What impressed me the most in that meeting was a Japanese sister. As she rambled on in her broken English from one topic to the next, I struggled to make sense of what she was trying to say. But then she spoke two words that captured my attention: Expect miracles.
Nourish your thinking
I have no idea why she said those two words. Perhaps she was referencing President Nelson’s address from the last Conference on spiritual momentum. Perhaps she was talking about something else related to miracles. Or perhaps she was talking about something completely unrelated and the Spirit prompted her to say those words because I needed to hear them.
I say I needed to hear them because they captured my attention. And as I began pondering those words and remembering what I said about them in a recent episode of this program, I immediately felt prompted to make them the focus for this episode of Joy in the Journey Radio. So perhaps there is someone out there who needs this message.
Regardless of the need, I do believe this message is important for all LDS singles to review on a regular basis. We need to nourish our thinking with better assumptions, better perspectives, better attitudes, and better self-talk. The idea of expecting miracles encompasses all four of those elements.
Reformat and reboot
For example, too many LDS singles assume the future will be just like the past. They place so much emphasis on the choices others make, they do not perceive the power inherent in their own choices. A discouraging outlook encourages a despondent attitude.
And all of these elements then find reinforcement in self-talk: “What’s the point of trying?” “Why would anyone choose me?” “I’m not good enough.” “I’ll never be loved.” All these messages played on autopilot via habits of thinking reinforce the faulty assumptions, the diminished perspectives, and the failing attitudes that will never lead to success.
Expecting miracles reverses all that. Expecting miracles in your life assumes miracles can and will come to you. Expecting miracles exchanges the perspectives focused on the past for ones focused not just on the future but on a future that’s very different from the past. Expecting miracles encourages an optimistic positive attitude. And expecting miracles encourages uplifting self talk: “I’ll keep trying because I will succeed.” “My miracle will choose me.” “I’m more than good enough for my miracle.” “My miracle will happen because I’m already loved.”
There’s a night-and-day difference between expecting miracles and the less effective ways of thinking many LDS singles choose to tolerate. Many so choose because they simply aren’t aware of the difference. But having that awareness, why would you choose not to expect a miracle? Why would you cheat yourself of the glorious best life you could have?
Position yourself better
Of course, miracles are more likely to come and are therefore easier to expect when you get your game on. Put yourself in a good financial position. Serve faithfully in your Church calling. Take care of your responsibilities, including those involving self-care. These changes likely won’t come overnight, but every effort to move in that direction moves you closer into a space where miracles can more easily come.
My friend provides a good example. His real interest in attending that Sunday School class was a special “person of interest” (as he calls her). During the drive back, he told me they’d met only one month ago. I was surprised to hear that. Given the way they hugged each other in the parking lot before leaving, I thought they’d known each other longer. But apparently they just hit it off really well. I’d call that a miracle.
So expect miracles in your life. Believing in and opening yourself up to possibility can improve your probability of success. By working as you can on improving yourself and your situation, you can move yourself into the space where your miracle can more easily come. That miracle can be the door that swings your best life wide open to you. And that will bring your more joy in your journey.
And that’s the rub. Bettering our position to receive a miracle requires work, and most of us don’t want to work for our miracles. We just want them to appear. Yet miracles still follow universal law. Appropriate work on our part aligns us with the universal law governing the miracles we seek. That often involves delivering value, because at the end of the day, it’s all about value.
Focus on fundamentals
So many of our desired miracles involve other people using their agency to advantage us. The miracle of companionship is one such example. Yet this miracle like all others follows universal law, which begs the question: What laws govern the occurrence of this miracle?
The answer resides in the fundamentals of the dating journey. Those who align themselves with the fundamentals position themselves to receive that miracle more easily. Those who don’t stumble and trip up over and over again.
Stepping back and looking at the fundamentals, it’s easy to see they’re all about value. Arriving at any stage of the dating journey requires an agreement, and you secure any agreement by being agreeable enough. That means providing sufficient value. At the end of the day, it really is all about value.
Do the work
And that’s where work comes in. We can change ourselves and our environment to become more agreeable by offering more value and thereby position ourselves to receive more easily the miracle we seek. And we’re not in this alone. When we partner with the Lord, He’ll help us (1) to know what work we need to do and (2) to do that work.
