This is a talk I gave in church on 11/8/2020. The prompt came from the weekly Come Follow Me Lesson.
In all the craziness, uncertainty, and inconsistency of this year, I’m grateful we have had studying Book of Mormon as our constant.
As we wind down our reading of the Book of Mormon, this week we studied the last few chapters in Mormon, however most of it was actually written by Moroni who was finishing his father’s life’s work.
Additionally, Moroni was granted a vision of our day so he would know what we needed to know and focus on so that we could endure the last days.
Here’s how he discusses one of these areas of focus:
“Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God?
Behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles.” (Mormon 9)
Why of all things that we are faced with in our day would he want us to focus on miracles?
There are many in our day who deny God’s existence, deny his miracles, or claim that miracles ceased after the New Testament times. We need to know that he continues to be a God of miracles because:
“If there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.” (Mormon 9)
Our understanding of the nature of God is a vital part of our doctrine and our testimonies. To deny miracles is to deny the nature of God as being unchanging. And yet:
“For every infirm man healed instantly as he waits to enter the Pool of Bethesda, someone else will spend 40 years in the desert waiting to enter the promised land. For every Nephi and Lehi divinely protected by an encircling flame of fire for their faith, we have an Abinadi burned at a stake of flaming fire for his.” (Elder Holland)
The same God who provided manna in the desert for the Israelites made Nephi hunt for his own food.
The same God who gave Hannah a son, lets others struggle through indefinite infertility.
The same God who visited Joseph Smith lets some of us struggle with deep questions for years, potentially our whole life.
The same God who protects faithful armies let the people of Ammon die.
The same God who makes weak things become strong would not remove Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
The same God who led the Prophet Samuel to anoint David a ruler by looking on his heart asks us to individually research and vote for our leaders.
Does this mean that God changes?
“The reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.” (Mormon 9)
But was that Nephi’s problem? Was that Abinadi or the People of Ammon’s problem?
Four years ago, the last time that we were studying the Book of Mormon as a church, a dear friend of mine was struggling through a fertility battle. She was in her early 40s and had tried so many different fertility avenues as well as adoption, nothing was working. When we studied this portion, she had just received more bad news, and when the Sunday School teacher said, “If you don’t have miracles happening in your life it’s because you aren’t righteous enough,” it crushed her. She texted me after church needing to talk through what was going on. She asked if the reason she wasn’t seeing this miracle come to pass was because she was doing something wrong. But she felt like she was doing everything she could.
Has anyone else ever felt this? And wondered where is my miracle?
As I reflected on her questions and concerns two things came to me:
Timing and Type
Maybe the miracle just hasn’t come YET- and in her case that was what it was. She now has a 2 ½ year old little miracle girl.
But what if it’s not just timing. What if it’s one of those Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego “But if not…” moments. Are we back to this question of if the day of miracles has ceased.
Where does our mind typically go first when we talk about miracles. Insert special musical number from Fiddler on the Roof– Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles.
We like to think about the lion’s den, the parting of the Red Sea, the Walls of Jericho coming down, people saved from fiery furnaces, and other miracles of biblical proportion.
But what if the issue isn’t timing or the ceasing of miracles, what if we just need to look for a different type of miracle.
The Bible dictionary says: Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power.
While the miracles that DO deviate from the ordinary course of nature are the easiest to recognize, they are not the only type. Any time divine or spiritual power is manifest it is a miracle no matter how big or small. The Bible dictionary goes on to say:
“Some lower law is in each case superseded by the action of a higher.”
I think what we need to do in most cases is think outside the miracle box. After all, if miracles are a manifestation of God’s power and his higher laws- then let’s not box him in by the constraints of our lower lawed minds.
