One of my favorite questions to ask the missionaries is ” What did you learn in your study of Preach my Gospel today?”
Yesterday as I had a lovely dinner appointment I asked my question and was pleasantly surprised when one lovely Elder Klinensmith gave me this reply.
He told me about a quote he read in the section 4, Recognize the Spirit. This was exactly where I was studying and I hadn’t seen it yet. But I wish when I taught my class about personal revelation I would have had this quote.
Consider the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
“[A person may have] a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord but … unwisely extends that desire to the point of wanting to be led in all things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices. Personal decision making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.”
So often in life I am guilty of this. I want the Lord to tell me exactly what to do and I will follow. But I see the error of my ways. In wanting the Lord to command me in all things I am actually acting against his plan. This lesson really came to a head when I was trying to decide what I wanted to choose as a university career. I prayed and fasted and really wanted to know the Lords will. I considered occupational therapy and felt really good about it. I did well in my classes and then I missed the application deadline and not wanting to put my life on hold for a year enrolled in the University of Lethbridge education program. I graduated as a teacher and always had a little regret that my lack of planning had made me miss my real first decision. At the time I remember being a little upset that I never got a clearer answer to my sincere desire. With time though, I realized I would have made a good occupational therapist, I am a good teacher too… in fact even thought I felt like it was the most important decision of my life I realized the possibilities are endless and the Lord really did just want me to choose. I fought so valiantly in premortal realm for the right to choose and was so willing to give it away the moment a decision seemed to heavy.
I love as Elder Oaks comment continues….
“We should study things out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed within us. Then we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it. If we do not receive guidance, we should act upon our best judgment. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation” (“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 13–14).
When the missionary first showed me this quote… I asked… “Oh this is good… have you ever seen this in your life?”
The Elder has such an interesting answer. He told of a boyhood friend who as praying to know if he should read the book Harry Potter or not. The boy was frustrated as no answer came. His friends trued to explain that this might be one of those trivial matters Elder Oaks was talking about. But he persisted in his questioning. Finally one day he asked a missionary if he had read the book and he said yes and the friend took this as a sign that he should read the books.
Now I don’t know all the circumstances regarding this boy and his story.. nor do I want to judge but I know that I have been equally guilty of seeking desperately for the Lords will when really he just wants me to choose. Besides I have found that if I choose and am heading in a wrong direction He will lead me gently back to the proper course. But I have learned the beauty and faith that is found in using my beautiful gift of agency that was bought at such a cost. I am grateful that I am learning to have more faith in my ability to choose which way to move forward.