Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Miracle of the Baklava

Tonight, a group of us North Star peeps got together in our home state at one of my favorite restaurants, Pita Jungle. As a manifestation of my adulthood, I ordered dessert for dinner. The scrumptious pistachio and walnut baklava shown below was all that I had hoped it would be.

The Lord is willing to humor us when our hearts are in the right place (and probably even when they're not, on occasion). One of my favorite stories of my mission involve such a tender mercy.

*This is the part where a Provo Bro would say "This one time on my mission," but as I am a renaissance man, I'll package the tale differently*

As I imagine many young people experience, my heart was heavy and my mind was full of doubt while I was being trained. I didn't feel competent as a missionary, my anxiety catching my tongue and my depression dampening my connection with the Spirit. I wondered who I was kidding when I thought I could complete a full-time mission.

One day as we were helping an elderly member reorganize her dangerously-crowded closet, I was fretting over not having people to teach and worrying about having to talk to people in order to make that happen. Overwhelmed, my thoughts turned to comfort food (don't judge me; I know you do it, too). I thought, "Heavenly Father, I know this is so trivial, but if Thou couldst send me some ice cream, I know I'd get through today."

Upon our exit from the lobby of the senior living facility, a friendly man stopped us to ask us how were doing. He wasn't a member, but had read the Book of Mormon and liked it. He was making his rounds as a Schwan deliveryman, and he was in a hurry, but he asked us if we'd like some ice cream sandwiches.

I was stunned. I thought it was possible that this was simply a coincidence, but I thanked the Lord all the same and finished the day with a smile.

A few weeks ago, I was dealing with a rough patch of my chronic illness, but I wasn't very open about it because I didn't want my trainer to be more disappointed with me. I told my mission president about it in my weekly letter, but I minimized it so that I wouldn't be sent home. The Lord certainly got an earful several times a day. I decided to try Him again as I prayed in desperation "Heavenly Father, if Thou couldst send me some marzipan, I'd know that Thou art with me."

That day, I got home from exchanges to find a package from my mission president's wife, addressed to me! Inside I found some herbs and essential oils which she hoped would help with my pain. Additionally, her note explained that she remembered that I spoke German and so she included a bar of marzipan she had brought home from Germany. I wanted to cry.

A few weeks later, we had spent our day tracting and faced consistent rejection. We decided to visit one of my favorite people in that area, a little old lady who kept a gun on her at all times. Needless to say, she was a spitfire. We had helped her to quit drinking and were teaching her the lessons.

She had anticipated our arrival, so as we sat down she exclaimed "Would you guys like some BAKLAVA?!" She presented a tray of beautifully-glazed baklava. I felt the blood drain from my face. I knew this had to be a miracle sent by God.

I stopped asking the Lord for specific foods after that because I didn't want to treat Him like an exotic vending machine, but I've never forgotten those tender mercies. Sometimes God presents us with such inconsequential gifts, which we easily fail to recognize as manifestations of His love.

Looking back on these heartwarming memories causes me to wonder how often I mistake tender mercies as coincidences or even overlook them altogether.

I know that the Lord is intimately aware of our prayers, even those unspoken. Like a loving earthly father, He humorously grants us unimportant wishes to signify His eternal affection for His children. So while sugary treats aren't long-term solutions to the turbulent struggles of the soul, sometimes all one needs is a little junk food from the Lord to make it through the day.

How does the Lord subtly send you tokens of His affection?

1 comment:

  1. At Church a few years ago, during Sacrament Meeting, I really wanted to touch a man's hand sitting in the pew in front of me. It looked so beautiful and I longed for a world where touching his hand wouldn't raise concerns. Well, right after the meeting, that brother asked me if I would help him give a Priesthood blessing and I touched his hands. It felt like a tender communication from God that he hears my desires and seeks to answer them. I love your stories! I totally relate and am proud of you!