Lawnmower God Helped Me Find My Wallet

By: shenpa warrior
January 3, 2012

2003. I lost my wallet. I was in a hurry. I prayed.

Immediately an image of the inside of the washing machine came to my mind. I went to the laundry room, opened up the washer, and there it was. All three dollars, Wendy’s receipts, and a now-faded student ID card and driver’s license still inside.

I normally don’t pray for things like that but in a moment of anxiety I asked God to rescue me. I’m not sure if God had anything to do with finding my wallet. Actually, I don’t believe God (or any parent, for that matter) should be rescuing me or anyone else from anxiety, confusion, or ambiguity. Providing support is nice, but the God I believe in is more Love & Logic than Lawnmower or Laissez-Faire.

Still, I was grateful to have found my wallet.

Tim Tebow believes that God helps him with football. SNL told me so.

Last night during a Jazz game, point guard Devin Harris had a “lucky bounce” (a God bounce?) as a 3-pointer hit the rim and then dropped in. Harris pointed to Heaven. After the game he said his shot was short, but the “Man upstairs” caused it to go in.

What is the function of beliefs like this? What do they serve?

It seems to me that believing God will rescue you from discomfort probably has more to do with wanting God to make you feel better than to build your character. I’m wondering about some perspectives other than my own, however (I know, gasp!). How might a belief in the God of the Lost Keys influence one’s life, for better or for worse?

Next time, more on Lawnmower God…

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69 Responses to Lawnmower God Helped Me Find My Wallet

  1. well on January 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    im not sure, but i was dissapointed to hear a bunch of talks on finding lost keys, etc. in the last conference.

    the rebuttal is simple. there are millions of unanswered prayers in africa every day. life sucks there. there isn’t clean water, children die, parents are killed in civil wars they want no part of. infant rape is rampant.

    what kind of god ignores those pleas, but helps you find your wallet in the washing machine?

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  2. Cowboy on January 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I suppose if we give God the credit for helping us make the shot in basketball, the basket should then probably be disqualified for interference, methinks? Also, if both sides are praying for help in their game, does that effectively pit God against himself? If so, even bigger question…If both sides pray for help, and God helps both sides, yet only one side wins, have we invalidated God’s omnipotence?? Is this just another “can God make a burrito so hot that even he can’t eat it?”.

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  3. Jeff Spector on January 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Careful, Cowboy, don’t be stealing lines from George Carlin! even though you are changing the object!

    But i totally agree. If we are willing to give God the credit for the good stuff, i guess we have to give him credit for the bad stuff as well. Or, could it be…..Satan?

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  4. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 3, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    I think there is a place for a God aware of little things, like sparrows.

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  5. Nick Literski on January 3, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    When it comes down to it, the “simple rebuttal” that well and Jeff note demonstrates that these beliefs aren’t exactly about “wanting deity to make you feel better.” Rather, I think they’re about wanting to feel like you matter to deity—that deity takes notice of you. If finding your keys after praying about it can be attributed to deity, then the “logical” conclusion is that deity cared enough about you and your particular problem to take care of it, notwithstanding his/her/its larger tasks of keeping stars and planets in their natural orbits, etc. You can take this a step further in such a “worthiness” obsessed faith tradition as LDS-ism. The belief that deity cared enough about you and your little problem becomes evidence that you were “righteous enough” or “worthy enough” to reap such a blessing. I think there are more ego-affirming (for lack of a better term) motivations going on, rather than just “wanting deity to make you feel better.”

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  6. shenpa warrior on January 3, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    @well – very, very valid point. It’s a concern that many have that cannot be ignored in a debate. If I may side-step that debate though, and discuss the function of the belief – what do you think the end result is of holding this kind of belief?

    Even to bring in your point, how does one reconcile God helping find the keys or win the game, yet as you so importantly pointed out, also being aware that horror fills many parts of the earth. Seems like a dialectic that for many results some other form of certainty, like atheism, or offering religious platitudes (“God has a plan” etc.). I can see why. We so desperately need certainty in the face of horror. Yet, I agree with Stephen, I believe God IS aware of all. I’m not certain though.

    @Cowboy – Or maybe God should be in the stat sheet?

    @Nick – Great point – wanting to feel that you matter, that someone bigger and stronger “gets” you… being aware that God is aware of what you’re aware of, that is powerful. I had not thought of that in the case of the Car Keys, but it makes sense! Thank you. That is something we all need. If we didn’t get enough of it, we’ll end up denying it exists (atheism) or becoming obsessed with it (fundamentalism). That’s a post for another day though.

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  7. Stephen M (Ethesis) on January 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    well — you ask the classic question of how can there be evil in the world. But does evil in the world mean that God is not?

