Their Will, My Will, or Thy Will be done?
By Jen (Jennie J. McBride)
Jared and I went to the temple on Tuesday Night, while there the simple thought came into my mind– “Their Will, My Will and Thy Will.” When we think about it, It is a simple concept . The only thing we can give God is our will. He has given us our agency. He has given us the gift to choose, because of eternal laws of love. It is a great gift and one we often take for granted or curse when the consequences of another’s agency to choose inflicts pain, suffering, or inconvenience to us.
There are many forces who strive to steal our will. Satan from the beginning wanted to take away our ability to choose-our agency. He still strives to do so today. Most temptations will lead us down a path where we feel we can no longer make choices, we feel compelled to the substance or addiction or whatever temptation that has us ensnared.
For example; think about alcohol or drugs. At first a person may be tempted to drink only socially, and then a tragedy occurs in their life, a death of a loved one or dear friend. They drink their sorrows away and find comfort in the bottle. The alcohol and other drugs numb the body and soul to the pain that they are experiencing and the substance becomes their “savior” from the pain. Now, they can’t stop drinking, or so they think. They feel they “HAVE” to have it. They need their savior, they need the numbing power in their life.
There is a physical or chemical addiction that begins to take place within the body, they feel they need it emotionally to deal with whatever is happening in their life. They feel they need the alcohol. An emotional additiction is also formed, but the truth of the matter is, it is still a choice. The spirit is not addicted to the substance. The spirit does not need it!
The chemicals and perceived emotional reaction are what cause people to believe they are addicted to the substance. The spirit is what helps people to overcome their physical desires, to repent and make the necessary changes to live a better life.
What happens to a person when they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol? How is one’s ability to drive, to make personal decisions, to protect one’s virginity, or to make good choices affected?
It is severely disabled. The alcohol and drugs disable the spirit and the mind, they numb it and make it “feel good” for the moment.
Satan doesn’t care what we are addicted to, as long as we feel addicted we can not fulfill our mission, we can not bless our families or use our gifts to bless the lives of others. When we feel “addicted” we are basically obsessed with that which we feel addicted to, our life and our actions are all centered around “it”.
But how does Satan distract us and get us down the path?
I believe a lot of this comes back to agency and the principle of it. Satan has greatest hold upon our hearts when we give up our will to the people around us, especially if they are under his influence and power. Satan also has hold upon our hearts and our will, when we become self-centered and think only about ourselves and our selfish desires. Allow me to explore these topics into greater detail.
Once again Satan and his minions do not care who’s will we do as long is it is not the will of God. They will do all in their power to take away our agency and to distract us from fulfilling our divine mission. They don’t care if they can distract us by having us do the neighbor’s will, our bosses will, our spouses will, or our children’s will. This game is dangerous, because usually many of the things they desire of us are good and are the very things that God would have us do, but who are we putting first, our spouse or God, our boss or God, our neighbor or God, our child or God?
Satan wants us to get in the habit of doing the will of any another person, being or spirit, anyone other than God-Our Eternal Heavenly Fathter. Satan wants us to learn to deny not our self, but deny God’s will for us. He wants us to feel we have to give up our self for another person. God wants us to give our will to him, not to our spouse, our children, our boss, our lover, our neighbor, or landlord. God does not want us to put anyone else’s will before his will, especially his will for us.
Satan knows that the more confused we become, the more we put others before God, the easier it will be for us to fall into greater temptation. When we put the will of others before the will of God it is easier for us to give into sexual sin or perversion, drugs, alcohol, pornography or any other addictive and harmful sin. Satan knows perfectly well how to weaken us spiritual, how to weaken our spiritual link to deity and this is one of the ways he is not so easily exposed.
I have often wondered why teens give into “peer pressure”. I wonder why adults give into “peer pressure”, I wonder why anyone gives into the pressure of another to do something they know or feel is wrong. I wonder why others can be persuaded to do something they would not normally do. Why do some give in and others not give into the pressure of others? Does it have to do with parenting style, or lack of a parent in the home? Or does it have to do with a relationship with our heavenly parent, our Father in Heaven?
If a person has the desire to do God’s will and he knows what it is, he usually does it! If a person does not have a desire to do God’s will or if he doesn’t know what God’s will is, he will not do God’s will.
People who have been conditioned to put other people first, who have been trained to do what others tell them may not always be obedient to the Will of God, because there will always come a time when God will ask us to do something contrary to the will of men. He has said, my ways are not your ways! He has taught us there are doctrines of devils and of men. The doctrine of God will have us oppose and do contrary to the teachings of devils and of men. (see D&C 46:7)
Parents have an awesome responsibility here to teach their children, who the Father of their spirit is. Parents have a responsibility to teach children how to communicate with Deity, to learn his will and learn how to discern through their own spirit the differences between doctrines of devils, men or of God. This is one of the reasons we are hear upon this earth, is to learn to discern between these forces and learn how to choose good over evil.
As individuals, as children of God, we have an awesome responsibility to learn for ourselves what is of God, what is of men, and what is of the devil. We have the challenge to learn to see things as they are for the salvation of our souls. (see Jacob 4:13)
We do not realize how many times we give into the influences of others, men, women and children. We do not realize how many times we put the will of others over the will of God, it usually is not in the big things-at first. It usually starts out with good desires to help others and to serve, but that desire can be destroyed if we are not doing it for the right reason and our armor of God is being weakened over and over again because we are more concerned about others, and what others might think about us than about doing what God himself would have us do!
Why do we care so much what others think? Why do we desire to please others and have them think highly of us? Why do we care more about what others think than what God thinks?
We are motivated by internal forces, thoughts clearly affect our choices and behaviors, but do we realize that seemingly innocent thoughts may be causing a leak in our boat that may cause our boat to sink?
Why do we buy the car we buy? Why do we want to live in a certain place, or own a certain house? Why do we want to own verse rent? Why do we do the job we are doing? Why do we serve in the church? Why do we obey the commandments? The list goes on and on.
Salesmen and women are trained to “feed” the ego or our pride. The sales techniques used by most “trained” salesmen are designed to have the customer do the will of the salesperson. Does that make any sense to you? Shouldn’t the sales person be working for the customer? Shouldn’t they be providing service and best meeting the customers need? But No, they are taught to “upsell”.
The truth is that in mortality we have needs and we have wants. But I fear that our generation, especially my generation has lost sight on the difference between the two. My generation has an unlimited amount of credit and only buy with “credit”, the funny thing is they have no “experience” paying big things back, fresh out of college or with a small family. But the children think they should automatically have the nice car and nice home, in the nice neighborhood, right out of college. Credit is easy to acquire, loans are at all time lows, a person generally owns a car for less than 3 years and then purchases a new one!
We have needs. We need shelter, food, warmth, and clothes. But do we need a closet full of designer jeans that cost over a hundred dollars each? Do we need a brand new car? Do we need a 6 bedroom house? Do we need to go in debt for these items all at the same time? Do we need to spend more than we earn and rack up the credit card bills?
We gain greater control over Satan and are less likely to be tempted when we are able to clearly discern what are our needs vs wants and what is God’s will for us.
