I love the idea behind Harry Potter’s “Marauder’s Map.” Do you remember? It allowed him to see, at any time, who was where at Hogwart’s:
The ability to have an omniscient perspective and see things that usually cannot be seen is incredibly exciting.
I remember how my mind lit up the first time I explored geocaches in my area. I’d heard about friends “going geocaching” together, but when I opened a geocaching app and saw dozens of caches within a five-mile radius of my home, I felt like an entire world had opened to me.
A similar thing happened when I flew to Texas for a professional conference. Frustrated with the expense of the taxis and the long waits involved with the hotel shuttle, I tentatively downloaded the Uber app for the first time. Within minutes, I could see four drivers within a few minutes of my location.
In an instant, I realized I never had to stress about finding a ride again.
As I thought more deeply about the concept of seeing beyond our normal vision, I realized that this applies beautifully to something else that is unseen, and so needed, and quite literally all around us.
Spiritual help. Angels. Power from above.
We might refer to this help by different names, but anyone who has personally experienced it will affirm that it is real, and I’d like to discuss how we can access it more quickly and more frequently.
I asked my children for their opinions on this one afternoon: “If we had an app that could show us exactly where on the map spiritual help could be accessed, what do you think we would see?”
My 12-year-old son, Ethan, sweetly replied, “Mom, I think it would be everywhere. The entire map would be covered.”
If we could really see where spiritual power is available to us, I think we would be overwhelmed by how much is within our reach. The problem is that when we are in the middle of challenging moments, we too often forget.
Like last month…. It had been a long day–one where I had battled some very personal problems that turned my stomach into knots. I knelt by my bed that night and explained to God how hard everything had been. “And then this happened, and then that happened, and, oh my goodness, it was so difficult. I’m grateful I made it through, but I don’t know how I can keep doing this.”
Then a very simple question came into my mind: “Why didn’t you ask Me for help?”
I sat still–no idea how to respond. Was it because I simply forgot? Was it because I didn’t think help was available? I’ve been thinking about this for weeks now, and here are four things that I am convinced I could do better. (If this is helpful to you, I’d love for you to join me!)
One fall afternoon, about 13 years ago when we were living in Boston, I was out on a drive by myself–talking with God and explaining a new assignment that felt overwhelming to me. I paused for a moment and heard this soft, comforting response: “Why are you scared when I am your Guide?”
I loved that. Of course we don’t need to be scared, but this only works if we believe that there is Someone guiding us.
The summer after I delivered our third child, a preemie of 10 weeks, our family moved to a little apartment in Los Angeles so my husband could complete an internship. With three preschoolers and no friends in the neighborhood, I was sinking fast from the exhaustion and stress. One morning, my internal dialogue sounded something like this, “I am so tired. I don’t think I can change another diaper. I need a break. I’m tired of having spit-up all over my shirt.”
At the same time, my then-three-year-old, Alia, wanted a Slurpee from the local 7-Eleven, and she kept whining, “Mommeeeeeeee, I want a Slurpeeeeeeeeeee.” (I’d told her earlier that we could get one that day.)
Finally, I turned around and impatiently said, “Alia, if there is something that you need or want, you don’t have to whine about it. All you have to do is ask.”
As soon as I said those words, I heard a voice in my mind say, “A-ha!”
I got the message (and did my best to stop whining).
Sometimes we’re hesitant to ask for help because we don’t see how an answer is just going to “fall from the sky.” But when we do all we can, we can see how God has the power to manage His miracles.
Years ago, my dad’s architectural firm was sued by a client for 17 million dollars. The client had changed their specifications multiple times during the project–and were then upset that it wasn’t completed on time.
With only 200,000 dollars of insurance coverage, my dad’s company was facing financial ruin, and he was assigned to find a lawyer and get everything settled. This put him into one of the most stressful situations of his life.
My dad prayed for help, and then he knew he needed to act, trusting God would help him. He started interviewing lawyers, and after meeting with the first lawyer, he thought, “Yes, I think this is a good choice.” He then went to the phone to cancel the appointment with the second lawyer, with whom he was to meet that afternoon.