We start by understanding what value we offer today. Those who already offer great value have less to do, whereas those offering less value have more work to do. Either way, we should seek input from others when assessing the value we offer. We’re all inherently biased to overestimate the value we offer. That bias blinds us from many of the imperfections diminishing our value. Input from others combined with counseling with the Lord can help us overcome our inherent bias and blindness.
So when that 400-pound single adult partners with the Lord and considers input received from others, the realization comes that losing weight and taking better care of one’s body will ease the arrival of the companionship miracle. Partnering with the Lord, that single adult seeks and follows guidance to assemble a plan and then involves the Lord in executing that plan. Losing weight then becomes not just a physical change but a spiritual adventure experienced step by step at the Lord’s side with the intention of easing a miracle into one’s life. Can we not feel the increased power behind this approach to securing miracles? It all starts with a focus on value.
Hold the line
As we work to improve the value we offer, we need to remember value has different meanings in different contexts. We also shouldn’t forget everything’s interconnected.
For instance, value in the dating context isn’t value in the eternal context. We all already have immense value in eternity as children of God, but we all have different value when it comes to dating. The value of an attribute differs with context, but low value in one particular context often means a lack of attributes valued in that context.
When we see ourselves lacking the valued attributes in the context of a desired miracle, we shouldn’t surrender to despair. Instead, we should partner with the Lord and get to work. We should look for invigoration in meeting the challenge and work with faith that, with the all-powerful Lord at our side, we can make any miracle happen. Making gains in one area of our lives can strengthen us in other areas, giving us a further boost towards making our miracle happen.
At the end of the day, it’s all about value. Looking through that lens can provide a clarity of vision regarding needed changes. As we make those changes in partnership with the Lord, we can feel more confidence as we ease the miracles we seek into our lives and more gratitude when those miracles finally appear. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Yes, I know how incredible that may sound to some, especially if your life hasn’t gone the way you expected. You’ve probably also had some painful experiences involving either someone else deciding against you in a single instance or many others using their agency across multiple instances. Maybe you’ve experienced both. But even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles.
Believe in miracles
We typically think of miracles as events that defy the laws of nature. For me, miracles are manifestations of one or more universal laws we don’t understand fully.
This shift in perspective is essential to why I say we should seek and expect miracles. The perspectives we take and the assumptions we embrace are everything; they’re key components of our thinking, which produces our actions, which in turn produces our results. In the end, we all want results, so when we don’t get desired results, we need to examine our thinking.
President Nelson begins his comments on miracles with this declaration:
First, he illustrates his concept with the words of a single adult! And this wasn’t just any single. No, Moroni had everything ripped from him. He witnessed the destruction of his people in a horrible war, leaving him to wander alone for the safety of his own life. Yet he still declared fervent belief in miracles.
All lives have painful disappointments, but most don’t compare to Moroni’s. If in his circumstances he could find the strength to believe in miracles, could we not muster the courage to do the same?
President Nelson continued,
It’s not just Moroni but every book of scripture declaring belief in miracles — all the more reason to question our perspectives and assumptions leading us to disbelieve in miracles. While we question, we should remember the Prophet’s caveat: Miracles can take time and may not unfold how we expect. So often LDS singles seeking a miracle expect something so inconsistent with universal law they take the absence of their miracle as evidence against miracles.
Do the work
That last phrase caught my attention. How many LDS singles have approached their desire for a miracle “doubting nothing”? Most of us have doubts, some so much so they’re consumed by them. And yet “doubting nothing” is part of the price of faith we must pay for admission to the miracle show.
That means we’ve got work to do. It’s no surprise then to see President Nelson’s next words:
How often have we advocated taking ownership of your life, or doing what’s in your power, or partnering with the Lord? Results come from only one thing — action. To score points, you must quit sitting on the sidelines and get on the field. So often the miracle we want is perfection delivered to our doorstep. In reality, we need to partner with the Lord, accept His guidance, and do the work that will create our miracle.
Trust His promises
So many LDS singles wanting a miracle are faint. They’re weary. They’re beat down by the vicissitudes of life that point their gaze towards their weaknesses and imperfections, leaving them to wonder how their miracle could ever happen.
But none of that matters when you partner with the Lord, for He “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” With Him, we can do anything, even move the mountain seemingly standing before us.