While there were times in my life I struggled with the great desire to please others and to do their will, there were other times I have struggled with the desire to do MY WILL. To put it simply there have been times, while upon my knees I have pleaded with the Lord that My Will be done. I was single for many years and was not married until I was 31 years of age, but between 18 and 30 years of age, a few times a year, I pleaded with the Lord that he would do my will and give me the man that I wanted. Many tears were shed and I behaved a lot like a two year old throwing a wild temper tantrum, screaming, “MINE!”
During these times in my life, I was very active in church, I attended the temple, church, activities, read my scriptures, fasted, prayed, and strove to have a relationship with the Father and the Son. I was dating wonderful men of God, whom were loved by God. But I was childish, selfish and, unwilling to be patient and trust completely in the Lord and His timing.
Many of you have seen a two year old who wants a candy bar very badly. At first they smile and point to the candy bar and say, “Mommy, please.”
The mother shakes her head and says, “No, it’s almost dinner. Mommy has something better for you to eat at home.”
“Mommy, PEASE!” The toddler yells, because obviously his mother did not hear him ask nicely.
Again she shakes her head and the two year old now starts kicking, screaming, crying, and yelling, “I want Candy! I want Candy!”
The two year old, however, can only see that moment in time and is limited by the site of that candy bar staring at him sitting all alone in the grocery cart. All he can see is the candy bar and that is all he wants. He cannot see the dinner that is less than 3 miles away on the dinner table waiting for him at home. The next five minutes will feel like an eternity for him until he eats. The child feels forsaken by his mother, because he doesn’t get what he wants!
The truth is he has not been forsaken, on the contrary a healthy dinner is waiting for them at home, a meal that will not make him hyper active an hour before bedtime. The truth is that the mother does love him and wants only the best for her child. The truth is that the mother wants to give in to his cries, but she is wiser and knows what is best for the child.
While I was single and dating, I wanted the “Candy Bar” and I wanted it right then. I wanted to get married and enjoy all the benefits of marriage. I had a righteous desire, I wanted to obey the prophets and general authorities and get married! I wanted to do what the Lord wanted me to do, RIGHT? …Well, sort of.
I wanted to fulfill his commands, but still I struggled with his timing. It was as if I was that two year old and every time I started dating someone, I could only see the candy bar in front of me and was oblivious to the meal waiting for me, the meal being prepared for me by the hand of the Lord. I asked nicely at first, then I yelled please, and then I broke down on my knees and threw a temper tantrum, because I wanted it “Right Then!”
It was very difficult for me to wait upon the Lord, to be patient with him and to wait for his timing for things to be fulfilled. It was difficult for me to completely trust him, that he was preparing someone for me to love, someone who would love me the way the Lord would have me to love. I wanted to believe him, I wanted to believe him with all my heart, but I had never received that gift and I was tempted to believe that he forgot about me, especially after I turned 30!
I believe I am not alone in struggling to accept the Lord’s timing in my life. I believe that many struggle with this accept of accepting the Lord’s will in our lives. Some struggle with the loss of a loved one, at a time that they didn’t feel was convenient. Others struggle with diseases or other health issues that come at a time that is very difficult. Other families struggle to accept the Lord’s will and timing as they desire very much to have a child or children in their home. Other families struggle because their children are adults and still haven’t “moved out!” There are other singles whom are older than I and much more patient than I was who still desire to get married, but they too are struggling to accept the Lord’s will for them and his timing. And some dear brothers and sisters, wonder why they must wait so long for deaths doors to be open, as they live alone and struggle with all the consequences of growing old.
Elder Maxwell and Elder Oaks have said that it is not enough to say, Thy will be done, but we must also add, Thy timing be done.
The things that these individuals desire are good; they desire marriage, to be reunited with loved ones after this life, to be healthy, to have children, and to see their children progress. They desire the very things that we have come on earth to obtain and to experience. But satan is able to tempt us to fall into the “My Will” category, when we think we know better than God the time we should receive these things.
Satan is the master of deceit. He knows the strength and the desire of God’s people. He was a leader in God’s Kingdom, he understand aspects of this life and he understands how to tempt God’s people to not trust God and his timing. He began practicing this art, long before man and woman began their journey upon this earth.
One of the easiest ways that Satan can tempt good people to fall, is to tempt them to do that which is good at the wrong time and in the wrong place. One of his favorite tools is sexual desires. Sex in and of itself is not evil, in fact, it is a beautiful gift given to man and women to enjoy together within the bonds of marriage. It is given to express love, brings great joy and allows God’s spirit children the opportunity to obtain a body and come to earth with a Mother and a Father.
Satan has tempted many of my friends and lead them down a slippery path. He deceived them to not trust in God’s timing, but to put their wills before God’s will. God asks us to wait until we are married before we share of ourselves in sexual expression. Satan wants us to use this gift prematurely and destroy our trust in ourselves. When we put our sexual desires and appetites before the will of God, when we give into the lust and steal the gift away from someone who is not “ours” legally and lawfully, we are in effect saying, “I WANT MY CANDY, NOW!”
The candy may taste good the second we partake of it, but it is not the nourishing and healthy fruit that the father desires that we share only with our spouse. The act may be physically similar, but the desire is selfish when used and abused prematurely. However, when we wait and share of ourselves only with our spouse we have the opportunity to receive a great gift of love and union.
Satan also tempts those that are married to share this gift with others with whom they are not married, or with those of the same sex gender. Once again, these temptations may be manifestations of us putting our will before God’s will. A woman may not feel loved at home and seek for the feelings of being loved in the arms of another. A man may be tempted by a woman at the office, by pornography, or while traveling on a business trip.
It isn’t that sex is wrong or evil. It is wrong to share with anyone other than with our spouse, with whom we are legally and lawfully married. This act within marriage should not be centered around our desires and our wants, but about giving of ourselves and receiving unto ourselves the gifts of love from our spouse. When we are able to give and to receive, we find great joy in this part of our relationship.
However, often sex is used outside of marriage. Satan tempts us to think only of ourselves and our desires. It is often a selfish act of desire to fulfill our own needs. Satan has a lot of experience tempting many men and women. Remember the fall of David? That story is one of the saddest stories for me in the Old Testament, it is a story of deceit and of pain. David lusted after a woman with whom he was not married. He invited her over and slept with her. She was a wife of another man and she got pregnant with his child. This sin led him to commit another great whoredom, he had her husband killed on the battlefield so he could marry her. This sin led to a great man’s fall!
We all need to be aware of the temptations that Satan sets around us. The temptations do not disappear once we are married. It seems that Satan increases his forces on men and women of God, he will do all to destroy the foundation of the family, the relationship between men and woman. He will do this by leading us down a path where we put our selfish desires first and cast aside the gentle and loving commands of the Father.
I testify to you, that the Father and the Son love us. The commandments they give us are for our good and our benefit. They long for us to enjoy the blessings of mortality and to give us eternal life. They long for us to trust in them and their timing. They long for us to learn to put God’s will before our will and for us to make our will become their will completely, that our heart is full of desire only to fulfill their will and be obedient to their commands.
