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Compiled and adapted from the newly released book: Answers Will Come: Trusting the Lord in the Meantime by Shalissa Lindsay.
#1: A pancake griddle, unplugged, can still burn you.
I’m learning it’s okay if I can’t satisfactorily explain the reasons behind God’s rules or His exceptions. People who do this sometimes get burned.
When using an electric griddle, I tell my preschoolers rather emphatically: “DO NOT TOUCH THIS! IT WILL BURN YOU!”
Astute kids who notice that Mom touches it herself (to pull it from the cabinet) might conclude that they know the real rule: “It’s only hot if it’s plugged in.” Right? OUCH!
As it turns out, the griddle can still be hot long after Mom unplugs it. Their attempt to rationalize around the rule is dangerous because it stems from an incomplete understanding of the situation. My simple rule was calculated to perfectly protect the kids in all situations.
The children might observe another contradiction between my rule and my behavior. To test the warming griddle, I have sometimes lightly tapped the hot griddle with my fingertip, but I don’t get burned. They might not notice that before I tapped the griddle, I licked my finger so the thin water barrier would absorb the heat. I don’t elaborate on thermal dynamics because I don’t want my kids experimenting with this procedure. My simple rule will fully protect them. But a child might conclude that the REAL rule is, “It’s okay to tap the griddle if you haven’t started the pancakes yet.” OUCH again!
My kids are encouraged to ask me any questions they want, and over time I’ll teach them the technicalities. But they often think they’re ready before they really are. If they try to instruct each other by substituting their own reasons for my rules, they’ll very likely oversimplify with dangerous results.
Jehovah tells the Israelites not to kill, but later says to destroy Jericho. Huh? Plural marriages were usually condemned, except when allowed. Huh? Do we avoid coffee due to tannic acid, or caffeine? Uh, I really don’t know.
I’d better be careful about trying to supply the “why” behind God’s commandments. I’ll probably oversimplify. I may do harm if I don’t separate my opinion from revealed fact. And if somebody offers me a questionable explanation for why God is doing such-and-such, I don’t feel obliged to believe it.
#2: Sign me up for flight school.
Say you’ve been using a skateboard to get around town. No license required. No rules. No hassle.
The Lord comes and offers you a car, 100 percent free to you. He will also pay for instruction, drivers’ licensing, taxes, insurance, and unlimited gas. Enjoy. Grace. On the house. All that’s required of you is a willingness to pass the driver safety exam and obey traffic laws thereafter. Excited, you accept. Soon you’re loving the freedom of driving coast-to-coast.
The Lord returns, offering next a jet airplane, absolutely free, complete with paid gas, maintenance, airport fees, and full tuition for flight school. You’ll have to follow lots of rules, restrictions, and regulations; certification requires time; you must demonstrate strict obedience to air traffic control. But it’s all yours, if you want it. You can cross oceans, landing anywhere in the world at will. Want to?
We choose a skateboard when we refuse God’s help, determined to get by on our own power rather than obey higher principles. We choose a car by accepting basic biblical commandments like honesty and kindness. Such obedience harnesses more power and helps us steer a useful course toward Christ. We can go a long way, but it’s just the beginning. Metaphorically, there are oceans we still can’t cross. We opt for the pilot’s license when we accept the restored gospel, Church organization, and temple covenants. These grant heavenly power and freedom for eternity.
By Christ’s gift to us, all of God’s children are invited to own an airplane and complete flight school, free of charge. Grace. But still we must act; we must try to learn to fly. We must study and practice, and practice, and practice. We will not be allowed to fly until we demonstrate obedience to covenants.
I wonder: is the spirit world like NASA training? More commandments for more freedom and power? Rules for planet creation, anyone? I suppose that coming ordinances, such as resurrection, will be associated with further covenants. Do I love obedience enough yet?
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).
#3: I’m just on the helping chair.
Sharing the gospel: A single conversation can never do it justice. The gospel is just too BIG. What if my missionary efforts start at the wrong end? I don’t want to ruin someone’s eternity because of my clumsiness.
Meanwhile, I find myself baking with my little daughter. I could work much faster without her, but she loves standing on the “helping chair” and stirring in ingredients one by one as I hand them to her. Now dump. Stir. Pour. Stir. Good girl!
When she spills awkwardly, I adjust by adding more. When she lets eggshells fall in, I fish them out. I take care of the ingredient ratios, temperatures, and cooking times for different recipes. Too young to understand the complexities of the process, my daughter just licks the spoon and asks when she can taste the cookies. The oven seems to take forever.
I begin to think about my missionary efforts. I guess I’m not the main chef in that labor. I’m on the helping chair. The Lord could do it all much faster Himself, but He enjoys teaching me. His Spirit prompts me to add a missionary invitation to conversations here and there. “Now stir gently,” He whispers. “Add a testimony. Now stir again. Good girl!”
So often, I spill awkwardly, saying too much or too little. Have I ruined my friend’s impression of the Church forever?
The Lord reassures me that He can compensate. He knows the ingredient ratios: what reading material my friend will see, her history and prayers, what her family members will say, and how to mix them for best results. I just need to keep following His promptings one by one.
I don’t know which efforts produce quick results and which will take a long time. The Lord is the main cook, and He monitors the complex interactions of faith and agency. He knows when to stir people along and when to let them sit and rise awhile. To me, this process often seems to take forever.
Along the way, I’m learning little things about the process of saving souls, like what makes friendships sweet or sticky. I’m learning to trust that the Lord can fix my errors. I’ve already tasted some joy in His kitchen. I look forward to tasting the final results of our labors.
Continue reading in the newly released book: Answers Will Come: Trusting the Lord in the Meantime by Shalissa Lindsay.