Connect to God's Power and Trust in Him

Melanie Kennelly
Online Curriculum Dev Director - Quality Assurance BYU-I
4 Feb 2020 - Devotional

 

Every day at this point in your life you are making critical decisions that will ultimately shape your future—decisions like “Who should I date,” “Who should I marry,” “Should I go on a mission? If so, when,” “Which career path should I choose,” “Should I continue with my education or go to work?” Just one or two of these questions could be overwhelming, but sometimes it feels like several decisions are coming at us at once. With each decision there may be multiple choices. It can feel like a multiple-choice exam! Should I choose A, B, B and C, All of the Above, or None of the Above?

Isn’t it great to know that you don’t have to do it alone? We have access to God’s power. Part of our mortal experience is to learn to trust in that power, and we will find safety there. Nephi tells us that God has all power and knows all things from the beginning, so He prepares “a way to accomplish all his works.” [1]

Let me share an analogy to illustrate power, trust, safety, and the need to be receptive. 

During my childhood, our family car was a green Ford Pinto station wagon, which looked similar to this one, only green. Our car had no power anything—no power steering, which made driving a lot more work; no power brakes, which made driving more dangerous, especially in the Rexburg snow. And we couldn’t always trust that the Pinto would get us to our destination. The three-hour trip to grandma’s house involved a lot of prayer. Safety features were almost non-existent. The car did come with lap seat belts, but they didn’t retract and were a nuisance, so my mom got a pair of sharp scissors and cut them out. Music was important to me and my siblings. The Pinto was equipped with an AM/FM radio and one tiny speaker located in the middle of the dashboard. If we were lucky and turned the dial just right, we could get some decent reception. As we drove along, we would lose the station and static would replace tunes. Then we were back to adjusting the dial. 

 

Now let’s compare our Pinto to some of today’s finest automobiles.

These cars have powerful engines that can accelerate to 65 mph in 3 seconds. Not only are they powerful but, with all the extended warranties and dashboard indicators, we can trust their reliability. They also contain features that keep you safe like lane departure sensors, backup cameras, and multiple airbags. With today’s satellite radio, we can get automatic reception to unlimited stations. 

Whether you are driving a Pinto or a Ferrari, you will face the same traffic conditions, but modern cars provide a superior and far more pleasant driving experience compared to a Pinto.

As we journey through life, we can choose to go it alone and have a Pinto-like experience with all the accompanying issues, or you can qualify to access God’s power. So how do we access God’s power?

In this video, President Russell M. Nelson tells us:

[An] element in drawing the Savior’s power into our lives is to reach up to Him in faith. . . . When you reach up for the Lord’s power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him—when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw His power into your life—you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do. [2]

Making the choice to access God’s power doesn’t guarantee an easy road. Our mortal journey was not meant to be easy. Everyone experiences speed bumps, rough weather, and sharp turns. But as we look to Heavenly Father and access the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we become the sons and daughters of God, and He gives us power to perform miracles, both large and small. 

The scriptures are full of examples of people who have performed miracles as they connected with God’s power. Moses, a Hebrew raised as an Egyptian prince, sought God’s power and trusted the guidance he received as he performed miracles while freeing the children of Israel. Captain Moroni was tasked with defending the Nephites from the warring Lamanites. He sought God’s power and trusted in the guidance he received to use unprecedented strategies which led to miraculous Nephite victories. Joseph Smith felt compelled to ask God which church to join. He sought God’s power as he knelt in a grove of trees and trusted the guidance he received. As a result, millions have been blessed across the earth with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like Moses, Moroni, and Joseph Smith, we each have tasks to accomplish in our mortal journey. As we seek God’s power and trust in the guidance we receive, we will see miracles in our lives.

In my own life I have seen this pattern in action. For the next few minutes I would like to share some personal experiences in my educational journey to illustrate. I grew up in the world of business and accounting, and I knew from a young age that I wanted to study and work in this field. After high school, I enrolled at Ricks College and earned my associate’s degree in accounting. Upon graduation, I planned to transfer to Utah S­­tate University to complete my accounting degree. However, that summer, I visited my sister in Arizona. The day I arrived, I was introduced to a group of good-looking guys. Her YSA ward had a lot of prospects too. I immediately loved Arizona! Long story short, I met a guy and deferred my enrollment at USU. Over the next seven months, I moved to Arizona, started dating, and got married. For the next four years, my husband and I lived and worked in Arizona. We had two children, and education was put on the back-burner.  