My Will and the Parable of the Talents
“Pride is an enmity towards God and our Fellow man.” President Ezra Taft Bensen gave a classic talk about pride. One I should probably read and study on a daily basis. The first time I read the talk, I was so humble that I convinced myself that it was meant for all of God’s children but me! But upon careful reconsideration, I’ve realized that it is a voice and warning not just for my brothers and sisters, but especially for me!
One of my friends taught me that humility is the ability to see things as they are. Think about this for a second. Ezra Taft Bensen, a prophet in the last dispensation of times, taught us that pride is a hatred for God and our Fellow men. When we hate God we have no desire to do his will, and we have no desire to bless his children. But when we are able to learn to see things as they are (see Jacob 4:13 and D&C 76) we are able to see how much God loves us, how much he longs for us to receive the fullness of joy and to use the talents he has given us to bless the lives us his children.
In D&C 46 we are taught the purpose for which we are given spiritual gifts. This section talks about spiritual gifts available to all God’s children for the benefit of all God’s Children. “Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived: and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commands, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask not for sign that they my consume it upon their lusts.” (D&C 46: 8,9)
The Lord is telling us that we should always remember why we are given spiritual gifts. We are told that they are the for the benefit of all. Again in Mosiah 8:18 I came across another scripture that describes why God gives men and women on the earth talents and gifts. “God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings.”
I believe that God wants us to know the talents and gifts he has given us. I know that he wants us to seek to know these gifts and to develop these gifts so that each and everyone of us can perform mighty miracles and be a great benefit to our fellow beings on this earth. I know that God has given each child gifts that can be used for the building up of the Kingdom of God and will bless the lives of his children. I know that he desires to know what these gifts are so that we can give them unto him through our acts of faith and service.
How have I come to know this, as I have come to know many other things in my life, through painful experiences of my youth! Allow me to share a personal experience with you.
When I was younger, I loved writing. I wrote stories and I sang songs I made up in the bathroom. But after my mother died I stopped sharing my feelings and what I wrote with other people. I hid this talent under a bushel, under the largest hill I could find! I buried this talent in the sand and did not share it with others. When I was a teenager, I focused my attention on athletics. I played Volleyball, Basketball, Golf, Tennis and Softball. I received athlete of the year award at my High School and many other athletic awards.
It was difficult for me to go to BYU and to receive a need based scholarship, rather than an athletic scholarship. I was an athlete, or so I thought. I majored in physical education and almost flunked out of physiology, well, I got my only D in my life, but that was the semester after my dad died. In April of 1995, I graduated with a teaching certificate and a degree in physical education. I was a PE teacher.
I felt safe in the athletic world, I liked competing, I liked playing with the boys, and I hid out in that world as long as I could. There is nothing wrong with being a PE teacher, and there is nothing wrong with being an athlete, except when you are doing it to hide from who you really are and to hide your gifts and talents from others. I laugh when I think of the first time I shared some of my songs with friends or with “professionals”. I was scared to death. I really would have preferred death to sharing a song I had written and recorded into a child’s fisher price tape recorder– with a “famous musical composer”.
My friend made me share it with him. I gave him the tape and ran home and hid in the bathroom! I was relieved when he didn’t call me back for over a week, but then he did call me and he asked me to come over to his home. He was sitting I the living room with a guitar on the ground at his feet. He invited me to sit down and then explained to me, he tried to help me to see things as they were. “Jennie, you have a talent. You need to learn to play the guitar and accompany your songs. You could write a hit song! You are a gifted song writer!”
He went on and shared with me some books I could purchase that would teach me more about songwriting. He also explained what type of guitar I would need to purchase. He explained that I needed to develop the talent in order to be able to share it with others. I nodded my head and drove to the guitar store, the one he told me about on Main Street, in Provo, The Salt Lake Guitar Company, and that was where I bought my first musical instrument.
I bought a Sigma Martin steel string guitar! I bought that guitar over eight years ago and I began learning to play the guitar, to this day I still cannot play a single cover song, or a song written by anyone else. I can only play my songs! Remember, the master teacher didn’t tell me to learn to play other peoples songs, he said I just needed to learn to accompany my songs!
To be completely honest, I still have a hard time performing my songs for others, even close friends. A few months ago, a woman who I had only met once came up to me in church and said, “I’ve been praying about how to lose weight and be more healthy and God told me to talk to you.”
Like I said, I had only met her once before and she did not know that I had recorded a program specifically for women about why and how to begin an aerobic workout program. This program contained a song that I had wrote and recorded that was called “Beautiful”. I felt if God asked her to talk to me, I should probably share the recording and program with her (the program that had been sitting on the shelf for almost 3 years).
She has told me repeatedly, that though she liked the program, it was the song that touched her heart and helped begin the healing process. The song that I wrote touched her heart and is healing wounds of the past, a song, a simple song I wrote in under 15 minutes, of course it took much longer to record with the help of a wonderful friend Dave Rosa, one of my first guitar teachers.
I did not want to share my heart, my songs, my writings with others, because they were intimately personal. I preferred to hit volleyballs, shoot basketballs, swing the golf club or tennis racket, and to throw a softball. I liked the praise I received in that world, but I did not want to receive the criticism in the world of “writing”. I was scared to share my talents, and writing with others who might criticize me!
In 1998, I began the process of digging out of the sand, trying to develop my talents of writing. Can you imagine how far I would be now if I had actually studied writing in college? I have only taken 2 english courses in the last 15 years and none of these courses were about creative writing, only one course was about writing and that was how to write a research paper. Believe me, I know enough to know that there is a big difference between a novel and a research paper.
I am in the process of developing my writing ability. I have had the opportunity to publish some compilations with Deseret Book and to work with many published authors. The authors I met were inspiring and very helpful as I began to learn to write. They recommended books about writing and shared experiences with me. Because of the books I have written, I have had the opportunity to go and speak to thousands of people and share my testimony about the gospel and the atonement. I have spoken at Singles Conferences with Sister Ardeth Kapp, I have spoken at Stake Conference with a general Authority, I have spoken as firesides for singles and youth and I have spoken at tons of relief society events.
I love the spirit I feel as I speak at these events. I feel more at peace and more united with the Will of God while I am speaking than at any other time. I say things that I am embarrassed that I said, I share myself freely, and love the spirit I feel. I have come to realize that most people do not like standing in front of people, they feel nervous. I on the other hand, feel relaxed and completely at ease standing in front of a room of hundreds and hundreds of people staring at me.
I am not a perfect writer, on the contrary, I feel very inexperienced and I know that I have many weaknesses in that arena. But I feel as though God has given me a talent, a voice and has asked me to share my feelings and thoughts with others through the use of songs, writing, and sharing my testimony. I feel that this is a gift that God would have me share with others. It is a way that he can perform miracles through me.
Sometimes, when I speak or share songs, I feel as though I am a like a heart surgeon, it is as if God is able to touch peoples hearts through my words, my songs and my thoughts. I can’t take credit for it, because I feel inspired and I know I am not standing alone when hearts are touched and changed in a way that only the spirit of God can do!