So yes, even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles. Believe they can happen for you. Partner with the Lord and do the work you must do to have your miracle. You can then live with confidence that in time your miracle will happen. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
How it started
My friend and I served in the same mission — in the same district, in fact. She and her companion were from Honduras. As my companion was also from Honduras, I got dragged into a small circle of Honduran expats serving the Lord across the border.
We all got along famously, but this particular sister and I really hit it off. We never broke any mission rules; we were completely appropriate in our interactions. And yet we each felt there was something special about each other.
I was in my last area when we met, and so before long the time came for me to go home. I had a wool blanket that had served me well but would not fit into any of my luggage. I had no choice but to leave it behind. I could have just left it for some future elder, but I chose instead to gift it to this sister. I remembered her remarking at our last district meeting how cold she was at night, and I felt prompted to gift her the blanket.
She received my surprise gift with great joy. And now all these years later, I’ve received her surprise gift with great joy this Christmas season as we have reconnected.
How it stopped
We kept in contact after I returned home. These were days when cellular phones were the size of bricks and email, though not new, was still in its infancy. And so our communication occurred through handwritten letters.
Because the postal system in many Latin American countries is unreliable, the Church made arrangements to organize its own postal service for missionaries called POUCH. (I’m sure that’s an acronym or has some significant meaning, but don’t ask me to know it, because I couldn’t tell you.) Though I was no longer a full-time missionary, she still was. And so POUCH worked out great.
We kept writing letters through POUCH after she returned home. Now neither one of us were full-time missionaries. For some reason, our letters continued to get exchanged, but it wasn’t to last. Eventually, my last letter was returned with a notice written on the outside of the envelope to use the regular postal service.
I totally understood. Using this system for missionaries while we weren’t missionaries put the whole system at risk of being shut down. And if you’ve served a mission, you know how important mail can be for maintaining motivation and morale. So I wasn’t going to argue. But I did miss my friend and the joy I felt in reading her letters.
How it continues
Now imagine my joy to see a Facebook message from that same friend after all these years. We quickly learned about each other’s careers in the intervening years. We shared stories about COVID and how the church has responded in each of our home countries. And we relived the joy of friendship we shared all those years ago. We picked up so well it was as though we had never lost contact.
Yes, miracles still happen. And what better time for a miracle than the Christmas season? This unexpected but warmly welcomed gift fills my heart with gratitude not only for my Christmas miracle but also for the greatest Christmas miracle of all. As the source of all good, He is everything. We have nothing without Him.
And so as we #LightTheWorld this Christmas season, let us open our hearts to the miracles that can unfold in our own lives. Miracles still happen, both during Christmas and all year round. When you open yourself to possibility and give freely to others, sooner or later others will give freely to you. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Part of what enabled him to do this is the Restoration’s fulfillment of the hopes of ancient prophets and saints. They looked forward to the Restoration as a time when all gospel blessings would be enjoined together. Indeed, we who live today have the glorious blessing of the fulness of the Lord’s gospel. And those fruits can enable us to have a perfect brightness of hope for ourselves, our world, and our future.
See the blessings
Elder Holland begins with a list of what he would be looking for in religion were he living in 1820. He and his wife imagined themselves transported back in time with the same spiritual longings that many of the world’s inhabitants have possessed throughout time.
Elder’s Holland’s list provides a wonderful review of the glorious truths restored to humanity — the true nature and character of God, a clearer understanding of God’s plan for His children and especially the role of the Savior in that plan, an additional scriptural witness that enhances one’s understanding of the Lord’s life and ministry, and true priesthood authority to dispense every ordinance required for salvation and exaltation.
Elder Holland saved the crowning blessing for last. In his own words, he would have searched
Indeed, the blessings which the temple extends to bind the living and the dead across eternity truly crown the joy which living the restored gospel offers. As Elder Holland declared,
Elder Holland then directs our attention towards the future. The fulfillment of the hope of ancient prophets and saints for their future can give us hope for the fulfillment of blessings in our future.
Conquering the COVID-19 crisis is perhaps the most immediate of those hopes for the world. But once we overcome that challenge — and Elder Holland assures we will — other challenges will remain, such as hunger, poverty, safer schools, and the eradication of prejudice. And of course, truly conquering those physical challenges will require the adoption of spiritual solutions, what Elder Holland called
Elder Holland then gets deeply personal, and here is where he packs his best punch.