“As I went to cancel, I had a feeling I should go and meet with him anyway,” my dad later told me. So he did.
“I sat waiting in his office, and when he walked in the door, I knew that he was the one to represent us.” (My dad still gets choked up at the thought of this). “We were able to settle the case out of court for $180,000, which was covered by our insurance.”
Effort, creativity, and time are often required of us before we receive the help we need, but those things lay the foundation for an amazing amount of grace.
My mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, and she generally isn’t able to participate in conversations anymore. But one afternoon, my sister Laura and I were sitting by Mom’s bedside, discussing this concept of spiritual strength.
“Sometimes I look at what’s in front of me, and I think that there is no way I can do it. I don’t have the energy. I’m not up to the task,” I confided. “But then I step back for a moment and ask myself, ‘Has there ever been a time–even once–when the Lord has let me down?’ And the answer is, ‘Not once.’ He gives me so much more than I merit, and so when I start walking into what seems to be a long, dark, overwhelming time in my life, I only need to remember that I have help right there.”
Laura said, “Look at Mom. She’s listening. She’s here. She’s nodding her head.”
I turned to look at my mother, and though she didn’t have the words to say it, this is what I felt: “April, what you’re saying is true. The Lord is there for you. He’s there for me. Don’t give up. Never doubt Him. His mercy is a gift, and whenever you need Him–no matter what–He will take care of you.”
I feel such power when I keep these reminders close to my heart, and lately I have been trying to kneel more often–immediately when I need spiritual strength. Though I still have much to learn, the support I have needed has come every single time. I don’t know how it works, but it works.
I hope that each of us will not just see the hurt in our lives, but also see the help. I hope we won’t just run in circles, but that we will see how we can impact our circles of influence with power from above. I hope that we won’t simply dwell on what puts us in these “holes,” but that we will learn how God can help us to be whole.
I have no doubt that the spiritual help that each of us needs is much, much closer than we think. Let’s remind one another to take the steps each day to access it.
LEARN: Have you had an experience where you discovered that help was much closer than you originally thought?
DO (and BECOME): Consider the level of trust you currently have in a Higher Power. Is there something you could do this week to increase that trust and more fully access the help that is available to you?
Wow! I love the idea of looking at an app & seeing God’s help! I too often try to struggle through myself when help is just waiting. Just yesterday a very specific prayer for my parents’ care was answered in such a way that it is so obviously God. Why was I surprised? God hears & God answers! Thanks for such an encouraging & thought-provoking article!
April Perry says
Melissa, I’m so glad you shared that experience with your parents. I, too, am often surprised by how often and how beautifully God responds to our needs (and then I also wonder why I was surprised!). Grateful for your strength!
Thank you for sharing this, April! I also love the app analogy. I think you are right–there is always help waiting for us, but we need to take the time to tap into that divine help. Every night when I pray, I ask that my Father in Heaven will help me to know what my children need. Sometimes I feel impressed to do something with a certain child or try to react differently to a child that seems to present the same challenge daily, but one night when I said this oft-repeated phrase, the message God sent was loud and clear, “What your children need is a well-rested Mom.” It was a very clear reminder that I needed to prioritize my sleep and by doing so, my kids would have everything they needed right now. 🙂 I also loved the story about your Dad. He still had to face a huge challenge, but inspiration came when he needed it and it made all the difference. I will remember this…
April Perry says
That made me smile, Andrea! Yes, our children DO need a well-rested mother. 🙂 Love you!
Traci Ahangarzadeh says
I love this new addition to your website. This is a wonderful post. So many great points and one thing that I am truly working on is asking for HIS help for myself. I will pray for everyone and everything but not for myself. I am trying to remember that God just needs us to ask. I just love how are kids are so incredibly insightful – my 8 yr old continually teaches me so much! Thank you so much for this!
April Perry says
Thank you so much for sharing, Traci! I think it’s easier to pray for others–because we feel love and compassion for them. You are SO right that asking for help for ourselves is much harder. Sounds like you are on a great course and building relationships with your family members along the way. Thank you for being with us!