For over 25 years, I wanted to hide my writings from others. Who was I like in the parable of the talents? Who did I care about? The only person I cared about was me and I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I did not want to share myself with others, I did not want to open my heart to others. I was selfish and hid my talents just like the servant who said, “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” Matt 25:25
How did the Lord respond to that servant? He said, “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which eh hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
I feel like the Lord was telling me to wake up and to develop the talents he had given me, because if I didn’t I would become a wicked and slothful servant and he would take away the talents he had given me. I think it is interesting that he points out that the Lord reaps where he sows not and gathers where he has not strawed. The lord is able to reap where he does not sow and gather where he does not straw because of the servants in the field doing his work.
We are instruments in the Lord’s hands. When were are humble we recognize this divine call of which he has appointed us and the purpose for which he has given us gifts, for the building up of his Kingdom and the benefit of his people, our fellow beings.
If I choose to hide my talent or to use it for selfish gain, I am acting with enmity towards him and my fellow man. If I choose to see the talents he has given me to use for the benefit of his children, He will be able to use me to perform mighty miracles that will bless the lives of my brothers and sisters.
I do not want to be an unprofitable servant who is cast into outer darkness. But if I listen to the whisperings of the adversary and care more about me and hiding the gifts God has given me, I will not use the gifts that God has given me because of fear and other selfish reasons. I will not be willing to change and learn the writing process, because I don’t want to be criticized and I don’t want to improve of myself. I won’t be willing to make mistakes in the learning process, but if I put my hand in God’s and trust in him, I know that he will make of me the type of writer he would have me be and he will bless my ability to write. I know that He will lead me by the hand, give me answer to my prayers, inspire me, direct me and teach me how to use the talents he has given me.
It is hard to realize that one of the ways we put our will before the Father’s will, is by hiding the very talents that God has given us that will bring us great joy and benefit God and his Children!
Teaching our Children to do the Will of God!
I believe that as children we are innocent and God appoints us time to learn to distinguish between being acted upon and acting for ones self. Within the safety of the family, God allows children to learn to discern between doing our parent’s will, the will of friends, the will of the adversary, our own will and the will of God. While we are young, growing and maturing in matters physical and spiritual we are at times acted upon and many times it may be by our own parents.
When we are very small, we seem to understand that “they”, the parents are the boss and they express very clearly their will for us. They tell us when to go to bed, what to eat, when to eat, what to wear, and what to do during the day. It is part of the learning process for the child. Through the parents instruction, a child is learning what “behaviors” are appropriate in their home.
If all goes well, as a child grows they receive more and more opportunities to choose for themselves and to act for themselves. They become more and more independent of their parents and begin to act for themselves and sometimes rebel against being acted upon by their parents. Some children may feel more susceptible to the influence of peers, as they stretch out their own wings and learn how to fly. Ideally, a child learns while they are young the consequences to poor choices and has the opportunity to learn to make good choices and to “feel” good about the choices they are making.
Children make good choices and children make poor choices. I know that when I was a very small child I was called the Tasmanian Devil. I am sure there was a good reason for that and it may have had something to do with my behavior. But I am not sure because I don’t remember that time in my life.
I have, however, observed the behavior of other small children and they seem to have one thing on their mind, “Mine!” Have you ever noticed that a child doesn’t want to play with their toy, until another child is playing with it? “Mine”, is one of the first words of most children’s vocabulary. A child is primarily concerned with having their own needs met. Even a healthy baby, will cry when they want something. Small babies communicate their needs and cry out- “MY WILL BE DONE MOM! I am hungry! I am tired! I am wet! I want to be held, NOW!”
I believe within the first phase of a development, the child’s primary concern is that their needs are met. They are determined to have their will served. In the next stages of development they learn what their parents will is and learn to become more other centered, at times when it is convenient, which is not very often at first. They start being only concerned with their own will, but learn to do the will of others.
It is during this time we strive to start teaching them about God, God’s commandments, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the baby Jesus, the resurrection. Most children have a beautiful child like faith, that is pure and innocent as they learn more about God and his will for them. During this time, a child’s desire is please their parents, to please God and to have their own needs met! Every child is different, has a unique personality and a unique relationship with deity. Some children are more inclined to know and do the Will of God.
When Christ was 12 years old his family traveled to Jerusalem for a feast. His parents began their travels home to Nazareth only to discover that Jesus was not with his family. They were worried about him and did not know where he was. They assumed he was with their extended family, but they could not find him. For three days, they could not find their son.
They returned to Jerusalem to find their son in the temple, “sitting in the midst of doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and his answers.”(Luke 2:46-47) And when his parents saw him, they said to him, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing?” (Luke 2:48)
But Jesus answers them, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)
Christ even as a child was about his father’s business. He did not only proclaim, “Thy will be done,” at the end of his life during the experiences of excruciating pain, but he lived his life after the manner of fulfilling the father’s will. He was set out to do the mission the Father had given him, despite heavy opposition.
As parents we can learn a great deal from this story about Christ’s youth. As parents, we have a responsibility to raise up our children to the Lord. They are not, “Ours” to do with whatsoever we wish. They are spiritual children of God and they have a unique personality. Our job as parents is to help them meet their needs when they are young and cannot feed them selfes, but our primary responsibility is to teach them to have a relationship with God and to do his will, not our own will.
As parents we struggle with allowing our children to have their agency. We feel that “our” will is most important. They are living in our house and they must abide our rules. But children are very sensitive to principles of agency and those who respect those laws and those who force their will upon others. They may not remember the details of the episode in the pre-existence where Satan was cast out of our Father’s Presence, but they remember feelings and these are those spirits who fought most valiantly to protect everyones right to choose for themselves.
Parenting is divine, it comes from divine origins, but we are not their eternal parents unless we learn to respect the eternal principles of agency. We become securely linked to our children, only after we are securely linked to God and teach them what they must do to be securely linked to God independent of us and our choices. We have a solemn responsibility to raise our children up to the Lord.
But how can we teach children about agency, if we take their agency away and never allow them to make choices for themselves or to receive the consequences for their choices? As we remember whose children they really are and what our responsibility is as a parent, we will be more apt to allow them to make choices when they are young and to pay the consequences for their choices.
Not My Will, But Thine Be Done
Power, what does it mean to have power? The world looks upon power as an object of great desire. They want power over things, over people and the “benefits” they perceive that come with power. Power can be achieved through financial, political, or business achievement or gains. Power can be perceived as achieved through all these means and many more. Power is easily illustrated in the lives of comic book villains. All the Villians desire one thing (usually) and that one thing is POWER over others.
The Villain wants to power to gain control over others, for his own financial gain (though the villains are usually already somewhat wealthy), or for other selfish purposes. The hero or heroine, on the other hand, uses their power or influence to defend a person, a community, a nation, or the world against the Villain or Villains. The hero, generally, views his power as a responsibility. While the Villain views power as a means to control and manipulate others.
When I was young the Superman movies were very popular. Every child I knew wanted to be Superman when he or she grew up and they all wore the underroos to prove it! Most children and even some adults, fantasize about the life of a superhero, about what they would do if they had Superman’s strength, x-ray vision, speed and so forth. And many children grow up and instead of becoming the hero, they become the villain obsessed with power, control and money.