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  8. dba.brotherp on January 3, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    The septic in me says when you quieted your mind to pray, you were able to recall where the wallet was. The believer in me says, if it matters enough for you to pray, it matters to God.

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  9. whizzbang on January 3, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    @8-I think you mean “sceptic” This is an area I have no idea. I don’t know why God helps people in some seemingly innocuous situations yet is apparently silent on huge matters

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  10. Bob on January 3, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    #7:Stephen M (Ethesis,
    “But does evil in the world mean that God is not?”.
    No__maybe God likes evil in the world(?)

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  11. hawkgrrrl on January 3, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    To me, this is the fundamental question of religion. How much does God intervene? I do think those who see God’s hand in just about everything are the ones with religious fervor unless/until something goes really wrong and they feel forsaken. But they also probably see God’s intervention where it is not. I tend to see God as acting in benign neglect. He’s set the whole thing in motion, but he’s got other stuff to do. We’re self-sustaining. I do think finding car keys or wallets is generally because we quiet our minds enough to become more aware. But that probably makes me less religious, certainly less fervent.

    Yet, I also have to wonder how much of our notion of God is related to our self-image and to how we view our parents. I would also say my parents acted in benign neglect and did not intervene much or set a lot of rules for behavior. And to Nick’s point, if I think God is benignly neglectful is that just my defense mechanism because I don’t think I’m probably that important? I certainly don’t feel I’m important enough out of billions of people to bother about, but I also feel independent and self-sufficient.

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  12. dba.brotherp on January 3, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Thanks Whizzbang. The absence of a “c” sure does make a difference!

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  13. Bob on January 3, 2012 at 6:35 PM

    #9:whizzbang,
    I have spoken to many people who believe in Guardian Angels. A personal Angel that helps you, but has very limited powers.

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  14. shenpa warrior on January 3, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    “how much of our notion of God is related to our self-image and to how we view our parents”

    I think this is a MAJOR factor in how we approach the ultimate nature of the universe, reality, God, religion, etc… if not the biggest factor.

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  15. Ray on January 3, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I believe in intervention in some cases and non-intervention in others, but I have no clue about the “why” – except that it has absolutely nothing to do with relative righteousness, which makes it even more of a mystery to me.

    I only believe in intervention as a result of a very few instances in my own life with what I only can explain using intervention language. In my case, there have been three events (and a couple that I just can’t cite as sure cases) that I can’t explain as anything but intervention, but they weren’t classic instances that match finding keys or being directed away from danger or anything like that. I also know second-hand of a few instances in others’ lives that I accept as intervention – but I know of WAY more instances that were MUCH more important that occurred without intervention. I even know of one instance where there was obvious intervention in a way that was not wanted and caused great heartache and hardship.

    Iow, I have no freaking clue why things happen the way they do – and I have no argument whatsoever for those who don’t believe in intervention of any kind.

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  16. hawkgrrrl on January 3, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    Ray – that’s interesting because while I logically tend toward less intervention, there are times, even in trivial circumstances, when I feel there has been intervention. Is that God or the Holy Ghost or my intuition (something inside me)? Can’t say. But my experience differs from my logic in some cases.

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  17. Bob on January 3, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    I have a sister-in-law who drives me nuts. If something happens for NO reason, she will put one on it. If a clock stops, someone in the family just died. If a picture fall off her wall, she is going to have a herpes outbreak.

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  18. hawkgrrrl on January 3, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    BTW, loved the SNL sketch. SNL and hulu are blocked here, unfortunately, so I seldom get to see this stuff! And the “Simpsons” ending note on Mormonism was funny.

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  19. Jared on January 3, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    One point needs to be brought out: faith differs from person to person. God works with us according our individual faith.

    “..ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:6

    “For if there be no faith…God can do no miracle…” Ether 12:12

    I think one reason the Lord blesses us in seemly small things and leaves us to ourselves in greater things is related to the degree of faith we possess.

    A man or women can progress in faith to the point where they “could not be kept from within the veil” (Ether 12:19.

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  20. GBSmith on January 4, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    For people who believe in intervention and faithfulness equals blessing, life can be a little difficult at times. When we feel blessed it’s because we earned it and when it doesn’t happen the feeling of entitlement makes us resentful. Viewing our relationship with God this way is a set up for failure all the way around. I’m much more comfortable believing that if God knew my name once, He’s long since forgotten.

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  21. Ray on January 4, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    “I think one reason the Lord blesses us in seemly small things and leaves us to ourselves in greater things is related to the degree of faith we possess.”

