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Humble, With Faith to Receive His Power

Josh Sillitoe
November 07, 2023 11:15 AM

"We trust Him, which means we also trust His timing and His will for us. We believe that He has all power to fulfill His promises and that He is a God of miracles. It helps me to remember and reflect on past miracles He has performed in my life."
Thank you Shawn and Minami for the wonderful musical number to bring the spirit here. I am grateful for Hauna for the wonderful prayer that our hearts might be open to hear the message that God would have us receive. I am especially grateful to Christy for her testimony that we can give the Savior a hug and that the Savior will use our talents whatever they may be for His kingdom.

I have decided to title this devotional, “Humble, with Faith to Receive His Power”

And I pray that the Spirit may be with us this day and that our hearts may be softened to hear the message that He would like to give us.

I will be telling a few personal stories today. The first story I will call, "The Parable of the Fly". And yes, I’m talking about the ones that like to buzz around and land on your face :). This parable will set up the framework for the rest of the stories that will follow.

I went solo camping this summer in American Fork Canyon. In the late morning, I heard buzzing noises that grabbed my attention. As I looked more closely, I noticed a fly trapped in my tent. I could see him trying frantically to escape the mesh netting. I’m not sure how long he had been trying to escape for.

Let’s take the flies' perspective for a moment. He was probably terrified. It makes logical sense for him to fly upwards and outwards to escape (especially considering that he can see the trees through the netting). I’m sure he escaped other precarious situations in a similar fashion. Maybe he thought, “If I just keep trying harder, then I’ll be free!” In the end, there was no possible way of escaping this prison cell . . . unless there was help from the outside.

Because I had compassion for this fly . . . and also a desire to not have a fly join me in my tent . . . I unzipped the front door. The path of freedom had been opened. I waited. And I waited some more.

The fly continued to frantically buzz around the top of the netting, either not recognizing or not believing that there was a different way out.

I wonder if the fly ever thought, “This shouldn’t be happening to me! Or, what about the other flies that seem to be happy flying over there? Or, what’s the point in even trying?”

(I never predicted that I would spend this much time trying to figure out what a fly was thinking).

Can you relate to our little friend? Are you frantically trying to escape your situation right now? Are there things in your life that seem too overwhelming for you, and there appear to be no other options?

What’s the best way for me to communicate to our little friend, the fly, that his method of escape is a dead end? That in some ways, he is actually getting himself MORE stuck. How can I redirect his impulsive energy to a more productive path, a “more excellent way”?

I did the only thing I could think of for this situation. I don’t think he would have taken verbal directions, so I firmly, but cautiously used my hand to push him downward and forward. Even if it could have hurt the fly a little bit, he had to be brought low enough in order to escape through the smaller doorway. He also needed to be directed forward so that he would recognize the path of deliverance and quickly speed toward it.

It worked! Our little friend escaped.

Hopefully you are seeing some Gospel connections here. Probably many more than we have time to discuss.

Here are just a few ideas that I want to emphasize:

1. We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to humble ourselves before God

2. We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to shed needless baggage and purify both our intentions and desires.

3. We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to have faith to receive God’s power and experience His miracles.

Before I share more insights into each of these sections, let me share an experience that happened to me only a few hours after typing “The Parable of the Fly”. I wrote down that portion of the talk while on a plane headed to a counseling center director’s conference. Notice that this example that I will share is a minor problem compared to many of the challenges you are facing right now, but I hope you can see the application.

I show up to the conference hotel to check-in . . . and they tell me that I don’t have a reservation! My name is not on file. I thought back through the previous months leading up to the conference and realized I had not actually reserved my hotel room! The conference is supposed to last a few days, and not only has the price of the hotel rooms gone up a few hundred dollars per night, but they told me that they were completely booked for the evening. There was no availability. (I’m trapped in the metaphorical tent and I see no way out).

The first reaction I had was to panic. I frantically tried to solve the issue by making some phone calls, checking my emails, trying to find some loophole to this impossible situation. The hotels around the area also increased their prices significantly. Maybe I could find a random hotel on the outskirts of the city and then drive in? I asked the front desk lady again to see if she was hiding any open rooms from me. I was stuck!

