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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Drawing Closer to God ~ Elder Terence M. Vinson

Taught by Jeanine M.

Elder Vinson from the second quorum of the seventy asks many questions that give us pause. He said, “Members of this Church are entitled to, and many receive, a spiritual witness and make sacred covenants to follow the Lord. Yet, despite that, some move toward Him while others do not. In which category are you?
God should be the center of our universe—our literal focal point. Is He? Or is He sometimes far
from the thoughts and intents of our hearts?”

He shares a scripture from Enos 1:27 “…And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on
immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see His face with pleasure, and He will say
unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place for you in the mansions of my Father.”

This happens to be a scripture my own father loved as he looked forward to the day that would
happen to him. He had no fear of dying and lived a life that put God first. Elder Vinson referred to a story when Wilford Woodruff heard a voice tell him to move his carriage. He obeyed and within a few minutes a storm uprooted a huge tree that would have landed on his carriage had he not moved it. A similar even happened to my father when he was in the Army. He slept in a tent by himself and during a storm one night he heard a voice telling him to go to the kitchen (a building close by). He obeyed and in the morning, there was a big tree that had fallen on his tent.

Another small parallel is a story that Elder Vinson relates about a man in Papua New Guinea who
lit a fire to clear some land for planting. The fire began to spread too quickly and he turned to the
Lord and prayed. “Suddenly there appeared a big black cloud above where he was praying and it
rained so hard—but only where the fire was burning.” Once when I was five, we were camping near a lake. I found a box of matches floating in the lake and tried to light them. One of the matched did light and in fear I dropped in on the very dry grass. The fire quickly spread and my father quickly prayed that we could stop it. Fortunately, there were enough makeshift buckets and enough help that it was stopped. Both men turned to the Lord with problems.

We might ask, “Why does He warn any of us to remove ourselves from a source of danger when He
could simply stop the danger from happening?” “But here is the point—rather than solve the
problem himself, the Lord wants us to develop the faith that will help us rely upon Him in solving
our problems and trust Him. Then we can feel His love more constantly, more powerfully, more
clearly and more personally.”

Elder Vinson says, “The Lord gives us ways to help remember Him and His sustaining powers.
One way is through that common lot we all share—adversity.” We all do have trials that bring us to
our knees. If this is something we all have in common, we can help each other. My dad had a lot
of adversity. His grandmother and mother died when he was eleven. His father suffered from
mental illness so he was on his own a lot and they were very poor. He was involved in an accident
when he was 20 that took one leg, affected his eyesight and rendered one arm useless. He overcame
a lot through his handicaps. That helped him draw closer to God and he began to align his will with
the Father’s will. Why do I talk about my father? So many things in this talk reminded me of him. He really was an ordinary and extraordinary man. He was a regular guy. Yet he also loved the Lord and gave Him
his heart fully. (D&C 64:22) He, like Nephi, served faithfully with unwearingness (Helaman 10: 4-5) and left this world with confidence that He would find rest in his Savior. If a regular dad that lost his temper sometimes and had faults can live and repent and continue to try and actually come to a place where he is ready to return Home, then maybe it’s possible for me too. If it’s possible for me, then it’s possible for you.
May we all help each other to draw closer to God by providing support and encouragement and
patience, especially when adversity comes our way.

Alma 36:3 “…for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their
trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”

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