I gave a talk in sacrament meeting today, and I had to sit with Ariana so Chris could take care of McKenna until I had to go up on the stand. I was the last speaker as well, and so I sat with Ariana for 45 minutes and tried hard to get her to behave all reverent like, with a lot of help from the family behind me. So when I got up there, I made an impromptu comment:
"I learned a secret today - the best way to deal with pre-talk nervousness is to wrestle a one-year-old for most of sacrament." (chuckle chuckle)
The rest of my talk went (roughly) as follows:
Hi! My name is Rosanne, my husband and I just moved here in December. I'm a SAHM of two little girls, I'm a BYU grad and a licensed cosmetologist, a cancer survivor, and I'm a Mormon!
(I'm so funny! The joke was Chris's but seriously. Hilarious. And only like two people laughed. If you're lost, our church encourages us to make videos/profiles about who we are and then say, "And I'm a Mormon" to show we have lots of different kinds of people in the church, but anyone called to speak in church is Mormon, so I was basically stating the obvious. :) )
I get my sense of humor from my dad. He was a jokester, and played pranks on his kids and just liked to have fun. He focused his efforts on his kids because he knew that family is of the utmost importance because it's central to God's plan, and above all, my dad is faithful. He loves his Heavenly Father very much.
My senior year of high school, my dad got sick. He was generally a very healthy person, so he thought it was just a bad cold and expected it to go away. It didn't, however, so he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with leukemia, one of the kinds that comes on fast and strong. They prescribed a treatment for him, one he'd probably have to repeat a few times to be fully effective.
Around this time, we were very close with the missionaries in our ward, and so before his treatment, they came over to give him a blessing. In the blessing, they said, "you will be healed according to your faith." Well that was just great! We had nothing to worry about! My dad was the most faithful person I knew, so from then on, I knew he'd be healed.
So he went through the treatment, and four weeks later, they tested his blood and the leukemia was gone! After just one treatment! He was healed, just like the Lord promised in the blessing. However, his body was weak and he still had a hard recovery ahead of him. He came home, but after a few days of being home, one night he started coughing up blood. So we took him to the hospital, and unfortunately, in the morning, he passed away. We learned that his body was too weak from the chemo, and he suffered a heart attack.
The topic I was asked to speak on is "Knock and it shall be opened unto you." My dad was loved and respected by many people and I know countless prayers were offered on his behalf. We all knocked on heaven's door, hard, and faithfully. The missionary's blessing was fulfilled - my dad was healed! But it wasn't meant to be. Now, in this situation, I could choose to look at it one of two ways. I could say that God had betrayed us and let my dad die even though he promised that he'd be healed, or I could say that God blessed us to know he could be healed, but that it was still his time to go. I choose the second way. From this, I know that God is a God of miracles, but unfortunately, His timing doesn't always line up with ours. I don't know why my dad had to die, but I know that I can choose to learn lessons from it, and I'm glad that I had my Heavenly Father to lean on.
I like to compare this to going to a friend's house. If I'm going to see my friend Sarah, and I knock at the door, and her brother answers, am I angry that he answered first and not her? No! I know Sarah is there, and I know I'll see her soon enough. It's okay that her brother answered. I know I'll get who I need eventually. Similarly, when I knock on God's door, should I be angry when the answer given is different than the one I wanted? No! We are told that "no unclean thing" can dwell in the presence of God. If we are knocking on God's door, that means only good will answer, because that's all that's allowed to live with Him. It's okay that it may not be what we wanted, because we are guaranteed to get something good, so long as we are at His house.
In order to knock on God's door, we must draw near unto Him. Elder J. Thomas Fyans, in his talk "Draw Near Unto Me," outlines the necessary steps to come close to God. He says, "We seek him by studying the scriptures and listening to his prophets, through which we learn about him and his eternal plan for us. We ask through prayer and receive the guidance of his Spirit. And as we knock, the way is opened for us to gain eternal life and return to the Lord's presence through obedience to his commandments."
I really liked this in my research on this topic - in a talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson, he mentions Moroni 10:4, which states, "If ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ." To have real intent means that you really intend to follow the divine direction you're given. I think this is so important! It's not just that you really, really want to ask this question, but you need to be prepared to listen to what God has to say, even if it doesn't follow your timetable. You need to have faith that you'll have the strength to follow whatever answer is given, to follow God's plan.
Elder Fyans expands on this in his talk, and says that to draw near to the Lord, we need to sanctify ourselves. He quotes Doctrine and Covenants, which states, "Sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." It may seem intimidating or hard to do, but the Lord gives things, "line upon line." We don't have to be perfect now, we just need to build on it, "precept upon precept." And the promise He gives is worth it: Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 says that, "Every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am."
I think if, in the end, it allows us to see God's face, it will all be worth it, and I know He is there for us, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.