Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TFOT - Where is the Pavilion - Henry B. Eyring

 In the depths of his anguish in Liberty Jail, the Prophet Joseph Smith cried out: “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” Many of us, in moments of personal anguish, feel that God is far from us. The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us.

Discussion:  What is a Pavilion?
Webster’s defines a pavilion as an ornate tent, an ornamental roofed structure used for amusement or shelter, the ornamental front of a facade.
I find it appropriate that each description includes words such as ornate and ornamental – because like they describe the pavilion – we also dress up our excuses and justifications so that they don’t seem so offensive.
God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible.

Discussion:  What are some motivations that create our Pavilions?
Motivations can be choices we can control such as:
Career advancement, pursuit of riches, acceptance of friends/family, pursuit of better health/better bodies, addictions, attitudes

And motivations come by way of things we cannot control such as:
Illness, disability, injuries, financial losses, accidents, unemployment

Our own desires, rather than a feeling of “Thy will be done,” create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God. God is not unable to see us or communicate with us, but we may be unwilling to listen or submit to His will and His time.

Our feelings of separation from God will diminish as we become more childlike before Him. That is not easy in a world where the opinions of other human beings can have such an effect on our motives. But it will help us recognize this truth: God is close to us and aware of us and never hides from His faithful children.

1 Pres. Eyring shares the following story –
My three-year-old granddaughter illustrated the power of innocence and humility to connect us with God. She went with her family to the open house of the Brigham City Temple in Utah. In one of the rooms of that beautiful building, she looked around and asked, “Mommy, where is Jesus?” Her mother explained that she would not see Jesus in the temple, but she would be able to feel His influence in her heart. Eliza carefully considered her mother’s response and then seemed satisfied and said, “Oh, Jesus is gone helping someone,” she concluded.
No pavilion obscured Eliza’s understanding or obstructed her view of reality. God is close to her, and she feels close to Him. She knew that the temple is the house of the Lord but also understood that the resurrected and glorified Jesus Christ has a body and can only be in one place at a time. If He was not at His house, she recognized that He must be in another place. And from what she knows of the Savior, she knew that He would be somewhere doing good for His Father’s children. It was clear that she had hoped to see Jesus, not for a confirming miracle of His existence but simply because she loved Him. 

The Spirit could reveal to her childlike mind and heart the comfort all of us need and want. Jesus Christ lives, knows us, watches over us, and cares for us.

Discussion:  What prevents us from submitting fully to God’s will?
(Fear, Lack of experience, Anger, Not fully accepting the Atonement)
Another way we can create a barrier to knowing God’s will or feeling His love for us: we can’t insist on our timetable when the Lord has His own.  Sometimes our insistence on acting according to our own timetable can obscure His will for us.

Some years ago, my parents purchased a book by Larry Chesley, an LDS Prisoner of War in Vietnam, who wrote the book called Seven years in Hanoi.  In this book he describes his experiences as they relate to his testimony and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You have to know that Brother Chesley endured many things during his seven years, but one incident in particular stood out when I read this part of Pres. Eyring’s talk – in the year leading up to Brother Chesley’s release from the POW camp – they were enduring a horrific cold spell and with it came rain.  There was little food to go around, Bro. Chesley and his fellow POW’s prayed and prayed that they might be moved back to the Hanoi Hilton, because while it was awful – the conditions were not AS awful as they were in the camp they now were living.  Again and again he received the inspiration to be patient, and again and again he fell to his knees asking to be moved back to this other camp.  Finally on a particularly cold morning, the prisoners were ordered to pack up they were moving back to the Hanoi Hilton.  Two days later American Forces liberated the now empty POW camp.  Brother Chesley reflected on this after his liberation some months later from Hanoi Hilton – he said, “Had I submitted to the fact that my Heavenly Father had a broader vision than my own and submitted to his timetable and methods, I might have been liberated sooner”. 

In moments of pain, loneliness, or confusion, we do not need to see Jesus Christ to know that He is aware of our circumstances and that His mission is to bless.

Discussion:  How do we remove the spiritual pavilions we erect?
(prayer, scripture study, repentance, attitude, goal setting, taking a role of service)

We remove the pavilion when we feel and pray, “Thy will be done” and “in Thine own time.” His time should be soon enough for us since we know that He wants only what is best.

Submitting fully to heaven’s will is essential to removing the spiritual pavilions we sometimes put over our heads. But it does not guarantee immediate answers to our prayers.

It is through consistent and purposeful adherence of our attitude and actions through the hard stuff that we gain inspiration and answers.

2 Patience is tied very closely to faith in our Heavenly Father. Actually, when we are unduly impatient, we are suggesting that we know what is best—better than does God. Or, at least, we are asserting that our timetable is better than His. We can grow in faith only if we are willing to wait patiently for God's purposes and patterns to unfold in our lives, on His timetable. Faith in God includes Faith in God's timing.”
― Neal A. Maxwell

Faith in God, means faith in his timing and methods.
God is close to us and aware of us
Jesus Christ lives, knows us, watches over us, and cares for us.

*** A note after lesson was taught -
I had a great response to this lesson - like me, many of the sisters had not stopped to consider how easily we build pavilions during every day things - perhaps the most outstanding thought shared in this lesson was a quote one of the sisters shared that she had read on a church sign coming to church - Courage is fear that's said its prayers.  Since faith and fear cannot coexist - we must give up fear and simply have faith.  :) 


  1. Awesome! Thank you helping organize my thoughts, you're a life saver!!!

  2. What a wonderful outline. Thank you for sharing!

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  4. You have saved my bacon on this lesson! I was so lost. Thank you thank you!