Then . . . “The Parable of the Fly” came to my mind. I realized I was doing the same thing the fly had been doing. Buzzing around everywhere trying to free myself from this anxiety-provoking situation. Yes, God loves effort and often he wants us to “study it out in our minds” or do “all we can do”, but the most important part of the equation was missing. I was not including Him in the process. I was doing it all on my own, with only “the arm of the flesh”. I had not yet humbled myself to let Him in. To have Him be part of the team,

I sat down in the hotel lobby, closed my eyes, and silently, yet sincerely, poured my heart out to my Father in Heaven. I explained to Him my situation, took ownership of how I got myself stuck, asked for His mercy and grace, and affirmed my testimony that He has power to lead me through this situation. I also expressed that I was ok with whatever the outcome was, but that my desire was to stay in this hotel with my fellow colleagues at the conference.

After that heartfelt prayer, I courageously walked back up to the front desk and talked with the next staff member who was available. Although I had to continue stepping into the darkness, I trusted that God was with me. I was led “by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand what I should do”. I will not give every detail of what happened, but just know that step by step my Heavenly Father led me through the tent door and I was lifted up by Him. He had delivered me. I miraculously had a place to stay during the conference, and it was for the original price that was offered months earlier.

I testify of God’s power as we soften our hearts and trust in Him. He is a God of miracles!

I know there are many more important experiences than getting a hotel room, but this was one way He showed His love and power in my life. I try to keep a journal of these experiences, but it is sometimes difficult to keep up with His many tender mercies.

I also understand that the open tent door of deliverance may look different than we expect. Sometimes problems and the associated pain are not solved immediately. Or maybe the tent door doesn’t look like freedom and deliverance at all, especially seen through our earthly definitions and expectations. The promise still stands, “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” [i]

Years ago, after an emotionally draining day at work, I walked along a winding dirt path near my house to process my thoughts and feelings. Beginning with prayer, I began pondering the difference between a blessing and a trial. I tried defining each of those words so I could compare them accurately. In taking an eagle’s eye view, an eternal perspective, I realized the greatest blessings in eternity are those things that bring us closer to Jesus Christ. Anything that entices us to distance ourselves from Him is a trial. Then it dawned on me . . . some of the many things that we tend to call “blessings” (popularity, good looks, health, money, etc.) are the very things that could lead people away from God . . . and some of the most painful, challenging experiences, or trials in our lives, have the potential to lead us directly towards Him. It may be helpful to shift our perceptions of the problems in our lives, because they may turn out to be the greatest blessings to us in the eternities.

Now, back to a few of the summarized ideas:

1. We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to humble ourselves before God

2. We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to shed needless baggage and purify both our intentions and desires.

3. We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to have faith to receive God’s power and experience His miracles. 

1.  We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to humble ourselves before God

In the “parable of the fly”, it doesn’t really matter how we got trapped. It could be due to our own actions or the actions of others. Or it could simply be because we live in a fallen world where painful things happen. All that matters at this point is whether we will humble ourselves before Him and follow His path of deliverance rather than our own.

The pivotal moment is deciding whether to use our own efforts only (i.e. save ourselves), or to recognize our need for a Savior, and then act in faith to receive His power.

Alma, in speaking of the Zoramites who were kicked out of their synagogues, was excited to see that the “afflictions had truly humbled them.” [ii] How can Alma be happy about his brethren going through so much hardship? Alma explains to the Zoramites that “because ye are compelled to be humble, blessed are ye; for a man sometimes . . . seeketh repentance, . . . and whosoever repenteth shall find mercy.” [iii] Later, Alma states, “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” [iv] It seems like we have a choice to willingly become humble or be compelled to be humble. BOTH options are WAY better than the alternative which is to be trapped in our pride.

Being humble means being teachable. It means softening our hearts so we can yield to the “enticings of the Holy Spirit.” [v] It includes wanting to hear God’s voice, even if He is telling us we could be wrong. It means letting go of our ego. A student recently told me that EGO could potentially stand for Edging God Out.

We too often think that we are right and everyone else is wrong. We neglect to recognize the “blind spot of self-deception” that we all happen to have. Elder Neal A. Maxwell alluded to an all-too-common aspect of pride, “Not only are the meek less easily offended, but they are less likely to give offense to others. In contrast, there are some in life who seem to be waiting to be offended. Their pride covers them like boils which will inevitably be bumped.” [vi] I think we see that in our generation in this time.

Christ spoke of humility and meekness as prerequisites to salvation and an integral part of receiving God’s power:

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” [vii]

“For none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.” [viii]

“Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.” [ix]

“Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” [x]

Christ demonstrated his own humility throughout His earthly sojourn:

“Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.” [xi]

“I can, of my own self, do nothing . . . because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” [xii]

“Not my will, but thine be done.” [xiii]

2.  We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to shed needless baggage and purify both our intentions and desires.