“For although, a man may have many revelations and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:4)
The power play began before birth, before this life. The power play was illustrated perfectly by our elder brother Lucifer. We are told that he had been given power and authority in the pre-existence. But what caused his fall? Did he not use the power to do mighty works, but he boasted of his own strength and set at naught the counsels of God. Lucifer who became the Devil followed only after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires. He fell and was cast out of the Father’s presence because he rebelled and sought not to fulfill the father’s will, but to only fulfill his will. He did not want to Glorify his father, but sought to glorify himself.
I, personally, think the struggle that existed between Lucifer and the Father, the Son, and Michael, would make a great comic book or movie. How Lucifer became the devil, sort of the opposite of Batman Begins. Maybe we could call it “The Devil Begins”.
What was different between Christ and the Devil in the pre-existence? What was the difference between Michael and Lucifer? Christ and Michael accepted God’s will for them. They accepted and supported their Father’s plan with all their heart and soul. They were obedient to the will of God. They loved God and fulfilled his commands. They were willing to do all things to build God’s Kingdom and to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
Satan on the other hand only sought for his own glory. He sought to build his own Kingdom and glory. He sought to destroy God’s plan and take away the agency of man. He wanted to control all God’s children and make them obey, not God’s will, but his will. Who was he to think, in God’s presence he could have his desires? Who did he think he was?
Satan and all those that follow after him are similar. They all put their will before God’s will and before the benefit of man. They want all the Glory, all the money, all the power, and control. They want to take away peoples choices and they will do anything to get what they want when they want it.
Christ has many names, one of which is King of Kings. I like this image of the Savior, I like to imagine him reigning again upon the earth and taking away the power from those men who are seeking to destroy the lives of God’s children. I like to imagine him sitting in a thrown, crowned with glory. I like to imagine him dressed in magnificent robes and in a beautiful temple or castle.
However, the first time that Christ came to earth, he did not come dressed in glory. He did not wear a crown of gold, but a crown of thorns. He did not wear fine robes, but was stripped and beaten by the officers. He did not sit upon a throne. He walked and lived with the people. He did however protect people from Satan’s power and influence. He taught people the gospel and how we could obtain Eternal Life.
Christ had the power to do all things. Christ had the power to smite down the officers who were beating him and nailing him to a cross. He performed many miracles, he turned water to wine, he raised the dead, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf. Why did he not use the full power and strength he had while he was upon the earth? Why did he not smite the wicked?
Christ understood with a perfect knowledge God’s plan for him and God’s will for him. While suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ said, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42) Think of this for one minute, Christ suffered the greatest agony and pain that anyone on this earth ever experienced and he had the power to end that agony. Luke described the suffering as such, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly: and in sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
I have experienced some pain. I have had knee surgery and the healing process was very painful. However, the doctors prescribed medication to me that helped me not feel the pain that my physical body was experiencing. There I was lying in a hospital bed in my living room, and if I wanted I could take pain medicationI experienced a small tiny itsy bitsy particle of the pain experienced by the Lord and I was administered to and given medication. I took the pain medication, in order to “get through” and endure my painful recovery. The Savior, on the other hand had the power to end the pain completely, he had the power to save himself, but because of his love for the Father and his love for us, his brothers and sisters. He descended below all things, he endured the pain and agony and bled from every pore of his body, so great was the pain.
Christ is my hero, because he submitted completely and perfectly to do the will of the Father. Christ is a perfect example of what we must learn to do in this life. We, too, have a responsibility to be instruments in God’s hands to do his will and fulfill our divine missions. We will not be called upon to bear Christ’s heavy burden in Gethsamane, but we will be called to bear the crosses given us and submit our Will to the Father’s will. It is the only thing we can ultimately give the Father.
Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants discusses the Oath of the Priesthood and warns us what happens to those who receive power and authority. “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and position of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, they suppose, as they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” (D&C 121: 39,40)
One of our greatest crosses to bear, may be to submit our supposed authority and power where it belongs, in the hands of the master. One of greatest struggles may be as we wrestle with Satan and strive to be humble and submissive to God’s will, instead of striving for the power, honor and glory of men. We may not even realize the battle that is being fought within our soul as our spirit seeks to fulfill the will of God and help us remember the promises we made before we were born. But our flesh is weak and may be tempted to pursue the path of glory, prestige and pride.
May we have the courage to pray more earnestly, when the temptation becomes to great. May we have the wisdom to not use our gifts and power in a way that would hurt or offend the spirit. May we live our life in such a way that we can know of a surety what our mission is and have the strength to fulfill the will of the Father in whatsoever he asks of us, is my prayer!
Beware of Pride
I believe with all my heart that Satan does not care if we do the will of others or if we do our own will. He knows where our weakness(es) lies. He knows when we have given into temptation and put the will of others before God’s will, and he knows when we have given into temptation and put our will before God’s will. He knows when we have acted obedient to God and when we have acted disobediently. He also can see the effect these decisions have on us. He knows if his power over us is increasing or decreasing by the choices we make and the direction our life is headed.
We often hear straight is the way that leads to eternal life and broad is the way that leads to eternal damnation. We have been admonished to walk the straight and narrow path back to God. Have you ever wondered why the path is so straight and narrow that leads to God? Or why the other path is so broad and wide?
Think about this for a moment—If there was only one path that everyone must take to return to God would it be narrow or broad? If there was one specific path that all should take to return to the loving arms of our heavenly father would it be narrow or broad? If there was one checklist of classes or achievements we must fulfill to return to our Father’s presence would the way be narrow or broad?
But what about if there is only one path that I should take and another path you need to take based on our individual and unique gifts and talents that will allow us to fulfill our divine mission, help in the building up of the Kingdom of God, and allow us to do God’s will while we are here upon the earth? Wouldn’t that path be extremely straight and narrow, because that path is uniquely designed for us by a God who loves us and wants us to return home? The straight and narrow way to return to God is unique and designed perfectly for each one of God’s children.
On the contrary, what is the Broad and Wide way? The broad way is any way that leads away from God. I believe many are deceived in thinking that their path should be similar to someone else’s path? Can you imagine how wide a path would have to be to fit hundreds, thousands, millions and billions of people? Satan doesn’t care which path we take, as long as that path is not the straight and narrow path, as long as we are not doing God’s will!
How does he blind our eyes and persuade us to join him and his followers on the broad and narrow path? How does he deceive men and women of God and enlist them to join him and fall further away from God’s loving embrace and the peace that God gives? How does Satan lead our hearts away from God and have us focus on the things of the world, temporal and temporary?
One of the ways he can deceive us is to subtly teach and persuade us that our needs and our way is the only way. That sounds so simple and the funny things is that God wants us to take the path he designed for us that is unique to us, our needs and our gifts, however, that path is only doing God’s will using our unique abilities. Satan twists the truth just a little and helps us fall off of the path of righteousness and onto the path leading towards destruction, misery and hell. Satan tempts us to think the path he is leading us towards is unique to our gifts and out needs, but he wants us to take this path only to fulfill our needs and our wants and our desires. God wants us to use our gifts to benefit God, His Kingdom and our Fellow man, while Satan on the other hand wants us to use our gifts for our own selfish desires and appetites.