A desire to be closer to my family brought us back to my hometown of Sugar City, Idaho. Because neither of us had completed a bachelor’s degree, we were struggling financially, and knew we needed to go back to school. We agreed that my husband would finish his degree first, and that I would continue doing what I loved and found so much fulfillment in, which was being a mom. By the time my husband finished his education, we had three young children. I felt that it was not my time for school, but someday I would finish my degree. Education was very important to me, and I thought a lot about what career I should pursue in the future. I wasn’t so sure about accounting anymore. It just didn’t feel right. I desperately wanted to make the right decision for myself and my family, and spent a lot of time in prayer.   

I knew that I liked numbers, so I started to think about math. After pondering, a lot of research and much prayer, I decided that math education was the career path I would pursue someday.

  

Fast-forward three years. I was on bedrest expecting twin boys, when I received a prompting that it was time for me to go back to school. I brushed it off, knowing that there was no way that “someday” was now. I knew that when my twins were born, my life would not be my own. But I couldn’t shake the feeling! My family questioned if this was the right time for me to return to school. How would I be a wife, a mother, keep up with busy church callings, and be a student? Quite frankly, I didn’t know. I cherished being a mother so much and didn’t want anything to detract me from that role. But the promptings persisted, and I had no doubt what Heavenly Father’s will was for me. I made the decision to go back to school, knowing that He who has all power would provide a way. 

In our last conference, Sister Michelle Craig taught:

Nephi, the brother of Jared, and even Moses all had a large body of water to cross—and each did it differently. Nephi worked “timbers of curious workmanship.” The brother of Jared built barges that were “tight like unto a dish.” And Moses “walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea.” They each received personalized direction, tailored to them, and each trusted and acted. The Lord is mindful of those who obey and, in the words of Nephi, will “prepare a way for [us to] accomplish the thing which he commandeth.” Note that Nephi says, “ a way”—not “ the way.” Do we miss or dismiss personal errands from the Lord because He has prepared “a way” different from the one we expect? [3]

Just like Nephi, the Brother of Jared, and Moses, the Lord provided a way for me. It certainly was not what I expected, nor did it look like the way of others around me, but it was customized just for my needs. I spent the next seven years finishing my bachelor’s degree. If I had gone full-time, it would have taken two years, but I took it very slow so that I could continue focusing on being a mom. I was also blessed to have child number six during that time. 

Upon completing my bachelor’s degree in math education, I was hired to teach part-time in the math department at BYU-Idaho. I felt so blessed, and it truly met the needs of my family. Before long, I received a prompting to get my master’s degree. I began investigating master’s programs in math. It made sense. The twist came when I had a strong feeling to go into a technology field! Wait! I loved math. I loved numbers. I loved teaching. Where in the world would a master’s in technology land me? I looked into a program and knew I would hate it. I knew very little about technology, and programming terrified me. I wanted a master’s in math. Even though the math degree would require a three-hour commute, and the technology degree was conveniently online, I still wanted to study math. After a lengthy wrestle with my desire versus the prompting, I humbled myself and decided to trust in the Lord.

On this week’s devotional discussion board, I asked students to describe an experience when a prompting they received from the Lord was unexpected. I have been uplifted and edified by the responses. One experience that stood out to me is of Amy Nelson, who after years of hard work was accepted as a pianist in a symphony orchestra. This is an extremely hard position to get in the symphony because there is only one pianist. After a short time, Amy was prompted to quit. It made no sense, and after wrestling with her decision she obeyed the prompting. A short while later, Amy was asked to teach early-morning seminary. This would have been very difficult to do if she had stayed in the symphony due to distance and late-night rehearsals. She has seen many blessings because she trusted in and acted on the prompting she received.

One of my math students, Eric Taylor, recently shared an insight in our class devotional about trusting promptings. I asked him if he would share it with all of you today. Eric, will you please come and share your thought with us now?

The devotional that I gave was from 1 Nephi 4, and this is the part where Nephi was commanded by the Holy Ghost to slay Laban. And from all of my studies in the scriptures, this is the only part in the scriptures where the Holy Ghost gives a reason behind one of His promptings. I think that this is key for all of us, because we’re never going to receive a reason behind our promptings. So sometimes it may seem difficult to follow these promptings because it may seem like the timing’s not right, or that it’s not correct for us at this specific moment. We have to keep in mind that the Holy Ghost will always have our best interest in mind and will always lead us to do what’s right, and we should always follow these promptings regardless if we have a reason to or not.

Thank you, Eric. Trusting the promptings that I had received about pursuing a technology degree and relying on God’s power meant that I had to put aside doubts and fears about my abilities to learn it. I needed to trust the direction I was receiving and trust in God’s power to help me succeed.   

President Nelson has said:

Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in  every thought. But when we do, our doubts and fears flee. . . . Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise would not do. Faith that motivates us to action gives us more access to His power. [4]

I chose to enroll in the technology program, and access to the Savior’s power was exactly what I needed. Because of my busy life and many responsibilities, I usually did my schoolwork late at night. Some nights I was frustrated, overwhelmed, and discouraged. I thought that I would never use what I was learning. Why was I killing myself to learn this stuff? My tired brain couldn’t handle any more! I persevered, and with God’s help, I made it through—one class at a time.  

This scripture in Helaman certainly held true for me: “We can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.” [5]

I had no idea when I was prompted to go back to school, and then again prompted to get a master’s degree, that a few years later I would become a single parent. However, the Lord knew, and in His infinite goodness He provided the safety net that my family needed. The timing of my promptings and what I was guided to do didn’t make sense at the time. But as I put my trust in the Lord, accessed His power, and followed the plan He had for me, He greatly blessed my life. He positioned me right where I needed to be, when I needed to be there, so that I was able to obtain a great job to support my family.

In last week’s devotional, Elder James R, Rasband taught:

My desire is that we will remember that the most important object of our faith—and the first principle of the gospel—is faith in the Savior. When we have faith in Him and align our will to His, our faith will be truly fruitful, and our joy will be full. [6]

I have experienced the joy that comes when I put my faith in the Savior and aligned my will to His. My situations in life turn out better every time. 

 

Now, what happens when we are connecting to God’s power, trusting in His guidance, and doing everything within our power to live a righteous life, but it seems that some decisions we have made lead to a dead end? Should we begin to doubt and fear and think that God has forsaken us? No!

Elder Holland has said:

I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good, He is our Father, and He expects us to pray and trust and be believing, and not give up and not panic and not retreat and not jump ship when something doesn’t seem to be going just right. We stay in. We keep working. We keep believing. Keep trusting, following that same path, and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, “I told you it would be okay. I told you it would be all right.” [7]

I have experienced this first-hand and have had to trust the Lord and not just believe in Him but believe Him. I know that my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know me, and love me, and know what is best for me.

I have shared a little bit about my journey with you, but you have your own journey, and only need to be concerned with pleasing Heavenly Father and aligning your life to His will. Stop worrying about what people around you are thinking about your decisions. Stop comparing your situations to others.

A scripture that brought me a lot of reassurance and peace through my journey is, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” [8] The word “paths” in this scripture has a footnote that says “walking with God.” As you qualify to access God’s power and trust in Him, you will receive the guidance you need and be led safely through this life’s journey.   

We will not always have an easy road, and there will be many speed bumps, rough weather, and sharp turns. Our loving Heavenly Father is ready and willing to bless us with safety, comfort, and peace. He can provide us with warnings of danger or tell us when we need to re-route our course or even our behavior. He can bless us with navigation for our futures, if we choose to follow Him, so that we may become the people He wants us to become.

And I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes: 

[1] 1 Nephi 9:6.

[2] Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2017.

[3] Michelle Craig, “Spiritual Capacity,” Ensign, Nov. 2019.

[4] Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2017.

[5] Helaman 12:1.

[6] James R. Rasband, “Always Remember Him,” BYU-Idaho devotional, Jan. 28, 2020.

[7] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Wrong Roads”; churchofjesuschrist.org/media-library/video/2013-09-016-wrong-roads.

[8] Proverbs 3:5–6.

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