In his talk “Trust Again“, Elder Gerrit W. Gong discusses how trust is lost and how it can be gained again. There were five statements in his discourse that jumped out to me on how to trust God and our fellowmen.
The image above is of our son Sam after being buried in the sand at the beach in California. It takes trust to have been buried up to your neck in the sand that you won’t be left there. Sam was buried by his siblings and friends and trusted that they would get him out before the tide came in. There are times in our lives when we are buried up to our neck and need to trust that God will help dig us out. There are other times when friends or family are in a tough situation and trust us to help them.
God Is Coming to Meet Us
“Whether we are coming home or going home, God is coming to meet us.” This was the first statement that jumped out at me. Over the last year, the thought that God is always there for us has been on my mind. So much so, in fact, that I wrote a “parable” about it. I’m including it at the bottom of this post. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but it does help to explain how I feel about this.
Three times in the scriptures the Savior talks about gathering us as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings (3 Nephi 10:5, Matthew 23:37, and Luke 13:34). These scriptures show that God, and Christ, are willing to be there for us. The choice is ours.
I have found that in my darkest times when I repent (“a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God“) and turn towards God, He is there ready and willing to help me back. There is no judgment at that moment, only an expression of love.
Making Trust Real
The second statement that caught my attention was “Trust becomes real when we do hard things with faith.” I believe there are several types of “hard things” we can do with faith. Among those are:
- Service – especially when we struggle with wanting to serve
- Understanding and magnifying a new calling
- Forgiving others
I believe we make repentance a hard thing. We don’t like admitting we’ve done something wrong. We don’t like the way we feel when we break a commandment or hurt someone. We begin to believe we are not good enough, nor do we deserve forgiveness for the act we committed. We also know that we have to come to God and ask for forgiveness and change so that we do better. Having faith to repent and in the repentance process changes those feelings. Our faith leads to a feeling of peace when repenting, even if it takes time to fully repent.
Service really shouldn’t be a hard thing, however, we don’t always feel like serving. I know that there have been times when I have been selfish about my time and didn’t want to serve. I also have had the feeling of being obligated or forced to serve. When those feelings have come up, I have had to force myself to serve anyways. I have had to trust that by serving I will have helped someone and that is the most important thing. I have to have faith that this is the right thing to do at this time. I have found that when I do this, my selfishness recedes, I enjoy serving and realize that those I serve have needed this more than I needed the time for myself.
I was called to be a Ward Clerk several years ago. It was the first time that I had a calling that was directly involved with the Bishopric. It is a demanding calling where the handbook of the church recommends a person serve long enough to truly understand what being a clerk means. To say I felt overwhelmed is an understatement. I had to rely on my faith that God knew what He was doing when He called me to this position. My faith was needed to learn about the clerk’s duties as well as how to work with the bishopric and assistant clerks. The growth I experienced and the knowledge I gained has helped me grow spiritually and I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to serve in that calling.
Finally, forgiving others. This may be the hardest thing we will ever do in this life. We are commanded to forgive all men, but we are humans and our feelings can get in the way. I know from experience that the bitterness and anger and hurt one feels makes it hard to forgive. It may take years before a person can forgive someone for something done. Even then, remembering the events can bring up those same feelings of bitterness, anger, and hurt. I have found that the only way I can forgive others is through faith that the Lord will work it all out. I do not have the full context in order to judge or to hold a grudge. He does! Faith allows me to say that He will handle things with justice and mercy and that I am responsible to make sure that I have peace with that.
We Can Trust God
We must develop the faith to trust God. In my life, this has been a bit of a rollercoaster. At times, this has been easy. However, during times of trial or struggle, trusting God has been hard. Why is this? What is it about going through trials that lessens our trust in God? I believe that is a tactic of the adversary. “See”, he says, “you’re going through this difficulty, why would God let this happen? Doesn’t he trust you?” It’s a devious deception to get us to waver in our trust in God.
Times of trial and hardship is exactly when we need to trust God. He knows all things. He knows how to best get through those moments. He loves us and wants us to succeed, learn, and grow through trials and hardships. Instead of blaming God, we must turn towards Him and ask for help and guidance. Doing this shows that we trust Him and want to work with Him to overcome the obstacles in our lives.
“Trust God’s inspiration to discern wisely.” To discern is to perceive or recognize something. What is that something we are to “discern wisely”? I believe it is to quickly see those things that are right and true. We are to understand right from wrong. We need to be able to balance justice with mercy. Finally, we are to discern the direction of our life. These things get muddied when we solely rely on ourselves. If we listen for inspiration, God will help us discern and lead us to not only be on the right path but to do the things that will help others join us on that path that leads to God.
Be the Better Other Son
Towards the end of his talk, Elder Gong discusses the parable of the prodigal son. He discusses how we should see ourselves as both sons. It’s easy to see us like the prodigal son who repents and returns. That is something we are all familiar with. Being the other son is not something we easily identify with.
