May 31-June 6
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At this point in time, there have been elders of the church who were called to travel to Missouri for a special conference that needed to be held there. As it happened, these men ended up in two groups.
The first group made their way to Missouri and were now headed back to Ohio to the rest of the Saints who were still living there. They were travelling by canoe. One of the canoes hit a tree and there was a near-death experience. The elders then camped on the shore for the night. Now this is slightly irrelevant to my overall topic today, but it is part of the story. These elders had some contentious feelings in the group, and so they repented that night. Here is what the Lord revealed to them the next day:
Doctrine and Covenants 61:3, 7
3 But verily I say unto you, that it is not needful for this whole company of mine elders to be moving swiftly upon the waters, whilst the inhabitants on either side are perishing in unbelief.
7 Wherefore, it is expedient that my servant Sidney Gilbert and my servant William W. Phelps be in haste upon their errand and mission.
So the Lord told the group that most of them should be making their way back slowly, preaching along the way. However, He likewise instructed that Sidney Gilbert and William Phelps continue on quickly and get back.
The second group. There was a second group of elders who were travelling much more slowly to Missouri. However, they baptized over a hundred people on their way down there and so the Lord was obviously incredibly pleased with them. The Lord tells these elders to finish travelling to Missouri, hold a meeting there, and then return. This is what the Lord says about them returning home:
Doctrine and Covenants 62:5, 7-8
5 And then you may return to bear record, yea, even altogether, or two by two, as seemeth you good, it mattereth not unto me; only be faithful, and declare glad tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, or among the congregations of the wicked.
7 I, the Lord, am willing, if any among you desire to ride upon horses, or upon mules, or in chariots, he shall receive this blessing, if he receive it from the hand of the Lord, with a thankful heart in all things.
8 These things remain with you to do according to judgment and the directions of the Spirit.
So the Lord gave very different advice to this group of elders. With the first group, He specifically told them, “I want you to stop travelling so quickly except for Sidney Gilbert and William Phelps; you guys keep going fast.” To the second group, He said, “Use your best judgement about how you get home. It doesn’t really matter how you travel.”
Revelation is funny that way, right? It kind of fits with our circumstances, and we’re all going to be getting different answers. Sometimes you have friends who come to you and ask for specific advice. “Should I marry this person? How do I know if I should marry them? How did you know?” I always kind of shy away in those moments because I never want someone to miss their own revelation because they’re looking for revelation that looks like mine.
So we’re all going to be receiving different answers, and sometimes, those answers are very vague. Sidney Gilbert and William Phelps received the most detailed direction, and that’s how it goes.
There will be times in your life where you receive very direct answers, and those are awesome experiences. We love it when we get guidance, and we can just follow it. Sometimes that guidance is difficult, but hey, we’re always asking for it and sometimes the Lord gives it.
However, there will be times in your life when you don’t get much to go off of. This can be disconcerting, but let’s talk about a couple of principles that hopefully help.
The Lord has timing. This timing may revolve around your readiness to receive an answer. Sometimes big answers require a lot of work. This work is healthy for us. It helps us appreciate the answer. It helps us grow so that we can understand the answer. Perhaps His timing may revolve around other pieces falling into place. You’re praying about which college to go to and the Lord isn’t answering. Lo and behold, a week later you get your acceptance letter to a different college and the Lord affirms that you need to be at that specific college. It can feel so uncomfortable to not know, but I promise, the Lord has reasons. And let me tell you…they’re good reasons.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong. There have been plenty of times in my life when I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed about what I needed to be doing. I felt guilty because I wasn’t receiving answers. For example, I dated my husband for a year and a half. This was really difficult for me. I had a three roommates who were happily engaged, and all of them felt so comfortable in their decisions. It was so easy for them. My revelation did not come easy, and I often wondered if I wasn’t good enough to get the answer. I often lamented that my growth wasn’t sufficient to receive the answer. Perhaps the Lord didn’t want me to marry Conner and I was too stubborn to see the answer. Perhaps the Lord wanted me to marry Conner but I was too scared to see the answer. I beat myself up over and over and over for not getting my answer sooner. But come to find out, it was all about timing.