    Fwiw, I disagree totally with that belief. As I said, I have no idea about the “why” of the question, but I have no doubt whatsoever that it has nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with righteousness in any way, including level of faith. I know WAY too many incredibly faithful people (in the purest sense of the word) who have not expereinced the sort of intervention we are discussing regarding little or big things to accept the premise that they just aren’t faithful enough. That conclusion is appalling to me.

    (If that’s not what you meant, Jared, I apologize – but it is the most obvious meaning in the words you wrote.)

    The only example I will cite (from many I might use) for this view is Nephi. I think 2 Nephi 4 is a great example of someone who was left to his own when it came to “little things” while receving incredible “intervention” when it came to “big things” – and, if you read carefully, those “big things” dealt pretty much ONLY with preserving his life and recording visions for his posterity and future readership. I think the examples of even those we accept as prophets should give us pause when trying to find a universal reason for what appears to me to be non-universal actions.

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  22. ?????? on January 4, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Is it God who distinguishes between big things and little things or is it us? And we all have different perspectives.

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  23. Jared on January 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Ray,

    I can appreciate your position. I think there are many who would agree with you. As you know, I am not one of them.

    The problem with the position you’ve taken is that the scriptures and church leaders teach that faith is essential to access God’s blessings.

    Of course, there is more that needs to be added. The most important being that our faith needs to be in accordance with God’s will. It doesn’t matter how great one’s faith is, if it isn’t in harmony with God’s will the sought after blessing will be denied.

    In addition, I’m of the opinion that you (and many others) have the mistaken notion that faith is a function of the calling(s) one receives in the church-the higher the calling, the greater ones faith.

    I don’t agree with this notion. Now, I want to make sure you understand that even though I disagree with you, I still respect you and your right to believe what you will. Please don’t think I feel otherwise.

    Based on my personal experience, gaining access to God comes through repenting and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. A ward clerk can have greater access to God than the Stake President based this doctrine as taught in the 4th Article of Faith.

    If I’ve misunderstood your present and past communications on this topic, please correct me.

    I suggest to any who are interested in what Ray and I are discussing review what President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught in April Priesthood Meeting 2011.

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  24. shenpa warrior on January 4, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    I think I’m with Ray on this one, but I do think this is a good discussion point:

    “scriptures and church leaders teach that faith is essential to access God’s blessings.”

    How might we define what is a blessing? To me, anything that results in growth toward our potential is a blessing, even if it’s not enjoyable or pleasant. Under that definition, even very painful experiences could be considering “blessings.” I have thought of blessings in that way because the common definition of the term (to me) seems to connote ease, comfort, relief, etc. While a blessing may involve one of those, I tend to believe that they would be given to serve a purpose of growth.

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  25. shenpa warrior on January 4, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Iow, I sometimes don’t thank the Lord for my blessings. :D

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  26. jmb275 on January 4, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Great post Shenpa. I think “blessing” is a subjective term altogether. I think it’s nonsense that faith is essential to access blessings. Whether or not it’s essential to access God’s blessings is something I don’t really feel I can know the answer to with any degree of certainty.

    In that light, I suppose I work to try and become a better person using the best tools at my disposal (which includes having faith, reading scriptures, going to church, etc.). When I “count my many blessings” it’s less an acknowledgment that God played a literal role in that blessing, and more an attempt to humble myself and acknowledge there are reasons beyond my own efforts that lead to those blessings.

    When people acknowledge hardships as “blessings” I must confess I view that as primarily us writing our own narrative to be more palatable and find the silver linings in our life. Hindsight is always 20/20.

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  27. Jared on January 4, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Shenpa Warrior, et al,

    For those who accept the teachings found in the scriptures, like the one below, have no difficulty understanding the essential need for faith to access the powers of heaven.

    I’ll say it again, to avoid being misunderstood, if you don’t see it the way I do, that’s fine with me. We have agency and can believe what we will. I’ve put the scriptures to the test for a very long time and have regular access to the mercy of God.

    …deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
    Moroni 10:7

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  28. Bob on January 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    IMO, Christianity has always been of two minds on whether God gives His blessings for only our good works. I doubt we will find the answer to that today(?)
    I grew up in a Mormon Church that taught clearly we earned our blessings with our works.

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  29. Ray on January 4, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    “In addition, I’m of the opinion that you (and many others) have the mistaken notion that faith is a function of the calling(s) one receives in the church-the higher the calling, the greater ones faith.”

    I’ve never said that; I’ve never implied that; I never will say or imply that; I’ve said exactly the opposite of that many times in many places (including, by implication, in this very thread); I have absolutely no clue how you got that from anything I’ve ever said or written. If I were being more blunt, Jared, I might say something like, “How the hell did you get that from what I’ve written?” – but I won’t be that blunt. *grin*

    I also believe the Biblical statement that “God maketh the rain to fall on the just and the unjust”.

