Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Soften My Heart

There was a rather profound question that was asked today.

"What was it?"

"[W]hat does a modern Mormon do about issues that chafe at them, which scripture is seen to support and several prophets have spoken on?"

And you know what?

"What's that?"

This is an issue that doesn't just affect modern members of the Church. In fact, it's something that's been around for a long time.

"Really?"

Yes - and this is what we're getting into today.

***

I bet they wished that they had listened
to Lehi when Jerusalem fell!
Long, long ago, there was a Prophet named Lehi who lived in Jerusalem - his ministry began (as far as we know) six hundred years before Christ was born. He was instructed of The Lord to begin to preach and prophesy concerning the Messiah and the imminent destruction of Jerusalem.

The people heard him, and they didn't like it.


The Lord warned Lehi to depart! In a dream, He commanded Lehi to depart into the wilderness with his family; Lehi was obedient and heeded the counsel of The Lord - he went even as far as to take only that which was necessary.

This presented a problem - you see, in the Scriptures, we learn that Lehi was a wealthy man, and that his wealth was no secret to his sons. I would imagine that Lehi was a proud father - he had four sons: Laman, Lemuel, Sam and Nephi.

To this point, I might imagine that it was difficult for his sons - chiefly Laman and Lemuel - to follow the counsel that The Lord gave to the Prophet Lehi. The Scriptures tell us that Laman and Lemuel were stiffnecked and did murmur much, saying that Lehi was a "visionary man" (and not in a kind way), and 
that he was foolish.

As Lehi and his family were obedient to The Lord,
He would provide for them the things
which they needed.
Laman and Lemuel had an issue that was "chaf[ing] at them". As a matter of fact, the very thing that can be seen as the "root" of their murmuring and complaining is that they were commanded of The Lord - through a Prophet - to leave Jerusalem because it was beginning to be a very wicked place. And you know what? this was something that "several [P]rophets [had] spoken on".

These two eldest brothers did not want to "leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things". They were even like those at Jerusalem - they wanted to kill their father.

Let's not forget the other who was mentioned in this passage of Scripture - Nephi.

Nephi was a pretty great guy, and he was pretty smart. Being the youngest, he - in lieu of following the example of his older brothers - decided that he would ask The Lord what needed to be done. In the Book of Mormon, we can read that Nephi said:


We are going to take a quick look at this particular verse:

  • Nephi had "great desires to know of the mysteries of God". What is the best way to figure out what God wants? Well, one can always ask Him.
  • Nephi was not passive - he was an agent, and he acted: "wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord".
  • It very well may be that Nephi had the same issue that Laman and Lemuel did - he prayed to The Lord that his heart would be softened! "Behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe".
If only Laman listened to The Lord!

So, here, we can see that Nephi wanted to want to be obedient (that makes sense if you click this link). By acting and asking The Lord for guidance and counsel. This is what makes Nephi so great - he would rather know the will of The Lord and have his heart changed than to sit there and grumble without understanding.

Laman and Lemuel on the other hand, they were a difficult bunch. They would rather that they would dwindle and perish in unbelief. Their pride and hardheartedness kept them from seeking the truth and the will of The Lord.

***

"What does that mean for us?"

We need to heed the Prophet, and if we don't understand why we should, perhaps it's better to say, "Obey today, understand tomorrow."

As we heed the Prophet and seek to obey, we can always pray for an understanding. We aren't told to be "blind followers," rather to seek knowledge for ourselves.

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the following regarding obedience to the Prophet:

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Twelve,
a living Prophet.
"The Lord surely understood the need to keep His doctrines pure and to trust its interpretation to only one source. Of course, we are all admonished to study and gain as much knowledge as we can possibly obtain in this life. We are encouraged to discuss and exchange ideas one with another to further our understanding. However, the Lord has only one source for the declaration of His basic fundamental doctrines. Even as General Authorities of the Church, we are instructed: “In order to preserve the uniformity of doctrinal and policy interpretation, you are asked to refer to the Office of the First Presidency for consideration [of] any doctrinal or policy questions which are not clearly defined in the scriptures or in the General Handbook of Instructions.”

"In this way, conflict and confusion and differing opinions are eliminated. President Brigham Young has assured us we can have complete confidence in the prophets. He said:

President Brigham Young
"“The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth. Your leaders are trying to live their religion as far as [they are] capable of doing so”"

Moreover, Elder Perry said that "by sustaining [the] prophet, we [place] ourselves under solemn covenant to heed his voice."

So - there's really only one choice here. That is, if we don't agree with something that the Prophet has said, we need to pray and ask for an understanding until we come into agreement with it.

Why? Because The Lord would never tell us to not do something that we have been commanded to do by Him through His Prophet. Personal revelation will always confirm to us that the will of The Lord, as expressed through the Prophet is correct, and that we should heed it.

***

My friend, as a representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that when we seek to understand the will of The Lord, we will not be left without an answer. It may take time, and it may not make sense - but I promise you that your answer will come.
At fourteen years of age, young Joseph
proved that the Heavens were
not closed.

The Lord asks us to come to Him - we need not look any further than the Scriptures. Anciently, Nephi asked to have his heart softened, and it was softened. In the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith received his answer by asking a question to know the will of The Lord.

I've received many answers for myselfknow that The Lord waits for us - I daresay excitedly, even - to ask Him for an understanding of the Gospel and it's teachings and doctrines.

My dear friends, The Lord is not silent. Seek the knowledge you desire. He will answer.

Ask the Missionaries, they can help you!

I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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