Isn’t that what we all hope for? Many LDS singles hope for a more perfect life, yet marriage never made anyone’s life suddenly perfect. You simply exchange one set of challenges for another.
That said, the hope that marriage can improve one’s life is not unrealistic, especially if one (to borrow a phrase from President Oaks) “marries right.” We LDS singles, no matter our individual circumstances, can and should hope for the achievement of righteous blessings, not only even when that fulfillment seems impossible but especially when that fulfillment seems impossible.
Feel the hope
I suppose that’s why this Conference address touched me. I’m in my mid-40s having never been married. What hope do I have not just of finding the right type of person who would want to marry me but also of having a family of my own, not just one I inherit from a now severed relationship?
I think Elder Holland would say I have every reason to hope. And so do you. The God who has performed miracles in the past can and will perform miracles in our present and our future. I echo with Elder Holland the message of a returned sister missionary in Johannesburg: “[We] did not come this far only to come this far.” Great and glorious blessings await each of us as we stand firm in our faith and continually choose hope over despair.
Truly, the Restoration has blessed us all. The hope of past believers fulfilled gives us hope our present desires for righteous blessings will not be in vain. Choose that faith over fear. Choose that hope over despair. When we walk in the perfect brightness of that hope, we’ll progress towards our best life. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
I’ve been thinking recently about what I do here — this program, the blog, and everything connected to it. I’ve had such hopes and plans for helping LDS singles everywhere live better, more joyful lives. I still do.
Bit by bit, it’s all coming together. I’ve come so far since that very first blog post on 12/12/12. I’ve come so far from that first blog post on this website, the post in which I declared my desire for real in my life. I’ve come so far from providing audio clip readings of my posts. And I’ve got farther yet to go before I’m done.
These accomplishments and dreams inspire me. Yet my mind turns to those who could have such accomplishments and dreams but don’t. They don’t believe they’re meant for anything extraordinary. They don’t see how anything approaching greatness could ever involve them. The future they see holds no promise, no hope, and no joy.
If that describes you, I hope you listen closely to the program today. I have a special message just for you. And it’s this: Don’t you dare give up on yourself.
Choose your joy
I know the depths of depression, the darkness that can envelope a soul in despair so devoid of hope that one wonders how life could ever be joyful for any but the luckiest among us. But I also know that vision doesn’t have to represent anyone’s reality. You can choose your joy.
Once, my sense of “logic” would find such statements repugnant, not to mention incomprehensible. What I see now that I didn’t see then are the faulty assumptions underneath that thinking. Just because others believe something doesn’t make it true. Nor does it mean you have to believe it. You can believe what you want to believe.
And you can believe that what you believe and how you think will ultimately determine your reality. That’s how our brains are biologically hardwired. You can choose to think more effectively, to give yourself messages filled with positive energy, to put controls around your emotions, to choose your joy. You can choose your reality.
Let your light shine
Because you can choose your reality, you can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be a victor. You can choose to wallow within your own self-absorption. Or you can choose to look outside yourself to how you can bless the lives of others.
Think of what that means. We all posses the awesome potential for bringing goodness into the world, for making a real difference in the lives of others. That means you have that potential. You can inspire others to shine their lights bringing goodness into the lives of others when you shine your light bringing goodness into their lives.
But what would happen if you choose not to shine your light, not to make your contribution of goodness into the world? Would others falter because they never had the light you could shine? Would someone surrender to negativity because he or she didn’t have quite enough reserves to resist, reserves that would have been sufficient with your contribution?
The Master taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). What distance between God and individual men and women will not be shortened when you choose not to make your contribution?
Partner with Him
That’s why you should never dare to give up on yourself. It’s not about you; it’s about all of us. So when you give up on yourself, you’re giving up on the people who stand to benefit from the contribution you could make, a contribution only you can make. When you give up on yourself, you give up on all of the rest of us.
When many of us look our meager offerings, we wonder how so much could ever hang in the balance. How could our contribution ever be so important? The Lord’s disciples thought this way when they saw they had only five loaves and two fishes (see Matthew 14:17). How could so little feed so many? And yet in the hands of the Master it did. Likewise, the Master can work miracles in the lives of others as you follow His direction to give your contribution.