    I think faith manifests itself NOT in the bestowing of blessings (although I do believe people are blessed for their faithfulness, in some way, on some timeline, by some standard) but rather in one’s reactions amid both blessings and the lack thereof.

    Finally, I believe if everyone was blessed measurably or visibly in accordance with their faith, it actually would destroy faith entirely – as it would provide visible evidence for all things hoped for. Without the unseen and unprovable, faith dies.

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  30. GBSmith on January 4, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    If a blessing is seen as essential such as healing, protection, or guidance at a critical juncture, then failing to receive it can be seen as a denial based on our own unworthiness, lack of faith, failure to demonstrate repentance or obediance, etc.. So if your child dies it can be seen as your own fault. If you were a better person, or fasted longer, or prayed harder or got more in your ward to fast and pray, God’s head would be turned and his eye and ear inclined and the miracle would have occured. But it didn’t and then what do you do? Believing in a personal anthropomorphic God who know’s me as an individual is fraught with more questions and problems than any answers, IMHO.

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  31. GBSmith on January 4, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Ray

    “Finally, I believe if everyone was blessed measurably or visibly in accordance with their faith, it actually would destroy faith entirely – as it would provide visible evidence for all things hoped for. Without the unseen and unprovable, faith dies.”

    I read a piece by SWK where he made this very point.

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  32. Jared on January 4, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Ray–

    Thanks for your response.

    One point I would like to comment on. You wrote

    “I believe if everyone was blessed measurably or visibly in accordance with their faith, it actually would destroy faith entirely – as it would provide visible evidence for all things hoped for. Without the unseen and unprovable, faith dies.”

    The Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great price provide us with examples of men who traveled the path of faith. Question:what was the out come of their faith?

    I’ll list a few scriptures that answer the question I asked:

    2 Nephi 11:2-3
    Ether 3:9-13
    Ether 12:39-41
    Moses 1:2, 7:4
    Abraham 3:11

    After reading these verses of scripture help me understand why you think faith can die with “…visible evidence of things hoped for. Without the unseen and unprovable, faith dies.”

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  33. Ray on January 4, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    Jared, I have never denied that great blessings can come as a result of faith. I didn’t say that here in this thread; in fact, I actually said that in my last comment. I have no problem whatsoever attributing the experiences of exceptional people to their faith – as long as there is a caveat that not everyone with incredible faith is blessed in such obvious ways – and its twin that those who aren’t blessed as obviously must not have sufficient faith.

    As for your last question:

    I don’t think faith “can” die when the unseen and unprovable disappears; I think faith “does” die when the unseen and unprovable disappear – and I think our scriptures teach that explicitly, plainly and undeniably.

    What I’m saying is that the belief that all blessings happen as a result of one’s level of faith – that there is some objective way to measure the faith of individuals by observable blessings – simply isn’t consistent with our scriptures. If it was, I think Elijah and John, the Baptist – Nephi, Mormon and Moroni – Joseph and Hyrum – and even Jesus of Nazareth (from a purely objective perspective) are great examples that we can’t look at the objective events of others’ lives and see who is faithful and who is not.

    After all, objectively, as viewed without “faith”, each and every one of those people was an abject failure – not someone who was “obviously blessed”.

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  34. Ray on January 4, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    Strike the “If it was” from the paragraph about specific people. I started with one thought, shifted gears in the middle of the sentence and forgot to remove that phrase.

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  35. Jared on January 4, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Ray-

    It looks like we’re finding a point of agreement. If I understand your last comment correctly, you accept the idea that as one progresses in the first principles of the gospel, faith increases. And like the examples cited above (#32) we have greater access to God’s blessings (Ether 12) and could possibility see him face to face as others have.

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  36. hawkgrrrl on January 4, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    GBSmith: “For people who believe in intervention and faithfulness equals blessing, life can be a little difficult at times. When we feel blessed it’s because we earned it and when it doesn’t happen the feeling of entitlement makes us resentful. Viewing our relationship with God this way is a set up for failure all the way around.” I have seen this time and time again, and I think it’s a problem for many church members.

    Ideally, faith just adds meaning and motivation to our lives. If you live by faith, the good things that happen to you are blessings while the bad things are lessons designed to make you stronger. If you don’t live by faith, you have to deal with the fact that good and bad things happening to you are sometimes the product of your own or others’ actions or inactions, or due to factors that are random and uncontrollable.

