I work at a university. I work in the Graduation and Transfer department. Most days I sit in the corner desk by two huge picture windows, and watch the students walk by, while I try to not make awkward eye contact with them. Lately I’ve taken to listening to my Pandora stations, and dancing as inconspicuously as I can. Today I tried a new station, the Bollywood Workout station, and I’m very pleased with it. When I’m not doing that, I usually listen to BYU devotionals, or books on CD. I think that’s how I came up with a pretty cool analogy today.
I believe that there is an all knowing and loving God in Heaven. I believe he watches down on us every day. Today I was listening to an interesting talk by S. Michael Wilcox. I was going to paraphrase it, but I found it online and I’d like to share a large excerpt from it. (This is an excerpt from the chapter "The Fourth Watch" from the book Walking on Water and Other Classic Messages.)
“Let me illustrate this particular concept by a personal story. When I was just a baby, my father, because of concerns in his own life and challenges that he was having, left our family. Our mother alone, therefore, raised my sisters and me, and as I was growing up, my father had very little to do with us as children. I realize he was working with things in his own life, but his decisions created certain challenges and hardships for my mother, my sisters, and me.
At age fourteen or fifteen, if you were in my situation, and you knelt down and said: “Father in Heaven, help me find peace concerning my father leaving us and really having nothing to do with us for all these years. Help me forgive my father,” would you not think that was an appropriate prayer, one that deserved an answer? But no answer came at age fourteen and fifteen. Twenty, twenty-one comes, same prayers, still no answer. Twenty-five, twenty-six passes, same prayers, yet still no answer. Thirty, thirty-one, thirty-three, thirty-four all come and go. Surely I’m in the fourth watch by now, would you not agree?
Then one day I was asked to prepare a talk on families. I thought I would speak about my mother. My mother was a saint. In my eyes she could do no wrong. I would talk about my mother—her wisdom and goodness, and how she raised us. But the Spirit seemed to whisper, Speak about your father. And I thought, What am I going to say about my father? I have hardly had anything to do with my father growing up. Yet the Spirit seemed to urge that I think about him.
Just at that moment, my two sons came into the room where I was working.
I was married, and I had two daughters and two sons at the time. The eldest son was about six, his younger brother was around two, and they stood in front of me, just stood there staring at me. I looked at my boys and all at once the Spirit literally flooded my mind with wonderful memories of things that I had shared with them.
We are told that a whole life can pass before us just before we die and we see everything all at once. It was that kind of experience. All the simple little memories, none of them major, came into focus—carving Halloween pumpkins; trick-or-treating with bags bulging with candy; Christmas mornings and the aroma of gingerbread; listening to their tiny-voice prayers; their first tearful, hesitant Primary talks; a squirming puppy wrapped in the tangle of their arms; walks by the pond to see the turtles; piggy-back rides; reading stories at night with mimicked voices; catching a fish out of the same hole where I caught my first fish twenty-five years earlier; the smell of saddle leather as I lifted them up for their first horseback ride. All these simple, tiny, little, everyday memories that I shared in those years with my sons washed into my soul.
And then the Spirit said: I am now ready to answer your question. Now that you are a father, now that you know a father’s love, would you be the son who lost his father, or the father who lost his son? When I heard those words, I just began to weep. I grabbed my sons and hugged them and just sobbed and sobbed.
My wife came into the room; I was holding those two boys and crying. Not for me! For my father! Because I knew what he had missed. He doesn’t know what he missed. There’s a mercy in that. But I knew what he missed, and I knew it was a greater tragedy to be the father who lost his son than to be the son who lost his father.
My wife became concerned and said, “For heaven’s sake, Mike, what is the matter?” I said, “I can’t talk about it now.” I went up and shut myself in the bathroom and cried myself dry. Have you ever done that? There are no tears coming—you’re still crying, and there’s nothing coming?
Why didn’t my Father in Heaven give me that answer at fifteen, or twenty-one, or twenty-five, or when I was married, or when my daughters were born? He needed to wait until I was a father of sons and had enough experiences with my boys to understand what a sweet thing it is to be a father and share memories with sons. The holding place had to be carved in my heart, and as soon as I could really receive and comprehend the answer, the Lord gave it to me. Maybe we are in the fourth watch, but the Lord is saying to us: I’ll answer your prayer. I’m aware of your needs. It is recorded in heaven, and I’m going to answer it. But right now in your life there’s no place for me to put the answer. Life will create a holding place, and as soon as you are able to receive it, I will give it to you.”
I also grew up in a single parent home, and really related to this story. The only difference is that I’ve prayed that prayer many times, but I’m only in my 23rd year right now, but I think, one day, I’ll have a similar experience like this. I’m just glad that I have a Heavenly Father that loves and takes care of me. While I may not have a physical father figure in my life, I think I’ve got the better end of the deal. A Heavenly Father that I can call upon at any time who can comfort me and bless me with his love.
Each one of us is unique. We have different gifts and talents. I see this every day at my job. I get different colored transcripts with different fonts, designs, majors, classes, and grades. I do the same job to complete each transcript, but each one has special particular needs. Sometimes some classes don’t transfer over, or they need a special table built for one particular student. Sometimes I get frustrated, and I want to skip steps, or not do the research to give each person the best option for them. Then I think how I would feel if I knew someone did that with my transcript.
I related all of this to how God sees us, and how he interacts with us. We’re all different. The way he handles our problems and answers are prayers are all completely different. Some need to just be cherished, coddled and loved. Others need to be talked to, chastised and have things explained to them. Some prayers are answered right away; others take a lifetime to answer.
When students transfer from out of state university or colleges, a lot of times we have to build special tables just for them and their classes. When this happens, I have to make an excel sheet and send an email to all the different departments with classes on this students transcript, so that the departments can decide what sort of credit they should get. In order to do this I have to put in all of the students information, my name as the adviser, and the class name and description. After I put in all the information, I have to “unprotect” the sheet so that I can format the document correctly, so that no one else can change the important information, and then I “protect” the sheet again before closing.
When I did that today, I realized this is what God does. We wonder why we have trials in our lives, and why He isn’t there walking by us and protecting us. In all reality he’s there the whole time, standing right next to us. He takes us out of our protected state and allows trials to come into our lives. We feel unprotected, confused, stressed, and alone. What we don’t realize is that God is formatting us, our character, and our lives. This information that generally doesn’t change and it is information that is specific to us. He helps us through our trial, and then as soon as we learn, humble ourselves, and come to him, he protects us again. Then, like the Excel sheet, we’re sent back on our way to learn and grow from other people that come into our life.
I know this might be a little bit of a stretch, but it really put things into perspective for me today. Happy Monday!
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Today has been one big miracle! It's been 3 years since I last logged into this account, and I've tried a few times to remember my password. I literally tried just about everything to get back in here. The problem with trying to break back into something that I've locked myself out of, is that I always put really bizarre answers, so that no one will be able to figure out how to get it, but then I don't write it down, and I can't get in. They have it so they can text you a password now...well, I put my home phone number there, because I was afraid of the internet a while back. So when they offered to send me a text with a verification code, I obviously couldn't get it, because it was sent to a land line. So I've decided to change how I do a few things now. I've come to that bridge, and I've decided to cross it!
Posted by Elysha at 3:59 PM