December 2014 ~ Dear Miss Mormon

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Fourth Watch God

Dear Miss Mormon,
I feel like I am a good person, but I struggle to know whether or not God thinks so too.  How do I know when God forgives me?

Dear friend,
So I think I've already proven that I don't have all the answers. Just like you I'm learning and finding my answers to life in textbooks and on the back of cereal boxes (I kid, I kid).
But I have found someone who has already learned every mystery of life--possibly even the universe. His name is S. Michael Wilcox and I have such a spiritual crush on him. He's going to help me answer your question today through the words of his lecture/podcast"When My prayers Seem Unanswered" (is that cheating?)
**if you don't finish reading this, at least listen to the podcast, its a bit long but worth it! (55 min)

i just discovered this podcast this week and have since listened to it repeatedly:

-in my car
-getting ready in the morning
-walking around my house...pretty much anywhere and everywhere

S. Michael Wilcox (let's just call him Mike, he's talked at me for days now through my speaker, so I think we're on a nickname basis now) teaches us about God's timing and answering our prayers by describing an event in the New Testament where it becomes clear that we worship a fourth watch God. 

I'll explain:
The Hebrew night is roughly divided into four segments—or watches. In the book of Mark, the apostle gives an account in which Christ sends His apostles off in a ship, intending to follow them later. They sail all night contending with a storm—in fact, Mark says “the wind was contrary to them and they toiled in rowing against the wind.” They did this all night until finally, in the fourth watch, He comes. Now normally, as a general rule, we tend to be first watch children. We’re impatient, we get nervous, and sometimes we start to doubt if God doesn’t come in the first or second watch.

But Heavenly Father is a fourth watch God.

For whatever reason in His infinite wisdom, He seems to wait until the point of greatest darkness, just before day break, to come, but without fail He always comes.

Now Mike also points out that there is a time when God is a first watch kinda guy and that is when it comes to forgiveness. When I heard that the first time I quickly thought back on my repentance record and saw the same pattern in my life--God has always forgiven me in the first watch. The hard part in it all is allowing ourselves to be forgiven. We tend to be much harder on ourselves than I believe our Heavenly Father is on us. The prophet Isaiah said it best when speaking messianically he said "I will not forget thee". There is nothing you or I can do to lose God's love or to cause him to not accept our humble plea for mercy.

As soon as we want to change, as soon as we turn toward Him and say "I want to do this right", its in that very first watch that He comes to us. 

Wherever you are in your voyage, however long you have been contending with the winds and toiling in rowing, know that God is aware of you and loves you and is coming. He will not let you sink, He will not let you be dashed upon the rocks shipwrecked and abandoned, you are His, you are numbered, and though He is a fourth watch God, 

He is also your Father.

With much love,
Miss Mormon

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Monday, December 8, 2014

I am LDS and I know the Book of Mormon is true. I have a brother and sister that try and convince other family that it is not true. What do I do?

Dear friend,
 Let me just set this stage for you:

I was sitting outside in a backyard at a table, across from me sat a very smug and confident man with a manila envelope sitting between us in the middle of the table that seemed to be smiling almost as smugly as the man. I came thinking he wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon and the good news we had to share with him, to strengthen his faith and help him find greater joy; but he had other ideas for our discussion. He quickly explained the rules to our conversation, I was not allowed to pray, only he could, and I could not share anything from the Book of Mormon. He then explained that I was on trial, and the only evidence I could use was the 36 pages of false information he had found on the internet and so kindly packaged in a clean, flat manila envelope--the very envelope in front of me. With the rules stated he sat back and offered me the floor to "state my case".

At least you had the stage set for you, here I thought I was outside at a picnic table, instead I was immediately thrust into a courtroom to stand before my judge and about whiplash.

I'm sure the well-meaning man thought he had me, that I had been stripped of all my resources and would be forced to cry 'uncle'. I think he expected an open and shut case, the defendant takes the plea deal, no need for cross-examination and we would even be out by lunch.

Little did he know he had a modern day Perry Mason sitting across from him, and there was no shaking in my boots.

I know what its like to have people try to persuade you and others that your faith is ill-founded

I know how hard it is not stand up, shake your fist, and cry: "blasphemy!"

It may seem when all evidence is laid out, the witnesses have been questioned and testimonials been given that you stand alone stammering "I felt the spirit tell me it was true".

Something I learned that day at that picnic table-turned court room, was that there is power in a testimony.
People can't argue with your spiritual experiences and they can't take them away. They are yours to either hold dear or to forget, to draw strength from or discard; and no one can argue with a personal, spiritual experience.

Your job is not to convince with facts and statistics, historical timelines or breaking news research, your job is to live the gospel and let those who are open to it, be drawn to your light.
Try not to worry about what your family may say, focus on living your life so that when others see you, they see what you believe.

With much love,
Miss Mormon

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Monday, December 1, 2014

My personal tight rope and handful of sand

Dear friend,
I was talking to my dad last night, frustrated that after being home for a few weeks, I felt like I was losing the ground I had won spiritually despite my very best efforts.
I told my dad that I felt like I was holding sand in my hand and the tighter I held on to it the more it slipped through my fingers. I've been trying to combat this with the usual's--everything I've ever suggested to you or to any of my friends: reading my scriptures every day, praying, and looking for ways to serve; and yet, there goes more sand...
The conclusion my dad and I were able to draw is it comes down to priorities and balance. There's this awkward time after getting home from a mission--

 (oh hey, did I mention that part? I just got home)

when the priorities that were so simply organized before are much much harder to keep in that order. Real life sets in, and priorities get lost and confused amidst your other responsibilities, activities, and any other "-ies" in your life. I'm in that awkward phase...story of my life.
And then there is balance, ugh...balance. If I had known coming into this world that I was walking into a circus act, I would've practiced my tight rope routine!

 I feel like there are three main categories of life--at least in my life--to fall into: social, religious, and education/work. Keeping those things balanced is so hard! I once told a friend that I believe learning to balance is a big part of why we are here on earth...I still believe that---my life being exhibit A.
So balancing and priorities, not the easiest things in the world to maintain, but even with all the sand I feel like I may be losing I am still quite sure that I would never want to change the way I live. The gospel makes me the happiest.


 Even with any added stress it brings or the added responsibilities, I love the feelings I get as I read my scriptures, as I pray, and as I go to church; those are feelings that tell me its ok if I don't have it all figured out just yet, if I keep trying and doing those things it will come. My Heavenly Father loves me, is patient with me, and is helping me to learn bit by bit, sand particle by sand particle at a time. Till the sand stops slipping through my fingers and I can make it across the tight rope with a bucket of water in each hand successfully. But till then...

With much love,
Miss Mormon
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