Don’t you dare give up on yourself! When life looks bleak, partner with the Lord. He will heal you so you believe in yourself and your contribution. He will lead you to those who need your contribution. And His hands will transform your contribution into miracles in their lives. You can bask in their love for you and for the Lord when you make that contribution you can make. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Elder Uchtdorf’s remarks are no exception. He begins by describing King Solomon’s trappings of worldly success — money, power, fame, prestige. But at the end of his life, King Solomon described his success as vanity. All his advantages weren’t enough to secure his happiness.
Many LDS singles experience something similar. Though they’ve many blessings surrounding them every day, because they focus excessively on the one blessing they lack, they too see life as vanity. They too wonder what really has worth when the blessings they want most continually seem out of reach.
Of course, it need not be that way. Life is wonderful and beautiful. And Elder Uchtdorf describes how we can capture that vision everyday when we believe, love, and do.
Everything starts with belief. That’s why faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. If we don’t believe, we’ll never receive.
That’s because true belief always motivates to action. You wouldn’t flip a light switch in a room if you didn’t believe the lights would come on. Everything you do is based on a belief that some result connected with your action will occur or could occur.
Elder Uchtdorf agrees. He declared,
I remember a time in my life when I wanted all the trite sayings about having a happy life to be more than just words but something I felt and lived every day. I wanted more than just the same old superficiality, pretending the life I wanted was just around the corner. In short, I wanted real.
I think that point comes into the life of all LDS singles who are single when they thought they wouldn’t be. Whether through divorce or death or just not marrying, LDS singles hunger for real in their lives.
But do you believe — I mean, really believe — you can get it? Do you believe the miracle you want to happen can happen? That it will happen? Belief is always the first step. If you don’t believe, you’ll never receive.
The belief God will perform a miracle for you becomes easier when you feel His love for you. This is why the Prophet Joseph Smith taught one cannot have faith in Christ without a true understanding of God’s character. It’s through God’s love we best realize all of God’s attributes.
That’s because, when we feel God’s love for us, that love simultaneously communicates every other attribute describing God. When you feel God’s love for you, you know more than just that He loves you. You know He’s good because His love is good. You know He’s kind because His love is kind. You know He’s compassionate because His love is compassionate. You know He’s merciful because His love is merciful. You know He’s just because His love is just.
Elder Uchtdorf declared,
John the Beloved spoke truly when he wrote, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:8). When you truly believe, you can reach out to Him and taste of His love.
Of course, love like faith prompts us to action. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the man or woman “filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his [or her] family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.” When we fully give ourselves to that effort, we can transcend any of life’s difficulties, including the challenges of LDS singles life.
That’s why I’ve long encouraged LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. When we partner with the Lord, a personal ministry can increase our belief in God and the miraculous blessings He wants to give us as well as provide opportunity for us to love those we serve the way God loves them. And when we allow the love of God to motivate us in fulfilling our personal ministry, we can feel for them the way God feels for them and see them the way He sees them.
Elder Uchtdorf invites,
I add my testimony to that of Elder Uchtdorft that when we truly believe with all our hearts, love God and others with all our hearts, and do the right things for us with all our hearts, we will not just feel happy but be happy. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
We all know Christmas time as the season of giving, and rightly so. We give gifts to friends and family because Christ gave the greatest gift ever. His sacrifice makes it possible for us all to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father.
I don’t know how many of us are thinking about Christ’s glorious gift when we gift that awful looking tie to a father, those bunny slippers to a mother, or that special toy to a child. But not all gifts of value come wrapped in paper and ribbon. Many of these gifts are more worthy of reminding us of the real reason why we give gifts this season.
The best part is that we all have those sorts of gifts to give. The worst part is that many of us fail to give those gifts. We compare our gifts with those others have to offer. Seeing ourselves lacking, we heed the persuasions of doubt and fear to hide away our contribution. “Who am I to offer anything meaningful?” we question.
Yet we best embrace the spirit of the season when we kick doubt and fear out the door and just do the good we can. When you ignore any insecurities you may feel about the quality of your gift and just give your gift, you’ll find the light of Christ burning brighter in the world as well as your own life.
Recognize your light
Nature teaches that every child has the potential to become as the parent. As sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father, we have the potential to become as perfect a Giver as He is. And we develop that potential by following Christ’s example.
