Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a two-part series on Opening the Door to Family Revelation. (click here for yesterday’s article) which is an introduction to a new book by the same name which the Eyres are offering to Meridian readers for free. The book is a deep and thoughtful guide to the process of partnering with God in the raising of His children. When you have finished reading here, you can go to EyresFreeBooks.com, scroll down to the “How it Works” paragraph, get registered, and then scroll on down to the latest book on the list which is Family Revelation—and click on it to open the entire book for free. It is hoped that today’s article will draw you into the need for help from a higher source with our families and our children, and prepare you to find further detail in this new and completely free book.
Life’s journey in our families with our children is filled with joys, but it always includes the best teacher: adversity. Every family struggles with something. From the misery of a baby with colic to the heartbreak of a child suffering with an addiction or who has left the church and so many things in between, we all experience sorrow. But sorrow is a component of joy and adversity is part of God’s plan and is the greatest tool to teach us and our families how to beg for inspiration and revelation as our trials stretch us to the depth of our souls.
As you read and as we write, know that we are fellow strugglers right along with you, trying our best to create a conduit to heaven that is firm and strong. We are certainly not presumptuous enough to think we can provide answers for you, but we will try to present ideas and questions that may help lead to your own answers.
Because we have been blessed to travel all over the world and have spent so much time teaching incredible Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh families as well as those of many Christian faiths and good people who don’t claim any religion, we have found many who may be more “in tune” with the spirit than we are as they have shared experiences of receiving revelation for their families. The light of Christ that provides inspiration and revelation abides everywhere!
Our greatest gift in our journey of joy with our own beautiful children sent from heaven for their turn on earth is the knowledge that our Heavenly Parents and our Savior Jesus Christ love them even more than we do. They want to help us but we have to ask for it. As stewards, it is daunting to know that we are here to help our children find their foreordinations and tofind joy. Most importantly, our journey in life is about having the privilege of helping our families to understand that life’s most precious gift is the life of our Savior Jesus Christ and that through his teachings and his Atonement we can return to Heaven with a glorious understanding of the joys of eternity.
Since there is no set roadmap for this new personal journey as parents and marriage partners, we need to make full use of the spiritual GPS of Family Revelation.
Perhaps the deepest part of the WHAT question, mentioned in yesterday’s article, is:
“What is the objective? What are you seeking personal family revelation about?”
And perhaps to Church members, the simplest answer to that question is,
“About my foreordination and that of my family and my children.
Another synonymous way to answer the same question is,
“About God’s will for me.” Because the whole point of Family Revelation is to get us and our families operating on God’s agenda rather than on our own.
As President Benson once observed, “Those who turn their lives over to God will find that He can do much more with them than they could.”
The doctrine of foreordination is unique to the Church, because it was part of the Restoration—specifically the restoration of the Plan of Salvation and the knowledge of a premortal life where we developed into who we are as spirits and received special foreordinations regarding what we could and should do here on earth.
As Elder Neal A Maxwell said, “Foreordination is like any other blessing—it is a conditional bestowal subject to our faithfulness… foreordination is a conditional bestowal of a role, a responsibility, or a blessing which, likewise, foresees but does not fix the outcome…The doctrine pertains not only to the foreordination of the prophets, but to each of us.” Meeting the Challenges of Today NEAL A. MAXWELL of the Seventy Oct. 10, 1978 • Devotional
Someone once said “Each of us were given a specific foreordination for this life, and for one who finds and fulfills it, he will have it in the hereafter as his greatest joy; and for one who fails to find it, he will have it in the hereafter as his greatest…embarrassment.”
The last word is fascinating. Embarrassment. Imagine the feeling of thinking you lived a good life and did your duty and pursued your goals and then finding out that “your ladder had been leaned against the wrong building” and what you accomplished, though perhaps good and noble, was not the thing you had been foreordained to do.
Now it is only speculation just how specific our foreordinations were, but we really don’t need to worry about that, because if we seek and receive revelation for ourselves and our families about what God foreordained for us and for them, we will have as much information as God desires us to have—and if we are sincere and have real intent in our asking, those answers will become invaluable guides for our life goals, for our marriages, and for our parenting.
