Sunday, November 5, 2023

Darkness Comprehending the Light

Lot's of feelings this week. I had a conversation with someone that I hold in the highest esteem. They asked me if I go to church and when I told them I did not, they were visibly heartbroken. I detest letting people down. It broke my heart to break theirs. We talked for some time about a few of the concerns I have and my inability to teach my kids the perspective of the church - that Joseph Smith is a liar...and that lying about fidelity is okay. I don't believe he was a liar and the fruit he produced (the Book of Mormon) draws me closer to Jesus (along with the Bible).

They let me know that my belief in Jesus was "good" but...not enough for exaltation. They expressed that they had the spirit, which led them to believe in the church. They lamented that because I did not believe in everything the church teaches I was being influenced by a different spirit. I wanted to share my heart, my journey, my experiences with the spirit and the Lord but the spirit restrained. I left that conversation deeply downcast and depressed. I felt like a failure to that person. They would never really know me in this life. I dislike not being fully understood and known. I hurt to see that someone I love didn't want to fully know me or understand me. I think the Lord knows what that feels like. Meet me here, Lord.

As I drove on the freeway I poured my heart out to the Lord. "I'll go back to church Lord. Is that what You want me to do? I'll do whatever You ask. Please tell me what to do." I then heard, "Ask the Lord if He could give you a sign." I reasoned to myself that sign seeking wasn't wise because a wicked generation seeks a sign (Matt 16:4) has never been my go-to to ask for a sign. But again, the thought came to ask for a sign. So I said, "Lord, could you give me a sign?" And literally - I mean literally the moment I said "sign" my eyes glanced to the right to a flashing construction sign on the side of the road. The words flashed, "Use Alternate Route".

I laughed. Out loud.

The depression still lingers. The longing to please those I love still persists. But the longing for Jesus wins out. His will is my Bread. His Presence is my Drink. So I wait upon Him and seek Him.

One of my children said to me today, "Mom - I don't remember when I learned what words meant. Now I look at words and I know what they mean but I know at some point I looked at them and they were just a jumbled mess. But I don't remember when they were messy and meaningless."

And so it is with Jesus and the Lord.

Watch as He 
majestically describes, in His own words, who God is:

40 For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.

41 He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

42 And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;

43 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.

44 And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years—all these are one year with God, but not with man.

45 The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.

46 Unto what shall I liken these kingdoms, that ye may understand?

47 Behold, all these are kingdoms, and any man who hath seen any or the least of these hath seen God moving in his majesty and power.

48 I say unto you, he hath seen him; nevertheless, he who came unto his own was not comprehended.

49 The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not; nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him.

50 Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me; otherwise ye could not abound.

I love verse 48 and how it talks about He came to His own and wasn't comprehended! Then verse 49 He talks about us not comprehending Him at first. The light shines in darkenss (words being a jumbled mess) and the darkness comprehendeth it not (you before you learned how to read).

And then - if you diligently seek Him and hunger for His Bread and His Living Water - then the day will come that those jumbled words on a page will begin to form a word. And from a word - a sentence and from a sentence - a paragraph. And from a paragraph to poetry. From poetry to a mystery to a tragedy to a triumph. You will know Him so intimately that you won't remember what it was like when you didn't comprehend Him or when you didn't see Him above you, beneath you, in you, and all around you.

God allows us to misunderstand Him, to misinterpret Him. He allows us to seek after the pleasures of our minds and hearts. He asks for our hearts but He doesn't force the relationship. To seek after Him and His will is the greatest challenge and the greatest gift of a lifetime...and few be there that find it. It will cost you the things you cling most tightly to that aren't Him. To step out of the boat of safety onto choppy waters is terrifying. What is the boat that you are clinging to? A seemingly likeminded group of believers? A particular leader? Your family? Your intellect? Your doubts? There are a myriad of jumbled words we can cling to that keep us from comprehending the Alphabet.

A prayer. Lord, I ask You to bless this reader and me with a deeper hunger for Your Bread and Your Water. And the Bread we seek after is Your Will and we pray Your Living Water to flow in us and through us and surround us until that perfect day when our thirst is quenched by Your Grace and Your Majesty. We ask for more of You. We seek for Your Presence and we knock for You to open unto us all that You are. We don't comprehend You - but we do come to You. You are the source of all Truth and we seek after You, the giver of further light and knowledge. In your name, Jesus, we pray.



  1. Anonymous5.11.23

    You are not alone dear Ruth!

  2. Thank you, Ruth, for that heartfelt prayer and blessing; it touched me, especially the part where you said, "We ask for more of You."

    Someone commented recently that "our culture is filled with false traditions and it can be very difficult to let go of them....It is taking much soul searching, feelings of guilt, and constantly seeking blessings from heaven to cast them off."