I love that you are bringing more awareness to this field! I once read a book called “The 10 Second Rule”. It’s premise was to act within 10 seconds of getting a direct suggestion from God. The book pointed out that many times we have good intentions to do these things, but we often get distracted or forget. Though I’m not great at following the 10 second rule, I find that when I follow quickly, life is always better than if I do things my way. And the timing is always perfect.
April Perry says
Jennifer, just the title of that book is inspiring! I love that because, although it sounds overwhelming to act on promptings that quickly, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. The promptings come at just the right time, and they are usually so simple. Thank you for sharing that book with us!
Thank you. I’m facing a mountain of responsibility this next week that normally would be impossible for me but, if I can do it, it will be a great and lasting source of joy for me and for my sister’s family. Thanks for the reminder to kneel down and look up.
April Perry says
Ruthann, I wish you the very best this week, and I have no doubt that you will be able to accomplish what needs to be done–with His help. Thank you so much for sharing. We’re cheering for and praying for you!
Thank you for sharing these personal and beautiful thoughts.
This is a very tangible example of one of many things that has happened to me. I was a single mother, struggling to make ends meet. (Well, NOT making them meet is more like it.) I didn’t have a washer and dryer so I had to go to a laundry mat. It was freakishly expensive so I would let the dirty clothes pile high and then pick out what was essential when I could afford it. I don’t remember why, but one day I loaded up all the dirty clothes and prayed the whole way “Lord, I know you can make a way for me to get my laundry done.” Miraculously I found a $10 bill in a pocket that allowed me to get all my clothes washed!!
I don’t know why it is that I can’t seem to remember just how much God cares for me, even in the mundane details of life. THANK YOU for this reminder!!
April Perry says
Dana, that story touched my heart and strengthened my faith. Thank you so much for sharing it. I love that God is in the details–for all of us. xoxo
About a dozen years ago I was the mother of 4 young children and battling a chronic pain condition of 8 years that took so much of my focus and energy that I felt I was utterly failing as a mother. I had been praying for strength, for healing, for anything to lift me out of the horrible place I was in and nothing had changed in all those years. One day I decided I was done trying to stay afloat. I locked myself in my bathroom, sat on the floor and told God that since I was unable to do anything I felt I needed to do to fulfill my purpose and He clearly wasn’t ever going to heal me, I was going to stay on that bathroom floor until He decided to take me home.
The phone rang. I don’t know why I bothered to answer but I’m glad I did. It was an acquaintance from church calling to say she had been thinking about me and wondered if everything was all right. In all those years I had been ill, I hadn’t told a soul about it but my husband and the lady who had called was only an acquaintance. She had no idea what I was dealing with. I didn’t feel like explaining everything to anyone, so I told her everything was fine and thanks for thinking of me. I hung up and sat back down to wait to die.
Two minutes later the phone rang again. It was yet another lady from church calling to sat she’d had the thought to call and ask if everything was all right. I could tell from the background sounds that she was in a store and her little children were with her. Clearly she had felt the impression to call me so urgently that she had dropped everything to do so. I got the message loud and clear. I told her everything and she, with my permission, told others and they all lifted me with their prayers and service over the next year while I sought for a cure with newfound hope and confidence that God had important work for me to do and that absolutely NOTHING could prevent me from doing it.
April Perry says
Tamara, this is so sweet. Thank you for sharing such a poignant story. I’ve learned so much from your experience.
Tamara, thank you so much for sharing this. It is just what I needed to hear right now!
I have been ill for many years in a way hardly anybody sees, and those who know either don’t understand or treat me as though I am making it all up. I have prayed for help all along the way, and have received plenty of direction along the way, but there is clearly more to do as I am not getting well. I find it especially stressful dealing with my family’s responses to me.
God has told me this week, that I need to really acknowledge my current ill health, and stop trying to cover up how ill I am. If I will be open about it, others will begin treating me in a very different way. (I hadn’t even realised I was doing that!)
Tamara, your story is helping me to see a bit more about how to be open about this, and that it’s okay to do so.
