Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Little Rain

If you have read my last post, you'll know that I'm in a battle, much bigger than anything I've ever faced. If you haven't, I encourage you to go back and read it. Much of the time, this battle I'm facing is related to running in my own personal revelation. The Lord quite often uses running to teach me some lesson or show me some path.

I had spring break the past week, and while the first few days were just being at home, being a slacker, the final few days were spent in Saint George, at a track meet. But the nice weather, and the not-as-great-as-expected tan I got aside, I went with a goal in mind. I would run both the 800 and the mile. My goal was to break a five minute mile, and had done most everything I could to do so.

I ran the 800 on Thursday. Not too great. I ran it at the exact same pace I needed to run the mile, and it was only half the distance. There was no way that I would have been able to hold that pace for two more laps! But I put that out of my mind.

I just focused, and most importantly, I prayed, and I tried. I ended up running around 9 pm. The sun had gone down, it was nice and cool. Perfect running weather. Well, near perfect. I thought, as I was nearing my race, that it would be amazing if I had a little rain to help keep me cool when I ran. So part of my pre-race prayer was asking for "a little rain".

I would put all my effort into it, and I felt that if I did so, the Lord would give me rain. And so I ran. I put my all into it, despite rain not coming on the first lap, nor the second lap, nor the third lap. As I began my final lap, I began to think, "Where is the rain? I know the Lord can give me a little rain. Where is it? I'm working hard. I feel that I deserve just a little rain. Where is it?"

The things about life is, it sucks. Life kind of really sucks sometimes. And we sometimes just want a break. Sometimes we even may deserve a break. But we don't understand our trials if we have our minds focused on the rest we'll receive after it's over.

We don't get our little rain right away, no matter how much faith we have when we pray. Our rain doesn't come when we want it to. But it does come.

As I ran my final lap, I noticed that I was right on pace. My teammates and coaches were shouting at me. Cheering for me. Yelling "let's go Nathaniel! Do you want to break five or not? Push it now!" Yes. I wanted it. I wanted to win. I want to have that victory, rain or no rain.

As I crossed the finish line, I felt a raindrop, and another.

I stepped of the track, and saw a couple of my teammates running towards me with smiles on their faces. Good news. They told me I ran a 4:59. Right where I wanted. Not only did I have my victory, but I had the little rain I wanted.

We expect our trials to go our way, and gets breaks whenever we want, but that's not how God wants them to go. A race isn't set on our own terms, with breaks whenever we feel like it. My race was 1600 meters. No more, no less. Run that. That's all they ask.

And I ran that to the best of my ability. Because I was asked to. We need to realize that our reward is a result of our effort, not our participation. If we put all we can into facing our trials, we will receive that reward. That rain we so desperately desire.

This gives me hope as I step into darkness. It gives me hope that if I put my entire heart, might, mind, and soul into facing this battle, rather than think about when I'll be freed from it, I will be victorious. And yes, it will hurt, and yes, I will want my rain. And it will come, but not until I do everything that was asked of me.

The rain will come. Trust me. It won't come when we want it, but when it comes, we will realize that it came exactly when we needed it.

Hold onto that thought.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Stepping Into Darkness

I know I haven't posted in ages, but I feel the need to today. Or at least write this out. If not for my own comfort, for the comfort of someone else.

You see, I've just sent in my mission papers. Not an hour before I began writing this. As I spoke with my stake president, he asked me to make a commitment. The details aren't particularly for everyone, but the gist of it is that from now until I get my mission call, I will need to study the scriptures and pray every single night, and every single morning. First thing when I open my eyes, and last thing before I fall asleep.

I agreed to the commitment, not really thinking much about it. When I got home, however, I was terrified. There's no way. There is no possible way that I can do this, considering the fact that I've been struggling with this for ages.

And so what did I do? I prayed. Prayed for comfort and strength, and then turned to the scriptures for that comfort and strength. What I found, wasn't exactly what I was looking for. Surprise, surprise. It was a warning.

A warning that things are about to get really bad. That this commitment I've made will cause the adversary to attack me mercilessly. That every aspect of my life will accumulate into one gigantic effort to tear me down, and that if I allow it to, that's it. I will fail, and it will take years upon years to get back.

Now many of you are thinking that prayer and scripture study aren't that big, and I that I should just suck it up. But there's another issue that I have opted to keep personal. Don't ask too many questions about it. To avoid this issue, I must pray and study. If not...well let's not talk about that.

So with the very comforting feeling that I'm about to go through one of the most if not the most difficult moment of my life so far, I began to panic, but also listen to the Spirit. I was about to step into darkness. I didn't know what was coming, but I knew it wasn't gonna be sunshine, lollipops, or rainbows. It was going to be scary. And I was scared. Heck, I'm still totally terrified, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

But then the Spirit prompted me to do something. Ask for help. And so I did. I asked three of my good friends for help in remembering to study and pray. They all agreed, and I'm really grateful for them. I feel less worried and more hopeful.

I'm stepping into darkness. A great trial is coming, and then my mission. It won't be easy, but I'm sure that with God and my friends on my side, I will emerge victorious.

I particularly enjoyed Elder Holland's talk from Sunday. I mean, enjoying Elder Holland talks are kind of a given, but whatever. But regardless, I'm finding amazing comfort in his words, "Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on. Today, tomorrow, and forever."


Yeah, I'm terrified of what tomorrow will bring. In fact, the only thing keeping me from laying down and crying is my sheer pride, which may not stick around very long.

But God loves me. A mission is what I need to do, and I need to do it now. He's prepared me for this moment. Up until this point I've been walking with light. Now I'm stepping into darkness. God will light the way for me.

I'm glad I could even put together a thought.