We are usually so quick to avoid pain and to seek comfort that we do not see the work the Lord is trying to do within us. At appropriate times and in specific situations, I share with clients to not be too overly anxious about getting out of their depression. For one, being overly anxious about anything usually keeps us stuck. But two, this is an opportunity to slow down and rebuild our life brick by brick of what is most essential, and to let go of all the irrelevant stuff.

Maybe it’s time to let go of the perfectionism, the unrelenting taskmaster.

Maybe we can take ownership of our actions rather than spending mental and emotional energy blaming others and holding on to resentments.

Maybe God is trying to teach us that we are more than a letter grade and more than what someone else thinks of us. That we actually have worth.

Maybe God has been trying to communicate with us for so long, but we’ve been so busy with school, and work, and life, and YouTube, and (fill in the blank) that we’ve actually been unintentionally ghosting God. Now is the time to hear His voice and to act on His promptings.

Maybe it’s time to “give away even our favorite sins.” [xiv] That is what President Nelson has said. Maybe we have simply been focusing on lesser, unimportant things.

Neal A Maxwell shares that the statement, ‘“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29) carries an accompanying and compensating promise from Jesus—“and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” This is a very special form of rest. It surely includes the rest resulting from the shedding of certain needless burdens: fatiguing insincerity, exhausting hypocrisy, and the strength-sapping quest for recognition, praise, and power. Those of us who fall short, in one way or another, often do so because we carry such unnecessary and heavy baggage. Being thus overloaded, we sometimes stumble and then feel sorry for ourselves.

We need not carry such baggage.” [xv]

As we let go, we can then let God endow us with His desires and His treasures. We now have room available to receive His heart and mind. I’ve realized that pure hearts don’t come from fallen, corrupt ones. We need to “pray with all the energy of heart” [xvi] that we can be filled with Christ’s desires and intentions. Paul warns us that even seemingly good deeds can be done for the wrong reasons, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” [xvii]

A humble group of Nephites set an example in purifying their hearts for “they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” [xviii] My question is, have we yielded our hearts to Him?

3.  We can use any painful situation as an opportunity to have faith to receive God’s power and experience His miracles.

Humility is one essential ingredient to the recipe, but without faith, it is not complete. It never rises. Our humility should lead us to faith in Christ and in His many divine roles, including Creator, Redeemer and Savior of the World.

We recognize our complete dependence upon our Father in Heaven and the gifts He has given us. Even our very breath is because of Him. Now, being armed with gratitude and humility, we are in a place to receive His power.

Ammon summarizes this process very well, “Yea, I know that I am nothing: as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things.” [xix]

We trust Him, which means we also trust His timing and His will for us. We believe that He has all power to fulfill His promises and that He is a God of miracles. It helps me to remember and reflect on past miracles He has performed in my life. I think, “If He helped me in this other situation where I was completely trapped, I know He can help me in this one.”

Let us receive “all things with thankfulness,” [xx] no matter the circumstance or outcome. But especially after we witness His miracles! It makes it very difficult to lose our testimony when we’ve gratefully recorded the miracles and tender mercies in our own personalized set of brass plates, meaning our journal.

Asking for Help

As part of His path of deliverance, He may nudge us to reach out to a family member, friend, teacher, Bishop, the Student Success Center, counselor, doctor, etc. Spencer W. Kimball shared that “God does notice us and watches over us, but it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.” [xxi]

What prevents people from asking for help? What prevents you from asking for help? Many people fear that they will be seen as weak, or that they are broken. Maybe they don’t feel worthy to ask for help or they don’t want to feel like a burden.

You will be surprised how many people are willing to circle their wagons around you, especially at this college.

Although imperfect people may let us down from time to time, there is a sure rock that can be relied on. God will never see you as a burden. God does not see you as weak for reaching up to Him for help.

My wife and I have a little nighttime routine we do with our 3-year-old daughter. We read a couple of books with her, brush her teeth, read one or two verses of scripture, pray as a family, tuck her into bed, and then usually she wants us to sing a song to her or tell a story. One night, as I was about to leave the room, she stopped me and asked, “Daddy . . . can I have a blessing?” She is three years old. I wanted to make sure I was hearing her right. Yes, she wanted a priesthood blessing from her father. My heart melted. I felt so much love for her in that moment, and I was so proud of her for asking. I responded, “Of course, I would love to!” The Holy Ghost was present during the blessing, and I asked her after the blessing where in her body she felt the Spirit. She put her hand on her chest. I explained to her that the feeling of the Holy Ghost means that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love her, and that Mommy and Daddy love her. I am so grateful for tender moments where heaven and earth meet.

