Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God Is Good. So What's Wrong With Me?

A few years ago I was asked to play the piano at a baptism at our church. This wasn't anything out of the ordinary; our ward was historically a high-baptizing one, and when you're one of only a few ward members who play the piano, you have to expect to help out with these things sometimes. This one was scheduled for a Saturday afternoon, but since our family didn't have anything else planned I didn't think it would be a problem for me to hop over to the church for an hour to play for the baptism.

Well, the problem came when I remembered the baptism in the morning, but flat-out forgot about it by the afternoon. And it wasn't as if we were doing anything important or special; I was just hanging out, and then looked at the clock (which now said the baptism was half over) and it suddenly dawned on me that I was supposed to be somewhere else.

It is not a good thing to miss an event where you were supposed to play the piano, because that leaves the other people stranded. If you were scheduled to give a prayer, and missed the meeting, someone else could probably give the prayer. But it isn't always easy to come up with someone else to play the piano at the last minute when the scheduled pianist flakes out. So I wasn't feeling too good about myself as I quickly changed into a skirt and flew off to the chapel. I'd really, really blown it this time.

But, lo and behold, when I arrived, there was someone else at the piano. Another piano player in the ward, Sister W., had gone just to watch the baptism, but (as she told me later) she felt like she should bring her big hymn book along. Sure enough, her services were indeed needed at the piano. So she played everything as it had been planned, and the service went quite smoothly. Despite my shortcomings, the Lord in His tender mercy had provided another pianist.

Which has always left me wondering. . . why was Sister W. the one who received the inspiration? Why wasn't I inspired to look at the clock sooner, for example? Frankly, I don't have any good answers for that one. It might be that He did prompt me to get myself to the baptism on time, but I was so busy goofing off I didn't catch it. Or perhaps I was angry about something and was not receptive to the Spirit right then. Then again, there may have been a reason why I needed to be home at that time instead of at the baptism. (If so, I don't know what it was. But it's possible. We don't always know.) Or there may have been a reason why Sister W. needed to be the one who played at that baptism.

Learning to heed the promptings of the Spirit and allowing the Lord to work in our lives is one of those vital things that we must learn here on Earth. And yet as we do so, it's so easy to start adding our own interpretations and conclusions to what we receive: I'm supposed to do this thing because of this reason (which the Lord never actually stated, but makes sense to us). Or, because I have this problem, and I'm trying to live the way I should, God should help me fix it this way. And sometimes we can get pretty frustrated when we want--or expect--to see the hand of the Lord in our lives in ways that it just isn't being manifested.

The thing is, unless God tells us, we don't always know why the Lord does some things or why He asks us to do certain things. We may come up with reasons that make sense to us, but in the end, we just don't know. We may expect that God will bless us with a certain insight or wisdom or reward or answer because it makes sense to us, but what is our limited vision compared with God's? He sees the whole picture. He knows the end from the beginning, and His wisdom and perspective are infinite. We only see a small portion of the whole, and without God's help we are limited to our own meager understandings to make sense of it.

But if we truly put our trust in the Lord, and humbly heed His promptings, we need not fear. Things may not work out as we would have chosen for ourselves with our limited understanding, but He will make all things work together for our good.

And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7)


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