Monday, January 30, 2017

Psalms 51:17 -- On Being Humble Enough to Ask for Help

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."
Psalms 51:17

I think we get ahead of ourselves a lot and we think that we know what God wants, or we think we know the way the world should be, or other people should act, or sometimes we assume that we are the exception to some commandment or guideline that God has given us.  And I'm not saying here that those things are unknowable, or that there aren't exceptions, or any of that.  I do think though that there are fewer exceptions than we assume for ourselves, and I think we err quite often on the side of thinking we know more than we do, especially when it comes to God.  Sacrificing that pride and self-assurance in order to ask God for help is often a big hurdle to overcome.

A testimony of, and faith in, God is largely our accumulated knowledge that God is right.  There is more to it of course, but that is a large part.  We have faith in his perfection, in his ability and commitment to keep his word, and in his love and mercy.  We trust that we should do as God asks because he's all-wise and knows what he is talking about. :)  And, at least we think, so do we.  And maybe that is where we go wrong.  Instead of studying it out in our minds and then asking God if it is right (D&C 9:8), we too often just assume that we already know.

God will tell us what he thinks about things if we ask him, but in order to do so and get answers, we have to do the work of studying, searching, preparing, and having an open mind so that we can accept whatever answer we get.  We sometimes pray for an answer, but are unwilling to hear anything other than what we already think... and when we ask in that way, we're already preventing ourselves from being willing to hear the answer.

As we study things out, we have to examine all sides, not just read opinions that agree with our own.  We need to read the scriptures on the subject, and we need to have some patience as well.  Sometimes we're asking the wrong questions, and it takes time for God to show us that.  God told Joseph Smith that none of the churches were right, and similarly, I doubt if he is going to tell us which political party is correct. :)  The whole idea is for all of us to learn to be on God's side, not for him to take sides in political turmoil where we are largely "all wrong together" (Joseph Smith--History 1:10).  His opinion is the one that matters.

It's not easy to admit that we don't know the answers.  It's hard to humble ourselves and ask God for help.  I definitely have a hard time with it, and I often worry that I am writing what I think rather than what God wants.  It takes study and effort and time if I want to make sure that God and I are anywhere near the same page, and I don't always take enough time.  Perhaps it is the same with all of us on some level.  If we stop just blustering through and we take the time to pause and study and learn, we'll get closer to the real truth--no matter what truth we are wondering about.  I think a lot of the things that we say, and think, and believe would change, or at least be modified, by a good conversation with God on the topic.  God is the *source* of all truth, and he doesn't vacillate like we do.

Today, let's work on having broken and contrite hearts.  It doesn't mean that we have to sob all day... only that we need to recognize that we really don't know what we're doing most of the time, and that we desperately need God's help to avoid the pitfalls that we keep walking into, often on purpose.  Let's not assume that God agrees with us, or that we know what God wants or thinks, no matter how well we know the scriptures.  ... Instead, let's work on studying all sides of the issues, comparing all of that to scripture, and drawing some conclusions for ourselves about which parts seem to be in harmony with God's will.  Then, when we've done all we can to figure it out, let's ask God if we're right.  He'll help us know that, and when we have that kind of open minds and hearts, he'll help us understand where other people are coming from that much more clearly as well.  Knowing God's will might not help us choose a side politically, since there is likely to be good and bad on both sides in almost any issue, but at least it will help us make personal decisions about what causes to stand up for, and how to do God's work in the world.

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