what a difficult and dangerous thing she did.

That said, I am positive she acted under divine inspiration (though she might not have known it at the time). I also feel confident Moses’ mother trusted in the Lord, hoping and praying for his divine assistance.

But can you imagine the fear of the unknown? The second-guessing? And if anybody else knew about her actions, the fear of judgement? (“So you’d rather let your son die slowly, is that it?” “At least I tried to flee with my son before the guards got to him.”)

So what happened to Moses? While bathing in the river, Pharaoh’s daughter found the child. She was enamored with the chubby cuteness, and Moses became the exception: he not only lived, but became the Pharaoh’s daughter’s adopted son and the person who would forever change the lives of the captive Israelites.

All because of a mother who decided to trust the Lord and do something (seemingly) crazy.

As I’ve thought more about what I can learn from Moses’ mother, I have arrived at three important lessons on trusting the Lord.

1. You may have to do some additional work. After Moses’ mother acted against reason and put Moses in the river, she had Moses’ sister Miriam keep watch over the baby as he lay in the basket. When Pharaoh’s daughter arrived at the scene, Miriam was perfectly positioned to ask Pharaoh’s daughter if she needed someone to nurse the baby – she knew just the person for the job!

2. Things will work out, but not necessarily in the way you hoped. Moses’ mother would doubtlessly have preferred that Pharaoh change his mind about killing the Israelites’ sons, but things eventually worked out all right: she got paid for nursing her son in her own home. Even so, she eventually had to return Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter.

3. You may turn out to be one of the “other” Israelites. I’m referring to the men and women who prayed to the Lord to deliver their sons from the Pharaoh’s edict, but who lost them anyway. If you find yourself in their midst, remember that you will one day be delivered. Your Moses – The Redeemer of Israel, Jesus Christ – will free you and compensate you for every loss.

Just trust in Him.

Taking a Stand: 9 Steps to Speaking Up and “Doing Something”

20130625-082127.jpgI shy away from conflict. I often hesitate to share my opinions – especially those considered extreme – because I don’t want to offend anybody. I don’t really get involved in “causes” very much – for the reasons above, but also because it’s time-consuming and nothing seems to improve anyway. Despite my documented interest in helping those less fortunate (my Master’s Degree specialization was “Economic Development and Nonprofit Management”), actively doing something about the injustices of this world is fairly far down on my daily To-Do list.

In other words, this post is perfect for me.

Let me tell you how I came to write this post in the first place. Recently, I read about Nephi (the son of Helaman) in the Book of Mormon, and one of his experiences told me I need to reevaluate my reluctance to “do something.”

Nephi and his brother Lehi were great missionaries and saw wondrous miracles in their day. But many of the people they taught were less than receptive to their teachings. At the point we join in, Nephi has just returned home after being rejected by the people in the land northward, only to find that the wicked band of Gadianton Robbers has gotten a hold of his home town.

In other words, things were looking pretty bleak in the righteousness department. And Nephi was fed up with all the wickedness.

In Helaman 7:10-11, we learn Nephi’s next step:

“And behold, now it came to pass that it was upon a tower, which was in the garden of Nephi, which was by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla; therefore, Nephi had bowed himself upon the tower which was in his garden, which tower was also near unto the garden gate by which led the highway.

And it came to pass that there were certain men passing by and saw Nephi as he was pouring out his soul unto God upon the tower; and they ran and told the people what they had seen, and the people came together in multitudes that they might know the cause of so great mourning for the wickedness of the people.”

When Nephi noticed the large gathering of people, he “opened his mouth” (v.17), and called the people to repentance. Oh, and a LOT of drama followed (which you can read about in chapter 7 and the ensuing chapters)

Now, Nephi could have avoided some major trouble by praying in secret inside the comfort of his home. And he’d no doubt heard about the wayward Zoramites, who prayed on a platform to be heard of men. (Alma 31, 38:13)

Nephi still chose to pray on his tower by the highway, for all to see. Why?

Because he knew he needed to “open his mouth.” He knew he needed to speak up.

