Monday, March 30, 2009

When Storm Clouds Threaten

A lot of the people I know and love are struggling these days. The times we live in are difficult at best, with morality on the wane, economic woes on the rise, and too many consciences stuck in neutral. Sometimes our hearts and homes seem besieged by clouds...looming over the horizon and threatening to destroy our peace.

I've had numerous calls lately from family and friends who are being assailed by forces beyond their control, and the news is pretty daunting. As pictured above, lately I've felt the storm clouds pressing in on my own space, too, though I am doing my best to visualize them as white and fluffy, with a few breaks of blue. Still, I am more aware than ever of my need for guidance and support from a loving Father in Heaven, who knows and understands my needs. I am also grateful for a Savior whose ability to lift me up is infinite, if I am willing to call upon it. In his conference talk, "Jesus Christ: Our Savior and Redeemer," Ezra Taft Benson reminds us that "Because He descended below all things (see D&C 122:8), He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties. Indeed, there is no human condition––be it suffering, incapacity, inadequacy, mental deficiency or sin--which He cannot comprehend or for which His love will not reach out to the individual."

I know these inspired (and inspiring) words are true, but occasionally I get so busy coping, in the moment, that I neglect to call upon the divine assistance I need. I guess you could say I fail to "see the Light." The following story is one example. 

Many years ago, I got into an elevator at my daughter's orthodontist. As the door closed, I realized there was no light. We would be making the ride in pitch blackness. gulp I was immediately uncomfortable, anxious, and a little bit claustrophobic. It was the slowest ride I've ever taken...and it happened to be in one of those old, creaky, groaning models that take forever and basically make you fear for your life. Believe me, I would have been open to anyone or anything that could have changed or improved my situation. Of course, the funniest (and most telling) part of the story is that when we got to our floor, and after I had finished complaining to my daughter about how much I didn't like the experience, she simply reached over my head, turned on the elevator's light switch, and said in a patient but long-suffering voice, "All you have to do is flip it on, Mom."

It had never even occurred to me that there was such an obvious solution! Like the followers of Moses who were beset by serpents, I had only to look up, but I did not. It was too easy, too simple an answer to a problem that appeared insurmountable (see 1 Nephi 17:41, Alma 37:46). The Psalmist tells us, "For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light" (Psalms 36:9). And we will see light, but we do need to look for its source––and sometimes, to exercise patience. Neal A. Maxwell said patience is "a willingness, in a sense, to watch the unfolding purposes of God with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than pacing up and down in the cell of our circumstances." I certainly paced up and down in the cell of my elevator, and I want you to know it wasn't a bit helpful!

"Wonder and awe" is appropriate, even when looking at storm clouds, because we are never alone in our trials, not ever. He is always there to lead, guide and walk beside us, yet sometimes we struggle without a sense of purpose and direction. Have you ever seen a beetle turned on its back? It may struggle for hours in an attempt to right itself. A lot of activity and movement is taking place, but little of it is fruitful. While we could turn the bug over with one nudge, it has no awareness or ability to call us over for help. It either gives up entirely or continues to struggle futilely, often expiring in the effort. When we are struggling, do we remind ourselves that Someone is standing by to help us? Do we avail ourselves of that ability to request and receive help?

The choice is ours. We can either "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and all men" (2 Nephi 31:20), or we can "stress forward," feeling very little hope or love at all. Fortunately, we need never yield to such a condition. As children of God, hope and love are always available to us, at His hand. No matter what storm clouds may threaten, His Light will always prevail. 

The Promise

©1999 by Susan Noyes Anderson, Awaken Your Spiritual Power

The sun will rise each day, and night will fall.
We here can only wait, and watch, and see.
It is not ours to tamper with the flow
Of nature, nor mistrust her majesty.
'Twas other hands, not ours, whose heavenly light
Kindled eternal splendor in the skies;
Another whispers peace unto our minds
When darkness looms before our faltering eyes.
And listening, we somehow come to know
That in the midst of darkness, even then,
He sends the moon and stars to light our way,
And promises the sun will rise again.

"Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended." Isaiah 60:20


jen said...

This is just what a friend of mine needs right now. Thanks again for lifting my day!

Momza said...

You are exactly right! The Choice is Ours! Oh how we need to remember that powerful statement!
Thank you for the great reminder!

Lisa said...

That was beautiful. You are an exceptional writer.. so glad I found you (and the fact that you are in the Bay Area adds the frosting on a sweet delicious cake). May I quote your fun elevator story?

Natalie said...

I love the elevator story!!
Your poem was beautiful. As always, you inspire with your wit and wisdom!

K2cole said...

I am glad you reminded me of the 'choice' - I wonder if sometimes Satan isn't helping us get bogged down in 'have tos' instead of saying that word (No).

I got my book today - Thank you

em said...

i love that you are a published poet. i know a famous person! pork loin is coming for me, must send my comment before he attacks my keyboard, ahhhh!!!

Lisa Loo said...

It seems like I am surrounded by the story of Moses and the serpent lately--I need to go pray and find out why!

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