April, thank you. Today God has used this article (which I’m reading for the second time), and one of the chapters in your e-book about your Mom, to teach me things that I have never understood before. The thoughts I’ve been receiving prompted by these articles are teaching me to see myself and what is possible in a totally new light.
I’m feeling SO grateful. Thank you!
April Perry says
Ceri, I am sending you a big virtual hug!! Thank you for the kind words. I know what it is like to be ill for a long period of time, and my heart goes out to you. Have a wonderful day, and thank you so much for being a part of LearnDoBecome!
It is so reassuring and inspiring to see this! So many believers are afraid to talk about their faith in our God who sustains us through all things. In today’s politically correct society, I find resistance and sometimes people getting defensive when I testify of my lord and Savior and what he always does for me and my family. I just gave birth and am drowning in my to do lists with a 17 month old plus two in college! (We are a blended family and started all over.)
So thank you for sharing your talents, guidance, gifts and testimonies, and now your faith 🙂 it’s what the world needs to hear! Amen sister.
April Perry says
Thank you so much, Melissa. I truly appreciate your support. While LearnDoBecome is a principle-based website, not focused on one particular religion, Eric and I want to create an environment here at LearnDoBecome where we can talk about the things that matter most to us–and where our community members can do the same. While religion can often be something that separates us, I think the ability to talk about what’s in our hearts and what inspires us can actually unite us as a community. So glad you are with us!
Yes Melissa, it is what the world NEEDS to hear!
April, that was beautiful and I appreciated you sharing it with us. Just last week, I hit a breaking point with my child and I broke down. I prayed to God that I need his help. I didn’t hear anything said but I feel like or believe there is some support from him. In fact, I talk to my dad who passed in 2012 in my head everyday and I felt like he told me that God is going to help me and knows how much I’ve been struggling.
I look for signs often. This email from you seems to be another sign to remind me that he is here for all of us. Thank you for your courage and sharing your beautiful spirit with us, April.
What a timely article for me! I am going to strive to remember to ask for help in the moment when I need it and not just at the end of the day. April, thanks for always sharing such great insights!
Rebecca Kohler says
Thank you April! When I saw this email in my inbox, I knew I needed to read it. In reality, I think He just used you to answer my prayer. He has felt so far away lately, and I have wondered why. Thanks again–I needed that.❤️
Thank you so much April for posting this. It couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time! I do give thanks everyday for my blessings, but I have not been asking for help and guidance with the myriad of things I am juggling at the moment. After I shattered a glass refrigerator shelf in the kitchen and just about broke down since it was the last straw in my trying to get so many things done at one time, my husband so kindly cleaned it all up. Then he talked to me about taking a look at all that I have taken on and gently asked me about re-evaluating what I want, what is important to me and how I can simplify things. He really seemed liked my heaven-sent angel at that moment. I read your post later that night and just smiled. What a great reminder to notice the angels around us at each moment. And now I will remember to ASK God for help before I get to a breaking point and literally start breaking things around me. I’m so thankful for your site, your programs and your podcast. Keep up the awesome work! 🙂
April Perry says
Kellie, thank you for sharing! I love the concept of “reevaluating what you want.” Sometimes I think life has to be stressful–or I’m not doing it right. 🙂 But that couldn’t be farther from the truth! Thanks again!
Rachel Howe says
My nearly 20-year-old daughter, Emily, is currently doing an internship in Manila, Philippines with a micro-finance company and this is an excerpt from an email I received from her this weekend. I’ve added some comments in the middle of it to explain “rest of the story”.