I invite all the brethren to become worthy, or continue to be worthy, of giving your children (or future children) a priesthood blessing. Humble yourselves and sacrifice whatever you need to sacrifice so you can always have this blessing in your life.

If God feels anything of how I felt that day for my daughter, then I know He is filled with love for you when you ask for His help. He has a greater capacity for compassion and empathy, and He will not turn you away. He is proud of you and for your courage in trusting Him.

President Nelson describes this personal, covenantal love, or Hesed in Hebrew. “Once we make a covenant with God, we leave neutral ground forever. God will not abandon His relationship with those who have forged such a bond with Him. In fact, all those who have made a covenant with God have access to a special kind of love and mercy.” [xxii]

One of the most terrifyingly vulnerable things for us to come to terms with is how cherished and valuable we are in His eyes. You are not a burden to Him. You are always worthy to ask for His help. You are His child.

In Conclusion, we will have many opportunities to see God’s power in these last days, but we need to prepare for it. We need to be humble, with faith to receive His Power.

Our prophet, President Nelson has told us that “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” [xxiii] He also described later how “In coming days, we will see the greatest manifestations of the Savior's power that the world has ever seen. Between now and the time he returns 'with power and great glory,' he will bestow countless privileges, blessings and miracles upon the faithful.” [xxiv]

Let me repeat: “In coming days, we will see the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen.” But what about the parting of the Red Sea, or walking on water, or the City of Enoch being raised into heaven? Greater than these miracles? These are exciting times! I am so excited to be part of it. I want to be a part of it!

Nephi saw our day and exclaimed, “I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” [xxv]

Jesus teaches us, “Be not afraid, only believe.” [xxvi]

I testify of Christ’s redeeming love and of His power to deliver us. “[He is] the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Him].” [xxvii] “[He is] the door. By [Christ] if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” [xxviii] He is the door of deliverance.

I testify of Him as the bread of life and the living waters. If any of us partake of Him, we shall not hunger and we shall not thirst. I know that Christ has sent us living prophets and apostles to guide us in these last days. The Book of Mormon is one of the great miracles of the Restoration, and it contains the words of Jesus Christ. I know that. I have received testimony and a witness of that over and over again.

God has a path of deliverance laid out for you. I pray that we all may be “Humble, with Faith to Receive His Power.”

Hold on to this concluding promise: “Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers.” [xxix]

In the name of Jesus Christ my Savior, Amen.

[i] Mosiah 3:7
[ii] Alma 32:6
[iii] Alma 32:13
[iv] Alma 32:16
[v] Mosiah 3:19
[vi] Meekly Drenched in Destiny, Neal A. Maxwell, member of Quorum of Twelve Apostles, September 5, 1982, Brigham Young University.
[vii] Matthew 5:5
[viii] Moroni 7:44
[ix] Jacob 4:10
[x] 1 Peter 5:5
[xi] Matthew 11:29
[xii] John 5:20
[xiii] Luke 22:42
[xiv] Russell M. Nelson, Overcome the World and Find Rest, October 2, 2022, General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
[xv] Meek and Lowly, Neal A. Maxwell, October 21, 1986, Brigham Young University.
[xvi] Moroni 7:48
[xvii] 1 Corinthians 13:3
[xviii] Helaman 3:35
[xix] Alma 26:12
[xx] D&C 78:19
[xxi] How God Meets Our Needs, Spencer W. Kimball, March 1981, New Era.  
[xxii] The Everlasting Covenant, Russell M. Nelson, September 30, 2022, General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
[xxiii] Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives, Russell M. Nelson, April, 2018, General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
[xxiv] Id.
[xxv] 1 Nephi 14:14
[xxvi] Mark 5:36
[xxvii] John 14:6
[xxviii] John 10:9
[xxix] D&C 112:10

About the Speaker

Josh Sillitoe

Joshua Sillitoe became the Manager of Counseling in the spring of 2022. He provides mental health counseling for on-campus students, mental health resources, and accommodations for students with disabilities. 

Brother Sillitoe previously worked as a therapist in Las Vegas at a few community mental health agencies, LDS Family Services, and his own private practice. 

He graduated from Brigham Young University in Psychology and received his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. 

Brother Sillitoe served his mission in Denver, Colorado from 2006 to 2008. 

He and his wife Stacey were married in the Las Vegas temple in 2016. They are the parents of a lovely 3-year-old girl.
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