The Savior always sought out the one. Sure, He fed 5000 with a few fish and five loaves of bread, but we have many more accounts of Him ministering to individuals: The woman at the well, the man born blind, the adulteress caught in the act, the woman with an issue of blood, His disciple Peter whom He instructed to feed His sheep — the list goes on and on.
Surely many of us will not be performing the miracles He performed. But we can all be a miracle in the life of someone who needs lifting to higher ground. We can share a smile, give a hug, offer a listening ear, and reach out with love and understanding. These acts may seem small, but they feed the needs we all have to feel loved, understood, and nourished.
Avoid the comparisons
Here many of us hold back from giving our gifts of love, compassion, hope, and positive energy. We compare our gift with what we see someone else offering, something we judge to be superior to our own gift. “Wouldn’t they want the better gift?” goes the rationalization.
We spend far too much time comparing ourselves to others in just about every way imaginable, so it’s no surprise we compare in the arena of gift giving as well. But the goodness of a gift doesn’t come from its superiority over other gifts. The goodness of a gift comes from the light and love which surround the gift. And only you can offer your unique combination of light and love to others.
Sources of light will vary, but any light is welcome in a dark room, no matter how dim or dispersed. In like manner, anyone living in a dark world will welcome any light into their lives. Any light will provide relief from any ominous burden of darkness. The sooner we quit comparing our gifts with those of others, the sooner we can offer our gifts to others and relieve them of that burden of darkness.
Make your contribution
Perhaps a unique gift of goodness you can make has entered your mind. Don’t suppress that generous thought. Don’t withhold your gift by delving into an endless debate of whether or not that idea came from God or your own thinking. If your offering brings goodness into the world, give your gift.
Just give. That’s the advice we all get from that little stream hurrying down the hill in a popular Primary song. That stream didn’t provide much water to the surrounding fields, and yet those fields grew greener still. Likewise, the gift you have to give, no matter its size, can bring love, light, and goodness into the lives of others.
This Christmas season, just give your gift. What can you do to lift someone’s burdens? What can you do to offer hope in brighter tomorrow? Even if your light is only a glimmer, when you give your gift, you make the world a better place. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
Sooner or later, everyone encounters hard times. It’s called mortality, and it’s part of the reason why we’re here. Overcoming challenges allows us to learn in ways we could not otherwise learn and to become what we otherwise could not become.
If we focus too much on our challenges, however, we can easily succumb to feelings of overwhelm and discouragement, even despair. Some people escape their doldrums by remembering that there is always someone who is worse off than they are. For some LDS singles who have struggled for years without promised blessings, it may seem difficult to believe that anyone has had it worse than they do.
And yet there are those who have had it worse. The scriptures provide an excellent example in Abraham. When you come to realize how much worse he had it, you can find the courage and resiliency to keep walking by faith. After all, most of us can’t touch Abraham’s experience.
By the standards of any age in world history, Abraham had a challenging life. He was once placed on an altar to be sacrificed, only to have an angel save him. He was constantly on the move, and in one of those places to which he moved, his brother died. He had to deal with apostasy in his father, a problem since he longed to have what his father’s ancestors had — priesthood authority passed down from father to son. Having a father who continually returned to idol worship didn’t really help much in that respect.
And yet, like life for all of us, it wasn’t all bad. He obtained priesthood authority from someone more righteous and more advanced in years than his father. He grew to become a rather wealthy man, leading a house with many servants. And somewhere in that mix he married Sarah, a wife he dearly loved.
But try as they might, infertility entered and would not leave. Whatever hopes Abraham had for a son to inherit from him must have slowly faded as the years went by one after the other with no change anywhere in sight. It’s understandable why Abraham fathered a son through Hagar, one of Sarah’s handmaidens. It seemed to be the only way to produce an heir.
Then came the Lord’s promise. After so many years of wanting and not having, Abraham received a promise from the Lord that he would have a son through his wife Sarah. He was 62 years old.
His wife Sarah was ten years his junior, so it’s no surprise that she laughed at the thought of giving birth to a son. Abraham also had his doubts. Those doubts would continue as they each got older. It was during this time that Abraham had a son through Hagar. What seemed incredible when the promise was made seemed even more so with each year passing thereafter.
