We had a large Stake conference this week. Church authorities traveled from Boston and Salt Lake to release our stake president of 10+ years and find someone to replace him. I was certainly curious about the process, but as only a two year inhabitant I wasn’t as deeply impacted as some others may have been.
Instead I was looking for personal help. For advice on how to proceed, for comfort to go onward, for energy to keep serving. I was resolved to do better. I had taken a few weeks off service due to car troubles that rendered me pretty immobile. But I had paid the cash and almost was back into my side project of driving everyone everywhere. So I showed up to the first meeting having sacrificed my weekend homework in favor of being a listening ear. I struggled to receive the counsel from outgoing leadership anxious to give final bits of instructions after ten years of ministry. I could take a few more challenges. I could do better.
A short break allowed me to pick someone up and return for the next meeting where I found another soul I had forgotten. We met with others and as I scanned the familiar faces pouring into the hall I remembered sorrows and joys and struggles and triumphs. The girl who had dated the guy behind her who was sitting with his wife who sat next to the girl who had just broken up with the guy two rows behind her with the guy still pining for the girl who sat in front…. and so on. And with the sight came the urge to help, to make things better. So I tried to wrangle and keep track, to encourage and support but spread too thin I could only do so much. I sat and tried to listen as the principles of the gospel were unfolded by our visiting master teacher. But the fan turned on and I watched the girls on either side in an attempt to detect shivers requiring my largely decorative suit coat. I went home tired. With a few notes and some resolutions.
The next day it began again. I awoke in the quiet house and headed out to pick up my two companions for the day. We settled ourselves in to find out who our new stake president would be and soon found the audio was off. In the back of a room with 1000 chairs we could see a bit, and hear, a bit, but it was a strain. I knew a guy that knew a guy so I left them to it and started troubleshooting. I found him in a closet already hard at work checking a bunch of wires for the disconnected. A cluster of concerned proactive fixers like myself were gathered around staring helplessly at the wall of wires. What could we do?
We set up a chain of thumbs up and downs as we jiggled each wire and moved them around. Nothing seemed to work. Sometimes the audio would pop on for a few seconds then disappear, but it seemed entirely independent of our tinkerings. A slip of scratch paper had the instructions: “IF no SOUND do this: PRAY. Move red wire to homemade CJ25 jack and look for red lights on the bar. Then Hope and PRAY”
We were messing with a 35 year old system that had already been jerryrigged in the image of someone not in our cluster of anxious fixers, Thanks Jerry.
After 30 minutes, and having missed the big announcement. We gave up. Some people moved to the primary room, some to the foyers, some just strained their ears to hear the working speakers on the far side of the room. And we went back to the meeting. Luckily most speakers had good projection and enunciation and we were not overly effected.
But there was a part of the instructions I had left out. I had even snorted a bit. Pray. Where was my faith? Was I trying to save the world on my own? Did I really think I had the intelligence or willpower or charisma to be the salve my little world needed? I didn’t even know how to wire an audio system in a 1000 seat chapel/gym combo! (okay, neither did anyone else I talked to). Was I snorting at seeking divine intervention so the recent convert sitting next to me could hear her first stake conference?
Who’s work was I doing?
So I started praying. I explained that we had done our best and had no more ideas. I explained that we would try to get it fixed later on but that would be too late for this meeting. I explained how right and just and fair it would be for it to work, and that it wasn’t for me it was so the saints could hear the instructions from their leaders. I reminded God that he had given me the keys of the ministering of angels and I wanted to invoke them.
The sound came on.
It flickered off 5 seconds later. Okay then.
But this speaker was pretty clear. I didn’t really need the sound system, and my companions agreed it was okay. But I suddenly knew what would happen. The sound would turn on when we needed it, and it would fail again when we needed it no longer. We would still have to fix the wiring (or, whoever it is that has the budget and power to fix it would).
The clear speaker finished his talk. The visiting authority stood up to speak. He was older, his voice deeper and quieter. I looked at my companions, they couldn’t hear either.
The sound turned on. it didn’t flicker off this time. It ran strong and loud through his whole talk and through the end of the meeting, some 30 minutes. We could hear.
But I’m not sure the words were what I was there to learn today. He gave a great talk about the important of the Holy Ghost in our faith, of how active revelation was what made us special. God wanted to remind me that he was in charge and he knew what I was doing and what he was doing. I needed to let him do it. I have a role to play its true, I have invitations to serve, to inspire, to uplift. But as long as I tried to do it myself I would burn myself out and be only a muffled echo of what he could make me. I need more revelation, more prayer, more humility and inquiry, and more letting God carry me when my arms hang down.
As soon as the meeting ended I ran back to that wiry closet and the clerk sitting therein. He didn’t even know that the sound had come on and hadn’t touched the wires again.
I’m trying to listen Lord, let me be wise enough to understand.