It was just one of those weeks. When life challenges and trials feel like they’re piling high on weary shoulders. I looked outside and felt like my heart was buried in a snowdrift – just like our farmland. I wanted March to bring me spring, but instead it had brought only more snow on our hard-crusted, unmelted piles. Yes, it was just one of those weeks.
Nothing was horribly wrong, yet nothing was rosily right either. My mind had been weighed down with questions and ideas and projects and daily to-dos and service and church callings. My mind spun in harried confusion. My heart yearned to do everything, but my body responded with what seemed such a meager offering. The unmet expectations I had set for myself blew in a cold front of dark clouds. If I’m not careful, discouragement follows all those impossibly high standards I fail to meet.
Days of prayer, hours of scripture study and pondering, counsel from loved ones; why was I not receiving the direction I needed? Was I doing something wrong? Was I being punished with all these trials? Where should I journey from here? I had faith, but patience too is required.
And finally, one day, the faithful waiting paid off.
It was one of those mornings when you would almost rather crawl back in bed than face the day ahead. But you move onward, because it’s the only thing to do. You put one foot in front of the other and try your hardest to endure.
I stepped into a warm shower that morning and my answer came. The water fell from those heavy, dark clouds and brought a warm front in their wake.
The Spirit spoke clearly to my heart: These trials I had been facing had not been a punishment for living life wrong, but a sign that I was living life right. He whispered that challenges don’t always signal sin. In fact, many times the opposite is true. When we enter as members of the Church of Jesus Christ, we enlist in an elite Discipleship Training Program. We are waging a war against worldly evil, and we must be strengthened and trained as soldiers for our Savior’s spiritual army. And thus we receive trials and tests to prove and prepare us to be the disciples He needs.
The thought struck me like a bolt of lightning. I didn’t need a new direction or a course correction. What I needed was an elevated perspective.
I realized at that moment that my hard times are specific training regimes personally tailored for me. And yours are for you too.
So I began a new journal entitled, “My Divinely Designed Discipleship Training Program.” And I penned a description:
All the tests I face are specially designed by Heavenly Father to provide me with the training I need to become and be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Here is where I record the life lessons I am learning, the challenges I am facing, and what Heavenly Father is trying to teach me.
March’s Training is outlined on the following page with three specific trials that have been gifted to me. After I wrote them down, I paused to listen for heaven’s whispers explaining how my loving Father wants me to overcome these tests. The guidance was clear and unmistaken. I recorded it just as I received it, determining in my heart to fight these battles valiantly.
And in that very moment, my furnace of affliction became a burning bush of holy, sacred ground.