I have always assumed that if I have to know God in order to be saved then I am doomed. How can I, as a finite and flawed individual, come to know and comprehend someone like God? My understanding began to be enlightened the other night when I awoke at 2:00 a.m. I had only been asleep for a couple of hours.
Let me back up a bit and fill you in. I have had an ongoing sleep issue for a number of years. It was getting better and I was actually sleeping through the night most of the time, until just a couple of weeks ago. I have had a major setback, and now I can’t sleep more than about 2 hours in a stretch, if I am lucky.
Just yesterday I went in to take a nap, because I had only gotten about three hours of sleep the night before. I laid down and went to sleep. When I woke up I went into the living room and my wife’s first comment to me was, “I thought you were going to take a nap.” I said, “Didn’t I?” She said, “No, you just barely went into the bed room.” Sigh.
At any rate, I went to bed around midnight last night and when I awoke and it was dark, my first thought was, “Oh please, let it be at least 2:00 a.m.” I looked at the clock and it was 1:58 a.m. Grrr! I silently asked the Lord why He couldn’t have let me sleep longer.
My reply was instant, and it surprised me. The thought came into my mind that the Lord doesn’t work that way. I won’t get into the minutia of my personal conversation with myself, but here is the gist.
First lesson learned
The thought came to me that the Lord doesn’t interfere with the natural operations of our bodies, except in special circumstances. There are lessons to be learned by us learning to cope with what happens to us while in mortality. If He interrupted every inconvenient process in our lives we wouldn’t learn much while here. I have to figure out on my own how to handle my insomnia.
This reminded me of another somewhat recent conversation I had with the Lord about a project I was working on. I had been doing a monotonous task for quite a while (at least is sure seemed like it was taking forever) and I suddenly noticed that I had gotten the pattern wrong in what I was making. I had to undo about an hour’s worth of work to fix my mistake then spend more than an hour of work to make sure I did it right this time.
I thought to myself, the Lord knows when I made my mistake, why didn’t He let me know at the time so I wouldn’t have to redo everything? I made my mistake all His fault. Again one of those pesky thoughts came into my head and it said that if the Lord corrected me every time I made a mistake I would resent Him for micro managing my life.
The real lesson was that I needed to pay closer attention to what I was doing. I had no business blaming Him for my mistake. I should be more careful. As it was, I finally finished the project, but had to redo about a third of it because of my carelessness.
In John 17:3 we are told that we have to know God and Jesus Christ in order to have eternal life.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I have always wondered how we were supposed to be able to come to know God and Jesus Christ so well that we would gain eternal life from that relationship. It wasn’t until my latest episode with insomnia that this mystery began to be unraveled for me.
When I married my wife, Elaine, we had many struggles at first. It was my second marriage, but her first. She was 45 years old, with an adopted daughter, and with the marriage inherited having to deal with my four children. As if the marriage situation wasn’t hard enough my kids were horrible to her. It is a miracle that we were able to stay married.
One day when we were in the middle of a domestic melt down of some sort, I was seriously questioning what I had done to uproot my children and move them from the mainland to Hawaii and give them a new sibling and mother all at one time. In the middle of my distress I had a distinct revelation. The Spirit said to me, “She has a good heart.” With that short sentence the eyes of my understanding were opened and I knew that I was in the wrong.
I had been judging her too harshly for things that were happening. I was assuming intent where nothing of the sort existed. My own heart softened, and I have clung to that piece of advice ever since. Each time I question her intent or her actions, and my desire is to think harsh thoughts, I remember that I have been told by God himself that her heart is good. I can take that to the bank. Whatever else I may want to bring myself to believe gets trashed and trumped by that one truth from God. That one sentence may have saved my marriage.
Knowing in a marriage
In a marriage it takes time and experience with someone to get to know them for who they really are. There is no way to really know someone without suffering with them, working with them, sacrificing for them, waiting patiently for them, and asking for forgiveness many times.
This process of getting to know and appreciate the true value of our spouse is the same process we have to go through with the Lord. We can never know God unless we learn to trust in His integrity. We have to learn to be patient with His timing. Sometimes He comes through for us right away, but sometimes it may be years before we learn or get what we wanted from Him.
We have to learn to recognize when we have offended His sensibilities, and we have to care enough to ask forgiveness for our thoughtless actions. He does things for us all the time, but do we express thanks for all those kindnesses? Do we show proper appreciation to our spouse for all he/she does for us?
Marriage is a process of refining our relationship with our spouse. We come to truly know their worth infinitely better through the trials we face together. The puppy love of our first bloom is nothing compared to the mature love we experience in our later years when we have to care for each other as our health fails, our memories go out the window, and we have suffered much together. We have built by then a bond that new love can only hope for.
When we go through this same experience with our Lord while in His service, we come to understand how He feels about things, what He expects from His children, and how He wants us to act and feel as well. After years of learning to trust in Him and His ways, we find that through our obedience to His laws and the promptings of the His Spirit, He can also trust us. Our confidence waxes (grows) in our relationship, and our faith becomes more rock solid.
Known and being known
Is it any wonder that in both the New Testament and in Moroni statements like the following are made? Moroni 7:48
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Who sees your spouse as he or she is, but you who has come to know them so intimately over the years of sacrifice and love? Who can know God and Jesus Christ, but they who have loved and sacrificed for them? There really is no mystery to this. The process of coming to know the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent is the same as the process by which we come to know and value anyone.
The process is service and sacrifice, humility and patience. It is gaining experience with each other and coming to appreciate all that the other person has done for us. I may have stumbled upon this process with my own spouse, but now that I understand how it is done, I don’t have to stumble around in the dark when it comes to learning how to come to know God and Jesus Christ. I guess it is time to get to work in earnest.