Vertically Connected Blog
Several years ago I ran into a friend at the grocery store that I hadn’t seen in a while. As we got to talking, this friend shared with me the most interesting experience.
She said that a few months earlier she had been praying for ways she could serve her family better. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been serving her family. She is an amazing woman with four kids who does so much for and genuinely cares about her family. But she was just feeling that maybe there was more she could be doing or at least something that might make her service more meaningful.
She then said this: “And then I broke my leg! I couldn’t believe it!”
I couldn’t believe it either.
But my friend went on to say something like this:
“As I sat there at the doctor's office getting it casted, I remembered the prayer that had been ascending to heaven for several months asking the Lord to help me know how I could serve my family better. How was I going to serve my family now? I was very discouraged and felt that, with everything that was going on in our lives at that time, it was probably the worst timing possible.
Well, an interesting thing happened over those next 2 months as I recovered and healed. My husband and children had to do so much more in our home and for me than they had to do before. Everyone had to step up and fill in the many gaps created on a daily basis from my inability to do even some of my basic responsibilities.
And then one day it hit me.
Could this be the answer to my prayer?
"I have seen so much growth in my children. I’ve watched a greater compassion and love develop in my husband. There has been greater unity in our family as we all work together to make our family run.
It wasn't a cakewalk by any means. There were definitely some very difficult days and I felt discouraged and frustrated often, but as I look back on that experience I can see that, at that moment in our family, the greatest service that I could do for them was to teach them how to become more aware of and strive to meet others' needs.”
This experience that my friend shared with me years ago has come to my mind often and has caused me to ponder about how the Lord works in our lives. And I, too, have realized that sometimes the answer to our prayers just doesn't look like the answer.
And one very good reason for that could be because we worship a God who can see so much more than we can see and who knows so much more than we know.
This godly power and ability could be represented by a simple diagram.
Imagine that the little dot above the word “present” in this diagram is each one of us.
The triangle over us represents the limit of what we can see and understand as a mortal here on earth. This perspective could include the knowledge we gain, the experiences we have, the things we learn from others, the things we see and hear both first-hand and through media, our memories, our education, our opportunity, etc.
Simply put, that triangle could be the scope of our understanding.
Now imagine that the triangle starting at the top and coming down from God symbolizes what He can see and understand.
How much can we see? Not a lot. How big is our sphere of understanding? Not very big.
But, what can God see? Everything.
All things are present before His eyes (D&C 38:2).
The past, present, and future (D&C 130:6-7).
And not just of our lives, but of the whole earth and every person who has been or ever will live on the earth.
Thus, how big is His sphere of understanding? Bigger than everything.
He can see and comprehend all things. He has no limitations.
Indeed, the Prophet Joseph taught that "the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal ‘now.’” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 220; History of the Church,4:597).
So, when God says His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), He is speaking very literally.
Regardless of how much we believe we see and understand,
And that means that sometimes the answer we are looking for, the answer we are desperately seeking from the Lord, is found somewhere outside of our vision, somewhere outside of our current sphere of understanding, indeed, somewhere, outside of our triangle, and so we can't see or understand how it could possibly be an answer.
That's where trust comes in - something that is often difficult and somewhat foreign to the natural, mortal beings that we are. Faith and trust both involve believing in things hoped for and having confidence in things not seen or understood (see Hebrews 11).
Sometimes, we will recognize God's hand quickly, like my friend did when she broke her leg, and we will realize that He truly was listening and He truly did answer and bless us.
Sometimes, it takes us years to uncover why the Lord did or didn’t do something as we expected in that moment.
And sometimes, this realization takes what seems like a lifetime as one day we look back at our lives and see His divine signature consistently weaving its way through our journey.
However, we are promised that as we use our agency to sanctify ourselves more, to seek His Spirit more, to fill our lives with more truth, and to not only turn to God more in all the different facets of our lives but turn our praise and others’ praise to Him, our “whole bodies shall be filled with light . . . and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:63-68).
The closer we draw to God, the bigger our triangle becomes.
The bigger our triangle becomes, the more we can see and understand.
The more we see and understand, the more we are changed . . . until one day in the distant future, because of His atoning power, we have "become like Him . . . purified even as he is pure," even a completely "new creature" who knows and understands all things (Moroni 7:48; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Words of Mormon 1:7; John 18:4).
To read more about this and other topics relating to discipleship in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visit our other discussion pages by clicking here.
Stephen & Michelle Hunsaker
Stephen teaches at the Logan Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has been teaching for over 26 years.
Michelle is a full-time mom who enjoys reading, writing, teaching, and anything and everything to do with musicals.
They are the parents of ten children and authors of the book : Boxing the Lord In and Other Ways We Hinder Revelation.
Their hope is that each week through the thoughts and ideas they share in this blog, you can become more "vertically connected" in your lives. They seek to see and share "things as they really are" and "as they really will be" (Jacob 4:13) by learning how to build more and more on the sure foundation of the Savior, Jesus Christ and the doctrines and principles of His gospel.