Of Briars and Thorns
God often comes to me from multiple directions to help me shift.
My husband and I were looking at getting new phones. And I had a pit in my stomach. His phone is really malfunctioning and he needs it for work, but we do this thing where we upgrade together. One of us can't have something new unless we both do. *eyeroll* I don’t actually need a new phone. I told him semi jokingly to just get me a Gabb wireless phone that can only text and call and then buy me a gps device so I don’t get lost running errands all over the valley… "Then maybe *just maybe* I could get off of facebook and my phone altogether and be able to hear the Lord again!" This was my literal bemoaning I voiced while we walked the outdoor mall on our night out together.
Because there are hard things I’m navigating right now. I don’t know what to do or how to proceed. I sit down with my scriptures each night after I send the kids to bed, and unwittingly pick up my phone *real quick* instead. Well, hours later… finally surfacing from my phone, I mourn my tiredness and my wasted time, as I head to bed and try to convince myself I’ll do better tomorrow.
In the middle of a distressing day, with this hard thing I do not know how to navigate, my friend sent me a text that simply read:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov 3:5-6
I began crying out to the Lord to make my path straight. For clarity and direction. None for the current situation came, but I opened my scriptures up randomly and landed on these verses:
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. John 11:9,10
The Spirit gave me understanding that ‘walking in the day’ meant walking with God.
A little later another friend sent me a verse that supported this:
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12
God had my attention. I was stumbling, blind, wholly in the dark. I needed him desperately! And all I was doing was sabotaging all my efforts with my dumb phone that I was in the process of potentially making into even a grander idol than it already was. Some new shiny thing.
I. was. miserable.
I love my friend Jesus. I love how the scriptures unfold and open up to me. I love that I hear God. Really hear Him! I LONG to impart my experiences to others and invite them to find God as I have.
But part of my finding God was that he showed me how the Book of Mormon exposes the things going wrong within the religions that hail the Book of Mormon as scripture. He showed me secret societies and false traditions!
So what do I lead with? The church is apostate! Polygamy is evil! We’re lead by false prophets! Temples make you wear Satan’s apron!
What do I WANT to lead with?! The absolute joy of having received a remission of my sins, being filled with the love of God and with power beyond my own! Living in a space where I truly had no disposition to do evil, but it was all by and through God pouring His love into me, and I was changed! “Come and see!” I want to say.
Instead, I’m talking about all the things that hurt to wake up to. Things that are hard to hear and resisted.
And what really caused me to see this was that I have a dear amazing friend who got through the “Julie is a crazy apostate,” phase and listened and asked and took things to God. She had her own born again experience with God and while I’m over here stumbling around in the dark right now, she’s being woken up in the early morning to write pages and pages bearing testimony of her experiences with Jesus and His atoning power!
What she created was filled with the witnessing and testifying of Christ that was the very purpose with which I started this blog! And I’m failing!
And the words from John and Proverbs were rattling around in my head, and I was convicted! “I’m not walking with God! I’m in the dark! Help me, please, dear Lord according to the multitude of your tender mercies!”
And God moved in my life.
It is hard to tell an interwoven story in a linear fashion. Perhaps it can suffice it to say that these things (Angle 1 and Angle 2) had the desired effect. I ordered just one phone. For Mike. I’m doing without. And I deleted the facebook app. I have my account, because one of the things I have been asked to put on the altar to follow my Jesus is to be willing to lose all of my credibility with my predominantly lds fb audience. How do I do that? Well, by claiming the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of my conscience. It varies from the mainstream mormon views and therefore, I’m apostate, a danger, and anathema. But this is what I think I will now refer to as briars and thorns, which will be addressed forthwith.
Back to the story.
Facebook is really the only timesuck I have on my phone, so with the app deleted, every time I opened my phone and habitually went to open the fb app, that was no longer there, I committed to opening my scriptures and reading rather than just putting my phone back down.
This brought me to Mark 3. Mark 3 and the parable of the sower caused everything to snap into place and I saw clearly my predicament.
“And some fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it; and it yielded no fruit.”
God clearly brought to me that this was a warning!!
What really caught my attention was “it yielded no fruit.” I’ve really come to understand the fruit in the parables that the Lord stores up unto himself - and it is this: Truly coming unto Christ. Being born again. Knowing the voice of the Shepherd. Coming into His fold. “Ye knew me not” is the JST final scene in Matthew 25 of the five foolish virgins. They didn’t bear the fruit of KNOWING Him!
It convicted me! Secret combinations are unfolding to my view in the world and within the church and they are thorns! Poking and scratching; tearing at me with the pain of all the lies that are keeping those I love from seeking their own salvation! And the pain of betrayal of believing the lies myself! And they are choking me! I’m distant from God! I’m not witnessing of Him! I’m excusing myself as “wasting and wearing out my life in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness.” But if I continued that line of scripture it says: “they are truly manifest from heaven,” (DC123:13) ...And the clarity comes. There are things we are warned about to watch for: gadianton robbers, secret societies… But, they aren’t to become the focus! You don’t bear fruit if your focus is no longer on God. Seek HIS will in bringing things to light, not your own. Not my own.
Have you ever noticed a weed into nonexistence? Does worrying about the harm it will do to your garden save the garden? If you talk about it and think about it and write about it, does it shrink? Die back? Stop growing? If so, please come share your secrets with me. In my experience, it only grows and grows and will overwhelm and spread unless yanked up by the roots.