Someday, if you want to eventually become like Heavenly Father, you have to be able to make decisions. I remember being petrified of storms when I was little. I was so scared of getting swept away in a tornado. I grew up in Texas where storms can get loud and mean, and I lived through my fair share of tornado watches and warnings so it wasn’t a completely illegitimate fear…but anyway. It was significantly affecting me. I’d be laying down at night, I’d hear the thunder and see the lightning and hear the wind, and I couldn’t help myself from racing downstairs to my parent’s room. My mother would ask me, “What are you going to do when you’re a mom? Are you going to be able to take care of your kids if you’re scared?” I remember crying over it because I didn’t feel ready to grow up (and consequently, I’d fall asleep in the tornado closet when my mom didn’t let me sleep with her).
Anyway, I think there are life parallels here. We live in a life of storms. There will always be upheaval in our personal lives and in the world around us. Sometimes the Lord will recognize our readiness to grow up before we can recognize it. It’ll feel a lot like putting your life in danger of a tornado, but my mom knew there wasn’t any real danger. She also knew that if danger came, she could quickly get me to our tornado closet. The Lord knows the situation. If He thinks you’re big enough to make the decision, trust Him by trusting yourself.
If you’re looking at whether you should get married, ask yourself wise questions and make a decision as though the Lord isn’t there. Then, after you made the decision, ask Him. If He doesn’t answer, then move forward with your own decision! This will not guarantee a lack of trials. This will not guarantee that you’ll never get divorced or experience trouble in your marriage. It merely means that the Lord wants you to grow and make a decision, and it means that the Lord can walk you through anything that will come.
There are so many great roads you can take that will get you where you want to go.
When you’re praying about whether you should marry someone (sorry I keep using that example; it’s easy to use), you’re not really praying about a specific person. You’re praying about whether you’ll be happy and whether things will turn out alright. When you pray about whether you should uproot your family and move them across the country, what you’re really asking is, “Will my kids develop testimonies in whatever ward we find ourselves? Will I be able to support my family? Will this lead me in a direction I want to go?”
The Lord can help you be happy in any marriage where both people are trying to please God. The Lord can help your children grow in a ward with no youth, and He can help your children grow in a ward that has a million youth. Our destinations are never final destinations. Our ultimate goal is to be like our Savior, and the Lord can help that happen in any circumstances. Perhaps He does have a specific plan for a specific reason (which He will reveal to you at the right time), but also be confident that the Lord can help you no matter where you go. What I’m trying to say, in essence, is that “it mattereth not” sometimes.
The Lord can redirect us if we got it wrong.
The first group of elders did make their own decision. They decided to travel by canoe. The Lord stopped them and put them in the right path. Make your decision with confidence that the Lord will redirect you if He needs to. I promise He’s much more willing to direct you if you’re already moving.
When I get my blood drawn at the doctor, no news is good news. The same goes with the Lord. If you’re not getting anything, it’s probably because He doesn’t need to say anything. You’re already headed in the right direction so you’re good.
Getting it wrong is not the end of the world.
Even if you do make the wrong choice and even if you miss the prompting to tell you to turn around, your life isn’t over. When you stand at judgement day, the Lord isn’t going to turn you away for it. Instead, He’s going to wrap you in His arms, applaud you for trying to hear Him and follow Him, applaud you for wanting to follow Him, and then He’s going to heal any bumps and bruises that came from your little mishap. He can make it right, even when we get it wrong.
If you are seeking revelation and you’re not hearing anything, it is not because the Lord loves you less. He didn’t direct Sidney Gilbert and William Phelps with specific guidance because He loved them more than the others. It’s because of specific reasons. He loves you. He will give you what you need, and He will fix the mishaps. Go on your way rejoicing. He will lead you along.