Patriarchal Blessings, the closest thing we have to personal scripture, can be at least a partial guide to our foreordinations, and can be the prompters for prayers for deeper understanding.
God will not turn down or ignore one who is seeing His will, both for himself and for his family stewardship.
Our daughter Saren’s experience on her family’s latest move illustrates the kind of Family Revelation we all hope will come regarding location, career, and all the things we hope to get right for our families and for our service to God:
“Praying for guidance on where to relocate and raise our children, we got an unexpected job offer in Ogden, Utah where we had never imagined living. The move didn’t make sense when we analyzed it, but still, as we prayed, we continued to feel prompted to move forward and make the move. There were problems with the job and with the house we found and for a while we were having trouble making sense of it.
“After living here for about a year, the stake president invited Jared and I to come and meet with him. He called Jared to be the bishop of our very diverse and struggling inner-city ward. While the call felt somewhat shocking at first, we both very quickly felt a strong sense of peace about it.
“For the next five years, Jared was stretched and grew in wonderful ways as he served as Bishop of our Ward and was able to be a real instrument in the Lord’s hands. The kids and I had opportunities to learn a great deal as we got to know wonderful people from all walks of life and Jared example of selfless service became a pillar of our family. We have so many crazy stories and tender stories from that 5 years!
“I’m so grateful for the Lord’s clear but somewhat confusing promptings that led us to this place and all the experiences and opportunities it has offered.”
We think of the similar experiences of our other children as they have negotiated their marriages, their parenting, their choice of where to live and what careers to pursue, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the Family Revelation they have sought and received. Our son Josh, succeeding in one career path but inspired to drop it and become an elementary school teacher; our daughter Charity knowing when she had found the right guy, even when their relationship had broken off for a time; our son Tal, finding a job against all odds that allowed he and his wife to move to Switzerland where her ageing parents live; our son Eli, guided to take the risks of living in Manhattan and start a new business with his brother Noah. With hindsight, it is impossible to imagine living our lives without the Family Revelation we need at every stage and at every junction.
Revisiting the five Ws
Let’s revisit and reconsider the five W questions again, and this time, instead of asking them about the subject of Family Revelation, let us ask them about our own lives. Because these are the very questions that we each need to ask in deepest prayer if we are to draw down the light and guidance of our Heavenly Parents concerning the path and destiny of our families. In that context, the W questions take on a whole new light and start to look like this:
WHO does the Lord want me to be and who does he want each of our children to become?
WHAT are the things that He wants me to do with my life—what are my foreordinations?
WHERE does God want me to live and work and raise our children?
WHEN should we have another child, or change jobs, or re-locate, or take a new path?
WHY am I doing what I’m doing now, and shall I to continue it or try something different?
Socrates famously said
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
We might expand that spiritually and say
“The life unquestioned and un-prayed-about will not be the life that God wants for us and could create for us if we were to ask Him.”
Misusing Agency, and Not Asking
The biggest obstacle to receiving Family Revelation is the most basic and subtle one: Simply failing to ask. When we fail to make positive use of our agency by asking, our chance for Family Revelation is doomed.
We live in a world that holds independence up as a virtue and a goal—which conditions us into thinking of needing help as a weakness. And we get so caught up in the day-to-day that we don’t take the time. And thus we don’t ask. And thus we don’t receive.
Trying to “go it alone” is generally a mistake in most matters, but nowhere more-so than in the matter of raising of our children and the strengthening of our marriages. A positive can-do attitude doesn’t get us very far in something as complex and complicated as raising unique and strong-willed children in a world that seems to work against their becoming what we wish them to be. What we need is a “positive can’t-do attitude” where we recognize our need for help and grasp the power of asking for it.
We need to understand the power of our applied agency and the promise Christ gives “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you” (James 4:8). But we also need to understand that without the asking, there is no power. Without our unlocking the door, in respect of our agency, He cannot come in. Once we unlock our door by faith and hope, He can not only knock, but press gently on the door as a further invitation for us to open it by seeking and asking.
While we were in London, we liked to occasionally take missionaries to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the great religious edifices in the world, designed by the brilliant Victorian architect Sir Christopher Wren. Below the magnificent dome, as an altarpiece in the Cathedral’s Middlesex Chapel, hangs the painting “The Light of the World” (the new free book’s Cover art) by William Holman-Hunt, a pre-Raphaelite painter who paid remarkable attention to detail and who said “I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good Subject.”
