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Sep 02

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Relying on the Strength of the Lord

Lightening shows the mighty strength of the Lord

I am on a quest to better understand how to seek and rely upon the strength of the Lord . In my last two posts, you may have noticed a theme, which is trusting the Lord; trusting He will deliver me ; trusting He will help me bear my cross ; trusting He will be there for me when I need Him. I am coming to learn that experiencing the strength of the Lord in my life is directly tied to my faith and trusting Him. How to utilize the strength of the Lord in my life may be different than I originally understood. Over the years, as I have read Nephi’s description of bursting the bands, which held him bound, I have always imagined that he instantaneously developed some sort of Herculean strength. And then, this Herculean strength made the bands almost disintegrate with the least effort. Here is what Nephi said:

But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound.

And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again. ( 1 Nephi 7:17-18 )

I now believe that it is not important how the bands came loose, except that Nephi knew his strength originated in the Lord’s strength, not his own. Nephi knew whatever means was required to burst the bands and be loosed would be provided by the Lord in His time and His manner. Whether the bands immediately broke like thin cotton threads, then fell to the ground by slipping off Nephi’s hands and feet like loose rubber bands, or if he had to wiggle, struggle, pull, twist, and gnaw at the bands until he was free was not his concern. He knew what he needed, which was to be free from the bands. If he needed wisdom to know what to do, then it would be provided too. He had faith that whatever he needed, when he needed it, would be provided at the right time and in the right way.

The vitally important point is that the Lord knows what I need, when I need it, and how I am to use whatever He provides. Many times in my life I think I know what I should do—only to fall flat on my face—not properly relying on the Lord. Following is an example of when I did not trust the Lord enough to lean on His strength.

Our bishop had given me a speaking assignment for Sacrament meeting. The topic was assigned and I spent the week diligently preparing my talk. That Sunday the symptoms of my chronic illness really flared up; I felt very weak, but thought if I just stuck to my well-prepared talk, all would be well. I stood at the pulpit and started delivering my talk in almost a mechanical manner, because I felt so weakened by my illness. I remember the Spirit clearly whispered to me, “put the talk down and trust Me.” I questioned whether or not I really had the strength to do this. I thought, if I just plow through my talk, then it would be over, and I could sit down and rest. The feeling came again, but once again I ignored it, closing myself to the strength of the Lord and the influence of the Holy Ghost. I pressed forward with my limited strength and presented one of the worst talks I have ever given.

I now realize my mistake; lack of trust and lack of obedience to the Holy Ghost prevented me from knowing what would have happened If I had had sufficient faith to lean on the Lord. My guess is, based on other experiences when I have followed promptings like this, that the Lord would have filled my mouth, and provided me with strength beyond my own. I would have given the talk the Lord wanted me to give, not the one I had prepared and struggled with. That day, not trusting in the strength of the Lord was my sin, which I hope to never do again.

Nephi is a Model Example Trusting in The Strength of the Lord

While bound, Nephi trusts in the strength of the Lord

Helpmeet, by K. Sean Sullivan

Nephi is the model example of one who trusted the Lord enough to endure trials, and do whatever the Lord required from him (see 1 Nephi 3:7). He showed his trust in the Lord while bound during the ocean voyage and submitted himself to great suffering (see 1 Nephi 18:9-16, 20-21 ). Why did he not pray for immediate deliverance? I think it is because Nephi clearly understood that his prayers must be guided by the Holy Ghost, so his prayers were not amiss. Nephi teaches:

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh . Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss ; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
( 2 Nephi 4:35 , emphasis added; see also: 2 Nephi 32:2-5, 8-9 .)

My guess is, because of Nephi’s prayers, he knew the Lord’s will. He may not have known the reasons the Lord may have had for his suffering, but he trusted the Lord, and the Lord strengthened him during his trials. Nephi said, “And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm” ( 1 Nephi 18:21 ). Maybe he was willing to suffer being bound while on the ship to help all of us who read his story increase our faith, and learn as he did, to trust in the strength of the Lord.

My Ongoing Quest

In my ongoing quest I have learned, and continue to learn, that trusting the Lord, and in the strength of the Lord will always be a blessing, regardless of the trial or outcome. During trials, the Lord has required me to step into my un-comfort zone more times than I can count. Currently, I am standing right in the middle of my un-comfort zone. However, as I push forward with faith and with my hand firmly in His, then I can trust Him. His strength will see me through to the end.

 


If you enjoyed this article, please click "Like" or share it with your friends. Entering positive personal comments in the field below are always appreciated. Thank you, Stan Winchester

Painting: Helpmeet used with permission, Copyright © 2000 by K. Sean Sullivan


Permanent link to this article: http://www.hisgraceissufficient.com/2012/09/02/relying-on-the-strength-of-the-lord/

  • Darla Isackson

    I enjoy so much reading your work, Stan. Perhaps because we are on so much the same quest! I’m so desirous of learning this same lesson. We can say so easily, “trust in the Lord and lean on His strength.” But HOW TO DO IT in the midst of our present trials is quite another thing!