    I know someone whose mother in law bought a new house for her and her kids to live in. This person was thanking God for how blessed she has been to get this house. I don’t think it’s bad to thank God for blessings, even in this case, but there’s no mystery where the house came from. Are we always equally willing to acknowledge when others bless our lives directly? If it’s a blessing from God, we deserved it because we were faithful and it’s evidence that he cares about us. If we see it as a blessing from a person, we may feel a sense of obligation to a benefactor (which we probably should). It’s often too easy for the faithful to view blessings from other people as an entitlement to them for being faithful. Being grateful to God is easier than being grateful to a generous person. After all, the faithful person will think, the generous person only had all that because God gave it to them, so it wasn’t really theirs.

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  37. MH on January 4, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    In Mosiah 2:21, King Benjamin describes God as

    preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath… and even supporting you from one moment to another

    This sure sounds like an interventionist God, because we don’t even have control over our own breath–God lends us our breath. Furthermore, God is supporting us one moment to another.

    So, it makes you wonder what’s going on in this story. Briefly, this woman is standing in line at an ATM. A robber rips the gold chain from her neck–a sentimental religious necklace given by her mother. The woman, 8 months pregnant, chases the robber until he hops over a fence. While filing the police report, she goes into pre-mature labor–the police escort her to the hospital where she gives birth to a child with a cleft palate. Her husband returns home to fetch her some clean clothes, only to discover that the Christmas presents, tv, and other items as well as $600 for next month’s rent payment have been stolen.

    If God is lending us breath, and supporting us from one moment to another, why isn’t God taking the breath away from these robbers, and why is he a non-interventionist for this woman?

    I just believe that God doesn’t intervene nearly as much as we think. Because the lost wallet is nothing compared to what this woman has gone through in the first 3 days of 2012.

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  38. Jared on January 4, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    #37 MH

    Who was Mosiah speaking to in Mosiah 2:21? Everyone in the world or to those who entered into a covenant to follow and serve Him?

    The Book of Mormon relates the events of two peoples, the Nephites and Lamanites. For much of their history the Lamanites were under a curse and left to their own devices while the Lord nurtured and protected the Nephites.

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  39. MH on January 4, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Jared, so God loves Nephites more than Lamanites? God loves robbers more than this pregnant woman?

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  40. anon_for_this on January 5, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    Jared — I want to see if I can summarize what I think you’re saying:

    1. All blessings come because of a person’s faith and worthiness.
    2. It then follows that one cannot receive a blessing if one has no faith or is not worthy
    3. A blessing can include feeling and recognizing the Spirit.

    My response to these points (which may not be the ones which you are trying to make, but they are what I have gotten from your postings) is that I know darn well when I have sinned and when I have chosen to repent. I also know when I have felt the Spirit, and received blessings that I believe came from God. And the timings don’t match. Some of my sins include things routinely discussed over the Priesthood GC pulpit every session… (there, I hope that get’s through the filters, and still conveys what I meant!).

    If I, who I know am at many times unworthy, receive blessings and the Spirit, then how can I understand why others don’t? Are they worse sinners than I?

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  41. Jared on January 5, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    #39 MH

    The scriptures give insight into your question. Consider the following verse.

    Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God.
    1 Nephi 17:35

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  42. GBSmith on January 5, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    In reading the comments by Jared and the quotes, especially the last, it points out to me how our traditional image of God is based on that of a feudal lord or a king. He favors us if we please him, we try and get his attention by praising Him or sacrificing such as offerings, tithing or fasting. In the catholic, orthodox and anglican traditions we ask for others, saints, to intercede for us. In the LDS church we’ll try to get someone with more power, righteousness or status such as a bishop, SP or GA to give blessings in hope that they’ll have more influence. Sometimes the emphasis gets shifted by making Him a loving father that knows us personally but that gets so tangled in our own experiences in family that it sometimes backfires. All I can see is that seeing God in either of these ways if fraught with difficulties and generates more questions that any safisfying answers. I sometimes think we make God in our image or the image that suits us. It’s all a mystery, I suppose.

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  43. Cowboy on January 5, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    With all due respect, from a scriptural standpoint I have to agree with Jared to some degree. I also agree with Shenpa Warrior and JMB275, that ultimately if we wanted to square this issue away, we would need a very clear definition on what we mean by “blessings”, to exacting parameters.

    Still, I don’t know that the scriptures speak of faith progressing to “death”, but rather to a state of “dormancy”. Doesn’t Alma 32 ultimately say that if a person tests even a particle of faith, they will witness the seed of faith growing into the direct manifestation of God’s handiwork, such that a person’s faith will become dormant as they gain a “perfect knowledge” of that “thing”? Didn’t Jesus say to the woman who touched the hem of his garment, “go thy way woman, thy faith hath made thee whole”? Did he not say that “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”. For what I take “blessings” to mean, as per the scriptures, it would seem that faith is the operative word to the realization and degree in which blessings are manifest.

