Learning to Hear Him Better
My scripture study this week was focused on getting answers to several pressing questions. I learned some important things about my revelatory process.
Sometimes, pure intelligence flows into me and I know it's from God. But other times, I have trouble discerning the voice of the Spirit from my own subconscious thoughts. That's especially the case if I'm praying for answers about something where I have strong emotions or preconceptions attached. I'll study it out in my mind, come to a conclusion and then ask the Lord if it's right. But I find that when I ask, it is quite easy for me to manufacture a feeling of peace about a course of action I really think I ought to take. And I have trouble discerning whether an anxious feeling is my own or a stupor of thought.
That changed significantly several years ago, when Sister Wendy Nelson detailed a process for seeking revelation at a women's conference I attended. She suggested that we ask the Lord a question and then open our scriptures at random and read until we found the answer. We should write down the question and the answer.
I decided to give it a try and was surprised at how clearly I could perceive answers. Many times since then, I have asked the Lord a question, opened the scriptures, found my answer, and then looked at previous notes and discovered that the Lord had answered a similar question with the same scripture on a previous occasion. The process has worked so well for me that I've developed great confidence in it.
Until, temporarily, this week.
Three times this week, my process made me pause.
I should note that about a year ago, something new started happening in my scripture questions. At the time, I had felt directed to move to Utah to take advantage of what seemed to be some beautiful opportunities there. I tidied up some loose ends here in order to go, and then sought confirmation that it was time to give my notice at work and prepare to move my family. I asked the Lord my question, opened Gospel Library app, closed my eyes and started scrolling and tapping only to land at a chapter page, like this:
I thought that meant, "wait." So I kept asking, day after day and the same thing happened. Finally, I asked a new question about staying and opened to a scripture that gave me a clear perspective on why I should stay.
A similar thing has happened enough times that I have come to understand a chapter page to mean "No." And that's made me kind of lazy. Sometimes, I've asked for confirmation about a course I think I should take, opened my scriptures, landed on an actual scripture, and paid very little attention to what the scripture meant because it wasn't a "No" so that meant it must be a "Yes."
With that background, here's what happened this week.
First of all, I had decided I needed to pick up a second used vehicle for the use of my sons. I'm in the middle of a divorce at the moment and super short on cash, so it mattered that I do this right. I had two offers. The first one was from an acquaintance who flips cars and who I believe is pretty good at looking out for himself. The car he was offering was economical on gas. The second offer, for a gas-guzzling car, was from a close friend. I wanted to buy from the close friend because I trusted her. But when I tried to confirm that decision with the Lord, I got a chapter page. When I then asked about the first car, I opened to a scripture and didn't even pay much attention to it because it wasn't a "No." I called my acquaintance and said I'd take it.
I then fielded a phone call from another friend, wanting to be sure I was aware that my acquaintance is pretty good at looking out for himself. I understood that. But I understood my answer to prayer to mean that I should go ahead and so I did. I didn't even take the vehicle for an inspection before buying.
Then my son took it to his step-dad (my ex) for his opinion. My ex said it looked like there was oil in the coolant and I might have a blown head gasket.
I was just sick. I thought I'd been cheated, and in retrospect, I could see how lazy I'd been. I hadn't done my homework. I hadn't gotten to a point where I had confirmation in my heart and mind. I hadn't even paid attention to the scripture I'd opened to in answer to my question. I'd just gone ahead because I thought my process was foolproof. But I decided that a $2000 lesson on my process for receiving revelation was inexpensive in the long run. It could have been so much worse.
Then I called my acquaintance who promised to refund the price of my vehicle if it really did have a serious problem. He just wanted a qualified mechanic to check it out first. I took the car to the shop. The mechanic checked it over and said it was fine. I even learned there were a couple guys at the shop who'd wanted to buy it if I didn't. So I had not been cheated and the process hadn't failed me. Still, the lesson was valuable.
Then, probably the next day, I paid closer attention when I asked the Lord another pressing question. Is it time to start court proceedings in order to forward a settlement process with my ex? I've been asking this question repeatedly for over a month. Every time, I get a chapter page. Hoping for new results, I opened to a chapter page. I laughed and tried again. Another chapter page. I tried one more time and opened to a scripture that I understood quite clearly to be telling me that the Lord is working with my ex to help him come around to a fair settlement. It is not time to use compulsory means. And He will fulfill His promises so I need to wait on Him.
I then went back through my notes and discovered that, when I asked whether it was time to instruct my lawyer to threaten court proceedings, I had opened to the same chapter. I'd understood it differently then, because I had been working on the assumption that if I didn't wind up with a chapter page, then the Lord was not telling me "No." So now, I understand that my job at this time is to wait and let the Lord do His work.
And finally, on Friday, I had another situation arise where I thought I knew exactly what I needed to do. I was going to take a decision away from somebody who I thought had proven unqualified to make that decision. I thought I needed to act for their safety. But I felt a prompting to check with the Lord first. And I got a chapter page. I said, "Really?" Then I opened the scriptures again to Enos, where I learned about Enos's struggle with the Lord. I got the clear impression that the individual I was concerned for was needing to struggle with the Lord and I needed to allow the Lord to do His work. I was directed to speak the words of eternal life, like Jacob did, and let the individual work through the process in a way that honoured their agency and allowed them to draw closer to God. Two days later, that individual has made the safe choice I thought they were unqualified to make.
What I have learned this week is:
That I need to do my part and really listen when I'm seeking revelation.
I need to ask and not just proceed according to my own judgement, especially when I'm pretty sure I'm right.
The Lord is amply able to lead me, in spite of my tendency to get my wires crossed. He keeps working with me to communicate in ways I understand.
The Lord is also working with others and has clear ways of telling me to back off and give Him space to do His work.