    • http://www.hisgraceissufficient.com/ Stan Winchester

      Thank you for such a wonderful comment! I am very grateful this piece
      touched you.

  • Tanya Johnson

    Stan, thx so much for sharing your powerful insights into Nephi’s faith and trust in the Lord. “He had faith that whatever he needed, when he needed it, would be provided at the right time and in the right way.”—so beautiful, and so true!

    I feel like I’m still learning to do this myself, but let me share w/you a fairly recent example of how relying on the Lord’s strength has gotten me through a very difficult time in my life. maybe you or someone who reads this will find it helpful.

    I’m recently divorced; my ex-husband and I separated 3 days after Christmas last year, after he told me he wanted a divorce. I was devastated—I hadn’t seen it coming at all. it was too distressing to stay in that house w/him, so the very next day I moved into my parents’ house w/my 8yo daughter (she’s not my ex’s child), and we began the very painful process of starting a new life on our own.

    I try to live righteously, but like everyone else I still stumble. and yet when I pled w/my Father for His help, I got it—in spades. not only was I immediately given the means to provide for my little family’s needs (THE DAY AFTER I MOVED OUT one of the owners of my firm called and told me she had a new project she needed me to start on right away—at that point I hadn’t had any work for nearly 2 mos), but also when I did temple service that night and again several times over the following few weeks as an offering of gratitude, I was further blessed w/many significant personal revelations that gave me great comfort and helped me understand why my marriage had ended and that it wasn’t my fault, but it had to happen b/c God has other blessings in store for me. through the Saviour’s grace my heart has been softened, and I’ve not only been able to forgive my ex but even to maintain an amicable relationship w/him, and he continues to spend time w/my daughter every other weekend (for now), since he was the only father she’s known for most of her life.

    there is absolutely NO. WAY. I could’ve done any of those things on my own. NONE. had it not been for relying on the Lord’s power and strength—His ability to bless me both temporally and emotionally—I could have found myself in dire straits at that time and in those circumstances. and since then, He has continued to bless me – w/some of the most extraordinary spiritual experiences of my life. as my faith in my Heavenly Father and His Son continues to increase, They continue to bless me beyond what my faith likely merits, and those blessings further strengthen my faith, and that faith brings more and greater blessings—it’s a beautiful upward spiral that fills my heart w/love and joy and gratitude.

    I ~know~ our Heavenly Father knows each one of US—His children—personally; He knows our needs, and He delights in blessing us when we live worthy to receive His blessings. I ~know~ our Saviour has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), and that His heart has already broken w/ours as we suffer the pains that attend many of our trials in this life. I ~know~ They want us to be happy—not so much to experience temporary happiness in mortality but rather the fulness of pure joy w/Them in Their presence for eternity. I ~know~ They love us enough to have provided a way for each and every one of us to do exactly that, if we will but learn of Them and strive to truly follow Christ’s example. I ~know~ that it is only through His strength that I can ever become perfect (whole and complete)—I’m humbled by and grateful for His love, His atoning sacrifice, and His resurrection, and I ~know~ that He lives! and I pray that at the final judgment I will be found worthy to live in the presence of my Eternal Family again. I bear witness of these things in His sacred name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

    • http://www.hisgraceissufficient.com/ Stan Winchester

      Tanya,
      Thank you for taking the time to share such a powerful testimony of how the Lord strengthened you. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles and trials. Even though our trial all differ, others will be blessed as they read of your great faith.
      Thank you,
      Stan

  • Teresa

    I wanted to thank you, too. We had a message in Stake Conference this morning that everything we do should be in the strength of the Lord. I recently quit my job and my money will run out very soon. It’s been a very spiritual journey and I realize that the Lord can bring me to any job He desires, in an instant… it’s in His power, not mine. I was googling on these search terms and found your article and really, really appreciated the reinforcement. thank you so taking the time to write. Bless you!

    • http://www.hisgraceissufficient.com/ Stan Winchester

      Teresa,
      Thank you for sharing your faith and blessing. Right now, the Lord worked through you to touch me. I am coming to believe more-and-more as we strive to lean on the strength of the Lord, how much we need each other. He brings us together to strengthen each other in Him.
      Thank you,
      Stan

  • http://www.eveoutofthegarden.com/ deila

    thanks for sharing this, I have been reading “Hearing the Voice of the Lord” this morning and trying to grasp that “trust” issue, I guess it is comforting to know that I am not alone in learning that God is in charge of my life, and I must believe that, even when things just don’t seem to be getting better, (my husband has been out of work for 2 years.) I love your photo.

    • http://www.hisgraceissufficient.com/ Stan Winchester

      Delia,
      You are right, you are not alone, and NEVER will be alone. I know the Lord watches over all of us, especially those who cry out to Him in faith. I pray that God blesses you and your family always!
      Stan

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