"And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."
-- 1 Nephi 4:6
was talking to a nonmember man once, and the man got on a tangent that went
something like this:
"Y'know Samson, in the Bible, it says that he killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, right? Well, I figure, how'd that work out? 'Cuz you'd think that once he'd gotten around three or four hundred of 'em they must've realized that they just weren't gonna kill this guy and so they would've started runnin'. So how was he able to get all one thousand? Well, I figure...Samson musta had soupah speed!"
Well, who knows. God uses many methods to get things done. Back in Old Testament times the power of God manifested itself by oceans parting or she-bears tearing people apart. Now it works in more G-rated ways.*
*This brings up the fascinating "Declining Scale of Miracle Impressiveness," a concept that takes note of the fact that miracles get less and less spectacular the closer you get to the present day. The Apostle Peter getting a lame man to walk is impressive, but nowhere near as showy as Elijah calling down fire from heaven, and that, in turn, is nowhere near as monumental as the plagues and miracles Moses wrought which affected large regions. And even then, those are nothing compared to the global flood during Noah's lifetime. There's probably some sort of eternal principle behind all this.
In missionary work, I've come to see how God doesn't need to bully the laws of nature to get something to be a miracle. In so many ways, considering how many variables had to come into play over such a long time to cause us to meet someone is far more impressive of a miracle. When the odds of a choice encounter are astronomical, but it still plays out.
Consider, for instance, this past week when I was on exchange with my saintly District Leader, Elder Haskell. It was 8:30and we didn't particularly want to go finding, so we decided to go try an investigator, Michael. We knocked on his door, and he was not home. Since it was not yet 9:00 we didn't want to go in, so we resigned ourselves to going one street over and try to find someone at home who we could teach.
As we go to leave, however, I see that my back tire has come off the bicycle. I stopped for about thirty seconds to put it back on. In those thirty seconds, a car drove up and Michael was dropped off by a friend, and we were able to talk to him and have a very spiritual conversation -- one of the best I've ever had.
Now, my back tire has a history of giving me problems, so I checked it before leaving the apartment. I checked it before heading to our last appointment. I checked it after leaving that appointment. It was perfectly fine when I rested my bike against a tree for the thirty seconds or so it took us to walk up to Michael's door, knock on it, discover he wasn't home, and walk back.
Yet somehow, during that thirty seconds, my back tire had managed to come off for no apparent reason. Had it not done so, we would've gone one street down and missed Michael by a few seconds. Instead, we were kept in that spot for the few moments that would allow us to catch him and talk to him.
This experience was very encouraging, but it also brought up a slightly worrying observation along with it. With many missionaries, miracles like this generally happen because they receive a prompting and follow it. Whereas on my mission, it's always seemed that I get confused or have some sort of mechanical malfunction which ends up causing a miracle to occur.
So, in other words, other missionaries get prompted by the Spirit. I get confused by the Spirit.
I find it worrisome that the only way Heavenly Father can get me in the right place at the right time is by having the Holy Ghost clonk me alongside the head. Or mess with my stuff.
Well, whatever. I'll take it. I'm always grateful for miracles, however they come.
All this is just a refreshing reminder that Heavenly Father really is in control of all of this. He doesn't have to bend or break the rules to get things done -- he just knows how to work the system. He can line up all the million-to-one chances so that things slide into place and bam, a miracle occurs. Much of the time a missionary, or a member, is just one of those little tumblers that click into place and make things happen.
I have come to realize then, like Ammon did, that if anything good happens in missionary work it probably wasn't due to anything I did. And I certainly didn't plan for it to happen. It was all the Lord's doing, and we just get to be His instruments.
I know that this work is true. It has also come to mean quite powerfully this week that Jesus is truly the Savior. His love is something I struggle to comprehend, but, as small and contemptible as we may be, He still loves us. I know this to be true.
I love you. Hurrah for