My husband Bob was asked to speak last Sunday to a group of elderly people in a nursing home. I asked him what he was going to speak about, wondering how one could address people who are suffering so much physically and make a difference. I went along to listen to him and was so touched by his words; I’ve taken parts of his talk to share today.
He started by quoting an old Southern poem, which Neill Marriott shared in an address she gave, it reads:
Have Thine own way, Lord…
Thou art the Potter;
I am the clay.
Mould me and make me
After Thy will,
While I am waiting,
Yielded and still.
Then shared this quote from her: “How do we, a modern, busy, competitive people, become yielded and still? How do we make the Lord’s ways our ways?” “I believe we begin by learning of Him and praying for understanding. As our trust in Him grows, we open our hearts, seek to do His will, and wait for answers that will help us understand.”
Bob then shared these words:
For me, the key to this statement is our willingness to do “His will”. When you think about it, the only thing we can really offer the Lord is “our will,” meaning, our ability to choose, to use our agency. Our Savior created this world, which provides for our needs and wants. We are in his debt in every way. But we do have our agency; we do get to choose our path.
Many of us have spent years learning about our Father in Heaven and about the gospel of His son, Jesus Christ. Admittedly, there is always more to learn. To me, the hardest part is waiting for answers that will help us understand – to understand what our earthly challenges are meant to teach us. What is the Master Potter doing with my clay?
I want to share part of my mother’s story to illustrate this point.
Devona Moss was born a “blue baby” due to a defect in her heart; she had 3 chambers in her heart instead of the normal 4. As a child she suffered a broken back when her father hit her with a shovel in anger. As a teen she had to drop out of high school because of repeated bouts with rheumatic and scarlet fevers, which forced her into bed and temporarily took away her ability to walk. As a young mother, she had to be revived after giving birth 3 times. Later, she died for more that 30 minutes while she underwent open heart surgery and was brought back. She developed breast cancer and underwent a radical mastectomy. At age 56, she lost her husband to colon cancer. Although this is not a complete list of personal trials, you get the idea.
My mother was a lifelong faithful Christian who was tested with many difficult physical trials. Her life was filled with physical pain and suffering. She went to the Lord on many occasions to ask for relief and understanding. I imagine her asking, “What am I to learn? Or, please give me understanding and strength to understand how my trials will teach others what they need to learn. My mother did not get angry and say that a loving God would not let her suffer. She accepted her life, stayed faithful, and sought to understand.
My trials are not like her trials and your trials are likely not like mine. What is the purpose of our trials? What is the master potter trying to mold with your clay?
Neill Marriott taught, “True worship begins when our hearts are right before the Father and the Son. What is our heart condition today? Paradoxically, in order to have a healed and faithful heart, we must first allow it to break before the Lord. The result of sacrificing our heart, or our will, to the Lord is that we receive the spiritual guidance we need. With a growing understanding of the Lord’s grace and mercy, we will find that our self-willed hearts begin to crack and break in gratitude. Then we reach for Him, yearning to yoke ourselves to the Only Begotten Son of God. In our brokenhearted reaching and yoking, we receive new hope and fresh guidance through the Holy Ghost. How do we, a modern, busy, competitive people, become yielded and still? How do we make the Lord’s ways our ways?”
I suggest we consider the following steps to make the Lord’s ways our ways.
First, take time to talk with our Father in Heaven. We are commanded to pray always. Pray that the Spirit of God will touch you – invite the Spirit into your life. Ask to know His will.
Second, take time to read the scriptures, regularly. I find that reading not only teaches beautiful doctrine, it changes the way I think and feel.
Third, ponder the scriptures, ponder the ways that God has blessed your life, and ponder how you can align your will to His will.
“Some may think they have failed too many times and feel too weak to change sinful acts or worldly desires of the heart. However, as covenant Israel, we don’t just try and try on our own to change. If we earnestly appeal to God, He takes us as we are—and makes us more than we ever imagined. Noted theologian Robert L. Millet writes of “a healthy longing to improve,” balanced with the spiritual “assurance that in and through Jesus Christ we are going to make it.” With such an understanding, we can honestly say to Heavenly Father:
So trusting my all to thy tender care,
And knowing thou lovest me,
I’ll do thy will with a heart sincere:
I’ll be what you want me to be.
When Bob finished speaking, I had a deeper desire to find out what God wants me to do, especially at this time in my life.
This week, I hope you and I can take some time to think about where we are and where we want to be.