I have a confession to make.
I like carrots. That isn’t the confession, but that is where it all started. I like carrots; and because of that, I grow them in the garden. I was digging some recently when out of nowhere I had a powerful thought. You remember the story in the scriptures about the rich young man. He came to Jesus specifically looking for what he needed to do to gain eternal life. Christ ran through the commandments to which the rich man replied that he was already completing them all. The man then asked the question, “What lack I yet?” (Matt 19:20). Jesus, knowing the man’s heart, said with love, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matt 19:21 and Mark 10:21 italics added). We know what happens next, the rich man left sorrowful. He was so close; he was 99% of the way there. But he was unwilling, at least in that moment, to go that last 1%.
I have been studying and reading quite a bit lately about the purpose of life and what we really need to learn as part of our mortal experience in order to return to God and be able to progress eternally. I have come to the conclusion that our number-one goal is to learn to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). This includes the scriptures and modern prophets, etc, but ultimately, finally, and principally it means the words God speaks to us personally through the Spirit.
Hearing is one thing, following is another. Obedience is the first law of heaven. We must learn to obey what the Spirit speaks if we want him to be our constant—instead of occasional—companion. If he speaks but we decide that what he says is too hard or too embarrassing or too inconvenient or too trivial or too odd, than he stops speaking. And why not? Why talk if no one listens?
So back to my confession. As I sat in the garden the Spirit said to me, “You are doing a lot of things right, but you are still unwilling to go 100%.” That was a hard thing to hear, but it was correct. I have thought a lot about what I still lack and what I must still surrender. I hope I can get there. I am trying to do better.
One of my favorite quotes is from President Ezra Taft Benson, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.” I love the message of this quote. For us to really have heaven’s help and power in our lives we have to change our outlook on obedience. We need to look at it not as something we “have to do” but something we “get to do”. We need to make it our personal mission, the object of our existence, the thing we delight to do, a godly game.
I like the promise that as we do this, we don’t have to wait days, years, or even until the next life for the results. The power comes the moment we make the change of heart. Not only this, but obedience is a grand key to parting the veil. The problem is that most of us wait days, years, or even until the next life before we have the change of heart required to truly make complete obedience our quest.
So, then, the question: is total obedience really your quest yet? If not, what do you lack?
Written: June 26, 2016