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There’s a 16-year difference in age between my oldest daughter Tiffany and our son Dustin (our youngest). As it turned out, we had at least one preschooler in the house for nearly 20 years. As a result, Julie and I can pretty much recite from memory every episode of Teletubbies, Arthur, Clifford, Lazy Town, Dora the Explorer, Sesame Street, Barney, Blues Clues…and (of course) EVERY Disney movie ever released.
My four oldest children are girls…Little girls become big girls and then grow into young women, and their choice of media and entertainment grows up with them. So like it or not, I was exposed (repeatedly!) to every teenage chick-flick and teen adventure novel released in the ’90s and beyond.
I can’t believe I’m admitting this–this is like acknowledging that I secretly like the Backstreet Boys and Brittany Spears (which, by the way, may or may not be true). Anyway, I really came to LOVE those stories that my girls liked…the Hunger Games series, The Princess Bride, The Divergent series, the Maze Runner series, and yes…even the Twilight series. I saw the movies and then impatiently waited for the sequels. I’ve read the books. And, I have enjoyed every minute.
However, far and away, my favorite of these guilty pleasures is Harry Potter. The books are amazing…great stories, well-written, classic good vs. evil elements, memorable characters, and MAGIC! After all, who hasn’t secretly wished for a flying car…? And then there are the movies. I worked for many years in the motion graphics and special effects industry, and what the producers did with the movies is utterly spectacular from a technical standpoint.
As you continue to follow this blog, you’ll discover that I’m fond of gleaning gospel-related wisdom from some pretty unorthodox sources…here comes your first case in point…
Harry was born to do magic…
In the first Harry Potter book, we meet Harry–an orphan whose parents were talented wizards before dying an awful death when Harry was just a baby. Harry’s current guardians are his “Muggle” (the wizarding world’s nickname for non-magical people), aunt and uncle, the Dursleys. They despise magic and hide Harry’s magical background from him, hoping that he won’t become a wizard. Harry has no idea that he was born with a special gift…the ability to do magic.
As Harry grows, strange happenings ensue…aunt Petunia cuts his hair almost bald, but his hair miraculously grows back the next day. Another time, Petunia tries to force him to wear a “revolting” sweater, but strangely, it shrinks until it could only fit a puppet. On a visit to the local zoo, Harry and his obnoxious fat cousin Dudley visit the reptile exhibit. At one point, Dudley punches Harry in the ribs and pushes him away from the snake exhibit. Stunned, Harry glares at Dudley, who is pounding on the glass enclosure, teasing the snake. Then without warning, the glass vanishes, and Dudley falls into the enclosure with the snake, much to Harry’s delight.
Later in the story, after Harry starts his “wizard training,” one of his instructors questions him about his early life and wonders if he experienced any unexplained strange events while growing up. Hearing of Harry’s experiences, the instructor points out that Harry was able to subconsciously make magical things happen without ever realizing that he had those abilities in times of emotional distress. “And,” he is promised, “with training and practice, you will be a powerful wizard, able to harness great power whenever you need it.”
We were born to do miracles.
Each of us has something in common with Harry Potter. Harry was born of parents from whom he inherited a POWERFUL talent, which he had to learn to use and control. As children of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, we also have a POWERFUL family legacy. We have inherited special powers (faith) that many of us are not consciously aware of. Like Harry, even though we may not have been formally trained, we can accomplish things that are miraculous and sometimes difficult to explain when properly motivated. And…when properly trained, our ability to pray for and receive miracles will grow strong, and we WILL recognize those miracles for what they are when we receive them!
Many years ago, I was ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood in preparation for my missionary service. Priesthood is defined as the power and authority to act in the name of God for the salvation of humankind. Among other things, this priesthood has the power to bless and heal the sick and the afflicted.
Sounds pretty cool, huh? There’s a catch…having the power and permission to perform priesthood blessings is not enough by itself. I can’t just recite a few mysterious words, wave my magic wand, and “POOF…you’re healed!”. After all, I’m NOT Harry Potter!
Every blessing is unique, and we need to be guided by the holy spirit to pronounce the blessing based on God’s will. I need to have the faith to be guided by the Holy Ghost to declare the blessing. Also, the person I’m giving the blessing to needs the faith to know that Christ’s power will heal him/her.
I have been called upon many times to participate in such blessings of the sick and have seen the miracles that follow such blessings. Sadly, I have (on MANY occasions) declined to perform healing blessings because I did not believe I had the faith and did not believe that I deserved to experience Christ’s power and mercy on behalf of others.
Satan has powerful methods…
One of his favorites is to convince us that we don’t have enough faith to approach God with our problems; “You don’t have faith, so don’t even try to ask God for help,” he tells us. Or worse, he convinces us that we don’t DESERVE God’s help; “You’re just a worthless drunk…why would God EVER help you?” And unfortunately, especially when I was in the depths of my struggles with alcohol, this lie was SO easy to believe. Allow me to share a personal “Harry Potter” moment that disproves Satan’s big lie.
“You’re Not Worthy…”
It was a beautiful June morning in 2001. The cool, crisp mountain air filled my lungs. Birds sang. I could hear the rustle of leaves and the babble of the nearby stream tumbling over the rocks. It was the weekend of my 20th high school class reunion. Although I was enjoying being out in the mountains, I was also feeling uneasy. For me, family vacation meant a self-imposed ban on alcohol…I didn’t allow myself to drink in front of the kids. We’d been on the road as a family for a couple of days already. That familiar craving was really starting to kick in.
