by Kari Diane Pike
Thinking about all the events of the past year boggles my mind! I don't know anyone who has escaped 2009 unscathed. I don't mean to sound morbid or despairing, I'm just acknowledging that we have all experienced a challenging year. In fact, I am looking forward to celebrating not only our survival, but our growth.
Feelings of despair sent me to bed early a few nights ago. All throughout the day I gave in to thoughts of "If Only...", "I should have...", "What if I had...", "Why didn't I...". I crawled into bed and opened up the January 2010 Ensign, hoping to read an uplifting story that would relax my mind and allow me to sleep. I barely began to read Elder Holland's article, "The Best Is Yet To Be," when the still small voice reminded me I had not yet said my evening prayers. I figured I would finish reading the article and then I would get out of my warm, comfy bed and say prayers before I went to sleep. I started reading the article again, from the beginning, but I didn't get past the second paragraph before the voice came back, only this time with greater force. Experience has taught me to heed these kind of promptings, although why it mattered when I said my prayers escaped my understanding. I knelt beside the bed with feelings of curiosity mixed with a bit of anticipation and fear. By the time I slipped back under the covers, my heart overflowed with peace and gratitude. I dried my tears and commenced reading Elder Holland's words.
The article begins by referencing Genesis 19:26 where Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt. Lot had been commanded to flee and "Look not behind thee...lest thou be consumed." Elder Holland points out that it wasn't just that Lot's wife looked back, but that we can infer that she looked back "longingly." I searched the references to these scriptures and found a message that hit me between the eyes with such force--a force that didn't create pain, but took my pain away--as I realized I had been doing just that, looking back and blaming myself for "everything." I recognized that Heavenly Father guided and blessed us all along the way. Did I make mistakes? uh...yeah. But I also tried hard to make the right choices--to comply with the Lord's will--and things just turned out differently than I had envisioned.
Luke 14:16-24 tells the parable of the great supper. "A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground and I must needs go and see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." The master became angry and commanded his servant to go out and invite the poor and the needy to his home. Verse 24 ends with, "For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
I find it interesting that those friends invited to the supper felt they had very legitimate reasons for not accepting the invitation. I wonder how many times I have been invited by the Lord to receive blessings at His hand, yet I declined because I kept looking back at what I would be leaving behind, instead of what the Lord wanted to set in front of me. Now, through Elder Holland's teaching, and the sweet power of prayer, I can see the need to look forward and have faith that there are even greater blessings in the future, should I choose to accept the invitation.
I am currently taking a class from BYU on the Proclamation. Here is a thought from the textbook Strengthening our Families : "[We] become more like Him [Father in Heaven] as [we] learn to love as He loves. [We] love--not as [others] become more lovable, but as [we] are increasingly filled with His love." (pg.116) I am grateful for His love--that He loves me enough to have the Spirit bring me to my knees in humble prayer and open my eyes and understanding to the messages sent through His prophets and apostles, both ancient and living.
In the words of a famous writer--God bless us every one!
a very happy and blessed new year to all of you!