Men and women, all of God’s children have needs and desires and most of these needs, such as needs for food, shelter, warmth, love, companionship and good desires. However, Satan distorts, enlarges, and perverts the needs of men and women. Satan carefully leads the hearts of the children of men to lust after that which is unrighteous, to lust after the desires of the flesh and promises them great satisfaction to be obtained only after they take that which they “need”. However, the appetite is always increasing and there is never satisfaction.
Fulfilling God’s Will – When We Are In Pain
Satan wants us to believe that if we are being obedient to God’s will, we will have no challenges or other opportunities for growth. Satan wants us to see the world through black and white lens. He wants us to believe that if we are obedient we will immediately receive a reward and will not be punished. He wants us to believe that trials come as a consequence only to sin. Why?
Because if we believe that trials and challenges only come as a consequence to sin or a wrong choice, we can be persuaded to fall away from God’s way and be tempted to not do the will of God. How many times do you hear the following question—Why do bad things happen to good people? I have heard countless Sunday School lessons on the topic, but I feel the topic itself is borderline false doctrine. Why?
As we study the scriptures and become acquainted with other men and women who have chosen to do God’s will we see that their lives are filled with opportunity to meet and overcome challenges Satan places in the way. Think for just a moment about the life of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. Christ always did the will of the Father and Joseph Smith strove to do so. Were their lives perfect and free of challenges? Or did Satan greatly oppose these men as they walked down their straight and narrow path? Did Satan strive to put obstacles on their path, to tempt them to fall and not complete the mission they were foreordained to do?
We should not be alarmed or shocked if we feel opposition in our lives. If we are doing the will of God, we will face opposition especially as wickedness increases in the land and as our Father is preparing us to usher in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.
When we are in the midst of persecution, trials, challenges, and temptation, we may ask ourselves the following questions (which I have on many occasions): What did I do to deserve this? Why has God forsaken me? What did I do wrong? Why is God punishing me?
If we believe that God allows us opportunities to grow, if we believe that God sent us to this earth to be tried and tempted (see Abraham 3) and if we believe that this life is an opportunity to prove to God and ourselves that we will do whatsoever God asks of us, we will know come to find out for ourselves that this life will not be free from trial, pain and persecution.
Great blessings will come to those who are obedient to the will of God in this life. We receive countless opportunities to come to learn to know and do the will of God in this life. However, the blessing will not always be immediate and may not be seen and realized in their fullness until after judgment day. Some are blessed greatly in this life, others are not. Does it mean that God loves one more than the other? Does it mean that the person who is blessed has been more obedient than the other? What does it mean? Absolutely, nothing because this life is only a proving ground and nothing stays the same in this life.
For example, look at the life of Job. At first he appeared very blessed. He had a wonderful family, a wife and many children. He was a wealthy man and greatly respected by those in his community, and he had many friends. He appeared very blessed. How quickly were all of those things taken away from him? Did God love Job more when he was blessed with wealth and family or when he was suffering from boils and cast out? For Job, after losing everything and being tempted and tried, he did not turn away from God, but praised God and he did not give into the temptation of believing his choices or his sins had brought upon him his suffering. Job was a good man and knew that his heart was clean before the Lord, he did not give into Satan and forsake God’s love. In the end, God healed Job and his family and wealth was greater than it had been before the “temptation and suffering”.
To be completely honest, suffering, death, disease and financial problems are apart of this life and all of us will be effected by these “trials”. Some disease comes as a result of personal choices, such as lung cancer for those who have smoked or lived with someone who smoked. However, other diseases do not come as a result of sin or personal choices, but only because this is a proving ground and Satan is trying desperately to get us to fall away from God’s love and God’s way.
Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk about trials and he said that trials may come as a result of our sins or mistakes, the sins and mistakes of others or simply because God sees that we are ready for growth. While here upon the earth, most of us would not choose to experience pain even if it is from our growth and eternal benefit. We do not see or understand the purpose of pain, suffering, temptation, trials as opportunities to build us spiritually. We do not understand the great worth of suffering while we are here upon the earth and limited by our mortal perspective.
But if we can for a moment put on our eternal glasses and see things as they are, we may catch a glimpse of the worth of the trials in our life. We know that the scriptures testify to us that all things will be for our good and our benefit if we Love God. (see Romans 8:28) We know that the Joseph was told, “know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D&C 122:7) The trials and suffering give us experience and are some of lives greatest teachers.
When we view trials as opportunities for growth, we will ask God, “What am I to learn from this situation? What would thou have me learn from this experience?” God may want us to change the way we are living our life. God may want us to focus on being more patient, grateful, or charitable. God may want us to learn how to serve another, or how to receive the loving acts of service from others. (How many of us are better at serving than beings served? I am!) God may want us to take time to rest. God may want us to spend more time reflecting. God may want us to simply communicate with him more often and with real intent. God may want us to turn to him in the scriptures for answers, instead of turning to the world for their wisdom.
My emotional response when I am in pain or suffering is immediately to beg for immediate relief! I don’t know about you, but I don’t like pain. When I am in pain, I do not care to learn the “great” lesson God has to teach me. I just don’t want to be in pain anymore. I generally, beg him to release me from the chains of pain, sickness, suffering… and if he doesn’t answer my immediate request, I try again a few times, and if he still doesn’t answer and do my will. Then I am easily tempted to start the self pity party and ask, “What did I do wrong? Why are you punishing me? I have faith to be healed. HEAL ME! End this PAIN!”
What if it isn’t God’s will to take away the pain? What if God has something greater to teach me?
When I am in pain, I am only concerned with my pain and in all honesty I am selfish and I want my will to be done. There is no reason to endure pain any longer than is needful, in my opinion. I may turn to God, but I want my will to be done. I want to be healed, I want the trial gone, I want the pain gone, and I want things to be all better! I am turning to God, but I am asking him to do my will.
God loves me too much to give into my childish pleas. God waits patiently upon me, until I realize that I need an attitude adjustment and ask him the following. “Oh, father, what would thou have me do? I do not want to experience this pain, but I nevertheless, thy will, not mine be done.”
Shortly after my tenth birthday, the doctors told my mother she had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, otherwise known as Lou Gehrigs Disease. My mom had just turned 32 years old. She was the mother of five little girls. She was told she had a few years to live. She was told that her body would progressively waste away, her mind would be fine, but her muscles would degenerate and leave her captive in a weak and useless body. She was told there was no cure, she would die and most likely sooner than later. My mom died less than three and half years later.
My mom was different before ALS and after ALS. ALS was one of the greatest teachers my mother ever had. This disease shaped her and prepared her to progress not only in this life but in the next. When my mom first found out about the disease she was a nervous wreck. What would happen to her? What had she done wrong to be punished by God? What would happen to her husband and her little girls? Who would take care of them? For weeks, her mind raced with questions, temptations and she had difficulty sleeping, thinking and living.
