Welcome back to ChangeOfHeart.LIFE, and to the next post in my series:
Today we explore Step 3…perhaps THE pivotal step in our quest to begin partaking of Christ’s atonement… salary history example for resume buying tetraycycline how to delete a group of emails on iphone 7 online essay service lactase enzyme lab hypothesis go https://smartfin.org/science/how-cialis-works-for-bph/12/ follow link viagra prescription chicago examples of writing process essays tentative thesis outline propecia ruined life air traffic control resume example https://online.bentley.edu/medschool/diferentes-presentaciones-del-sildenafil/10/ a2 coursework nfgs cheap olanzapine go essay on if i had 3 wishes super viagra https://zacharyelementary.org/presentation/college-essay-a-examples/30/ https://www.mitforumcambridge.org/multiple/citation-for-you/2/ mail order sildenafil citrate essay on new year new beginning thesis statement on drug addiction https://teleroo.com/pharm/online-viagra-increase-fertility-sildenafil-citrat/67/ enter forum gadaj pl viagra sale https://medpsychmd.com/nurse/viagra-super-force-side-effects/63/ https://cwstat.org/termpaper/research-proposal-about-bullying/50/ how long does viagra start to work essay on role of electronic media pros and cons TRUST IN GOD.
I recently heard a fireside talk by David Butler (LDS Church Educational System instructor and author) where he related the following story:
David started by asking “Think of your group of friends…do you have a friend that is ‘down for anything’? The first one to dive off the cliff at Lake Powell, the first one in the water at the polar bear plunge, etc.?”
Then he said, “My mom is THAT friend!”
A few years ago, David’s parents went on a vacation to Switzerland. As they were checking into the hotel, his mom noticed a picture of somebody hang gliding through the Swiss Alps. Working behind the counter was a guy who David referred to as a “Mountain Man”. Noticing that Mrs. Butler was looking at the picture he walked up to her and proudly said “Do you see that glider right there? That’s ME!”
Her response was “Wow, no way! That looks like fun”. He says, “Do you want to go?” And without hesitation, she says “Yeah!”
“Well,” he replied, “if you’re here in the lobby at 5:00 a.m. I’ll take you hang gliding.
So, 5:00 a.m. rolls around. Mrs. Butler walks into the lobby, finds the mountain man waiting, and they headed out the door into the pre-dawn darkness and headed up the mountain path. After some time, they came to the top of a high cliff which David describes as “a straight drop-off… to DEATH!”. They’re looking DOWN at the clouds, and there are mountain goats everywhere which they must scare away so that they have a clear approach to the edge of the cliff.
Are you “All In”?
So now Mrs. Butler finds herself at the top of a cliff…no safety waiver signed, no formal training… strapping herself onto the hang glider with a total stranger who she just met a few hours before. The man points toward the cliff and points out a stick that had been hammered into the ground at the edge of the cliff with a small red ribbon on it.
He tells Mrs. Butler: “I’m going to watch that ribbon for the wind, and when it starts to flutter, I’m going to tell you to run. You are going to run as fast as you can, straight off the edge of this cliff. If you hesitate or stop at the edge, we will not catch the wind, and we will both plummet to our deaths. Everything in your body is going to be telling you that it is not good to run off cliffs, but you must run and jump off the cliff.”
After watching the ribbon for a couple of minutes he suddenly says “Go!” Here’s David’s description of what happened next:
“…she takes off with this reckless abandon, running, no time to think ‘I don’t even know if this man CAN hang-glide’, and runs straight off the edge of the cliff.” Later, David’s mom told him “It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I just soared through the Alps, like I was an eagle. It was exhilarating—the most fantastic views I’ve ever seen.”
Here’s David’s “take-away” thought, and the reason I’m sharing this story with you today:
“She would have never had that thrilling flying experience if she didn’t trust the guy enough to run off the edge. She was required to first trust, run, and jump before she could have that experience”.–David Butler, “Go and Do”
Learning to Fly…
Many of my readers know my story by now:
- Born and raised a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Life-long struggles with addiction
- A 15-year stint as a hard-core (but high-functioning) alcoholic
- After my “recovery” began, I suffered a decade of self-imposed “forced sobriety” (complete with numerous relapses and slips), pretty much fighting for sobriety but NOT recovering.
Despite these struggles, I have remained active in the Church my entire life. I’ve attended church nearly every Sunday, fulfilling callings, providing service, and actively participating in gospel-related activities on a regular basis.
I’ve been a prideful, blatantly disobedient sinner. But, by the grace of God (quite literally) I’ve been blessed every step of the way. At the hardest times of my life, God has given me ministering angels. He has placed helpers in my path, guided my steps, and inspired me. Although I have not always been worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, I have been blessed to feel and recognize the Light of Christ frequently.
Throughout the time I was actively drinking and throughout most of my recovery, I still enjoyed occasional flashes of inspiration. I progressed in fits and starts but quickly slipped back to my old ways and was never restored (as Step 2 promises) to complete spiritual health. My family and I experienced many difficult set-backs and disappointments in our personal and spiritual lives throughout this period.
