Sunday, August 7, 2011

Not Knowing Beforehand

Probably like many of you, I love to read the General Conference edition of the Ensign each time it comes out even though I watched Conference already. It never fails that I have missed something or many, many somethings that can pop out at me at just the time I need it. That's what happened to me a month or so ago.

I am not alone. I have my dear children, my loving family, my friends, my church leaders, my neighbors, but of course none of them really fills that void of a husband to counsel with and build a future with. I pray alone to know what plans to make, what classes to take, how to have enough time for my children and homemaking. I wish to see what job I’m going to have and if it will provide well for my family, if I’ll get the opportunity to go to graduate school, and if my children will be okay, and so much more.

I have prayed and fasted to know what to do and have not seen a flashing neon sign in my mind telling me what is at the end. Not surprising, I know, but still, I was struggling to made decisions when I didn’t know exactly where I was going. I have been grateful to feel guided to my major and strengthened through my classes. But I thought I should know what I should do when I graduate in about 2 years. I prayed to see that so I could prepare now.

In the middle of my fasting, I had a quiet moment where I was able to pick up the May 2011 General Conference edition of The Ensign. I just happened to open to Elder Bednar’s talk “The Spirit of Revelation”. Here is a video of the talk, if you’d like to watch to it all, but I will quote a bit of it below (out of order).

I love how he explains that often our revelation is like the sun coming up at dawn, little by little, gradually beginning to lighten the day. It isn’t always like a light suddenly being flipped on and everything going from pitch black to completely light. Heavenly Father usually sends his revelation little by little and we need to learn to see that this kind of revelation is just as divine of a blessing. Me? I wanted a big flood light. The kind they have at the stadiums. I’m impatient like that and sure wish I’d hurry up and learn patience.

“Both the history of the Church and our personal lives are replete with examples of the Lord’s pattern for receiving revelation ‘line upon line, precept upon precept.’ For example, the fundamental truths of the restored gospel were not delivered to the Prophet Joseph Smith all at once in the Sacred Grove. These priceless treasures were revealed as circumstances warranted and as the timing was right.”

“As circumstances were warranted and as the timing was right.” Hmmmm. So if I have prayed about my future and it hasn’t been revealed to me, it’s because the timing isn’t right and I don’t need to know. Okay.

“The very ‘simpleness of the way’ (1 Nephi 17:41) of receiving small and incremental spiritual impressions that over time and in totality constitute a desired answer or the direction we need may cause us to look ‘beyond the mark’ (Jacob 4:14).”

I have felt guided and impressed to make certain decisions, but because I didn’t get it all at once (the light switched on), I was looking beyond the mark.

“This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3–4). Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, ‘not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do’ (1 Nephi 4:6).”

Nephi did not get to see the big picture or have all his questions answered. He just obediently followed the promptings and direction he received. He didn’t know where he was going, but Heavenly Father did and that’s all that mattered. I don’t know where I am going, but my Heavenly Father does. I do not get to know beforehand the things I should do, but I will always be guided to where the next step should be. So step by step it is.

I also loved this part.

“’Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it’ (D&C 8:3–4).

I emphasize the phrase ‘apply unto it’ in relation to the spirit of revelation.”

Receiving revelation takes work and preparation and requires us to be worthy of the gift of the Spirit.
So after reading this and feeling grateful that I understood what I needed that day, I had a new prayer. I did not ask to see everything. I asked to be guided to my next step and I expressed my gratitude.

The next day I had reason to express my gratitude yet again. I received news that I was awarded a scholarship for half of my tuition and a Pell Grant would cover the rest and my books. What a blessing. I was given a bit more light. One more step guided.

It reminds me of the part of Indiana Jones where he steps out, not seeing a path. I know, using pop culture to explain spiritual things... But it’s what I thought of.

So I’ll keep praying for patience and to see the steps I’m being guided to take without looking beyond the mark or ignoring the miracle of revelation in my life.


  1. Oh, I love this today. I have found it to be true in my own life as well. I have found many answers to prayer in General conference both during, and later in my reading. I am often amazed at how well He knows exactly what I need.

  2. We are so blessed to have all the writings that we do...not so long ago in history, it would have been unheard of to have so many books and magazines to read and learn from. He definitely knows what we each need...and as long as we seek it out, He will find a way to make it known to us. So glad you are finding the answers you need.

  3. Thank you so much for this post, Valerie! I need to go reread the talk -- I *love* Elder Bednar's talks!

  4. Totally what I needed to hear today. Not what I WANTED to hear, haha. But definitely what I needed. :)

  5. I missed church yesterday because I am it was so uplifting to read this spiritual post today. I know Heavenly Father will not let us down when we put our trust and faith in him. I've learned this over and over again all throughout my life.

  6. Valerie,
    You really are an inspiration to me. You stay close to the spirit and search for answers. You could be bitter but you look toward the light. What a blessing you are to your children. The Lord will bless you in all you do.

  7. Did you write this just for me? 'Cause I really needed to read it! Thanks bunches!!!!

  8. I need to go reread this talk.
    Thank you for always being so insightful and having these beautiful posts. I am edified by this today!!

  9. I enjoyed reading the part about how revelation being like a sunrise, slowly leading us to the next step, so true, thanks for sharing that. I feel like our guidance to Salt Lake is complete, now that we're here...and now we're wondering...what's the next step?! So this was perfect to read.

  10. You are an amazing and very talented woman, I am glad you know you are not alone. You have my admiration. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. I'm so grateful that I read this post -- I was just given a calling that completely overwhelms me. In my prayers, I thought of this post and so I've got the talk to take with me today. Thanks, my friend.

  12. p.s. Have you read "A Reservoir of Living Water" by Elder Bednar (BYU fireside, 2/4/07) and "Opening the Heavens" (Elder Kikuchi)? Both are also wonderful.

  13. I really enjoyed your post and totally understand and agree with you. I just want to see the light at the end of the path and it just seems like I am required to go forward. The one answer I got I wrote about briefly --

    Love your blog. Thanks for sharing.


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