And chances are, you and I know we need to as well.

Granted, sometimes it’s best to just let things run their course, to be quietly patient and all that. But in this time of information superhighways, plenty of Nephi’s on towers are needed to speak up against evil and ignorance and all their cousins. I hesitate to point out specific causes and issues, but you get the idea. Causes are grown in the dirt associated with such things as poverty, abuse, and disregard for human life.

Ok, so we need to get involved. You pick what to get involved in.

But how do we proceed?

Enter my handy list.

9 Steps to Speaking Up and “Doing Something”

1. Make sure your cause is just. And don’t expect God to align with your opinion – align yourself with His. You’d think this goes without saying, but you definitely don’t want to miss this step! How to find out what is right? Use your head and heart (see D&C 9:8-9), and follow the next point:

2. Pray for guidance every step of the way. If only because without the Lord’s help, you can do much more harm than good.

3. Get informed. In this thing at least, ignorance isn’t bliss. It just gets you into a lot of trouble.

4. Identify goals and figure out what to do. Because “doing something” is very unspecific and easily becomes “doing nothing.” Note: must be combined with point #2.

5. Join or create a network of peers. Because together, we are stronger.

6. Dedicate your resources. Put your money where your mouth is. Spend time and effort to do what needs to be done.

7. Expect opposition and rejection. Nephi certainly got plenty of both. Hopefully you won’t be accused of conspiracy to murder, like he was.

8. Testify, like Nephi did. (Helaman 7:29) Actions often speak louder than words, but truth spoken with conviction can be mightier than the sword. (See Alma 31:5, D&C 11:2)

9. Love and respect your fellow men. Perhaps especially those who snap at you like rabid animals – they probably need it the most.

Note number 1: This list is especially geared toward getting involved in “big” causes, like fighting poverty or violence against women. You may find that your “cause” is to send a check to a needy neighbor or confront a friend about her frequent black eyes and bruises.

Note number 2: At times, you need to get in people’s faces (in an appropriate way). But sometimes, all you have to do is wait for people gather under your tower, wondering what you’re up to.

It’s so tempting to simply sit back and wait for Christ to return to the earth and fix everything that’s wrong with the world.

But, as our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, so eloquently expressed, “the world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants on the stage of…service.”

People need you. Now. There’s no telling how many lives you’ll bless by moving from spectator to active participant on the world stage.

The question is, will you – like Nephi – get up on that tower?

Righteous Initiative

I am a great admirer of Mormon, the prophet who abridged the Book of Mormon. As a fellow writer, I am in awe of this man’s capabilities. Imagine the responsibilities and pressures associated with having to decide what goes into one of the greatest works of scripture ever known to mankind!

In fact, Mormon must have been an all-around impressive human being. Visited by the Lord at age fifteen? Chosen to lead an army at sixteen? Wow. Strong, courageous, steadfast…those are only a few adjectives that describe this great leader.

I will probably sing Mormon’s praises more than once on this blog. In this post, I want to highlight a single verse that shows one of Mormon’s admirable characteristics:

“And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them…” Mormon 1:16

Oh, Mormon! Talk about righteous initiative! I can only imagine how proud (maybe even ecstatic?) Heavenly Father was when he had to forbid(!) Mormon to preach to the hardened Nephites. And maybe Heavenly Father chuckled at the memory of having to do so when he gave the following commandment around 1,400 years later:

“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;”  (D&C 58:26-27)

Where are you on the spectrum between slothful and anxiously engaged? I admit that I too often find myself on the side of the sloths. I have been known to drag my feet more than once, even when directly commanded by Heavenly Father to do something!Luckily, I have plenty of good examples around me who remind me to do better. While I was on bed rest, for example, many of my friends volunteered to help with meals and childcare. And they did so long before being asked to by me or the Relief Society compassionate service committee.

How cool would it be to have Heavenly Father slow you down for being too enthusiastic about doing good?!

Any uplifting stories about blessings that have come to you or someone you know after showing righteous initiative?