Let’s consider a few of the examples I brought up earlier. Joseph Smith was granted a remarkable vision in response to his question- he certainly got one of those deviations from the ordinary. When I have questions that’s not how it goes for me- anyone else??? In fact, Heavenly Father rarely actually gives me a straight answer. He likes to play jeopardy or something and responds to me in the form of a question for me to contemplate. So let’s play that question game right now…
What if the miracle of the Restoration isn’t just about the vision, what if it’s not just about the answer? What if the bigger miracle is that a 14 year old boy was so concerned about the state of his soul that he poured himself into the scriptures all on his own? I don’t know any of the 14 year old young men here, but I have two brothers and I taught high school for a little while, and I can tell you that this is not typical 14 year old boy behavior.
And what if part of the miracle was also being led to ask the right question?
Throughout the scriptures we read about groups who were protected in war because of their faithfulness. However, the People of Ammon converted then made a covenant with the Lord that they would never fight again and buried their weapons of war in order to keep that covenant. It was within God’s ability to keep them safe, and yet the Lamanites came upon and killed them- unarmed. Where was the miracle? What if the miracle wasn’t about their lives being spared? What if the miracle was their strength to keep their covenant at all costs. What if it was that more people were converted that day than were slaughtered?
In the Oct. 2007 Women’s broadcast Pres. Monson said “My dear sisters [and brothers], do not pray for tasks equal to your abilities, but pray for abilities equal to your tasks. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle.”
Early in my mission I developed what I have coined as my “angel complex.” Maybe it’s a sister thing, maybe it’s a Southern thing, but people called me an angel all the time. And I know it was meant as a compliment, but I felt like a fraud. I was no angel. I struggled with a bad attitude and disillusionment from the awkwardness and constant rejection that came from tracting. If I were an angel then people would actually listen to me instead of shutting me down. Then to make things even more frustrating, when I was studying in Alma and came across the familiar “Oh that I were an angel” verse it had never dawned on me before that a few verses later he says, “But I do sin in my wish.” So I already felt like a fraud being called an Angel. Now Alma’s telling me that it’s a sin to even wish you were an angel. And I was like, “Seriously Alma, it is not a SIN to wish you were an Angel!!!!”
So this sort of boiled in the back of my mind for several months until I hit a particularly rough day and I thought, “I just want an angel to come down and tell these people…..” And then it hit me….but I do sin in my wish, because if God wanted to send an angel, he would, but instead he sent me. What if the miracle of my mission was less about getting all of Florida to listen? What if the miracle of my mission was me? That maybe, not in spite of, but perhaps because of my weaknesses the Lord chose me. That like the Brother of Jared and his ordinary stones made to shine in darkness, the Lord took ordinary me and used me to light people’s way. And so while I still struggled with accepting being called an angel, if you operate under the definition of an angel being a messenger from God, then to a select few- but very important and amazing people, that’s what I was. And they were my miracle, and I was theirs.
And you, each and everyone of you can be a miracle every day.
This week has been collectively stressful as we have watched and waited for election results. Especially here in AZ, where last I checked we were still too close to call. There are good and faithful people on both sides of this election who have been hoping and praying for the outcome they think is best. For those who will inevitably be disappointed by the results- will it seem that miracles have ceased?
But what if the miracle is less about who ends up in the white house? What if the miracle is more about us looking deep down inside to determine what we can do individually to heal and unite our nation? What if the miracle will be found in following the recent counsel of our leaders to love our enemies, to forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings, to avoid anger and hostility toward those with whom we disagree and even be willing to learn from them, to peacefully accept the results of the election, to lead out in abandoning attitudes and actions of prejudice, and to choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives? [Taken from Pres. Oaks’ Love Your Enemies and Pres. Nelson’s Let God Prevail.]
In closing let’s bring it back to Moroni. He doesn’t actually discuss very many specific miracles in this passage, the ones that he does are the Creation, the Fall, Redemption, Resurrection, Judgment, and our final reward. Let us remember and keep in perspective that the most important miracle is the Plan of Salvation. So when All You Need is a Miracle and it seems that it isn’t happening- consider the timing, look outside the miracle box, and then look forward with hope in Redemption and Resurrection through Jesus Christ because he is the miracle and then you will also be a miracle.
Photo Credit to Laci Gibbs