At every hardship Julie (my wife) and I would look at each other and say, “I wish we could figure out what lesson God wants us to learn from this problem”. But we never really felt like we were getting a handle on why we were going through the things we were going through. In hindsight, I realize that the lesson to learn WAS the message contained in Step 3.
A Lesson to Learn:
Faith or Doubt; Trust or Fear?
In the Lectures on Faith, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
“Where doubt and uncertainty are there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not the faith is weak.”
–Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith
Today I’d like to share a couple of stories related by Truman G. Madsen, detailing incidents in the life of Heber C. Kimball:
We witness Heber C. Kimball’s standing by the door as Brigham Young was lying on what appeared to be his deathbed:
“I do not think,” said Heber, “Brigham will ever rise from that bed.” But then after a moment of meditative prayer he lighted up and said, “He shall live.” And he prophesied several events to come. He was right the second time. From doubt to faith.
On another occasion, we are told, he stood in the old tabernacle in Salt Lake and announced to a threadbare and barely surviving people, “State goods will soon sell in Salt Lake City for less than they sell for in New York. In the name of the Lord, amen.”
Someone on the stand said, “I don’t believe a word of it.”
As he turned from the pulpit, he himself said, “I guess I missed it that time.”
Brigham Young said, “Let it stand.” It did stand. When the gold rush came, it was actually and completely fulfilled. He was right the first time. From faith to doubt.-Truman G. Madsen, Souls Aflame– November 8, 1983 • Devotional
From Doubt to Faith
For nearly all of my adult life, I have believed in God and Christ, but I have not trusted them. Starting about a year ago, I experienced what the prophet Alma referred to when he said: “…have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” Alma 5:14 (Book of Mormon)
Now, like never before in my life, I feel God’s spirit and influence in nearly everything I do. He has guided me to make changes in my life and career that make absolutely NO logical sense. My heart knows that the Lord will bless me in my actions, but I just can’t wrap my brain around HOW this can possibly work for my good. I can certainly relate with Heber C. Kimball: from doubt to faith…and then from faith to doubt. Sometimes, the best I can do is to plead, like the epileptic boy’s father plead with Christ: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24)
And then this great example of Faith:
It was in…the School of Prophets. The subject was faith. Scriptures were quoted. The last man to speak, as it happened, was Brother Kimball who in effect said,
“It’s all been said, but I can say one thing; I’ll tell you a story. My daughter, Helen Mar, was standing near the table, and her mother left her saying, ‘Don’t touch those dishes. Don’t break one of those or I will whip you.’
Vilate left, and Helen Mar did what little children often do when they are told not to do it. Not just a dish was broken. The whole table leaf collapsed. All were broken.
“Now she went out, as she had watched her parents do, near a tree. We don’t know what she said, but it would have been simple enough: ‘Bless my mother that she won’t whip me.’
“Vilate returned. She saw the situation. She flared. She led the little girl by the hand into the bedroom. She assumed the angle. And then she couldn’t go through with it. And the arms of Helen Mar came around her neck, and she said, ‘Oh, mother, I prayed that you wouldn’t. I’m sorry, sorry.’”
When Brother Heber finished, every man in the room, including Joseph, was in tears. And Joseph said, “Brethren” [these are grown-up, strong, independent, willful, intelligent men], “that is the kind of faith we need, the faith of a little child going in humility to its Parent”-Truman G. Madsen, Souls Aflame– November 8, 1983 • Devotional
I LOVE this story.
What a great example of turning our will and life over to God and Christ. When I started my recovery in 2007, I was too proud to seek treatment, and just “white-knuckled” my way in (and out) of sobriety. I didn’t actually take my “last drink” until early in 2018. I still craved alcohol BADLY and deciding whether or not to drop by the liquor store was a serious consideration on a daily basis.
The Miracle of Step 3
This time last year, I became temple worthy and returned to the House of the Lord for the first time in many years. I remained sober but my cravings were totally ridiculous. Then a miracle…I became interested in how the 12 steps could help me. Within weeks of formally “working the steps” I realized (Step 1) my life was STILL unmanageable, that I needed my “higher power’, (Step 2) God could return me to complete spiritual health, and (Step 3) I became willing to turn my will and life over to God. When I started living my life in a way that demonstrated my willingness, God gave me my miracle: my cravings practically disappeared overnight. Good news indeed, but certainly not the end of the story.
The title of today’s post is a quote from Kenny Loggins, something he said as he introduced his song “Leap of Faith” at a live concert event in the Redwoods. There’s a great (and slightly disturbing) line in the song. In the scriptures, Jesus taught that faith can move mountains. In this song, Kenny talks about opening the door and taking a selfless step to walk away from a problem, in hopes that the problem, like the mountain, can be moved…and removed. Then the haunting line:
“…Welcome friend, to the point of no return.”–Kenny Loggins, Leap of Faith
I wish that I could say that becoming willing to turn my will and life over to God was a one-time event. Not true. Just like repentance, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a principle of practice, which means we can and must do it over, and over, and over again. But things HAVE been set in motion, life will never be the same. “….Welcome friend, to the point of no return.”
