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Tuesday, 14 July 2015 13:17

When the Sea Doesn't Part

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Parting the Red SeaHaving written two books now with a third on it's way, I am intimately familiar with that wonderful demon of creative souls everywhere: writer's block. 

Oh yes, one day you are cranking out pages and pages of good stuff and the next....blank. Blank mind, blank screen, blank page. You're stuck and the more you try to force something out of the stuckedness the more stuck you become. Stuckity-stuck-stuck in Stuckville. I can just imagine Brian Reagan saying that, by the way.

But being "stuck" isn't just a mental state; sometimes it is a state of being stuck financially, romantically, spiritually, physically, etc. 

I think we've all had times in our lives when the road seems closed, the Heavens shut, the way barred and the horizon darkened. We look at the seemingly-never ending path leading up the mountainside and we wonder how do we get passed the obstacles currently in our way. Whether those obstacles be fears, disappointments, heartaches, adversities, loneliness, or what appears to be a complete lack of viable options, our journey seems to be halted and we silently (or verbally...sometimes loudly) ask as Joseph Smith did in Liberty Jail, "Oh God, where art thou?" (D&C 121:1).

I don't think you or I are the first to ever ask that question (nor was Joseph). I wonder if Adam struggled when Cain killed Abel or if Jacob, or Israel, cried out when his sons brought in the "lost" Joseph's coat of many colors . I'm sure that Job did when all those awful calamities came crashing into his life. The scriptures are full of countless stories from the lives of God's greatest who faced what must have at the time looked like impossible odds at the time. When the weight of your current trials gets to heavy and you drop to your knees to plead for Heaven's intervention, take comfort in the fact that millions of souls have sought such help throughout the millennia.

On the darkest of days, we should remember that even Jesus asked of our Father in Heaven, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:36).

It is fairly simple to hold onto our faith when the sun is shining, but what about those quiet moments on stormy days when a loved one is deathly ill, when the bills keep piling up, when the opportunities just don't seem to be coming soon enough. How strong is our faith when God, in his infinite wisdom, loves us enough to say, "No." Most of us can be "strong" when God answers our prayers, but what about when he doesn't (at least not in the way we think we need him to)?

God hears your prayersI don't know about you, but I've had days (or weeks or months) where the Heavens seemed closed (usually because I was looking for what I wanted instead of asking to see what God wanted). And during those times, it can be tough to not feel forgotten or abandoned or even lonely. And maybe, just maybe, we might even feel a bit of fear. We don't have God's eternal perspective since he can see the end from the beginning; usually we struggle to see two steps in front of us on the pathways of life. So when a big trial or adversity or obstacle drops down on the road we are following, it is natural to cry out, to reach for Heaven's reassuring embrace. In fact, no message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22; James 4:3; 1 John. 3:22; 1 Ne. 15:11; Enos 1:15; Mosiah 4:21; D&C 4:7; and Moses 6:52 are examples.)

However, while we may ask, a prayer is not a wish to be granted by some mystical genie; rather, it is answered by an omniscient, exalted being who knows what is best for us in the long run, the eternal run. While we ask for what we need right now, God answers in what will help us now and ten years down the road, or thirty, or seventy. Because of his love for us, God will answer our prayers in the way that serves us best as defined by his perfect perspective.

I often wonder what it would have been like for ancient Israel when they found themselves facing the waters of the Red Sea. Here they had been slaves for so long to Egypt's pharaohs and had now enjoyed roughly three and a half weeks of actual freedom. But then, after about a week of pitching their tents on the shore of the Red Sea, the mighty armies of Pharaoh were seen racing towards them and "they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord" (Exodus 14:10).   

Now, many of us, when the trials of life fall heavily on our shoulders do exactly the same thing (whether we are sore afraid or not): we cry out unto the Lord, perhaps expecting the "Red Sea" of our current adversity to part. And maybe it will! Maybe the Lord will cause the way to open before us in some miraculous fashion and we will walk forward in life on "dry ground." 

But what if he doesn't? What then? 

That is when we need to have faith (and works) the most. We need to remember that this life is a test and that sometimes God wants us to apply all our reasoning skills into finding a solution for ourselves (think of the Brother of Jared needing light in their ships - Ether 2: 23-25) and then getting to work to make it happen. Maybe he is silent because he wants us to do our part and then he opens the Heavens to bless those efforts. Perhaps we should pray less that he parts the sea and more that he will give us the strength to swim across it. Maybe the lesson he wants us to learn is not that he will do everything for us, but that he will give us everything we need to solve the problem ourselves.

