In Places

The holiday season of 2019 was a strange one for me. I spent most of the time having a crappy attitude but not really understanding why. So, it was interesting to me that the two weeks that included Christmas and the New Year holiday, I ended up being taught some profound spiritual lessons.

I was slightly ahead of schedule in my New Testament study and thus had these two weeks to focus on whatever I wanted to. Mostly I felt like I was floundering.

One morning before Christmas, lying in a hazy sleep, I had a strong impression that I need to study the book of Esther in the Old Testament. It was 4:30am. I never get clear promptings like that and so, in spite of the early hour, I jumped out of bed and began my morning routine. I spent the next couple of mornings reading the words of Esther’s story and then began a study of the cross references.

One cross reference for Esther 4:14 took me to Genesis 45:7, the story of Joseph bringing his family to Egypt to dwell. I was struck by the fact that both Esther and Joseph were sent to their current city in advance, so that they would be in a position to have influence that would eventually save their people.

As I pondered these two stories, my mind was drawn to my favorite story from studying the New Testament this past year. In Luke 19, we meet Zacchaeus, the tax collector. While going about his business he stumbled upon a crowd of people lining the streets of town. When he figured out why they were all there, he himself wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus. But, the crowd was preventing him from pressing forward, blocking his chance to see.

Without hesitation, we read that Zacchaeus “ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him (Luke 19:4, KJV).” And then in the next verse we read, “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him (Luke 19:5, KJV).”

There are so many things I learn from these verses.

First, I never want to be part of the crowd preventing someone from seeing Jesus. Instead, I want to have the courage of Esther, Joseph and Zacchaeus, willing to do what needs to be done to help people find Him.

Second, I’m sure Zacchaeus didn’t think much about the tree, he just looked for the first thing he could find that would help him achieve his goal of seeing the Savior.

Third, Jesus knew exactly where to look for Zacchaeus because He was the one who knew years and years ago that Zacchaeus would be up that tree. How did He know? He planted it there.

In every single one of these situations, these individuals were placed in the exact position they would need to be in to do the Lord’s work. As the New Year – the new decade – begins, I want to be in places the Lord needs me to be. I want to do my part to find Him and to bring others closer to Him.

I’m excited to dive in to the Book of Mormon again this year. While reading the first few introductory pages, I was keenly aware of the mention of the ‘power of God’ several times. And I was reminded that if I put myself in a place of seeking Him, God will help me do anything He wants me to do.

I have been a bit sad about finishing my intense study of the New Testament, but the first few pages of the Book of Mormon have reminded me that it truly is another testament of Jesus Christ. He will continue to show up in this year’s study just as He did in last year’s study because that is who He is, always present.

Throw out your expectations of what you will learn this year and just remember this one truth – you will see Jesus.

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