The Adventure Continues…
I’m a little hesitant to talk about my continuing story
We chatted last time (see “…Neither do I condemn the; Go and Sin No More”) about C.S. Lewis’ analogy about God building us as if he was remodeling a house. How quickly I forget…I thought I was “…being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” — C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Over the past few days and weeks, we have been hit with some pretty devastating personal challenges, and once again Julie and I look at each other and say “I wish we could figure out exactly what God wants us to learn”. But our reactions to these challenges are far different than they would have been even a few months ago. We feel the peace that comes from our new-found trust in God and we are reacting, not with fear and doubt, but with faith and hope. It appears He has placed us in a situation where we MUST take the leap of faith…the first step of yet another new journey.
The following video by Elder Bednar illustrates a great point…give it a look and then we’ll talk a bit about more.
The Paralysis of Analysis
Did you notice that for a very long moment, the children of Israel watched and waited, then gave a questioning glance to their companions and wondered why the water wasn’t parting? That’s exactly my reaction when I get a prompting from God. I hesitate and start asking questions in my mind: “Really, God, You REALLY want me to do THAT?? I don’t LIKE wet feet! And what if I get out there and the water STILL doesn’t part? What then?! Maybe I’ll just wait right here for a while…”
Remember, in matters of inspiration, “Ours is not to question why.” This is the place where we, like Nephi of old, should simply “go and do.”
Applying the Lesson to Ourselves:
Someday I’ll share the whole story with you, but for today, suffice to say that many years ago, I had a grandpa who would, on occasion, lovingly give my little disobedient butt a gentle course correction (a.k.a. “drop-kick”) with what appeared to 7-year-old me to be a size-15 work boot. It certainly got my attention and set me back on the right path. 🙂
Sometimes I hear God and either I don’t realize it’s him, or (more often) I hesitate until he gives me a “gentle” (LOL) drop-kick into the Jordan River of life. This week, I showed up at His house (the Ogden Temple) whining about my wet feet. I sincerely prayed “What would you have me do?” His answer?
“Behold I say unto you [Kyle], …it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto you [Kyle] …for it is because of unbelief…”–Moroni 7:37 (Book of Mormon)
I can’t seem to find an action plan to solve my current problems. It’s a big enough issue that I probably need miracles and ministering angels to help me. I went to the temple hoping for a concrete and specific solution to my current problem. Instead, He gave me a BEAUTIFUL answer: “…without faith, He cannot send angels and give me miracles”.
Light on a Foggy Day
Elder Bednar gives a great analogy of what I need to do in this case:
“Sometimes, receiving inspiration is like a foggy day. There’s enough light that you can tell it’s not darkness anymore. It’s not night. But it’s not brilliantly illuminated. You can see just enough to take a few steps ahead into the cloudiness. I don’t know about other people, but it occurs that way for me all the time. There’s enough to just take a few steps. And then the light continues to help me see just far enough ahead that I can continue to press forward.“–Elder David A. Bednar, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Patterns of Light
Step 3 is NOT an easy step to do. First-hand experience tells me that it’s incredibly difficult to really put our will and our life in God’s hands. But if my limited success is any indication, the blessings are unbelievably sweet. His promises are sure.
At the conclusion of each LDS Addiction Recovery Meeting, we read a short script that contains this sentence: “The 12 steps are steps of action.” The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of action. We can study the concepts forever and intellectually learn all we can about them, but they will not bless our lives until we actually DO them. THIS is what we refer to at ARP meetings as “working the steps”…we learn a little and then we take a step or two into the fog. Then we learn a little more as we continue walking toward the light in the fog. Just like the directions on the shampoo bottle: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And again…and again….and again, until we become perfected in Christ.
I never understood or felt the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life until I formally experienced the LDS Addiction Recovery Program’s 12 Steps. This inspired program, designed for “the worst of all sinners” (as the apostle Paul and Alma the Younger called themselves), will bring the blessings of the Atonement to EVERYONE who follows it’s precepts.
God loves all of his children. That includes you and me. Christ suffered for your sins. He also suffered (in a way I can’t even begin to fathom) your individual pains, afflictions, and trials. One thing that is evident at every LDS Addiction Recovery Program meeting is that the more you need Christ’s Atonement, the more God wants you to take advantage of it. The influence of the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ are in POWERFUL attendance at these meetings.
I testify to you that Christ’s Atonement is a game-changer, a life-changer, and a HEART-changer. It has blessed my life, and I know it will bless yours too.
Keep your eye on the goal! One last piece of sage advice from my favorite Kenny Loggins song…
Homeward, let your spirit rise,–Kenny Loggins, Leap of Faith
Homeward, one step at a time,
Homeward, watch it like a child,
I’ve selected for today’s closing video a short program from Elder Ronald A. Rasband on banishing fear from your life by turning it over to God’s care. Please take a minute and watch…it ties today’s discussion together quite nicely.
Thanks again for joining me for today’s discussion in the series of “12 Steps to Atonement”. Please feel free to share this message with all around you!
As always, I invite you to share your successes and failures with me. I am inspired and uplifted by your efforts and by the stories of your journey. Comment below or private message me at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE