So I keep a journal of my proceedings of my days here in the fires of affliction. I may have mentioned it, but I am not a good journal keeper. Procrastination and journal writing don’t mix. Nevertheless, I started writing one page a day, on the very first day I came to prison, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to stop now after all these long years.
To be honest, I still am a horrible journal keeper. Sometimes a go a whole week without writing and come Sunday I write seven pages worth to catch up. That happens pretty often. But at least I haven’t missed a day (not one). I’ve got one full page written for every day. I’ve been in 950 days (give or take a few), and I can live with the fact that when I get out I can look back and say if nothing else, I was at least diligent in recording what went on in this crazy place.
Truly, it is the good, the bad, and the ugly. Regardless of how much of a pain in the butt it is sometimes to sit down every single day and try to relive some of these events, it is becoming an immeasurable blessing in my life. So much so that it now acts as a major medium in my spiritual development for Heavenly Father to speak to me and teach me.
As I am sure with most journal keepers, the evolution of their writing changes from shallowly-surface writing to in-depth internal searching; then a recognizing of God’s ever constant hand turns into an acknowledgment of countless miracles; finally, a recognition of miracles evolved into a record of incredible lessons learned every single day by God himself. At least, that’s the level I’m on right now in my personal Journal writing. I’m excited to see it evolve even beyond that, but for now, I am content with this level of eye-opening writing.
I no longer write about my day to day activities (unless they are just really insane). I use my page a day to detail the lesson I learned for that day, and more often than not it’s multiple lessons. Writing about it in my Journal, though, helps me to solidify it, but also to churn it around and glean from it even more juicy details.
This happens quite often, as the gospel of Jesus Christ is a never ending staircase upwards. Everything can and must be built upon; little by little, precept upon precept, line upon line. Like I said, journal writing has become a medium for God to speak with me and teach me, and here is one instance I wish to share with you – because it blew my mind. It literally just happened – 10 minutes ago.
After I wrote that particular entry, I wanted to share this cool experience with you, so I got out another piece of paper, and here we are. For the past week or so my personal studies have scoured the topic of prayer; more specifically, the true order of prayer in relation to piercing the veil and receiving all the glorious blessings to which are encompassed therein.
Like all of God’s children I am in need of some answers. I need direction, assistance, comfort, to be loved. In short, I need whatever God can give me that I cannot do for myself, which list is almost endless. But also, like a lot of God’s children I feel discouraged by the fact that my prayers are lacking. Answers aren’t coming as quickly as I would like (if they even come at all). I almost always feel lost and alone. There is just a big hole in my life.
The thing is though, that I have been taught my whole life that if I lack something I only need ask Heavenly Father for it (James 1:5-7). But therein lies my problem: the lack of faith in my prayers. If my faith is lacking when I ask Heavenly Father for what I need then I might as well be a big bottle of lost-sauce.
This, I think, explains sufficiently why I’ve been studying the topic of prayer. But I also think it’s safe to say that I pretty much just described a lot of other people’s problems too. So stay tuned if you want to hear what I have to say about finally getting some answers.
So like any other person planning on writing something, before I sat down to hash out another journal entry I gathered my thoughts on what I was going to write about, especially since I had limited space – I never write more or less than exactly one page. I make sure I have a good idea that I’ll write about, so I can use the space proficiently. Today I felt impressed to write about the lesson I was learning about “wearying the Lord through prayer.”
There is a quote that was spoken by the prophet Joseph Smith that has really got me thinking. “God is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privileges. Come to God, weary him until He blesses you… We are entitled to the same blessings.” (The Words of Joseph Smith, page 15.)
Weary. I’ve been thinking of that word quite a bit lately. Without looking in a dictionary the word wearying reminds me of other words, like “bother” or “annoying” or “to make tired.” Now, surely the friend of Christ (see D&C 84:77) doesn’t mean for us to annoy God? To me, that’s almost like being told to ask God over and over and over again the same question until He gets so fed up with it He finally answers you. That makes it sound too easy. I’ve been doing that my whole life to my earthly parents. So is that what Joseph Smith means?
Well…let’s throw a parable in the mix. This is out of Jesus Christ’s own mouth:
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:1-8)
Christ uses the words “trouble with.” That sounds an awful lot like “bother” or “annoy.” But, I still can’t accept that, especially when we have an account of Joseph Smith, the very man that told us to “weary” God, and what happened to him when he “wearied” God (read D&C Section 10)? The whole first section from the Book of Mormon was lost in consequence of that, but maybe more appalling was that the gifts God had entrusted to Brother Joseph were taken away from him (vs, 2). But wait, I argue that that whole experience was a different matter entirely: Brother Joseph actually got an answer, multiple times- he just didn’t like the answer.
Our quest is a slightly different one, in that we just want an answer, any answer, whether it be yay or nay, we will be content. So now we are back to “wearying” the Lord again, and in deciphering what exactly that means. Maybe this will help us: this is yet another account of Jesus Christ dealing with his “lost sheep.” Like all other accounts it depicts Him using perfect awareness and wisdom to consider the best and proper way to lead a soul to the blessings they seek.
Let’s watch him in action:
21 ¶ Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. (Matt 15:21-22)
Like the loving shepherd He is, He looks intently upon the woman’s soul, not her outward appearance, status, or even the situation at hand. For surely He has cast out plenty of evil spirits by now and has also conducted many other incredible miracles. Casting out a devil in this woman’s daughter is child’s play to the Son of God, but look what he does – I love this: “He answered her, not a word.” (vs. 23) When I first read this, I remember thinking, well, gosh, that’s kind of harsh Jesus. Here, this woman comes to you begging for your help and you just ignore her? What’s up with that? See, but when you understand that LOVE is the only feeling Christ has for this Canaanite woman, it makes the whole story understandably pretty freaking awesome!
Jesus Christ knows perfectly well what this woman needs, which to us it seems obvious – she needs her daughter healed – but to Christ, He knows she needs even more than that – she herself needs healing. That’s why He’s so amazing! It’s just a characteristic of Him that He not only heals the one but He heals everyone else as well – all at the same time! Which in this case is, of course, the afflicted daughter, but also the mother and the disciples – plus I’d even wager the crowd around watching this whole event. They are mentioned, but you best bet if this woman knew where Christ was lots of others did too, hoping to catch a glimpse of this walking miracle-machine.
Back to the story, though, there is a very wise reason why Christ did not answer the woman right away. All the clues are right there in the story, but you must read between the lines, and you can see Christ leading this woman along that she may gain enough faith, so that He can heal the daughter and the mother together. Right after Christ seemingly ignored the woman His disciples, “besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.” No doubt Jesus’ disciples feel in some type of way like they are His personal entourage; bodyguards that need to protect something so royal and heavenly. Sometimes I wonder, do they even know Jesus?! But then think, “Well…I’d probably be the same way.” I, like his disciples, would read this interaction and assume that my King is annoyed by this cretin, so be gone with her!
But Christ knew His actions would cause His disciples to think this way. He’s using them as part of His master plan, while at the same time He’s involving them, and He’s teaching them a lesson as well. He’s like a conductor to a huge symphony! Golly, I love it! The plan was unfolding exactly how He orchestrated it. The woman came to beg. He took a calculated decision to ignore her, which in turn caused His disciples to want to shew her away. Now the ball was in the woman’s court – Christ served it up, but ultimately it was her decision to go with it are not. She could either go away feeling dejected or continue begging for her daughter. She chose to stick it out.
25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (Matt 15:25)
Now this is where it gets really good:
26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. (Matt 15:26)
Christ seemingly insults her. Can you believe it!? We can only speculate what He means by this, but basically in my mind, He is calling her a bad parent. Undeterred though, almost with vengeance, now, “she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” She drops all pretense and courtesies and with her snarky little attitude, I can’t help but think Christ just adores, is ready to mince words with this Son of God, King of the Jews. She basically tells him, “I may be a bad parent, but this isn’t about who I am, this is about who you are. And if you are who you say you are then that means you came here to save sinners, and all sinners depend on you. I am a sinner. You can save my daughter – so save her! I’m not leaving until you do.”
And I bet that after she said that Jesus grinned that big grin of His then turned and looked back at His disciples and gave them a wink. The woman was now full of faith and ready to be healed right along with her daughter. So, “Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.” (Matt 15:28)
All of it was so calculated in love. Jesus knew this Canaanite woman had some fight in her. He knew just what to say to get her over the hill so that she could have the necessary faith. She came most of the way, but needed just a little more pushing. In a way it was like her test. There could be endless principles to learn from Jesus Christ in this story, but also there is a major key to learn from the woman as well. She had multiple chances to turn around and say, “Forget it. I will find some witch doctor.”
But this woman, bless her heart, shows us the true meaning of what it means to weary the Lord. I think part of her understood something that would be good for all of us to understand, which is… We could never truly “bother” or “annoy” God the Father and Jesus Christ. They are the perfect embodiment of love. Both of them share the high-score in long suffering and patience. Thus, wearying the Lord won’t even be viewed in a negative connotation in their eyes. It is how you do it. That is the important thing to learn.
It’s not really about how much (quantity) as it is and why (quality). The woman in the story was a prime example of the term “persistent,” which I believe is the best synonym for the word weary. Her faith was shown through her persistence (works). Which in turn allowed Christ to work His magic a little bit more each time she proved that she would stick with Him.
It will always be about Jesus Christ. It’s why we pray in His name. We need to make Him a part of our prayers; let Him do His thing, because He is the only one that knows more perfectly what we need, while also being the only one that can give it too. But we need to prove that we will stick with him. We must be persistent.
And, of course, that looks different for everybody, but the more I think about it and learn, I realize more and more that it might not be such a vast formula as we might think.
I am reminded of the famous story of Enos and how he went out to hunt and while he was in the forest he kept thinking about the words his father talked about Jesus Christ (eternal life), which “sunk deep into [his] heart (Enos 1:3). He then kneeled down before God and had a great “wrestle” with Him (vs. 2), and “cried unto Him in mighty prayer and supplication…all the day long…and when night came [he] did still raise [his] voice high that it did reach the heavens.” (vs. 4).
If that isn’t persistent than I don’t know what is, because come on! Who does that? Prays all day and then all night? It sounds to me like this guy was willing to pray all day the next day too, if he had to, or all week, even to get an answer. And that’s when it hit me…the Spirit just spoke volumes to me; this man was willing to pray as long as it took to get an answer, even if that meant he would keel over and die. It was in Enos’ persistence through prayer that he proved to Jesus Christ that he would stick it out with Him, even unto death. It was in those long hours that Enos’ faith grew. He let Christ in and during the whole process – you best bet it was a process – Enos became more and more ready.
I learned it’s never about convincing Christ that we are ready for our answers, the process is about convincing ourselves that we are ready.
And so all of this really makes me think how I personally can convince myself through my own persistence that I am ready to receive answers to my prayers and maybe even receive what Enos did – a remission of my sins; to be reborn, made anew, the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. It was “because of [his] faith in Jesus Christ…” that, “…made [him] whole” (Enos 1:8).
I am so broken, it’s not even funny. I yearn to be made whole! So how can I show forth faith like Enos did? Do you ever question these things? I think we all do. I’m really starting to think there is are a lot of answers here. Wearying the Lord, being persistent until He blesses us, wrestling with God, kneeling before Him in mighty prayer, and allowing that process to provide the necessary faith within myself that I can be convinced that my heart is fully the Lords.
And I believe I have really come to that conclusion that we all need to do this. Now, I’m not saying we need to go dictate to the Lord and force His hand, but…pretty much. I mean…it is my express opinion that even if we have the intention of forcing the Lord’s hand by granting these great desires of our hearts, that the process alone will change us.
Like, let’s go back to the Canaanite woman. We already saw how snarky and obstinate she was. I really think this particular woman set out that morning in search for this Son of God guy so that he could heal her daughter, and she had full intention of forcing His hand. She pressed Him until either He healed her daughter or proved that He was a phony.
I also believe that the intention of forcing His hand helped her remain persistent throughout the whole ordeal. But the main part is Christ’s part. When we come in from a completely broken and screwed up view, He comes in with the perfect and full of love view. Christ was willing to take this woman’s intentions of forcing His hand to the point that He could work His magic. See, He’s going to work his magic regardless, because He just loves us that dang much. There’s no possible way you could ever annoy Him. So regardless if you go to Him with the wrong intentions, or even half-right intentions, by His infinite love for you and your persistence and willingness to stick with Him, you’re going to come out whole, and your intentions will be made right automatically.
We must have faith in His part, the process, because only He can bring forth the blessings we desire, while often times, far exceeding our expectations. So go force His hand. Go to Him. Weary Him until He blesses you. There’s no possible way you could ever annoy Him, but be willing to be tested. Stick with Him because He’s got to change some things around in your heart. But that’s always the cool part. That’s His “magic”! Even if you don’t think you have enough faith (rarely anyone does) it’s okay – His love for you will take care of that. You just keep sticking to “forcing His hands.” Because it’s going to seem like He’s testing you to see if you’re bluffing or not. Because here’s the secret…He’s dying for you to try to force His hand! He likes a Saint with some fight in them, because that means they want Him in their life and are willing to march right up to the doors of heaven and knock.
Oh, do I bet He absolutely LOVES the sound of someone banging like a banshee on that door. Music to His ears! He’s smiling on the other side, eyes closed, head back just listening away, “Boom! Boom! Boom!” Finally, He flings the door open, wraps you in a hug and whispers into your ear, “Thank you!” Can you imagine that!? That is who your Savior is. He thanks you! I cry just thinking about it. I want to be with Him so badly. Joseph Smith had it right though, he truly spoke with prophetic counsel as the mouthpiece of the Lord. Basically, “weary God until He blesses you” means, “weary me PLEASE until I bless you!!
And that folks is what I learned in the past couple of weeks. But that’s not all. Oh no, no, no, the Lord first had to solidify it in me. So in Part II I’m going to share with you the cool little miracle that Heavenly Father produced through trying to write all this down in my journal.
Become A Weary Wart, Part II: Gone Fishin’
After I finally got a good understanding of what it means to “weary [God] until He blesses you,” (The words of Joseph Smith, page 15). I gathered my thoughts to adequately summarize all of Part I into a single page of writing for my Journal. But before I even started writing I did what I always do and add to the top of the page with the day’s date.
The first couple of months in my Journal writing I would date the top with a generic type “2-3-15” or “9-13-16.” For someone that likes to doodle that got boring really quick. It started out slow, I’d make little differences here and there. Maybe instead of a dash I’d use a back-slash. Then came the holiday season and that really set me off. I draw turkeys between the numbers or jack-o’-lanterns. During Christmas I got a little more gutsy and maybe even numbers into something Christmassy. Now, two years later, it’s gotten so wild that every day is different.
All too often I spend more time decorating the numbers than I do actually writing the page for the day. Like, for example, a couple weeks ago on 7-7-17. I drew a slot machine, depicting a jackpot with 777. That one was fun. I really don’t plan on what I’ll draw. Of course, a holiday will give me inspiration, but not every day is a holiday, so some days it’s just totally random.
Now I know it takes me 20 years to explain something, and like to write mine and my dogs life story, but you’re the one sitting here reading this so jokes on you. I promise that all of this ties into God’s way of teaching me – so read on…please.
So today was 7-30-17 and I had no real inspiration as to what the theme to my date was going to be so I just randomly drew my seven like this.
I had no idea what it looked like, but the more I looked at it the more it looked like a fishing rod. Do you see it? So then I was like…absolutely nothing. This day reminded me of fishing. The lesson of my day that I’m almost about to write down has absolutely nothing to do with fishing. Shoot, I don’t even like to fish. But what the heck, fishing theme it is. So then I drew the rest of the day to look like this to match.
Now that I had my date drawn I could commence writing. But before I wrote even one word, it was like a wave hit me, or like one of these apples in the Reds Apple Ale commercials. Fishermen are the perfect weary-warts! Maaaan…those guys sit there all day until they catch something, which is the main reason I can’t stand fishing. If I’m next to a body of water, something’s wrong, I’ve got to be IN it. Fishermen, though…they stick their little line or net into the water and they’ll just wait and wait and wait…and wait. Their whole occupation and livelihood depends on being persistent.
And when I made that connection in my mind, knowing what I had been learning for weeks, then seeing what I had just drawn for the date, seemingly a random drawing, I bowed my head and expressed utter gratitude to my Heavenly Father for answering my silent prayer of granting me assurance that what I had been learning is of truth and that I am not just some crazy kook reading too much into things.
Right there it was – rock solid proof that the Spirit was in fact guiding me right, that these were true principles, and that I should place stock in them. So I wrote in my journal about this cool little sign I had just received. I have learned a lot, but the fisherman take on it just completed everything for me.
I then began to unfold in my Journal all that I had learned. When I got to the Enos part in my Journal I wrote this: “So then my mind for whatever reason took hold on the story of Enos and his “wrestle with God” that lasted all day and night. I mean, c’mon, who prays that long? I bet he was a fisherman! Or…wait…no, he was a hunter! Basically the same! Ha! That just proves it to me! We must do as Enos did. We must go to the Lord and pour out our hearts and commit to not getting up until He answers us!”
I was laughing so hard while I was writing this. Why were the Scriptures so descriptive in telling us Enos was a hunter? Because hunters, like fishermen, are persistent little buggers. They’ll sit there and wait all day (and night) for a measly little deer to walk by. They know how to be patient and wait. They also know how to seek. To be good at either skill, you’ve got to know where to look. You can’t just blindly go out there and expect to catch or shoot something. So cast your line, or knock, or bow down and weary the Lord. I emphatically decree that you WILL get an answer! Christ chose fisherman to be His disciples for a reason, a perfect reason. I think if you do as they did you’ll find out what that reason is. Happy hunting!