From studying the experience found in Ether of the Jaredite people in my Book of Mormon class, we concluded there are three types of answers we receive from the Lord when seeking His guidance.
1. No air answers
2. No light answers
3. No steering answers
A little refresher:
The Jaredite people have been saved and have been promised a land of choice (Ether 2:7). In order to reach this Promised Land, they built 8 barges which were “tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish” (Ether 2:17). Not knowing how long they would be living in the barges (344 days, yikes!) the Jaredites had some concerns…
"Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air, air"
Being “tight like unto a dish,” the Brother of Jared inquired of the Lord as to how they would breathe within the vessels. To which the Lord replies, “Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air” (Ether 2:20). Boom! Perish not!
These are the types of answers I like! No air answers. They are the easiest and the ones we often expect or desire. We go to the Lord with a question or seeking direction and for Him and boom it’s there!
The brother of Jared’s next inquiry was concerning having light in the dish-tight vessels. The Jaredites crossing the waters in complete darkness?…naw.
The Lord replies, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels? For behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.”
So…that just ruled out my two ideas…we know the brother of Jared took stones to the Lord and desired He should touch them that they would provide light, but the point it this is the next type of answer the Lord will give us. The no light answer.
During these times it can be frustrating because it can feel as though He is not listening at all.
He is! My biology teacher once said that these times when we feel we are receiving no answer are the times we must thank the Lord for His trust.
It may be evidence that our will is becoming more like His and so He trusts us to make the right decision.
Brigham Young said:
If I do not know the will of my Father, and what He requires of me in a certain transaction, if I ask Him to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in my life, or in regard to my own course, or that of my friends, my family, my children, or those that I preside over, and get no answer from Him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, He is bound to own and honor that transaction, and He will do so to all intents and purposes.
What a wonderful thought! He trust me to decide what to do and with that decision He will honor it and help me along!
The third inquiry was to how they would steer the ship. The Lord’s answer here is the hardest to receive for me in my life. The “just trust me” no steering answer.
“And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land” (Ether 6:5).
The Lord will provide a way, but when we receive this no steering answer it is difficult to let go, to trust that it will all work out.
For me these answers come when my life feels all out of order and I am clinging to any sort of control I may still have. I fight and fight to remain in charge of my life, but it seems the Lord answers in Bane’s ominous voice, “Do you feel in charge?” No. It’s time to pass the reigns to someone who is.
President Eyring once compared this type of situation to the ride at Disneyland called “Autopia.” On this ride you sit in a car and no matter how hard you steer to the left or right the car remains on track, literally.
When we keep the commandments and remember our covenants our lives are a lot like this. We can hold on to the steering wheel if it makes us feel better but ultimately the Lord will take us to our destination.
Throughout our lives, as we seek the guidance of a loving Heavenly Father, we will receive all three types of answers. Whether we are told directly like in the no air answers, told to figure it out like in the no light answers, or told just to trust Him like in the no steering answers, they are all evidence of His love for us. I know prayer is real. I know that the real miracle of prayer is not that we found our lost keys, or made in through a hard trial, or that we passed a biology exam, the miracle is that we talked with God, that He hears us and answers us! Like the Jaredites who arrived safely, we too will arrive at out Promised Land when we honor His answers to our prayers.