BLOG: (February 14-20) Genesis 18-23, “Is Any Thing Too Hard for the Lord?”
We humans tend to abide by an all or nothing principle quite often. This permeates into many aspects of our lives, but sometimes unobtrusively into our spiritual life. We think that if we can’t do it all, then we’re failures. Not partially good or even partially a failure, but a straight up failure. If I don’t read my scriptures everyday, I’m a failure. If I lose my cool or don’t read to my kids or don’t have a clean, orderly house, I’m a failure. Sound familiar? Satan sure likes to use this tactic with us often. If we aren’t perfect at _____, then we’re failing. All or nothing. Even if others praise our efforts in _____, we don’t believe them and still believe we’re failing. Now it’s true that no unclean thing can enter into the Kingdom of God, but we have an excellent Advocate on our side who helps to make up for what we lack, including our perceived failures.
The Lord meets us where we are and takes us the rest of the way there. He thinks we’re worth preserving and fighting for. Think of the allegory of the olive tree in the book of Jacob. How many times does Zenos describe how the Lord said to His servant, “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree”? Eight, if you’re going to count. And many more times, He described how He wanted to nourish and care for His vineyard. He was willing to fight for it. He spent time, effort, and energy on it. Some of those trees didn’t yield perfect fruit, and yet, He still fought for them and nourished them. We’re the same. We don’t always bring forth perfect fruit; sometimes it would be considered “wild” and not very good at all. But we’re still worth His efforts.
The scriptures are replete with examples of His love for us and His willingness to suffer on our behalf so that we can be forgiven and receive Eternal Life. He has “engraven [us] on the palm of [His] hands” (Isaiah 49:16). He asked to have the cup removed from Him because it was so difficult and heavy. But, “for the joy that was set before him, [He] endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). He saw us while He was suffering (Mosiah 15:10), and because of His love for us, He endured and finished it. His love for us is unconditional; there is no all or nothing for us with Him.
The Lord talks to Abraham about the destruction of Sodom. “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?” (Genesis 18:24). The Lord says that He would spare the city. What about if there were 40 righteous individuals? 30? 20? 10? The Lord answers that He’d spare the city for the sake of 10 righteous individuals.
Back to the all or nothing principle. We sometimes spend a lot of time noticing our faults and weaknesses. I’m not very motivated, therefore I’m lazy. I’m not very good at staying calm with my children; I’m not a good parent. I sometimes _____, therefore I’m _____. Satan feeds into this and puts to us an interpretation of our behavior that convinces us that we’re “less than.” He feeds us a lie “therefore I’m lazy,” “I’m not a good parent,” “therefore I’m ______.” This lie is a distorted version of events. Yes, maybe I was lazy for a few minutes, but saying “all” of me is lazy because of it is an exaggeration of the truth. Perhaps I didn’t handle a situation with my girls as calmly as I should have; Satan will try to convince me that that moment defines my status as a “bad parent.” We can choose to believe it or not. Our beliefs are thoughts that we choose to have over and over again. Our awesome brains are wired to look for evidence to support these beliefs we choose to have. So if I believe that I’m a lazy individual, my brain will notice things in my behavior and will interpret it with the lens of finding evidence to support that belief. If my brain can find evidence to support my belief that I’m lazy, then it can most definitely find evidence to the contrary if I choose to believe that I’m not lazy.
It takes effort (which we know the Lord loves!) to focus our creative powers on interpreting situations positively. We’ve got to train our brains to see our behavior (and others’) in a positive light. Rather than interpreting my sitting on the couch after a long day and enjoying a book when there’s a floor to be mopped and laundry to be done as me being lazy, I can reflect on all the things I did accomplish that day and give myself some credit and focus on something that I can interpret as me doing something right - I’m reading a book! Improving my mind. I’m not burning myself out. I’m creating a bit of balance in my life etc. It’s not an all or nothing situation.
If the Lord wouldn’t destroy Sodom if there were 10 righteous people, He won’t “destroy” me or cast me off for not being all the way perfect either. I get credit for trying, even if my equivalent of 10 righteous people was 10 righteous minutes of me charitably listening to one of my daughters express her frustrations only to turn around and choose to be frustrated with that same daughter hours later for something else. I had 10 minutes of awesome! I’m still worth fighting for, and He is still exerting effort to nourish me and help me grow.
Sarah had Isaac when she was past her child-bearing years. She was old. It seemed an impossible situation. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). He can take my 10 minutes of awesome and turn it into 20 minutes another day. He will lead me, if I let Him, and multiply my efforts. Sometimes I get down on myself and choose to believe the lies Satan tells me - that because I only had 10 minutes of awesome that day, I’m a failure and not gonna make it. But that’s all it is, a lie. I have an excellent Advocate with the Father, and He knows me and how to nourish and succor me even with my specific weaknesses and struggles (Alma 7:12).
We don’t have to do everything. Put your widow’s mite’s worth of effort and work in for the day and that’s enough. His grace is sufficient for us. He meets us where we are, and makes up the difference. Again, we don’t have to do everything, but we do have to do something, even if it’s only “10 minutes of awesome.”
I'm Tiffany and I live in sunny Arizona (love me some sunshine!). I have 5 beautiful daughters. I know what you're thinking, that's A LOT of estrogen! and you'd be right, but we have some of the greatest times known to mankind through our adventures in learning (we homeschool), loving, playing, and growing together. In my spare time, I love to read (I own literally thousands of books) and hike in the beautiful mountains near my home.