It’s human nature to want to stay in charge of our own lives. Turning decisions that affect us can be very frightening. However, we see the world with a very limited vision. There is no way for us to see what will happen in the long term.
The scriptures contain many stories of people who were forced to trust God’s advice even when the advice’s wisdom wasn’t obvious. As is often pointed out, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. Living where he did, it’s likely he couldn’t even imagine what a flood would look like.
The Bible tells of the widow of Zarephath. The prophet Elijah was commanded by God to go to Zarephath during a serious drought and famine, explaining that He had instructed the widow to feed Elijah. When Elijah found her, he asked her for water and bread. She responded, “As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.(1 Kings 17:12)
Even though God had instructed her to provide this bread for the prophet, somewhere in the back of her mind must have been some concern about this. She didn’t even have enough to care for herself or her child, and she was being asked to feed a prophet. Why couldn’t he go to someone who had more than she had?
Elijah reassured her, “Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.”
Now the widow has a decision to make. Should she do what seems logical and sensible-take care of herself and her son first, because they have so little, sending the prophet on to someone who was better off? Or…should she trust the promise of the prophet, and by extension, God?
Notice that Elijah gave her a specific order-feed him first, and then herself and her son. She had to exercise faith in God before even beginning to care for herself and her child. She had no proof the prophet was telling her the truth. For her, it was a moment of commitment-she had to decide if she had a testimony of the prophet and of her own personal revelation from God that she was to do this.
What did she choose? She didn’t have days and hours to go in, pray, and come to a decision. She had just a moment to make a choice that would affect the rest of her life and even her eternal life.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
With but a moment to choose, the widow chose to trust God’s wisdom in a situation that seemed entirely unlikely. Her life wasn’t easy after this, or without trial, but because she trusted God, she and her child lived.
With our limited mortal vision, it’s impossible to see the long-term possibilities in a given situation. Losing a job can seem, on the surface, to be a tragedy, but the next year, the person may have launched a successful business of his own, and will later look back and celebrate the day he lost his job. At the moment of the trial, there were no blessings in sight, but a year later, the man can see it spurred him to do something he loved.
One of the reasons God sent us to earth was so we could have experiences and learn to make choices. Knowing we’d
have difficulty making those choices with our limited vision, He gave us a resource to use as we go through our lives. He offered us the ability to pray and to receive personal revelation that can guide us through the challenging decisions we have to make.
Each person has the light of Christ to guide him from birth. This light comes from God through Jesus Christ, and it is what testifies of us what is true and what is right. Sometimes people refer to their conscious, which is really the Light of Christ whispering the right thing to do. When a person decides to seek out the truth about God, and select a church to join, it’s the light of Christ, not the missionary or friend, who will tell the person what is true in a way that cannot be denied.
When someone is baptized by a priesthood holder with the proper authority, he becomes eligible for the gift of the Holy Ghost. which some people call the Holy Spirit. Mormon beliefs teach each person must be baptized by one with authority. Following the baptism, either that day or soon after, the person is confirmed a member of the church. This is done by priesthood holders who place their hands on the head of the new convert, proclaim him a member, and then command him to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The gift of the Holy Ghost allows the member to have the Holy Ghost with him all the time, as long as he’s living worthy to receive it. The Holy Ghost cannot be where evil is, so a person who ignores a prompting to remove himself from a bad situation or to stop doing something wrong will find he is alone to cope with the consequences of his decisions.
The Holy Ghost’s guidance allows us to access God’s wisdom in every situation. When we’re confronted with a decision to make, the Holy Ghost will tell us what God wants us to do. As we follow that counsel, either from the Light of Christ or the Holy Ghost, we should notice the results. While some results might not be apparent for many years, and God’s choices may even be more for the benefit of another than for you, we will often be able to see the wisdom in the advice we were given. Over time, this will help us to learn to trust God and to follow His instructions even when the answer doesn’t seem to make any sense to us with our limited vision.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.