27 July 2010

*You* Are the Miracle

I can't tell you how many times that I've read Moses 1:39 and wondered how I fit into God's work and glory--or if I fit at all. My best friend Judy has often told me that we, His children, are His work and glory...but I've never been certain what that means either.

On Sunday evening, BYU-TV (my favorite television station!) replayed a March 2010 BYU-H devotional and I heard the answer I needed, that made everything "click" for me: *we*, Heavenly Father's children, are His miracles, we are His work, and e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g He does is for us. The miracles He accomplishes in this life are *for us*, for our benefit, to bring us closer to Him.

Now the scripture in Ether chapter 3 makes more sense to me: "and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him" (Ether 3:18).

The Lord knows who I am and He knows how I am taught (primarily through hearing the words of others in devotionals and talks). I know He prepared me through experiences and hearing the words of others' testimonies to the point that I could accept the testimony for myself. I am grateful for His patience and how willing He is to teach me--especially when I'm so slow to hearken and understand!

These are the words from the BYU-H devotional:
I had always planned on coming back to BYU–Hawaii after that semester away, but because of my financial situation, coming back became impossible. I could barely afford to stay in school at home, much less in Hawaii. I struggled constantly with the fear that I might never get back, and though I'm ashamed to admit it, I let fear overcome me and sometimes forgot how to use my faith. But through the patience and faith of my beautiful mother and family, fasting, heartfelt prayers, father's blessings, and by turning to stories of great people in the scriptures, especially Abraham, I regained my faith in the Lord's plan and his ability to fulfill the righteous desires of my heart in his own way and time. Only when I regained this faith and trust in the Lord was he able to "stretch forth [his] hand" (Doctrine & Covenants 121:4) and perform miracles in my behalf. I stand here today as proof that the God we worship is a God of miracles. I still don't understand how he made it all work out, but he brought me back here with a job, scholarships, and tremendous support from my extended family.

I realize that my story may be similar to many of yours, that the Lord had a hand in bringing each of us here and that he had to move some pretty huge mountains to make it happen. However, may I submit that the Lord's greatest accomplishment is not moving the mountains of expensive plane tickets or tuition or housing. In my situation, his greatest miracle was me. My changed heart became a tool for him to work with and my faith gave me power to trust in his plan. He says that his work and his glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Do you understand what he is saying? His greatest miracle is you.

In Isaiah 55:8-9, the Lord tells us, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." We know that His knowledge is perfect, that he sees everything with a perfect perspective, including how far we have come and how much further we can go. May I suggest two tools the Lord works with to help us achieve our greatest potential. Or, in other words, two key factors in becoming the Lord's greatest miracle. The first is a heart full of desire and the second is a pair of hands ready to serve....

Many times, we overlook the power of a righteous desire. Elder Sterling W. Sill states, "A consuming desire is the greatest qualification for any success...If our desire is strong enough, accomplishment is assured…. Desire is the quality that makes us want to ‘do many things of [our] own free will' (D&C 58:27). The desire clause is the power clause. God grants to us ‘according to [our] desires' (Alma 29:5)." (Sterling W. Sill, "The Success Formula of Section 4," New Era, Sep 1985, 4)

Oftentimes, we think that we are only allowed to ask for those things that we absolutely need, that praying for what we want is somehow outside the limits of our Father in Heaven's capability or that he has already given us so much that it would be selfish to ask for more. I can testify that, not only is the Lord completely capable, but he aches to satisfy the righteous desires of our hearts. Look at examples in the scriptures. One of them is found in 3 Nephi 28, where Christ is having a final conversation with his apostles in the Americas before returning to His Father.

All twelve of the apostles desire something of the Savior. Nine of them request the following: "We desire that after we have lived unto the age of man that our ministry, wherein thou hast called us, may have an end, that we may speedily come unto thee in thy kingdom." He responds, "Blessed are ye because ye desired this thing of me; therefore, after that ye are seventy and two years old ye shall come unto me in my kingdom; and with me ye shall find rest." He then turns to the three remaining apostles, who stand, like many of us, afraid to voice their desires. But listen to what happens next. "And he said unto them: Behold, I know your thoughts, and ye have desired the thing which John, my beloved, who was with me in my ministry, before that I was lifted up by the Jews, desired of me. Therefore, more blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death" (3 Nephi 28:6-7).

All twelve of the apostles had their righteous desires granted; three of them were even granted immortality – talk about miracles! Elder Holland teaches, "God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams…But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe" (Jeffrey R. Holland, "This, the Greatest of All Dispensations," Ensign, Jul 2007, 52–58). The three Nephites were willing to dream and willing to believe and it resulted in a miracle.

Many of us may fear the risk of having our hearts broken by an unmet desire; however, I tend to agree with the alchemist in Paulo Coehlo's book who responds to his young friend's fears with these words: "Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity" (The Alchemist). I testify that God is ever-present in our righteous desires and that he performs miracles in order to fulfill them. Those "encounter[s] with God and with eternity" strengthen our faith in him, reassure our hearts of his love and watchfulness, and shape us into our Heavenly Father's greatest miracle. 
-- Emily Judson, BYUHSA presidency, "Reaching Your Greatest Potential," Brigham Young University-Hawaii devotional, 30 March 2010 (emphasis added).

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