    “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

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  44. Jared on January 5, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    #40 Anon-

    What insight do you obtain from the following verses of scriptures in answer to the questions you posed?

    …except they repent I will take away my word from them, and I will withdraw my Spirit from them, and I will suffer them no longer,
    Helaman 13:8

    …they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance
    Mormon 3:3

    …the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.
    Mormon 2:26

    …the angel said…I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
    Mosiah 27:14

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  45. Cowboy on January 5, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    #37-

    I do doubt this interpretation. Essentially, if take King Benjamin literally, then if God doesn’t grant each breath, or the ability to persist in existence from moment to moment, to those outside the covenant, then joining the Church is the equivalent of going on life support. Afterall, we can observe that we all seem to breath and exist indiscriminately of our religious convictions. So….how do us non-believers do it? If I do it without God, wouldn’t that put me on par with God?

    I can’t see that that was what King Benjamin was suggesting.

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  46. Cowboy on January 5, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

    Of course, after further reflecting on this scripture for a moment, was Thomas not more blessed to have personally beheld and touched the resurrected Christ? Methinks the spirit whispers, duh! In which case it would seem that the scriptures are a little more ambiguous than that. It seems that many of the teachings from scriptural characters support Jared’s position, whereas implications from the narrative are far more nuanced than that.

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  47. Jeff Spector on January 5, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Well, we are all not worthy of the Lord’s blessings, but He chooses to give them to us anyway by His grace.

    How do you deal with that reality? Because I see people who might not be considered worthy by any LDS standard being blessed all the time. And those who strive to do all they can, getting the back of the hand.

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  48. Jen on January 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    When I heard the talk in conference by one of the speakers (I don’t remember who) about finding a quarter on the ground to get something to eat, I was just irritated. I remember Elizabeth Smart’s parents praying for her to be found. When she was first taken, she heard them calling her name because they were so close, but they obviously didn’t find her. So, God helps a person find a quarter on the ground, but not a daughter of God who is going to be raped daily by a sick, perverted man. Do people not get how irritating those stories can be when there are so many more important things that people are praying for and not getting the help they need? I, for one, think all stupid stories about wallets, quarters, stuffed animals, etc. should be banned from conference and church forever. Of course, now I won’t ever find my wallet if I lose it and pray to find it.

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  49. Jared on January 5, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    #48 Jen

    Does the following scripture provide any insight, any comfort for you?

    And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire…

    And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.

    But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.

    Alma 14:8-11

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  50. Bob on January 5, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    #49: Jared,
    None.

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  51. Cowboy on January 5, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Jen:

    I seem to recall reading an opinion piece several years ago critiguing the movie Charly, and the closing remarks referencing the story of Lazarus. For those who don’t know, the story is about a Mormon guy (Sam) who befriends a non-member girl (Charly), whom he ultimately helps convert to the gospel. In short order they fall in love, she get’s baptized, they nearly break up, but ultimately get married. Within a year or two of marriage, and shortly after the birth of their first child, Charly get’s cancer and ultimately passes away. The spiritual climax of the story deals with Sam’s efforts to reconcile his faith in the hopes of a miracle that never comes. Sam’s ultimate reconcilliation comes in his closing narrative about Jesus weeping with Mary and Martha at the news of Lazarus’s passing.

    The critique was ultimately dealing with the disingenuousness of using a scriptural narrative, such as Lazarus, to console those who are grief stricken with the actual loss of their loved ones. While the image of Jesus weeping with Mary and Martha may conjur a degree of consoling sentiment, that emotion is lost when the narrative turns so that Jesus speaks and Lazarus is immediately restored to life. He does not comfort them with the promise of a resurrection, but then and there Lazarus is raised from the dead and reunited with his loved ones. The author of the critique more or less phrases his reponse to the effect that, while Sam can appear to draw comfort from the story of Lazarus, our ability to relate to his character is hindered by his ability to remain unconflicted by the dilemma that Lazarus was immediately restored to life, whereas Charly was not.

    I hope that isn’t off topic.

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  52. Jared on January 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Jen & Cowboy

    Hi Cowboy-

    I remember the movie, my wife made me watch it a few years ago. I did enjoy it though.

    Jen-

    Elizabeth Smart suffered greatly because the Lord allowed an evil person to torment her. However, it is important to point out how she decided to deal with it.

    I hope she can continue to be a follower of Christ in view of the terrible things she suffered. Not everyone would do so.

