LDSBlogs.com welcomes Kelly Merrill as a new columnist today. His column, Prophets and Their Teachings, will appear each Tuesday morning. It covers the teachings of both ancient and modern prophets.
We like to think of ourselves as sane, rational creatures. Perhaps most of the time we pull it off, but there are times when we see the world spinning out of control around us, and it becomes very difficult to maintain our sense of equilibrium, our sense of balance. Listening to the Lord requires a peace in the center of our beings. Here are three examples of how the Lord has tried to teach this to us.
In the New Testament (Matthew 14), in the darkest part of the night, when the disciples were on a ship passing over the water, the winds and the waves were quite troublesome, being contrary to the direction they wanted to go. While they were battling the wind and the waves in the dark, they saw a man walking towards them on the water. They cried out in fear, assuming it was a spirit, but it was Jesus, and he told them to be of good cheer and not be afraid. Peter told him that if it really was Jesus, to bid him come to him on the water. Jesus told Peter to come to him, which Peter did. He actually got out of the boat and began to walk across the water to Jesus. That was when the trouble began.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Peter’s mistake was in taking his eyes off Jesus, and paying more attention to the threats of the wind and the waves than on the safety his faith in Christ was providing him. As long as he focused on Jesus he was fine. It was when he began to believe more in the distractions of his surrounding environment that he began to sink, having lost the focus of his faith. He let doubt take the place of his faith.
The New Testament does not say what happened next, except that Jesus helped him back to the boat. Somehow I just cannot imagine that Jesus towed the floundering Peter through the water to the boat. My faith in Christ tells me that he lifted Peter back up onto his feet, and together the two of them finished the distance back to the boat, above water.
Another example of centering ourselves on God can be found in 1 Kings 19. Elijah needed to talk to God and was told by an angel to go to the mountains. He went fasting, for it was a long journey. When he arrived the word of the Lord came to him.
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
Elijah had learned to listen for the voice of the Lord. He knew it was not in the wind that rent or tore at the mountain. He knew it was not in the earthquake or the fire. It was not in any of these demonstrations of great power, but when he heard the still small voice, what we sometimes refer to as the whisperings of the Spirit, he recognized the voice of God and went out to speak with Him.
I love this object lesson. The Lord does not speak to us in loud, booming noises. He whispers to us with a still small voice. The Spirit is a delicate thing. He does not like noise, confusion or contention. These things drive him away. That is a powerful message for those who always have to have noise in their ears, who cannot stand to be quiet and alone with their own thoughts. The Spirit will not fight you for your attention; you have to give it to him.
Finally, let’s look at King David in the Old Testament. In Psalm 46 he sings of our bastion of strength, the Lord.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.
In verse one, a “present” help is one that is immediately nearby, and instantly available. In King James parlance, to say, “I will be there presently,” means I’m on my way, I’m coming now. Because God is our immediate help in times of trouble, we have no need to fear. David gives outrageous examples of the earth being removed and mountains being carried into the middle of the sea, yet still, we have no need to fear for the Lord is with us.
Every verse in this psalm describes in some way how the Lord is our powerful ally. In verse 10 he quotes the Lord. I do not know where the quote comes from, but it is the Lord speaking.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
His instruction is consistent with all other scripture given about communing with God. Be still. Quiet your mind. Find a place of peace. If you cannot find a place of peace, then pray for peace so that you can communicate with God. When Peter had the Lord right in front of him, he still got distracted by the wind and the waves. But he cried out to the Lord for help, and Christ rescued him. Centering ourselves on the immediacy of the Lord, the fact that he is always present and near, always ready to come to our aid, should help us exercise our faith that we can hear his still small voice. The very act of crying out to the Lord helped Peter refocus his faith in Christ, and not on the elements that scared him.
During the next few days, try to look at how many ways you can tap into His voice. Are you finding time to meditate on the things you read in the scriptures? Are you praying? Are you learning to listen for answers to your prayers? Are you exercising your faith that the Lord will answer those prayers? What are you doing to bring a greater spirit of peace and cooperation into your daily life? All these things will help you, in the end, “be still, and know that I am God.”
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.