Early in his talk, Elder Andersen shares the story of a struggling missionary who has decided to return home:
"We sat together in the mission president’s home. The missionary told me about his challenging childhood, of learning disorders, of moving from one family to another. He spoke sincerely of his inability to learn a new language and adapt to a new culture. Then he added, “Brother Andersen, I don’t even know if God loves me.” As he said those words, I felt a sure and forceful feeling come into my spirit: “He does know I love him. He knows it.”
"I let him continue for a few more minutes, and then I said, “Elder, I’m sympathetic to much of what you’ve said, but I must correct you on one thing: you do know God loves you. You know He does.”
"As I said those words to him, the same Spirit that had spoken to me spoke to him. He bowed his head and began to cry. He apologized. “Brother Andersen,” he said, “I do know God loves me; I do know it.” He didn’t know everything, but he knew enough. He knew God loved him. That priceless piece of spiritual knowledge was sufficient for his doubt to be replaced with faith. He found the strength to stay on his mission."
I've watched and listened to this talk multiple times, and every single time a sob catches in my throat at “He does know I love him. He knows it.” I spent a lot of years believing that because God didn't answer my prayers the way that I wanted, that he didn't love me. And yet, like this struggling missionary, I have known all along that God does love me. I gained a sure testimony of my Heavenly Father's love at 19 years of age. But somewhere along the way, I somehow forgot that lesson.
:Licks pencil and adds to the already long list of things to repent of:
Elder Anderson continues:
"Brothers and sisters, we each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty."
Ahh... how true that is. Those powerful moments of witness have been frustratingly rare in my 39 1/2 years of life, especially when compared to the seemingly endless times of trial. However, remembering what I do know has made all the difference during the difficult stretches. Because, as Elder Andersen said, "Faith is not only a feeling; it is a decision." A decision to continue attending church meetings even when it seems pointless; to continue praying even when it seems that no one is listening; to obey commandments that make no sense to my mortal mind and seem to benefit me not at all.
It is during times like that I think of the words of C.S. Lewis:
"[The devil's] cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do [God's] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
I wonder if maybe that's the major part of this test of mortality--to see how we will react when things don't go the way we planned. Like my husband said the other day: "We've already proven in the pre-earth life that we will obey when in the presence of God. We are here to demonstrate that we will obey when we're out on our own." Or something like that. It sounded much more profound when he said it.
Life is not so dark now as it once was. And while my challenges are certainly not over, remembering what little I do know (and that it is indeed enough) helps me keep my perspective while I wait for the day when I will see things as they really are.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about this talk. Please discuss.