• Anna Brooksby

BLOG: (August 29-September 4) Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, "I'm with Him"


I had an interesting experience a few days ago. I tend to be an overthinker. I overplan EVERYTHING. On this particular day, I was thinking about the future (as I often do), and getting a little fearful (as I also often do). Not knowing what is ahead for me and my family, I pictured our future path as a fork in the road. The path on one side led through an overgrown forest, with storm clouds already gathering above it. It looked kind of ominous, actually. The other path was pretty clear. No clouds, no obstacles, just a straight line stretching on into the distance. But I knew the right path for us was the first path. I knew that was the path the Lord wanted for me and my family, and that it led to the outcomes He wanted for us. As I looked at that path, I started to get a little anxious about it. But then I realized something:


It’s not what is ahead of me that matters, it’s Who is with me.


As President Eyring has stated, “if you’re on the right path, it will always be uphill.” However, as I pondered about this, I noticed one key difference between the two paths that changed my entire perspective. When I am on the covenant path, the Savior is there too. He is walking with me. I have the assurance that, with His companionship, I can get through anything that is ahead of me. If I choose the other path, clear and easy as it may appear, I will walk it alone. For me, that changes everything.


People have often used the phrase “I’m with him” to suggest that their association with someone of importance confers importance on them too. In looking at the two roads ahead of me, I realized that this phrase can have a very different meaning for us if we just tweak it a little. I find great comfort in the thought that if “I’m with Him,” I know I am on the right path. Walking with the Savior means I have my safety and peace with me, regardless of the storms and trials that will come. I don’t ever have to be afraid if I am with Him.


As I have navigated uncharted waters over the past few years, I have often turned to one of my favorite scriptures, Proverbs 3:5-6, for comfort and reassurance. (I even have it set as a reminder on my phone, so every morning at 7:30 I remember to consciously choose to trust in the Lord. I need that reminder every single day.)


Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.


In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)


I have loved these verses since I first read them, and as life’s complexities have increased, I find myself returning to them often. I know that God is always willing to direct my paths, if I am willing to trust Him and lean not on my own understanding. His plan is always better than mine. His path is the path of safety, now and forever. Even if it looks scary, even if it is uncertain…if He is with me, I know I will be okay.


Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting modern-day slavery, has done an incredible amount of good in the world. According to the OUR website, “Ballard has worked undercover in the United States and in multiple foreign countries to infiltrate child trafficking organizations. In this effort, he has successfully dismantled dozens of these organizations and rescued countless children from slavery and exploitation.” This is no small accomplishment. But at first, the idea of leaving a secure path to venture out into the unknown, especially with a family to support, was terrifying for him. Ballard shared part of his story on the Power Players podcast:


Host:

…How do you convert a passion to serve, a passion to find meaning into your life, into this greater purpose that inspires you to quit a secure job and focus on service before self? What triggered in you that allowed you to step up and take yourself to the next level and serve your fellow men and women?


Tim:

There are two triggers. One, there’s one thing to see in the videos but when I saw that kid and he ran to me, my life changed right there forever to think that there are that many kids. Any of us have children or [know] children, students, nieces and nephews. There’s nothing sweeter than that innocence and to think that is being abused. That was the first trigger for me and what changed my life.


The second one happened in December of 2013 when I was having to make the decision. I was about to turn my gun and badge in and go for this. That first trigger, unfortunately, should have been but in my weakness, I forgot for a moment. I thought, “What am I doing? I have six children I have to take care of.” Statistically speaking, I have about a 5% chance or less that this non-profit is going to last more than a year. We’re also privatizing the rescue of kids, which has never been done before. What makes me think I can do this? It’s all of these what-ifs and doubt.


I started again and the second trigger lit me up. I had to go back to my wife again. She said to me, “You have two paths before you see this. There’s one path of going off on your own to a rescue kid to build this non-profit. How does that look to you?” I said, “It looks dark and scary. I can’t see anything.” She said, “What does the other path look like?” “It’s secure. I get to retire when I’m 50 with a pension and benefits until I die, a federal employee.” She said this to me that changed my perspective. It was the most important trigger.


She said, “Imagine that you have a meeting with your maker someday. You’re going to die one day, sit for your maker and he’s going to ask you what you did at this crossroads.” When I did that, she then said, “Look at those two paths. What do you see?” All of a sudden, the secure path looks scary as all get out. I didn’t know what I would lose or what blessings might not come to me because I chose not to pursue these innocent children who I knew we could rescue. The other path, though still, I couldn’t see, looks warm and light. It was amazing what she did to me. She led me through this scenario.


I encourage people to do that with whatever they’re confronted with because all of a sudden, you see the world as it is and not the fear that sometimes clouds our judgment. After that, there was no turning back. I turned that badge, that gun in and off we went. Sure enough, we were blessed and grown. It was one of the most powerful things that my wife taught me in December of 2013. (Source)


Almost ten years later, we can see the fruits of that choice. I know the Ballards’ path has not been an easy one, but they have done God’s work, they have saved so many children, and they have changed countless lives immeasurably. What a blessing it has been, to so many souls, that they were willing to take that first big leap and follow the path God was setting before them.


Sometimes we get scared about what is ahead, what we are going to go through, what the Lord is asking us to go through. Our paths, even (and especially) with His direction, will not be easy. But life is not about ease. Life is about growth, and His path is the path of growth. It is the path that leads Home, and when we choose that path, He walks it with us.


Our safety and our peace are with the Savior. The choice is not really about whether we are going to go through hard things or not (we are), or whether the Lord is going to ask us to do hard things or not (He will). The choice is whether we will stay with Him or not. Am I willing to stay with Him, no matter what? YES! Why? Because He is my safety and my peace. I know that whatever I go through, if I am with Him, I will be okay.


So that makes the choice fairly simple.


I’m with Him.


No matter what lies ahead on this path, if that’s the way He’s going, that’s where I want to be.

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