We had arrived early to help set up for the weekend’s events. My classmate, Lynn and her sister Dixie, were hosting the celebration, and we were busy setting up tables and tents. I had just stepped away to go to my car and retrieve some camping gear when I heard a blood-curdling scream.
The adrenaline flowed, and I dropped everything. I dashed to the top of the small hill where we had been setting up the cooking tent. There I found Lynn stooped down, holding Dixie, who was writhing on the ground, screaming and holding her face. Blood covered her face and her hands. I sprinted up to them and, with a shaky voice, asked, “What happened?”
Lynn told me that Dixie was stretching a bungee cord from the top of the tent to a tent stake below. As she tried to attach the cord to the stake, it slipped from her hand. As it popped back, the sharp metal hook at the end of the bungee hit Dixie squarely in the eye.
When I asked how I could help, Dixie looked up and sobbed, “Kyle, you hold the priesthood, don’t you?”
“Yes”, I replied
“Then give me a blessing.” plead Dixie.
Immediately the thought came to me “You’re not worthy.” Admittedly, there were MANY unresolved issues in my life. I’d always been taught that if you’re not worthy, you shouldn’t officiate in priesthood ordinances. In fact, several times in the proceeding months, I had refused to participate in priesthood ordinances specifically because of my lack of worthiness.
My mind raced. Although church protocol does not specify how many priesthood holders are required to bless the sick, the tradition is to have at least two priesthood holders involved. I asked Lynn, “Are there any other priesthood holders here?” Maybe, I thought, somebody else could offer the blessing, and I could assist.
“No, you’re the only one”, came the reply. “Can you do it?”
I hesitated for what seemed like a LONG time.
Again, the thought came to me, almost as if somebody had spoken it:
“You’re not worthy, AND YOU DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT FAITH.”
Immediately an intense feeling of darkness came over me, and I knew I could not do this.
Sensing my hesitation, Dixie looked up at me with her good eye and, between sobs, said: “I know God can help me…PLEASE give me a blessing.” And with that, she was back to writhing in pain. Without even realizing I was offering a silent prayer, I thought, “Oh God, help me know what I should do!”
It was as if somebody had flipped a switch and turned on the light. The dark feelings immediately disappeared. An incredible calm overcame me, although my body was still shaking from the adrenaline. I was filled with a warmth that I recognized as the influence of the Holy Ghost. Time was of the essence, and I could not delay any longer. Despite my sins, I was the only available person in that time and place who could do this. And amazingly, I knew without a doubt that despite my shortcomings and addictions that God would honor and fulfill whatever blessing I might pronounce.
I HAD NO DOUBT!
It was the quickest and most direct blessing I have ever given. I had a small vial of consecrated olive oil (which many priesthood holders carry) on my keychain. I opened the vial, anointed Dixie’s head, and called her by name. It was almost as if somebody else was speaking the words…I heard myself saying: “By the power of the holy priesthood, I bless you that the pain and distress you are experiencing will be abated until you can get to medical help” (We were at least 45 minutes away from the nearest hospital). “And I bless you that all will be well and that you will recover fully with your eyesight intact. This I do in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
Before I even said “Amen,” Dixie’s pain and anxiety were waning, and she grew more relaxed and at peace. A couple of other friends had just arrived on the scene. Immediately they loaded Dixie up in a pickup truck and started the long, bumpy ride down the canyon.
Several hours later, Lynn and the friends who had taken Dixie to the hospital returned. The doctor told them that he had no reasonable explanation of how her eyeball could still be intact, but it was. Within a few days, it was confirmed. Despite massive blunt trauma, there would be no lasting problems with Dixie’s vision.
So, here is the lesson to be learned. Although you and I think we are mere Muggles, we are of royal birth and have the power to exercise faith to produce miracles for ourselves and those around us! What miracle do you want? The miracle of overcoming addiction? The power is already within you…don’t overthink it; ask God, knowing that he will give it to you.
What exactly is Faith?
I have always struggled with the feeling that I do not have faith. For nearly 30 years, I stubbornly struggled against my alcoholism all by myself. I believed in God and Christ, but I also believed that a sinner like me didn’t deserve their grace. Because of this, I never really asked for help overcoming my addictions.
The prophet Alma tells us: ” …Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. ” (Alma 32:21). Similarly, The Apostle Paul taught that “faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
The break-through came when I realized this fact:
Faith = Trust in God
We can nurture the gift of faith by praying to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ. As we express our gratitude to our Father and plead with Him for blessings that we and others need, we will draw near Him. We will trust him. We will draw near the Savior, whose Atonement makes it possible for us to plead for mercy. (see Alma 33:11)
I testify that you are a child of God. You are endowed with the ability to practice faith and perform miracles in your own life! Overcoming our weaknesses IS part of God’s plan, and he truly wants you to succeed in returning to him.
Expect miracles! James 1:5-6 tells us, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering…”
No, faith is not a magic wand. You will still have cravings and weaknesses. However, you will feel (as I have) the strength to overcome all the things that are holding you back. And with each small victory, your trust in God (a.k.a. FAITH) will grow until you have the faith to overcome all things.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you WILL slip up from time to time. It’s just part of being human. Ask God’s forgiveness. Immediately forgive yourself. Trust in God to give you strength. And try again.
It’s like the directions on the shampoo bottle: Lather. Rinse. Repeat. And keep repeating until you’re all clean. It WILL happen! And I can tell you from experience…there’s no better feeling than being CLEAN!
You can do this.
Take a minute and check out the video below–it’s another great example of what we’ve been talking about here.
As always, I’d LOVE to hear about your progress along this journey called life. Comment here or PM me at Kyle@ChangeOfHeart.LIFE.