Sunday, July 26, 2009

Simple Epiphany

I'm not going to present anything in this essay that's new or different than I've discussed before. I did get an epiphany at church today, though, that shed some light on the topic, at least for me. As always, I write in order to explore my own feelings, to give value and appreciation for revealed truth, to keep a record of my progress and to share my feelings with others.

Kim's been emphasizing simplicity at ARP lately. We have a friend who over analyzes, over compensates, over complicates everything. While addiction recovery is challenging, it is not rocket science. It is simple, at it's fundamentally effective core.

I learned the simple fundamentals as I was making my own beginnings on the road to recovery. Now I find that those fundamental principles apply not only to addiction recovery but to life in general.

Jesus teaches the principle: I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just because I seek not mine own will , but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30) Is that not powerful? Even Jesus of his own self could do nothing. His strength lay in doing the Father's will. The endowment ceremony in the Temple is clear, unmistakable evidence of this.

We have been taught, and have learned to stand on our own two feet. We think the initiative and direction in our lives must be our own. We think God gives us a rough outline and we need to flesh it out on our own, by ourselves. That was not true of Jesus; why should it be true of us?

"But wait!" we exclaim, "What about Doctrine and Covenants 58: 26-27?" I thought we were supposed to do many good things of our own free will and not have to be commanded in all things. That's true but being commanded and seeking God's will are not the same thing. Being commanded is a driven life. Seeking God's will is a guided life. Choosing a guided life amounts to doing many good things of your own free will. Seeking God's will is the imperative I'm focusing on today.

Early in my recovery I learned to pray a simple, but powerful prayer. "Lord, what would Thou have me do today? Please give me the strength to do it?" All my life my prayers were spent directing God around the heavens and the universe. As if I had the slightest clue what God should be doing. Now I was learning that I should not be seeking to counsel God, but to take counsel from his hand. (Jacob 4:10) The difference in the effectiveness of my prayers was astronomical. The reality of personal revelation, even to one such as I, was astounding. Prayer is all about personal revelation. It is no big deal to think that God could hear us when we pray. The big deal and the key to real prayer has everything to do with us hearing Him. Everything!

We may freely express our desires and as we gain experience with the will of God we may be more likely to anticipate God's will so that our desires are aligned with His will. As Jesus approached Lazarus' tomb he "lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me." (John 11:41) Clearly indicating that his desire had been to raise Lazarus from the dead and that He required God's endorsement before doing so. He sought the will of God, received it, and went forward with confidence, knowing Lazarus' revival was in such accord.

Now, how to apply all of this to my current situation. I'm unemployed and quickly running short of cash. Recently, I've reverted to my old ways. I know what I want - I want a nice high paying job. And, I've resorted to telling God what I want and expecting Him to deliver. Today I realized that I trust God. I know He is predisposed in my favor. I know He knows what's best for me. I know He even knows what my new employment will be. I also know He has work for me to do in the earth and that He is fully capable of opening the way for me to accomplish that work or stewardship. I know that He knows what I must do to arrive where He wants me to be. I know He will provide the resources to adequately fulfill my stewardship. (1 Nephi 3:7) But see, I haven't been asking Him the right questions. I've been telling Him what I want and asking for that. Instead, I should have been asking what He wants and asking directions to that end.

This method worked amazingly well in my recovery from addiction. Why will it not sustain me in every aspect of life? I'm certain it will. I just needed to make that connection, which God helped me do today.

I was so excited to get right home and get these ideas written. But there I go, off on my own again. Upon arriving home, though, I did think to pause and thank Him for this kind enlightenment. During that expression of gratitude, I paused to seek His will. His will was not to sit and write, it was to do the dishes. I was surprised. As it did the dishes I realized that beating Sweetie to the punch would brighten her day in a way that could not occur if I did them later after she had to consort with that mess for a while. It didn't take long, but it was correct in every way.

Also as I did the dishes and pondered the priority it might be, it occurred to me that this is how all of life could go. As I consider all of this a few things come to mind. Did Jesus carry a planner? No way. I'm convinced that He went forth into each new day excited for it's prospects and eager to learn what the Father had for him to accomplish. He may have had intentions, but most likely there were interruptions galore, surprises aplenty and constant opportunity to let the Father direct His paths and teach Him what to say and do. What a relief a life like that would be in my reality. Suddenly, the pressure is off! A guided life of right choices, how exciting. A blessed life of service doing the will of the Father. One of my first reactions was, "But I'll get so tired!" To which my heart responded. "God will direct you to rest, to eat right, to recreate - don't worry about it."
"But there is so much work to do!"
"And God will strengthen you for the work that is yours and direct others to do the work that is not."
"But what if others have expectations that God does not?"
"What if? Who are we trying to please here?"
"Oh, I'm beginning to see."
"Good, you're on the right track."
"But what if God doesn't have anything for me to do?"
"Then do nothing."
"Are you kidding?"
"Well, yes, there is plenty of work for you to do, but there is plenty of joy, and pleasure too!"
"How will I know what He desires?"
"Ask, seek, knock."
"What about the future?"
"You'd rather not know, believe me."
"What must I do then."
"Just what I ask in this moment."
"What about the next moment?"
"Ask again. If you do God's will in each moment, the future will be prepared for you and you will be prepared for it."
"But what if I need an education?"
"Don't you get it? If you need an education, there will be a moment and in that you moment you will ask, and when you ask, God will answer: learn this, and your education will be realized."
"So I don't really need to plan?"
"Not really. God has a plan for you if you seek it."
"But, I thought..."
"You needed to trust in the arm of the flesh?"
"Yes, that's it isn't it. That's what I've been doing. That's why I've been worrying. I've been trusting in the arm of the flesh, haven't I?"
"Of course, it's natural."
"Who say's God has no sense of humor."
"Can I really do this?"
"You did today."
"That wasn't so hard."
"I doesn't have to be."
"What if I slip up?"
"When you slip up, stop, ask, listen, receive, do."
"But won't I need to repent?"
"When you listen, repent will probably be your answer."
"Oh, of course. My answer will always be just what I need to do in that moment."
"No more, no less."
"So simple!"
"So simple."

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