But the Lord reaffirmed His promise would be fulfilled. And we all know how the story ends. Sarah did give birth to Abraham’s son Isaac. Sarah was ninety years old. Abraham had lived a full century.
I’m not suggesting that we need to live a full century before we see the fulfillment of the promises the Lord has made to each of us. Instead, I’m suggesting we live in faith, faith born from reflecting on Abraham’s position relative to our own.
Abraham was 62 years old when he first received the promise of a son and 100 years old when that promise was fulfilled. That means he had to wait 38 years for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to him. That’s a long time to wait.
And I’m willing to wager (though I’m not a betting man) that most of us waiting for the fulfillment of our own blessings have a ways to go before we can touch Abraham territory. I myself have been single for more than two decades. As long as that has been to endure, it’s only about half of what Abraham endured. Clearly, I can’t touch this.
Most LDS singles are in that same boat. As long as you’ve each waited for the fulfillment of your desired blessings, you haven’t waited anywhere near as long as Abraham had to wait. So you can’t touch this either.
The Lord pulled through for Abraham. He’ll pull through for each of us. As we continue to walk in faith that all of His promises will be fulfilled, He will send us many tender mercies to support us. We can feel the confidence that we will receive our promised blessings. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Because it’s always good to know what the living Prophet said in the last Conference, my selection wasn’t difficult to make. In “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” President Russell M. Nelson spoke of our increasing need to include personal revelation in our lives. And he did so by sharing experiences with revelation from his own life.
Later he revealed (pun intended) how we can best receive that revelation in our lives.
We all have questions that can be answered and challenges that can be solved with the divine inspiration that comes from revelation. But do we have the power-packed combination President Nelson offered?
Pure and obedient
Increased purity and exact obedience go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. We increase our purity only by aligning ourselves more closely to standards of truth, and that means obeying the commandments with more exactness.
I remember on my mission we were constantly encouraged to be “Ammon missionaries.” Ammon performed every command given him (Alma 18:10) and as a result had wonderful missionary opportunities open to him. Years later, many of the sons of the converts Ammon taught went to battle under Helaman’s command. Mormon ascribes their miraculous preservation in battle to their faith, which they had because “they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21).
How exact are we in our obedience? Are we unable to receive the revelation we need to do wonderful things because our tolerance for impurity is too low? Are we kept from our best life solely by the essential bits of information we might have received had we been more committed?
Seeking and feasting
Just as purity and obedience go hand in hand, so too do earnest seeking and feasting daily from the Book of Mormon. Earnest seekers of answers to questions and solutions to challenges will look to hear God’s voice through many channels. And an obvious channel is the scriptures.
And in no book of scripture can we hear the voice of heaven more clearly than in the Book of Mormon. This book was prepared for us in our day. The ancient prophet Alma the Younger instructed his son Helaman that the Lord was preparing the plates from which the Book of Mormon was later translated “that he may show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14). I believe part of that “power” is an increased capacity to hear the voice of God provide answers to our questions and solutions to our challenges.
Of course, we don’t always get answers and solutions just for the asking. Some times we’re left to struggle with our questions and challenges because that struggle will help us to grow in a way we other wouldn’t if we received everything on demand. But, as President Nelson promises,
Certainly these blessings come after we do our part. So how are we doing? Are we earnestly seeking for answers while feasting every day in the Book of Mormon?
Committed to temple and family history work
The final part of President Nelson’s power-packed combination is like icing on a cake. Temples are natural places of revelation, and the family history work that supports temple work naturally invites revelation. Both provide ways for us to practice the increased receptivity to revelation gained from increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, and daily feasting in the Book of Mormon.
I confess that lately I’ve been slacking here. There’s no reason why I can’t attend the temple weekly. In fact, I’ve never before had so little excuse not to attend weekly as I live conveniently to two temples. But like most things in life, if you don’t schedule the time to go and then commit to follow that schedule, life can easily crowd out family history and temple service.
That’s why I like President Nelson’s description: “regular time committed.” We need to establish a time when we will go to the temple and when we will participate in some aspect of family history work. And then we need to commit ourselves to follow through on our plans.
What questions do you need answered? What challenges do you need solved? Revelation can help. When we follow President Nelson’s counsel, that blessing can be ours. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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