It took her several weeks until she humbled herself and fell upon her knees in prayer of submission. She accepted God’s will for her and put her life completely in his hands. She stopped reading historical romance novels and started feasting upon the scriptures to come to a greater understanding of God and his ways. She learned to let go and completely trust God. She didn’t understand how everything would work out, but she had faith that God would take care of her family. She prayed like she never prayed before, she spent hours in prayer petitioning to know the mind and will of the Lord.
Over the next three years, her body gradually deteriorated. She was confined to an overstuff chair. She gave birth to another daughter never to dress or change that babies diaper. All she could do was nurse and rock her baby in her dying arms. She could not cook, clean, or feed herself. She needed assistance to dress, shower or to go to the bathroom. Over time she lost the ability to talk and to chew.
But she sat in that chair, with her head propped up and oversaw her family as long as she could. Women came into our home and volunteered their time and talent to provide care for my mother while I was in school and while my father was at work. My mother learned to allow others to serve her. My mother learned to love in ways she had never loved before. She listened to those women and received their gifts of service and blessed their lives. After her death, all of the women missed serving my mother and being served by her.
My mother’s faith and testimony increased as she drew closer and closer to the end of her life. My mother’s spirit had grown in light and knowledge, she had learned to love with a greater capacity. During those painful years, of much suffering my mother struggled to endure to the end and to accept God’s will for her, but as she did so, as she put her faith in God’s will for her, her spirit received of the light that He gives us. He blessed her heart, gave her peace and comfort. He gave her the strength to endure the suffering and the pain, that she might receive of the blessings of eternity.
My mother’s faith did not heal her from the pain or suffering. My mother’s faith allowed God the opportunity to fill her heart with understanding and strength to endure the painful process. My mother was not physically healed, but she did not doubt God, she turned to him for understanding and light and she found it, through prayer and scriptures study. She was a great example of faith to all those who visited her, to all those who loved and served her.
It is interesting to me that I went through a similar process. I, too, prayed that my mother would be completely healed and I knew that God could heal my mother. I was only 12 and 13 years old when she was living through the worst of it. I knew that God could give her strength to walk, to talk, to feed herself and to allow her to drive again. I knew that God could reverse the process of deterioration. But it wasn’t until Mother’s Day 1987 that I knelt down on the floor in a bathroom and prayed that his will be done. At first I wanted my will to be done, I wanted my mother to be healed, but I finally let go and accepted that God just might have another plan.
As I let go of my desire and prayed earnestly to accept the will of God, even if it was my own mother’s death a peace came into my heart and I knew that that day would be the last time I would see my mother. That night my mother passed away and in my heart I knew that she was fine and that we would be okay. I knew that it was God’s will that she died at this time and I knew that it would be for my good and experience if I turned to him and loved him.
When we love him, we accept his will, even when it isn’t what we want!
It was difficult for a 13 year old, the oldest of 6 little girls to let go of her mother. It was difficult for me to accept his will. My mother was able to accept God’s will and her death within weeks of talking to the doctor. I on the other hand took years to accept and to come to know what God’s will was, because I was too focused on my will and my desire that my mother be healed.
I still know that God could have healed her, if he had wanted to heal her. But I know that it was not his will that she was healed. He gave her the opportunity to come to know Him and she did. Her spirit was stronger when her body was weak. My mother’s disease was one of the greatest blessings she ever received, because it was her disease that allowed her to develop of deep and solid relationship with deity. Her disease and death truly strengthened her, in ways that may not have been possible otherwise.
Others in similar situations are tempted by Satan and believe that their prayers are not being heard. They want God to hear them and to heal them or the one they love. They want God to do their will. They have not realized the great blessings that can be theirs if they humble themselves and seek to know the mind and will of God and to accept it, even if it means that they must suffer from the disease and die.
I have personally known others that have suffered trials and have turned away from God. I pray that someday they will have the humility to turn to God and ask him what is his will and have the strength to do it. When I was in high school, I had a religious teacher who I loved dearly. She taught me for three years. She was one of my best friends during those hard high school years and helped me gain greater spiritual knowledge, understanding and testimony.
Shortly, after I left to go to college, her husband left her. He committed adultery and left the church and his family. They had two children. His son was on a mission, when his father left his mother and the church. He returned home from his mission. My dear friend met the fiery furnace of the adversary. Over the next several years, the children and my friend fell into inactivity. In my heart, I believe the children and the wife blamed themselves for their father’s choices. In my heart, I believe they had a hard time understanding if they were obedient, how their father could choose to forsake temple covenants, leave them and leave the church.
It is easy for Satan to say, “You did everything right and God is punishing you. You read scriptures as a family and prayed and still this happened to you. God doesn’t love you. He is punishing all of you!” He twists his evil lies until it is so difficult to discern truth from evil. He makes it as difficult as possible to see things as they are. But if we put on glasses with an eternal perspective, we could see things as they are. We could see that the husband was tempted and he fell.
Then he tempted the children and the wife– they fell! This family experienced great pain and heartache, as did all those that loved these great people who had served faithfully in the church for years!
Because of their inactivity and the many choices they have made they have been denied the blessings of walking in the light of God. Blessings are being deinied them because of the choices they have made and I pray that they will turn to God in humility, strive to know and do the will of God and come back to his love. I pray that all the members of this family can receive the blessings of eternity. But I know the choice is up to them.
I have another dear friend, who had a similar experience. Her husband went in active and was not true to his temple covenants. He left her and the church and their small child. Her response, however, was different than that of my religious teacher. This friend fell on her knees and asked God what his will was for her. She came to know through prayer and faith that it was God’s will that she get a divorce. She never questioned God or her relationship with him. In fact, her relationship with God was strengthened and she knew she was doing what was best for her and her child.
A few months after her divorce was final she met her current husband. About a year after her divorce was final and about two years after her husband left her, she was married in a temple to another man worthy to take her there. Her second husband not only adores her, but also is a wonderful father to her child from her first marriage. I believe this blessing came because she turned to God in faith and accepted his will for her. Her faith led her to the full blessings of a temple marriage and an “eternal family”, where she no longer carries the burden of raising her child without a husband. I also believe that great blessings came to her, because she did not take responsibility for the choices and sins her first husband committed.
Just because we are committed to living the gospel, just because we are doing our best to live the gospel, does not mean that our lives will be free from trial. Our obedience does not guarantee that others we love will make correct choices. But our obedience to God and his will does promise us blessings of peace and strength to endure all things, and the blessings of eternity.
As we study the lives of those who have strived to live the gospel, we will find that their lives are full of trials, temptations, and opportunities for growth. We can learn from their lives to turn our will over to God, to accept this life as a proving ground, to learn to have faith in him even when we are in pain, suffering and want desperately something different.
Trials and temptations come to good people, to people of God. Trials and temptations come to all people. But Satan will do all in his power to use trials to get us to forsake God and turn away from the love, strength and peace that can be ours, if we humble ourselves in prayer and pray for the ability to know and do his will!
