Monday, May 16, 2011

Waiting on the Road to Damascus

(find the talk here)

I always love listening to President Dieter F. Uchtdorf speak. I don’t know if it is his German accent which reminds me of my days living in the German house and associating with native German speakers, or if it is his mastery of the English language, or his aviation stories, or his amazing testimony – probably a combination of all of the above.

With my love of listening to President Uchtdorf, you would think that I had heard this talk at General Conference in April. Well, I don’t really remember it. I remember maybe hearing part of it (the part about texting to people that he hadn’t given an aviation analogy in his talk) but other than that I was probably trying to keep the kids from fighting, or drawing on the walls, or spilling their snacks everywhere.

So I am very grateful to Steph at Diapers and Divinity for posting this talk for the General Conference Book Club this week. And I can’t wait to listen to this talk on my run (playlist of choice for my runs? General Conference – of course!)

President Uchtdorf talked about how some of us wait on the road to Damascus for a vision like Paul received, or like Joseph Smith received in the sacred grove. Instead of actively seeking the Lord, we wait for Him to come to us.

I don’t want to be waiting. I don’t want to wait for something spectacular to build my testimony – I want to be actively seeking the Lord.

I am reminded of the Primary song

“I’ll seek the Lord early while in my youth
and He will help me to know the truth.
I’ll search the scriptures and find Him there,
then go to our Father in fervent prayer.

I’ll seek the Lord early and I’ll obey
His living prophets in all they say
I’ll keep His commandments; His love will abound
I will seek the Lord early and He will be found.”

President Uchtdorf testified, “The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him.” I am continually impressed with all of the doctrines that are taught in the Primary songs. And I first learned this Primary song when I was very very young – but the words have stuck with me.

I am glad that I was taught to seek the Lord in my youth, but I think that as I have grown, both in age, and in the gospel, I have not been seeking the Lord as diligently as I once was. I go through periods in my life when I am actively seeking the Lord, and then I have other periods in my life where I wait on the road to Damascus. And then I hear a talk like President Uchtdorf’s, and it kicks me in to action, so to speak.

I loved the following analogy by President Uchtdorf, especially because I was blessed to attend the Carl Bloch exhibit at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art last month with my husband.

“[T]hose who diligently seek to learn of Christ … will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.”

Definitely my testimony of the Savior has come to me this way – quietly, gently, almost unnoticed. In fact, sometimes I forget that I even have a testimony of the Savior because it was built so quietly and so gently, and came in such small pieces. And, like a puzzle, sometimes some of the pieces get knocked off the table, or swept under the couch, and my portrait of the Savior has a few holes that I just can’t seem to fill in.

President Uchtdorf mentioned a few things we can do to move forward with faith and seek the Lord diligently. He mentioned that we should hearken and heed, serve, and share.

Among these, the hearken and heed is probably the hardest for me. I feel like I am not very good at understanding or hearing the promptings of the Spirit, and because of that, I don’t feel like I do a very good job heeding those promptings. I want to receive promptings from the Spirit, but sometimes I doubt that I will be able to recognize them, let alone follow the direction I might receive.

Perhaps I would be wise to follow the counsel of President Uchtdorf – “To better hear His voice, it would be wise to turn down the volume control of the worldly noise in our lives.” Anyone with one preschooler, let alone multiple preschoolers, will know that turning down the volume is hard, if not impossible. Of course, President Uchtdorf means more than just physical noise. He is also talking about all of the worldly distractions – books, TV shows, blogs, music, activities, even sometimes our thoughts can be distractions. One of the ways I get around this is by spending some quiet time by myself each morning studying the gospel, praying, and writing down my thoughts. I should incorporate more quiet time throughout the day, though. Too often I have my scripture study at the beginning and end of my day, but rarely do I take a few minutes to check in with Heavenly Father during the day. Mostly that only happens on the most trying days with my children when I am about to lose my temper and I give myself a little “count-to-ten” time out. Most of the time, while I am counting to ten, I am also praying for guidance and patience as a mother. I don’t always feel a strong impression about what to do, but the few moments of prayer always bring a better sense of calm to my spirit, and I am able to think a little more clearly. But I should try to have those quiet moments more than just at the craziest times of my day. I should frequently stop and check in. Perhaps that will help me turn down the volume on the worldly noise, and help me feel those promptings more frequently.

When President Uchtdorf spoke about serving, he quoted President Spencer W. Kimball who said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.” I love this, because I believe strongly that we are frequently the answers to each others prayers. I have had friends, family members and others be the answer to my prayers, and I have been in the position to be the answer to the prayers of those around me. There is nothing more touching than being the answer to someone’s prayers. We must serve each other and get to know each other and notice when people need helps because “It is usually through another person that [God] meets our needs.”

I loved when President Uchtdorf talked about how his family shared the gospel. He said that when their friends and coworkers would ask about how their weekend was, they would skip the usual details like events, activities, and the weather, and share some spiritual experience instead. They would talk about what a speaker shared in sacrament meeting, or a gospel principle that helped them with a challenge. I love that he added “We tried not to be preachy or overbearing.” I struggle with that a lot. I love to share my testimony and talk about the gospel and its application in my life, but I feel that often I come across as preachy and overbearing. This is another of my goals – to sound less preachy and overbearing.

In his closing remarks, President Uchtdorf quotes one of my favorite scriptures, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” I want to believe. I want to seek the Lord, so that I can see Him piece by piece in my life. It won’t come all at once, I know, but if I can remember the words of the Primary song, “I’ll keep His commandments, His love will abound, I will seek the Lord early and He will be found” – I know that I will find him.

Do you seek the Lord? How do you recognize the promptings that you receive? Have you had a prayer answered by the service of others? Have you been the answer to someone’s prayer by your actions? Do you share the gospel with those around you? How do you try not to be preachy and overbearing? Have you found the Lord?

Find more great comments on President Uchtdorf’s talk over at the General Conference Book Club on Diapers and Divinity:

1 comment:

  1. What beautiful thoughts. Thanks for sharing them here, and over at the GCBC. I, too, love the Primary song, "I'll Seek the Lord Early," and know that its message is true. Being able to recall the peace of an earlier time in your life is a wonderful blessing, and definitely helps making traveling the path to our eternal home a bit easier.


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