    But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.
    Alma 62:41

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  53. Jen on January 5, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    #49-

    Jared,

    I think this scripture might bring comfort to the protected. What I mean by that is, if you are one of the lucky, “protected” ones in life, i.e. you weren’t abused,raped, etc. it is easy to read this scripture, think of others who haven’t been as fortunate and say “hey, see the Lord doesn’t protect everyone, but it will be OK eventually.” If, however, you are a person who has felt like you weren’t protected (ultimately by God), you may be more likely to feel the pain of what these people had to go through and still sit and wonder why God let that happen to them, yet protected so many others. In other words, it really doesn’t bring comfort, but feelings of being forsaken, not good enough to be protected, overlooked somehow.

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  54. Jen on January 5, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    #51

    Cowboy,

    I’ve seen the movie Charly several times, I even own it. I like it because it is similar to real life and how many people are left to feel. I had a friend whose spouse was hit on his bike (and eventually died) while she was attending a church meeting. I remember her saying that she didn’t feel like anything was wrong during the meeting and had no idea he was hurt until that evening because of ID issues. It really bothered her that the spirit/God didn’t let her in on it. Then, when he passed on, people made comments to her like “He’s fulfilling his mission over there,” etc. and she felt angry, as if her family was less important than what he had to do over “there.” So why does God protect, warn and comfort some and leave others seemingly in the dark? She was even at a church meeting when it happened doing what she was “supposed” to be doing. Had she not have gone, he most likely wouldn’t have taken his bike ride during that time either.

    Scripture stories and examples aren’t really comforting to those in severe pain. Actual comfort from God is comforting and He can give that to His children when He desires (i.e.raising Lazarus), but we are left to wonder why He does for some and not for others. He is baffling indeed.

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  55. Jen on January 5, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    #52-

    Jared,

    I agree that Elizabeth Smart has done well.

    “However, it is important to point out how she decided to deal with it.”

    However, I don’t necessarily agree with this comment. When a person is abused as severely as Elizabeth has been, it deals and messes with you, you don’t really get to choose how you deal with it, especially if you come from a family that isn’t supportive and coping mechanisms aren’t in place to know how to handle it. Also, if a person doesn’t have the money to get therapy, they may want to work through it, but don’t have a clue how to. Something that makes a big difference for survivors like her is the immense support she has been given and also her family has the money to get her the help she needs. So, I think Elizabeth was given the support and therapy she needed in order to deal well with it, otherwise, she may not be in such a great place.

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  56. GBSmith on January 5, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    “Jared
    Elizabeth Smart suffered greatly because the Lord allowed an evil person to torment her. However, it is important to point out how she decided to deal with it.”

    What makes you think that God had anything to do with it? “Allowed?” Seems a bit of a stretch to me. Blaming something like that on God could get him seriously pissed off.

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  57. Jared on January 5, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    #56 GBSmith

    We are his children and this world is his creation.

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  58. GBSmith on January 5, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    “We are his children and this world is his creation.”

    Seems a little ethereal, almost zen like, don’t you think? Maybe there’s a BoM passage that’s more to the point.

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  59. Ray on January 5, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    I admire Elizabeth Smart tremendously, but she and her parents weren’t obviously any more faithful than the millions of women of all ages who are raped, beaten, tortured, killed, etc. (and their families) There is absolutely no way to tell anything about them based strictly off their visible, recognizable blessings and their visible, recognizable hardships.

    After all, there also is a STRONG train of thought with many Mormons that trials are given by God for growth – but is anyone REALLY going to argue that the most blessed people on earth are young girls kidnapped and sold into years of sexual slavery?

    We. don’t. know. squat. about. faithfulness. based. solely. on. perceived. blessings.

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  60. Jared on January 5, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    Ray wrote: I admire Elizabeth Smart tremendously, but she and her parents weren’t obviously any more faithful than the millions of women of all ages who are raped, beaten, tortured, killed, etc.

    If you have time, help me understand what you’re saying here.

    What do you mean when you wrote “she and her parents weren’t obviously any more faithful”.

    This seems to suggest that if Elizabeth and/or her parents were more faithful she wouldn’t have gone through the ordeal she did. Is that what you meant?

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  61. Ray on January 6, 2012 at 6:48 AM

    Jared, your biggest problem in reading my comments is that you continually look for hidden meanings or “suggestions” and read between the lines. When you do that, in the case of my words, based on a long history of our interactions, you end up with erroneous conclusions. I don’t write that way. Parse my words only for exactly what they say; I choose them VERY carefully when I comment, and I never (and I mean NEVER) make veiled suggestions.

    What I said doesn’t match AT ALL the suggestion you read into it. In fact, that suggestion is exactly the opposite of what I have said over and over in this thread.

