This morning, as I was writing in my journal I was reminded of the “mystery” of how it is that the Lord would inspire His Prophet to testify to us: “The constant and recurring question in our minds, touching every thought and action of our lives, should be, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (President Benson, Ensign, De. 1988, p. 2), and yet in both scripture and modern prophets’ talks, we hear how we should not expect to be “commanded in all things.”
I have learned by my own experience how it is that both prophetic declarations are simultaneously true. It is because seeking counsel from the Lord in all things is not that same thing as waiting to be commanded in all things. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Commanded vs Counseled
Used as verbs, these two words connote two qualitatively different experiences arising from two very different types of relationship with God. In the first, the one who needs to be “commanded,” is an errant child or unconvinced, wayward servant.
In the second, the one who seeks counsel from the Lord continually is a friend of his or her Master. This person is converted to the Lord and loves Him. This is the person that hears the “still, small” voice of God. Because this kind of person is listening continually. The Lord does not need to command this type of person very often (though even those who have come to Him and experienced this degree of closeness can sometimes get distracted by mortal frailties and weaknesses as implied in Alma 5.). And the desire of this person’s heart is that they continue from grace to grace until such a day when they need not be “commanded” in anything.
I have experienced both kinds of relationships with God. I was once the “servant” person–even as dutiful as the hard-working son in Luke 11 (?), working, working in my father’s fields. And, unfortunately, like the “good son” in that story of the repentant prodigal, I was sadly oblivious to my father’s personality and character. I had never come close enough to Christ to become His child (as Mosiah 5:7 invites). I had never come close enough to know him as my friend (as He Himself testifies we may become in John 15:15.)
What Happened Then
Then there came a season of my life when I had no hope left in anything of this world. My marriage had failed me, my attempts as a mother had failed me, my attempts to be a close member of my ward had failed me; nothing I could do would result in a feeling of connectedness. And as I sat in my loneliness, thinking life was all over, I found God. He had been there all along, but I had been putting relationships with every other person in my life ahead of Him. And there were a lot of other people in my life. Big, scary people and little, scary people. At least that was the way I interpreted them and related to them. I feared everyone. I had no fear or love or respect–or much of anything–left to give God.
Nevertheless, I found that God was willing to be there for me and with me, to listen to me and counsel me through all my confusion and sorrow. As I sought Him through prayer and serious study of the Book of Mormon, He came in Spirit and in Truth to comfort me and give me sane, wise, perfectly tailored guidance (advice). Any hour of the day or night that I cried out to Him in my mind and in my heart with real intent, having faith in Him, He counseled and comforted me. I lived the reality of His promise, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
Coming to know the Savior–to know that I could counsel with Him and converse with Him as one person with another through the Gift and Power of the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 32) brought me across that qualitative gulf from servant to friend. He is still my Lord and my God, but He is Emmanuel, the God who has some to save me. Here, in the “trenches” of mortality.
My heart leaps for joy at His living, counseling, conversing presence in my inner life–all through the Holy Ghost. I want to exult as Nephi: Behold the condescension of God! That He would include even one such as I, a “least” Saint, in His warm embrace. That like John the Beloved, He would allow me to be His Beloved and cleave unto Him, lean upon His breast, be wrapped around in the robes of His righteousness and find in Him my redemption.
Dearest Savior, Good Shepherd, . . .
Darrell Brashear says
Colleen, your writings are some of the most inspirational writings I have ever read. Years ago a friend of mine was telling me about a book he was reading called “He Did Deliver Me From Bondage” and it he was quoting lines out of it which greatly sparked my interest. I never would have found the book on my own because I didn’t have any of the typical addictions that a person generally thinks about, but as I read your book, I realized that it is the kind of book that everyone should read, because in our fallen state we are all addicted to sin and fear.
I have suffered with depression and anxiety for most of my life, and when I read your writings I felt more hope than I had ever felt before. What I loved so much about it is how inviting they reveal the Savior to be. Your writings invite me to come unto Christ because they show how loving and kind He really is, not legalistic and rigid and austere like so many people think of Him.
I truly thank you for being a true instrument in the Lord’s hand to invite people to Christ. I think if we all knew Him as He really is we would never have to be commanded in anything, we would gladly surrender our lives to Him and follow His voice in all things because we would trust Him and love Him so completely. The membership would come out of the condemnation, and we could move forward as a body to truly establishing Zion.