Now, I can’t uproot secret combinations in the world. But I can uproot it from my focus. From my heart. With God’s help. He helped me to see. He warned me! He didn’t say my soil was bad, he said I was allowing more to grow that was preventing me from bearing fruit.
In verse 16 of Mark 3 it expounds that the thorns are the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of other things entering in. They choke the word and it becomes unfruitful in us.
Cares of the world - all the covid drama. All the political intrigue.
Deceitfulness of riches - shiny new toys, like phones. Even the desire to be free from babylon seems like it needs money to escape it! Navigating those lies.
Lusts of other things entering in - the drama of discovering and exposing the darkness, of the rabbit holes. There is truly the darkest evil present and prevalent in the world today.
Scratching, poking, ripping, tearing thorns. Thank you Lord for warning me that I’m being choked by them!
Thank you Lord for freeing me, God willing, from my screen addiction!
I’ve put my squandered time into reading the scriptures. There is so much to discover, how do we ever justify spending time outside of the Word!? Oh, the natural man. Right. Gag and bind him up and throw him in the cellar!
In one single act of turning to the Lord - THAT THE LORD HIMSELF FACILITATED FOR ME! - I began to hear Him again. I rejoice in His goodness!
The rest of my evening went like this:
I began to experience some distressing pain. Racing heart, head swimming, a ton of stomach pain. I prayed to the Lord telling Him that I trusted Him, and asked Him to help me not be afraid. I had a heart attack a year and a half ago, and I told Him how I’m always so afraid now with every health issue that arises, afraid that I’m dying. But that I trust Him, and please take away my fear.
In my chest, I felt a heat I’ve never before experienced. It was so hot I was marveling how I was not in pain from it. It radiated from my chest and I was certain that had anyone touched me they would have been burned by it. But the intelligence that accompanied it was that I was held by God. And my fear was eradicated. Completely swallowed up in the fire burning inside of me. Fear being completely absent is a miracle! Think about when you’ve been afraid. Think about how that emotion works and the adrenaline and different physical responses. Try picturing it in full effect, and then, boom, gone. With the stimulus that caused it still raging about you. The pain, or the dark alley, or charging bear, or foreboding empty grocery store shelves, or wars and rumors of wars…
Even with this fire in my heart, I was still unwell. And then I heard His voice. “Julie, you need to rest.”
I made my way up to my room. I told Him, “but I need to say my prayers before I go to bed.”
The reply came, “Dear one, you are praying. Just rest now.”
As I climbed into bed, I told Him I wanted to be able to remember these things when I woke up.
“You will,” came the promise, and I was soon asleep.
Today I woke with such gratitude and joy in my heart that I’d returned to my God! That I was hearing Him again. That the thorns weren’t tearing me and my attention away from Him.
On my way into town running some errands, I listened to scriptures. I felt guided to start in 3 Nephi. I listened to Christ’s sermon and received so many answers to all of my stumbling in the dark I had been doing. I can’t go into detail as it involves many parties and things personal to others, but my path was laid out very clear. God is so good.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.”
“If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not.”
While I was shopping, I was feeling pain and I cried out to the Lord that I’ve been doing all that I know to do to prevent this pain and to please help me!
He answered, “I am helping you.” And I was filled with the understanding of what He was doing for me, the pain he was holding at bay, and oh my prayers changed to praise and gratitude!
On my drive home, I listened to a book, “Walking with God,” and the chapter I was on talked about spiritual warfare. “Resist the devil and he fleeth,” was the scripture, and I was being told to pay attention to this part. I immediately acted on the information shared by the author, and was praying for the Lord’s guidance. I commanded out of me several different manifestations of pain I’ve been living with. Plagued with. The pain lifted! I praised God, but He said I wasn’t done, and He guided me to filling that empty space with Him. His Love. Charity. Light.
I came home to a belligerent child, but only saw the battleground raging around them. I had this child pray and I also prayed for them, as guided by the Lord, to command out, to name the tormentor, and send it away. What a change overtook my child’s demeanor! “I love you mommy,” came the sweet voice, with a kiss on my cheek as they scampered off so pleasantly. Lighter.
This evening as we knelt in prayer, I prayed powerfully of all these things. All of God’s goodness. I was completely engaged in the Spirit and as I closed the prayer and opened my eyes, three of my children had missed it! They had been gesturing and holding back laughs between them that suddenly found voice with my “amen.” The Spirit then constrained me and I spoke in power to rebuke the distractor, the mocker, the blasphemer and its ilk and command its departure! My children visibly shifted, and one commented, “something just went out from me,” and then poured out tears in sorrow, as I held her and the words of our God flowed from my mouth into her ears. Words of love. Encouragement that she come find Him; He who gives these outpourings of love to us to entreat us to come to Him!
How great is our God! How great is His goodness and mercy upon us, His children! He sees us! He knows us! He is truly standing just at the door, knocking. We only need invite Him in, and He will sup with us! Speak to us! Guide us! Go before us!
Oh, if you could simply desire this, and ask Him to help you, what stories of interwoven angles (and *angels,* as my autocorrect has been insistent on) could you testify of miracles being worked in your life!?
Come, and see.