    All I said is that very faithful AND non-faithful people go through trials, often equally. There’s no way to say objectively that those who die in natural disasters are less faithful than those who survive – or those who are kidnapped and survive are more faithful than those who are kidnapped and killed – or any other scenario we can use to illustrate the point. There have been apostles who have died of cancer, and I’m not about to say that they were less faithful than other apostles who were healed of serious illness. We just can’t make that judgment based on what we can observe, which is why the command is, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

    That’s all I’m saying – no “implied suggestions” involved.

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  62. anon_for_this on January 6, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Re. 44:

    Those scriptures can somewhat explain to me about my repentance — which is fine with me, as I usually do want to change some of my habits.

    However, what they don’t explain is when and why other people don’t get blessings. I refuse to believe that they are lacking because they are unrighteous or unfaithful. That’s the harder part, and the part I think you’re missing in the viewpoints you’ve posted here.

    I thus agree with Ray in #59: anything you or I can observe has virtually nothing to do with our faithfulness or worthiness. This then leads me to the conclusion that either:
    1. God is completely illogical in providing blessings (and thus I don’t want to be like him in any way shape or form)
    or:
    2. There is so much more going on that neither I or anyone else can observe that I hesitate to ascribe any event to God’s blessing or cursing anyone other than myself.

    I go with option 2, mostly because I don’t want to believe in a god who is so unlogical and random in providing blessings.

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  63. Jared on January 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    #61 Ray-

    I merely asked you a question based on your comment. Thanks for the answer, but please, try to avoid the lecture. :-)

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  64. Jared on January 6, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    #62 Anon–

    I appreciate your thoughtful comment. Here are a few thoughts I have in response:

    1. We’re in a fallen world. I don’t think we realize the full impact of that condition (Mosiah 16:3-4)(Mosiah 3:19).

    2. Before we came to this earth we exhibited various degrees of faithfulness (Alma 13:3-5) (Abraham 3:22-26).

    3. The Lord has provided us with prophets and scripture (Amos 3:8)(2 Timothy 3:16)

    4.For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39)

    5. One of the the purposes of the church is to gather the elect (D&C 33:6)

    6. But ever with all of this, we see as it were, through a glass darkly. In other words, we don’t have all the answers.

    With that as background, what has the Lord revealed about the question you rise: “when and why other people don’t get blessings.”

    Possible answers: they are not favored for some reason. But as the scritpure suggest, they made choices that won’t allow the Lord to bless them like he can others, referred to as the elect.

    The Lord hasn’t given us the ability to determine who the elect are. In the church the wheat and tares grow together, we can’t tell the difference. Some who appear to be wheat turn out to be tares, and vicea versa.

    There are three degrees of glory for a reason, the choices we made in our 1st and 2nd estates.

    Some in the bloggernacle have decided that the doctrine of the elect needs to be thrown out because of the churches stance on Blacks and the priesthood in former years. I think that is a unfortunate, short sighted reaction.

    What needs to be done is to rethink it in light of the greater understanding we have since June of 1978.

    I think most agree that the elect are found everywhere. That’s why we peach the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.

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  65. Ray on January 6, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Jared, you didn’t “just ask a question”; you then totally mischaracterized my comment by saying “this seems to suggest” when, in fact, there simply isn’t any way to read that suggestion into my actual words. In short, that was the second time in this thread that you read something into a comment of mine that I didn’t say or remotely imply, so I tried to explain, as directly as possible why I think it keeps happening.

    I honestly didn’t mean my comment as a “lecture”. I meant it as a very blunt explanation of why you keep reading things into comments that simply aren’t there. I sincerely apologize if it came across as a lecture – truly, but, having said that, I also hope you read it seriously and can see why I wrote it.

    I agree that it’s time to cease and desist with my attempts to explain my frustration. The irony is that I really admire and like you and much of what you write. It think it is perfect for those for whom it works; I just don’t think it’s universally perfect for all or totally correct – but that can be said just as validly about everything I write.

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  66. Jared on January 6, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    Ray-

    OK, let’s move on. Just know my questions are sincere.

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  67. RuthAnn Fisher on January 10, 2012 at 6:03 PM

    I think that finding the wallet in the washing machine might have been a result of thoughtful consideration of WWMD- what would mom do?
    Logic found the wallet.

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  68. shenpa warrior on January 10, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    “WWMD” – not to be confused with “WMD” – Both are powerful, though. :)

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  69. [...] Cowboy, commenting on shenpa warrior’s post “Lawnmower God Helped Me Find My Wallet” at W&T: I suppose if we give God the credit for helping us make the shot in basketball, the basket should then probably be disqualified for interference, methinks? [...]

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