Continued from “Seek the face of the Lord (Part 2)”
Does simple obedience to the voice of Christ as the pathway into His presence sound like an oversimplification? Does it sound as if there should be something more profound, more flashy, more physical and down-to-earth in the description, like fasting once a week, or paying double fast offerings? The fact is that this is all there is to it. Those who learn to hear and obey the voice of the Lord are exalted. (Helaman 12:23) Those who do not, are not. (Moses 4:4)
Let us not confuse simple with easy. It is conceptually simple because even a child can understand and begin to apply it. It is not easy, because the opposition and opportunity to turn away from the straight way is intense. Every element of mortality is designed to distract and dissuade us. Most everything we take in through our five senses tells us of a more entertaining, popular, exciting, alluring, or economically rewarding way.
To paraphrase Alma, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way. (Alma 37:46) In practical terms, it is the pursuit of a lifetime to develop flawless obedience to the voice of revelation.
Not only does this process work, but it is the only form of obedience that does work.
Have you ever done some service with very good intent and had it blow up in your face? You meant to be encouraging, but were accused of criticizing. You meant to be supportive, but instead you inadvertently offended someone. You used certain language in a conversation or lesson but a misunderstanding hurt some tender soul’s feelings. You meant to bless, but were criticized for your efforts. These things often happen because we have acted with real intent, but without real inspiration. They can also happen because the recipient of our intended good works was uninspired in embracing our gift.
The Holy Spirit is never mistaken in what will work—never. So, in yielding to the Holy Spirit, joy always distills upon the obedient, even when other people’s agency allows them to reject or criticize our labors. When we act in obedience peace descends no matter how harried the world spins all around us. The reason it works is because when one is obedient to the voice of revelation in their lives, they simply are obedient to all aspects of the gospel, including the commandments.
No longer must we pick among the lesser of evils, trying to decide which commandment to keep at the moment. No longer is there a war between doing our church duties, and serving our families fully. No longer must we determine whether to prepare our Sunday school lesson, or cook dinner. You just listen. The Holy Spirit will guide you, and in time your soul delights in obedience, because joy always follows. And right in the midst of the joy, the realization brightly dawns that you have almost effortlessly aligned your soul with every commandment.
In the mundane affairs of life the Spirit does not always intercede. Often we are left to choose our course when matters of right and wrong are not present. This is a natural and important process of maturation and growth. What is being suggested isn’t that we must receive revelation to guide us in every detail of our lives, or that we should become paralyzed when revelation is not evident, but that when revelation is provided, and we recognize it as such, that we follow it without debate, doubt or delay.
Moroni left us with timeless counsel when he taught us that just as the devil fights against God continually and invites and entices to commit sin continually, so does “that which is of God” invite and entice us continually to do good and to serve God. (Moroni 7:12-13) The challenge may well be to identify “that which is of God” from all other elements of our lives so that we can yield ourselves to obedience. Moroni gives us the grand key. He proclaims that we may tell the difference between good and evil (both of which influence us “continually”) as clearly as the day light is from the dark night.
15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. (Moroni 7:15-16.)
Accordingly, everything which entices or invites mankind to do good, to believe in Christ, to be kind or loving or forgiving, to help and support and encourage, to show forth increased love, to serve and support and sustain, all of these things come to us through the pipeline of revelation directly from God. To lay hold upon each one of these is to lay hold upon “every good thing”. (Moroni 7: 20-28)
Then, having complied with these five requirements, this last and greatest promise follows—that we shall be privileged to see His face, and know that He is. Then faith turns to knowledge, and knowledge to power, and power to privilege. These five steps define a pathway to the presence of God. They are the same that every man and woman has trod to enter the divine presence. They will, in the timetable of the Lord, bring us to the same spiritual stature as the Brother of Jared.
If and when we obtain the spiritual stature of this man Moriancumer, then we shall see what he saw and know what he knew. (TPM, pp. 582)
Elder McConkie records the following sweet and encouraging insight. Commenting upon D&C 88:62-63 “Call upon me while I am near—Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”, he exults:
Surely, this is what we must do if we ever expect to see his face. He is there waiting our call, anxious to have us seek his face, awaiting our importuning pleas to rend the veil so that we can see the things of the Spirit. (TPM, pp. 582)
These words strum powerful stirrings in the soul. It is so precious to envision our Lord anxiously awaiting our call, delighting in our importuning pleas to rend the veil. The Prophet Joseph asked:
How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes? By devoting themselves to his service, through prayer and supplication incessantly strengthening their faith in him, until, like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves. (LOF 2:55)
“A manifestation of God” isn’t just a vision of heavenly “things”, it is when God manifests himself—when we are at last in His presence.
© May 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.