In my first logic class at BYU I learned about a basic argument form called modus ponens (MP):
1) If A, then B
This week I’ve been thinking about lots of B’s…principles I don’t understand, decisions that are intimidating with possibilities and consequences I can’t quite see my way to. But then I keep coming back to my A: Hard things, especially hard things undertaken in faith and obedience, give me experience and will be for my good.
Why do I do the B’s? Why should I do them? Do I believe in the B’s? Well I know I believe in A. Confusion, doubt, risk, humility, obedience, pain, sacrifice – they all accrue to my benefit, even if it takes a long time to gain the perspective necessary to recognize that benefit.
Not everything about the gospel follows simply and logically from A, but A gives me confidence that just about any B will work out in the end. If I leave the B’s to the Lord and focus on my faith in Him, A is enough.
So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene – one step enough for me.
My uncle wrote a great post on his blog a few weeks ago describing a time when his terminally ill father was visited by President Monson. In speaking to this man, President Monson explained that he had just been at a meeting with the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12, and that, “as we prayed your name was read aloud and we united our faith in your behalf.”
At first I thought how awe-inspiring and comforting it would be to know that prophets and apostles were praying for you by name. But then I realized that I can’t imagine drawing any greater degree of comfort from prayers on my behalf than I have previously felt knowing that important people in my life have been praying for me.
A few years ago my aunt let me know that my cousin (her daughter, who must have been less than 6 at the time) had mentioned me in their family prayers that night. I didn’t write this down at the time so I’m not sure where I was or what I was doing exactly, but I do know that I was miserable and I probably wasn’t doing much praying. I also know that neither my aunt nor this little cousin had any idea of how I was feeling or what was going on. So I was absolutely amazed that someone was praying for me, without my asking them, without my praying for myself, and even more so that this prayer was said by a child I rarely saw and didn’t know all that well.
The prayer didn’t solve my problems or cheer me right up or even instigate a powerful spiritual experience. But it was a reminder that I was known and remembered, and it was an experience I kept going back to over the years. It was one of the milestones along my circuitous path back to faith that was solid and undeniable, and in that sense mattered a great deal.
I’ve had some great experiences wherein I’ve felt really blessed by the prayers of others recently, both after asking for prayers and maybe even more meaningfully, finding out that prayers were already being said for me without my even needing to ask.
Whether it’s a prophet or small child, I believe prayers said on my behalf mean something and matter if for no other reason than that I feel supported, comforted, and remembered knowing those prayers are happening as I’m working through hard stuff.
I was listening to church music today when I caught the phrase the goal is in sight which is in the third verse of Do What is Right. And suddenly I was thinking of all the moments over the last few months, weeks even, that brought me to where I am. Something I have always struggled with is seeing how the Lord has guided me. I believe He has, but it’s been difficult to point to specific instances.
I can look back at a conversation with my uncle that started because of a random blog post I came across on Facebook. Then there was an important conversation with my aunt, an unheard of opportunity/excuse to be alone and away from regular life for a day at Lake Powell, conversations with a friend, a conversation with another aunt and uncle, a testimony meeting, and pretty unmistakable moments of feeling the spirit throughout all of that. Those conversations could have gone lots of ways, going to Lake Powell alone that first time actually didn’t make a lot of sense with everything else I was doing, going to my uncle’s cabin late after a long Saturday just to spend time with him and his wife didn’t make a lot of sense and was definitely outside the norm, going to my parents’ Ward out of the blue on a fast Sunday had never happened before, and then talking with a friend about these deeply personal things, despite not having been all that close to this friend previously.
So… I can see the hand of the Lord in all of that. It wouldn’t have all happened that way just as a matter of coincidence, and I certainly didn’t plan it. So wow! What a great feeling to realize it’s finally happening, after eight years of being a wandr’er in the paths of sin, with a wounded heart, anger and malice, having drawn myself apart and having searched my soul to no avail…I want to jump up and down but also wait and see. Nothing is ever done. A friend asked me if I have the spirit in my life, and the more I thought about that question, the more I realized I do. I have experienced a change of heart, and in response to Alma’s question, yes I can feel so now!