Letting Go of My Will
When we come to earth, a part of us recognizes that we are free to choose and that we are agents unto ourselves. A part of us rebels against anyone or anything that tries to impose their will upon us. Children demonstrate this rebellion on a daily basis. A parent wants their child to eat broccoli, go potty, or take a nap. What does the child do? Do they easily submit to the will of their parents? Absolutely not!
The child throws a complete temper tantrum. Why? Because the child wants to choose for themselves and they want candy not broccoli. They want to play, they don’t want to go potty and they want to watch a video, they do not want to take a nap. Most parents are good parents and they want what is best for their children. The parents want the child to get the nutrients and vitamins from fruits and vegetables, they want the child to use the bathroom and they want the child to receive the rest they need. But in the moment, all the child can think about is that the parent is imposing their will on the child and not giving the child what he or she wants.
Children are usually very clear about what they want and when they want it. However, they usually want what they can see. They don’t want candy until they are in the store at the checkout counter. They see the candy and then they throw a fit in front of the check out girl, the courtesy clerk and all the other people in line. They don’t want ice cream unless they see another child with an ice cream cone and they don’t want a toy unless another child is playing with the toy. They want what they can see. They express their desire and depending upon the parents response they react. And if they are told no, the reaction is usually viewed negatively by the parents and usually resembles a temper tantrum.
I know that I am an agent unto myself. I know that I am free to choose and that I suffer the consequences of the choices I make. I understand that I am here to prove to my heavenly father that I will choose him over all else, over all the other distracting things in this world. He wants to know if I will do his will in all things, and especially when I would prefer to do something else, usually my will.
I understand the principle intellectually. I understand intellectually that Elder Maxwell taught the only thing we can give the father is our will. Our Father gave us the ability to choose and when we submit to his will, we in essence give it back so that the Father can bless us with a multiplicity fo blessings even eternal life. However, in submitting to the will of God, we are acting in obedience and sacrificing usually what we want now, for what we hope to obtain in eternity.
My husband and I moved to St. George, as an act of faith. We felt that St. George was where the Lord would have us be. We were told in a blessing that there were numerous opportunities here, that would only be available here. We struggled financially, trying to find jobs, and a place to live. We ended up receiving opportunities to house sit, which helped the financial situation immensely. We also found jobs, but were misled and the income was less than was promised.
My husband was offered a better job, one that he would have liked. This job would allow him to be the manager of a highly paid professional office. This job would have taught him many things and would have provided a higher income, and a job that looked better on the resume and a job he could be proud of. He wanted the job and initially he felt very good about taking the job. But as he prayed, fasted and received blessings he was told not to accept the job. It wasn’t the answer he and I wanted.
For a while we acted like the child in the check out counter of the store. All we could see was the candy lying on the shelf. All we knew is that we wanted the better job now, with the promise of a bigger deposit into the bank account. As children we could not see the opportunities waiting us once we purchased our food at the check out line and continued down our path to the opportunity God had prepared for us.
Satan places distractions on our path, distractions that are very pleasing to our senses and our pride. We wanted the bigger pay check, I wanted my husband to have a job he was proud of and I wanted my husband to be in this new and better position. But the truth was that it wasn’t God’s will, for whatever reason. It wasn’t where God would have my husband work. Satan tries to tempt us to eat candy instead of dinner and it is very easy to tempt us when we can see and almost taste the candy, but we don’t know what is for dinner and when it will be served!
Honestly, my husband and I walked by faith. And over a year later we found out that men in that office went to jail for some sort of financial fraud.
What we both have learned from this experience is how difficult it is as times to let go of our will and accept God’s will. It is easy for me to say no to drugs, or to not drink coffee or tea. Those thing really don’t tempt me. But what is very distracting and tempting to me is to let go of something I want, for what God wants. I can see what I want. I can almost taste it. I know the fruit will be good (or at least I think it will)! But then God says, “No! Wait! I have something better!”
I want to believe him. I really do. But I usually don’t. I have to exercise faith in him and that process of letting go of what I want, my plans, my ambitions and my will is one of the most difficult temptations I fight every hour of everyday. It is a refining process in itself, it is painful and I truly feel like a child who is trying very much to put the candy bar back, even though there is nothing I want more in the world than that 3 musketeers bar.
We did not know the future, but God knew the intents of the man hiring Jared. We were very blessed to not have been involved in a very scary situation that could have damaged my husbands reputation.
There are things in this world that we want that are very pleasing to God. God wants us to marry and have a family. God wants us to have good jobs, to eat, to sleep and to serve in the church. God wants us to receive a good education and He wants us to increase our talents and abilities. But the person he may want us to marry, may be different than who we want right now. He knows what is best for us for time and all eternity. He knows the person who will help us to become as he is. He knows what jobs we can do to use our talents to serve and bless others lives and he knows which jobs will take us away from our family and our faith. He knows what type of education and training we need to accomplish our divine missions. He knows which talents and abilities will be most beneficial to the building up of his Kingdom on the earth.
I have often heard people say that God doesn’t care what you do; he cares how you do it. Once again, I think this is borderline false doctrine. God seemed to care very much about his servants and their talents. He cared very much what they did with their talents. Why would God give us specific talents that are uniquely ours if he does not intend for us to use them very specifically? Why does God give us spiritual gifts?
We can learn from D&C 46 that God gives us spiritual gifts for the benefit of all men and to help us discern between truth and error. The gifts we are given are not of our own benefit, but for the benefit of all men and women, for the benefit of God and his children. God wants us to use our spiritual gifts and talents to benefit his children and help build his kingdom. He wants us to each fulfill our divine missions. He wants us to find joy in serving others and working. He wants us to be instruments in his hands.
God gave us those gifts and talents for his purposes, not for ours. God gave us those gifts and talents that we might find joy in serving others while we use those talents to bless the lives of others. God has specifically requested that we let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our father in heaven. The work we do on this earth, is important to the lord. If we are spending 40 hours or more a week doing this “job” for over half our life time, I think that he cares very much where we use our gifts and what we do to serve others.
We witness how much he is in the details of those he calls to serve in the church. We see how he calls every individual to serve him. Some people are stretched by their callings and develop talents they did not know they had, while others are able to use the talents that they have been developing for the whole life!
My challenge is letting go of what I want to do with my talents. My challenge is letting go of where I want to work, or who I want to work for, or how much money I make. My challenge is to come to know with a perfect knowledge what God’s will is for me and letting go of what I want for me.
It is difficult to let go of those things we want very much, like a beautiful home, a new car, or a job that brings much public approval. It is difficult at times to accept the gifts that God has given us and to let our light shine, when we would prefer hiding out and staying out of the way of others. But God has a mission for us, a unique mission that he would like us to fulfill for him, because we love him. As we let go of our will, his will will become clear and we will be lead down a path that will lead to a fullness of joy!
This life is a test. We will find the greatest peace and happiness in this life as we learn to come to know and do the will our our Heavenly Father. This will at times be very frustrating to others who would prefer for us to do their will. And sometimes we are frustrated when we have to give up something we want very much to do the will of the father. We are human and subject to temptations of the flesh. Our Father is patient with us and he will gently guide us and teach us how to learn and obey his will for us so that he can bless us as we walk on our straight and narrow path!