If you remember, the other son complained when the father killed the fatted calf for the prodigal. He wondered why his brother was getting all this attention and wouldn’t participate. His father, being wise, let him know that his inheritance hadn’t changed and that he should be happy that his brother had found his way home.
Have you ever been jealous of the attention someone receives who “reactivates” in the church? Have you ever envied the attention that those who are “not strong” in the gospel receive from leaders? I know I have at times.
So how do we become the “better other son”? I believe that we can do this by changing our perspective of people. One of the themes of the October 2021 General Conference has been identity. Understanding that each one of us is a son or daughter of God. Having that understanding of ourselves is easy, but do we see others in the same light? That is the key to being the better other son, seeing others as sons and daughters of God. When we see everyone as a child of God, we want them to achieve the same goal we have: returning to our Father in Heaven.
Trusting God and man can be difficult. Trust requires us to move away from being selfish. We must understand who we are and that God knows what He is doing. Faith is key to trust. Having faith in God so that we can repent and stay on the Covenant Path. Faith allows us to forgive others, see them as children of God, and love them instead of resenting them. Finally, as we show trust in God, he shows trust in us, and we need to respond to that trust by heeding the inspiration that comes with it.
A Journey to Home
The story of a man trying to return home after travel.
Once there was a man who took a journey far from his home. Upon arrival, the man was set on the path with a guide who guaranteed that he would make it home if he listened to the guide. The man agreed and they set out on the path to his home. As the man traveled he noticed other paths veering off and asked his guide where they went. “Those paths lead away from home and some travelers get lost and never find their way back.”
In the beginning, it was easy for the man to ignore these paths as they were either barren or had thorn bushes. But as they continued, the paths that veered off started having nice houses, or interesting shops, or events that the man enjoyed participating in. Each time he wanted to veer off, his guide would gently remind him that staying on the path would lead to his home.
The man had trouble not thinking about all the things on the paths that led away from his home. One path, in particular, called his attention. It had his favorite foods, events and looked like a place where he might want to relocate once he made it back home. “What will it hurt to go off the path and check things out? I can always find my way back if I have to.” Said the man. His guide, seeing him veer towards the path reminded the man of his goals and the safety found on the path he was on. The man didn’t listen to his guide this time and chose to veer off the path.
At first, this new path seemed to be an idyllic place. The man stopped at a restaurant and had a nice lunch. He was able to play soccer with some very talented players. He toured a new housing development that had homes he could afford and live comfortably in. This path seemed to have everything. As the man traveled down this path, he began to forget the path that led to his home and the guide who was helping him.
The man continued down this path and eventually came to an area that was more mediocre. The restaurants weren’t as nice, the events not as fun, the houses not as beautiful. The man thought to himself, “Well, that’s how things go, not everywhere in an area can be the best. There will always be places that aren’t where I want to be, but overall this path is good.” The man continued to forget the path leading to home thinking that it didn’t really matter what path he was on, he would eventually arrive at his destination.
Further down the path, the area turned dark and dingy. No restaurants could be found. No events were happening and the houses were dilapidated and the people looked miserable. The man couldn’t believe the state of things. He also noticed that he too was feeling the same as the people around him. The hope of reaching his destination faded, replaced by a feeling of loneliness and loss. He couldn’t understand what had happened.
Finally, the man decided he needed to change his course. He asked those on the path if they knew where the path back home was. Each one stated that they didn’t know what he was talking about. They said that this was the path and that he should just keep going. The man knew that wasn’t right. The path he started on never deteriorated, never went from beautiful to dull. It was always bright and clean.
The man began to worry that he was hopelessly lost and would never get back to his home. He cried out “Where is the path? How can I get back?” He then heard a soft voice. One that he thought he recognized. He looked left and right but didn’t see anyone. As he continued, he kept hearing that soft voice but couldn’t locate its owner. Finally, the man turned around. To his astonishment, the guide from his original path was there. He now understood the words of the guide. The guide was saying “Turn around and I can lead you back.” The man looked at the guide and asked “Is it true? Can you lead me back to the path that will lead me home?” The guide said “Yes, I can lead you back”. The man then asked, “How did you find me? I’ve been traveling this path for a long time. How is it you came to be behind me?” The guide said “When you left the path, I left the path with you. I have been behind you this whole time waiting for you to turn around and come back. I have tried several times to get your attention, and it is only now that you have heard me.” The man thanked the guide and asked him to lead the way back to the path, promising that he would heed his words so that he could arrive home safely.
So it is in our lives as we journey towards our Heavenly Home. We walk a covenant path that will lead us to our Heavenly Parents. We have been provided a guide that will help us walk that path if we will listen to Him. This guide is our Brother Jesus Christ. He guides us because He loves us. And, just like the guide in the story, He is always there when we stray, waiting for us to turn around and see Him waiting to help us get back on the path. Through the Holy Ghost, He guides us and helps us. We must listen to the voice of the Spirit and avoid the paths of temptation that would lure us off the path back home. If we will do this, we have the promise of being safely guided home and of receiving the blessings our Father in Heaven has in store for us.