Often called a “sermon in a frame” this painting is filled with symbols, the most important of which is the latchless door which can only be opened from the inside and the underlying message that the Savior of the World is alive and will dwell in the hearts of those who admit him. Under the painting are the words from Revelation 3: ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me.’ Also quoted is John 8:12 “I am the light of the World; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life.” When the painting was installed at St. Paul’s, the choir sang psalm 119 which includes the verse : “Thy word is a lantern unto my feet and a light unto my path”. tpauls.co.uk
To us, and to the missionaries we taught, the underlying message of the painting is the powerful principle of agency, and the truth that the Lord will not violate our agency by opening the door Himself—yet He waits, He knocks, and in various ways He asks us to ask Him in; and He is always there. He entreats us, “If you love me, keep my Commandments” but He does not force or coerce, so the best definition of “commandments” is “loving council from a wise Father.”
Agency and Joy
When God says “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you,” He is not playing some demanding game where we are forced to take the initiative, He is pleading with us to open the door, to unlock the access to His Spirit, to permit Him to give us all that He wants to give without violating our agency or superseding the very power of choice and responsibility that makes mortality work and allows us to “work out our own Salvation.”
In this universe where God owns all, and we are mere stewards, there is only one thing that we actually own, and that is our agency which He has given us and which He will never take away—and which no one else can take away. This is the core point of Victor Frankel’s classic book Man’s Search for Meaning where he relates that even as a Jew being subjected to medical experiments in Hitler’s concentration camps, he still had the agency or the power to choose how he would react, how he would respond—whether he would hate or love, whether he would condemn or forgive.
We know that agency began in the pre-mortal world where we chose it even though we were fully aware of its risks. We know few specifics about that phase of eternity, but scripture does tell us that we “shouted for joy” at the prospect of earth and mortality.
We have wondered if, after the initial elation of hearing about this adventuresome mortality, there may have been a letdown or discouragement as we understood that it was an adventure from which none of us could return, because we would all sin and fall short, and “no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God.”
But then our Eldest Brother, by the incomprehensible power of His perfection, offered to ransom Himself for our sins, and perhaps it was at that moment, realizing that we could experience mortality and return, that we shouted for joy. It was at that moment that we understood that we could have this learning, empowering, earth life, have the god-like mortal roles of parents and family, make the mistakes that all mortals would make, and yet, miraculously, because of Christ’s offered atonement, still return to our Heavenly Parents after it was over.
So now, here we are, right in the middle of this muddled, messy, maddening mortality, facing opposition and family challenges that none of us are equal to, but with faith that there is help that is divine, and that we can actually give our agency to God through the promises and commitments of His Covenant Path. We remind ourselves that He has not only paid for our sins, but for our mistakes—as parents, as siblings, as uncles and aunts—and that if we can ask the right questions, we will get the right answers, and receive the help we need not only to return, but to return with those we love most.
President Marion G. Romney explained,
I believe that, notwithstanding the fact the spirits of men, as an incident to mortality, are deprived of memory and cast out of the presence of God, there still persists in the spirit of every human soul a residuum from his pre-existent spiritual life which instinctively responds to the voice of the Spirit until and unless it is inhibited by the free agency of the individual. [Marion G. Romney, “Revelation,” address to seminary and institute faculty, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 8 July 1960, pp. 6–7]
When we learn to use our agency, the one thing that we own, to unlock rather than block the channel, we can receive the personal revelation that can save us and our families.
As Elder Boyd K Packer said,
“You have your agency, and inspiration does not—perhaps cannot—flow unless you ask for it, or someone asks for you.” Boyd K. Packer, “Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, November 1994, 59
Not asking is the biggest block or obstacle to opening the door, and to windows of heaven to our families.
Deciding to Ask, and Doing it Often
It would be our hope (and the free book at https://valuesparenting.com/free-books/) is designed to help with that hope) that we and you will fully avail us of the Divine help that is always available for our parenting; and that we can each learn how and when and where and what to ask for; and that we can each become better at receiving the revelation that our Heavenly Father wants to give us about His children who are now in our stewardship.
Good luck, and, more importantly, God bless.