What if God had commanded newly-liberated Israel to stand and fight? What if, instead of parting the Red Sea, God has blessed the Israelites with strength and divine protection in battle against Pharaoh's armies? There are certainly several instances where he did just that in the Bible's history. And while the parting of the Red Sea was an incredible display of God's love for this covenant people and indeed his ability to deliver us from times of trial, not all divine interventions will come in such an eye-opening manner.   

So when God says, "No" what he really means is, "No, I will answer your prayer another way." It may require patience, it may push us to limits we never knew we could reach or ask us to do things we are afraid to try, but in the end, when we ask God to help solve our problems we must be willing to stand firm in the faith and work our fingers to the bone in our own behalf. Sometimes he moves the mountain and other times he expects us to pick up the shovel.

Pray and then go to workAs the old adage goes, "Pray as if it depends on the Lord, then get up and work as if it depends on you." Maybe the healing will come through finding the right doctor or deliverance from financial stress will come through a new job or simply tightening the budget. Does that mean God isn't in the details? Of course not! But whatever we pray for we must also struggle for, even if our efforts are a pittance in comparison to the work required. And if it is his will to help us in some miraculous Red Sea-parting fashion, hallelujah! But if his miracles are "smaller" or even harder to distinguish between the average occurrences of this life, we should still drop to our knees in gratitude for his willingness to answer our prayers in his own way and according to his own will. Indeed, that is perhaps one of the main reasons the Lord taught us to pray, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven" (Mathew 6:10). In other words, "Father, let my prayer be answered here on earth as your will is there in Heaven." 

As Jesus, who was so intimately familiar with the love of his father, asked:

"Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

"Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Mathew 7: 9-11). 

I do not know what burdens you are carrying right now, nor what concerns are weighing on your mind, but I do know this: your Father in Heaven is not some absent dad who cares little for his children's needs, fears, hurts or struggles. No, our God is a compassionate parent whose love is far beyond anything we can comprehend. And I know of no loving parent who would ignore their child's heart-felt pleas. While he may not give you what you want when you want (simply because he knows better), he will answer you in the manner that will bless you the most!

Fire on Ice by Jeremy C HolmSo if you are struggling, kneel down and pray...then rise up and get to work. The sea may not part (right away), but I promise that God will deliver you through his divine power. Want a fun personal scripture study assignment? Check out this list of Biblical miracles and you'll see what God has done and can do for his people.   

As the Psalmists wrote, "And call upon (him) in the day of trouble: (he) will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify (him)." (Psalms 50:15). 

Jeremy C. Holm

Author & American athlete Jeremy C. Holm has spent over half his life in the fast-paced winter sport of bobsled, including as the Head Coach for the US Adaptive Bobsled Team. He has a degree in Journalism and is pursuing a degree in Military History at the American Military University. In addition to motivational speaking and corporate appearances around the world, Jeremy is the author of three books and spends his time camping, hiking, writing and trying to make history, one day at a time.

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To read more of Jeremy's work, you can order one of his highly-acclaimed books by visiting the Online Store to purchase signed copies or unsigned ones by purchasing a copy wherever books are sold. 


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Jeremy C Holm author bobsled

When Angels Fall, the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Utilizing firsthand experiences and interviews with members of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, including his grandfather 1st Lieutenant Andrew Carrico of Company D, Jeremy tells the full story of this historic regiment. From Camp Toccoa to Tokyo, and the training grounds of Camp Mackall and New Guinea to the nightmarish combat of the Leyte and Luzon campaigns, WHEN ANGELS FALL is a masterful narrative by a former journalist and historian who here tells the full story of a group of America’s heroes, the elite paratroopers of the 511th PIR in World War II. Buy Now

Fire on Ice Jeremy C Holm
Racing down an icy track at 80 miles per hour leads you to think of many things. For Jeremy C. Holm, it made him think of God. In Fire and Ice, Holm shares his experiences as a bobsled pilot and coach, presenting a message of faith and personal courage that will inspire you to come closer to Jesus Christ and reach for that ultimate prize of eternal life. Buy Now

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How do we achieve gold medal moments in life? How do we find peace and confidence and what truly makes us happy? Discover the answers in Jeremy's new ebook, "The Champion's Way", available now at Amazon.com. Buy Now