Why, 12 years after I accepted my mother’s death and two years after she died, was I angry and blaming God for her illness? I still remembered the glorious way God told me of her death (See “Will of the Father, Will of the Child, Part II). The wonderful part of God’s answer was the certainty of the promise that I would be with her again, but the promise itself is actually extended to everyone. My step-father is also sealed to my mother and will be with her again, but he was healed from his cancer and his time on earth extended.
Instead of feeling like I had gained something, which is what I thought before, I felt that I had lost. I doubted myself again and wondered if there was something else I could have done. But when I looked back on it, I knew there was nothing else, I had done everything I could. Thus, it was God’s fault.
I also felt that God didn’t really care about my wishes. I wanted my mother healed, He said, “No.” I wanted to get married, He said, “Do this first.” I obeyed and did get married, but then the marriage twisted and became sour. I wanted children, the Lord said, “Later,” and when I fought, I was punished with intense exhaustion, frustration, and depression. I was always the one that had to wait. I was always the one that was wrong, or too impatient, too stupid to know what was really going on.
God’s love suddenly seemed manipulative and His will forceful. Instead of listening to me, He was twisting and pushing to see how long until I would crack. His tests were mean and unfair.
After going to the temple and feeling His unconditional love (See “Welcome Back, I’ve Missed You”), I knew that He wasn’t insulting me and pushing me down, but I was still confused and hurting.
A few months after my trip to the temple, I was in a Sunday school class. We began with the story in 1 Kings chapter 18 where in Elijah challenges the priests of Baal to a sacrificial show down. He wanted to prove to the people that the idols were powerless and empty, whereas the God of Israel lived and used His power to answer the prayers of His people. When the priests of Baal set up their sacrifice and prayed to their idol for fire, there was no answer. When Elijah prayed over his sacrifice, including buckets of water poured over the fire wood, God sent fire from heaven and completely consumed the sacrifice. The people saw this, fell on their faces, and cried, “The Lord, He is God.”
In chapter 19, Elijah has fled to a cave in Horeb the mount of God. The Lord calls to Elijah and before the cave passes by a mighty wind, followed by an earthquake, followed by a fire, but the Lord was in none of these. After the fire came a still small voice. Only then did Elijah go to the mouth of the cave to hear the Lord.
As we discussed this story, which I had heard many times, I thought, What do you mean, you’re not in the fire? One chapter ago, you literally made a fire to prove your existence and your power. If you’re not in the fire, then why make the fire?
I remembered the few times I tried to share the story of my mother on my mission. I wanted to testify of the mighty change of heart, the incredible miracle that is learning the will of the Lord. My hope was to inspire people to pray to discover His will so they could see the beauty of life through God’s eyes. I never got through the story. I was interrupted by people telling me my mother would be healed if I would stop doubting.
“You just need to have more faith.”
“Keep praying, you’re not there yet.”
I stopped telling it because it was too hurtful to hear people essentially blaming me for my mother’s future death, which I knew would come. It was not their intention to hurt me, they wanted to inspire me to have greater faith by testifying of God’s ability to heal, but they spoke without listening. I became increasingly frustrated with other people’s definition of miracles and their attempts to judge my faith. The complete lack of listening to God and expecting all miracles to be right in front of your face made me so angry, I just stopped talking about miracles all together. I didn’t know how to get people to understand that the greatest miracles are invisible.
As I remembered this in that Sunday school class, I realized I had two fires before me. The visible fire that was my step-father’s physical healing and the invisible one that was in my heart the night I learned my mother would die. The Lord asked me, “which one is the more powerful fire?”
I now definitively believe that the most powerful miracle will be the one that happens in your own heart, the one no one else will ever feel or see, except those that truly know your heart. A physical fire is a flash in the pan, it lasts only for a few seconds. If you want to tell me about a miracle, go ahead. I believe God is a God of miracles and He still works among us every day. But tell me how you’ve changed, tell me what you learned from God. Otherwise, there is no power there. Who we become because of what we learn is what lasts for eternity. These are the eternal flames where God can be found.
I also learned that too many people build their perceptions of God’s character backwards. They look around for physical fires and assign their own reasons to those fires and thus begin to sketch the character and motivations of God. Instead, if they sought to know God’s character by listening to His voice, they would know Him and then they would better understand the fire.
God sent the fire to the sacrifice for Elijah, and people saw the fire, but they did not see God or hear His voice. They were not converted or changed. God sent the wind, the earthquake, and the fire to the mount, but Elijah did not see God or hear His voice in those manifestations. To know God, to learn from Him and of Him, to see His hands, His power, and His love, is to listen.
I was reminded that day, that I knew God because of countless prayers and time spent with Him. One healing did not change Him, I already knew who He was. I remembered my spiritual eyes and started feeling fires again instead of looking for them.