” I started getting really negative and down on myself. I also was starting to feel a tinge of homesickness. Work was hard and I was struggling just a tiny bit. I remember Friday morning kneeling by my bed before we left for work and praying and telling Heavenly Father that I really needed to feel His love today. I pleaded to know He loved me. I asked to know if that was true. Still feeling like my head was going to explode (I’ve been sick) and I headed off for the day….So after a morning of work at the office, I decided a quick trip to deliver a letter to the post office and a lunch break in the sun might spread some “Emi” self-love. On my way home I stopped at the park in the middle of City Hall in Pasig City. There is also a school there. Two girls about my age came and sat by me and we started talking. There was also a 13 year old (looked 8) boy who just came and parked his bike by me. The two girls worked there and were on their lunch break and the boy and his little brother just ride their bikes around all day while their uncle is at work, every single day. Before I knew it more little kids from the elementary school were gathering around. Soon there was a crowd of at least thirty.” (My insertion here: Emily had posted a snapstory of this experience with the children. I assumed she was visiting a client at school or something because there were so many kids gathered around her laughing and smiling and talking to her…I didn’t realize until her email what had really happened. It warmed my heart to learn that it all began with a plea that morning to her Heavenly Father to know how he felt about her…and on her lunch break she had started on a park bench by herself and ended up surrounded by joyful smiles and laughter, all drawn to her for her friendly smile and demeanor. What a special answer to her plea to her Father. And to make it all a little more powerful here is the rest of the story of what played out on the other side of the world in our home. Thursday afternoon, I had texted a little with Emily and I had sensed she was a little down. That Thursday night at family prayers we prayed a little harder and little more specifically than usual for Ems and I suggested to her siblings as they headed to bed she might need a few extra prayers that night…she’s 15 hours ahead of us, so do the math…as we retired that Thursday night, it was her lunch break on Friday. Angels attend and a Higher Power listens and attends to us). Emily’s words continue: “It was talking to the two girls about themselves and life in the Philippines and my life in America and being surrounded by such joyful, laughing children that made me feel God’s love for me.” Her plea was answered and our prayers were acknowledged as well.
April Perry says
I love this, Rachel! We need to be reminded of these kinds of experiences. It must have been such a precious experience for you to see your daughter applying what you have taught her. Such a beautiful story!!
Loved this! Thank you so much!
This is beautiful! I have thought often of my aunt and grandma who passed away last year, feeling like they are closer than ever when times are hard. I love the examples you give and the powerful thoughts you share… This is one article to be read multiple times….
Thank you, Danielle! I totally agree–our loved ones are not far. Thank you for your kindness and support–and mostly for your great example!
Thank you April for sharing this. It is beautiful!
I know God is with me all the time, no matter where I am. However, sometimes it is not my first thought.
Many times my faith is the only thing keeping me going. God has shown up in many huge ways over the years. And many small ways. There are days all I have to do is look outside and see the beautiful flowers or the blue sky. Then there are those days when I am struggling and God shows up with a special “sign.” It might be a ray of sunshine shining down on me (only me). Or a miracle, an answered prayer, a phone call from a friend, scripture verses, a special memory, a song… Whatever it is, I can see God’s hand in it.
Thank you for reminding me today of this!
April Perry says
Stephanie, your comment made my day! I love hearing about the special experiences you’ve had, as well. God’s hand is in our lives so often–especially when we are looking for it. I appreciate your wonderful example, and we’re thrilled to have you with us here at LearnDoBecome.
Oh how I needed this. Thank you! Your article was truly an answer to prayer today. 🙂
April Perry says
Love to you, Ashley! I feel like I need this message just about every day. Thinking of you!
Wow! Great article and great analogy! Quite a few points resonated with me. Loved the ““Why didn’t you ask Me for help?” How true. Another one…. you asked yourself when has He ever let you down? Never. Great reminder.
Thank you for sharing 🙂
April Perry says
Pam, your comment came in at JUST the right time! I was feeling a little overwhelmed this morning, and then I saw this reminder to ask God for help. (Why do I always need this reminder?) I’m going to do that right now. 🙂 So grateful to have you here with us at LearnDoBecome!
Kristina Burger says
I was at my nephew’s baptism last week. His stake president spoke about having a spiritual gps. He called it the HGPS or Holy Ghost Positioning System. I love the idea that we just have to ask and it is always available. Comfort if nothing else.
Gina Macy says
Right now as I write this, I exercise my trust in God, by saying… Bless you April, you are a dear gift to this world.
April Perry says
Gina, you are so sweet. Thank you for your encouragement! We are grateful for you!