    I responded, "Another friend posted on their personal page a short post about the "Covenant Path" that has engulfed the Church. A troll said in the comments section to my friend:

    "You are a liar. Nephi taught the necessity of staying in the path of faithfully making and keeping covenants with God. The covenant path is the strait and narrow."

    This person proceeded to hurl insults and accused my friend of being mentally ill because of her beliefs. Now, compared to some of the stuff I see online, the troll's comment was fairly benign; we've all seen worse.

    But for some reason, when I read their exchange, I brushed up against evil; I sensed something working upon me, even though I had no idea who this commenter was. It was unpleasant, sure, but the words themselves didn't account for the pit I felt in my stomach. But the ickiness stayed with me and I had trouble shaking it. Clearly I was over-reacting, I thought; nothing about the exchange involved me.

    So why did I feel bad?

    As I pondered my reaction throughout the evening (checking to make sure it wasn't a case of indigestion from my lunch of canned chili and Fritos), I confirmed my spirit was, in fact, repulsed and sickened. I scoured my heart for any traces of fear. Nope, none. It wasn't fear, then, I was feeling, but something else.

    Just to be sure, I prayed for the troll and asked the Lord to help me love them and for peace to abound among those those of good-will. A thought came to my mind: I was experiencing the Lord’s anger.

    Wait, what?

    The Lord isn’t an angry person, right? He told us to love our enemies and to bless those that curse us. The Lord is someone who is patient and kind and loving and long-suffering and merciful and optimistic and hopeful and a lot other wonderful things.

    But angry?

    While still pondering, I rode the train to work and read the following words in a new light: I sensed a wisdom in them that has eluded me until now:

    These six things
    doth the Lord hate:
    yea, seven are an abomination
    unto him:

    (1) a proud look,
    (2) a lying tongue,
    (3) hands that shed
    innocent blood,
    (4) an heart that deviseth
    wicked imaginations,
    (5) feet that be swift
    in running to mischief,
    (6) a false witness
    that speaketh lies, and
    (7) he that soweth discord.

    (Proverbs 6:16-19)

    Anyway, I find it more than coincidental that many of us are being challenged for choosing the "Alt Route" you mentioned (which, ironically, IS the straight and narrow; THE one and only way mentioned in scripture). God bless you, and keep you. Tim

  3. Charles Miller12.11.23

    A while back I became aware of your blog through reading the endowment blog and book - which I still treasure! So it was a bit of a shock to discover you were "inactive," and it took me some time to swallow and digest the Ryan and Ruth Paper, which generated so many sorrowful feelings. I did NOT want to hear or know this! Surely the Lord couldn't want ME to give up the temple and stop attending His restored church!

    Well, as I got to know Him a little better, I discovered that He did indeed want me to sacrifice that, at least for now, and much more besides, and because of your courage in sharing your story this has been made a little easier. And, like you, I am finding the joy in finding Jesus far outweighs any sorrow for what's been left behind. Thanks again for sharing your journey!

    When I encounter beloved ward members and see the hurt and concern in their faces, I have found this quote from Rob Smith's blog helpful as I experience a flood of sadness and regret:

    "One of the cardinal errors in the LDS religion is the promotion of feeling above all: as the indication of truth, as the indication of what is right, as the indication of the Lord's presence.

    "You're going to need to upgrade to the understanding that:

    1. Feeling best long term requires feeling bad short term.
    2. Feelings follow actions, not the other way around.
    3. Feelings must be subordinated to reason.

    "Recall the struggle of the Lord with the Father in the garden of Gethsemane. Obedience to God is not about what we do when we feel good, but what we do in spite of feeling bad. What you do when you feel good is not worth much as a sacrifice."

    I also like the way Rob Smith defines courage in his book Through Faith:

    "In the faith framework, we can define courage as a willingness to act according to honest reason. Courage is nothing more and nothing less than preferring reason to the senses. It is to do something for mental reasons in spite of negative physical sensations. It is to act toward a rationally expected end in spite of the presence or expectation of fear, pain, grief, anxiety, depression, or sorrow. It is to persist in a well-reasoned path no matter how far away the desired outcome is in time, appearance, or experience. Courage, as defined here, is one and the same as trust in God....Trust in God is not some kind of superstitious willpower, despite the vast number of people whose beliefs limit it to that. Trust in God is a rational affair: do you have sufficient reasons to believe? If so, are you willing to follow them in action and desire, even when it requires actively changing how you feel about the issue at hand? Are you willing to reframe your perception of reality according to the evidence you possess? Or do you choose to embrace what your experience has shown is not true?"

    1. Wow, thank you for sharing that. I keep deleting what I type in this response. I don't know how to say it. I will just say - your words came at a very timely moment and I sincerely thank you.

  4. Anonymous20.11.23

    I am with you ❤️