This morning I thought I’d write a really meaningful blog. One that hits you right there, you know?
I’m not going to gripe about the child who is pushing the limits of my sanity this week, or relate certain ridiculous interactions with other members of the community. Mental Maytag—that’s what we’ve got here, right? A cleaning out of my own personal mess, not an airing of someone else’s. I am above that, after all. (Today, at any rate.)
Which pretty much leaves me with this verse that keeps coming to mind
“If ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.”
What is that?
I’ve stared at it for hours now. Even looked it up to make sure I’ve quoted it correctly; all those commas really are in the text, by the way.
But for me, what is it? Why today?
It does occur to me that this promise was made to a people who desperately wanted a specific blessing. And the means by which they were to attain the desired blessing were these two things: turning to God with “full purpose of heart” and serving Him with “all diligence of mind”.
Diligence. That’s not something I’m good at. I’m more of a cut out the quilt squares and store them in a box for ten years sort of person. But diligence of mind. In my mind, I’m a diligent sort of person. Tell me that counts for something.
Full purpose of heart. Turn to God with my heart so full of purpose—all the way, brimming with desire for this one thing (what do I want that fully?) that it leaves no room for any other desires? If I turn to him—meaning I look to no other source for bestowal or healing—and I serve him with all diligence of mind. . . ………..alright, alright, let’s just admit right now that I’m not getting it. Something fundamental is eluding me.
Because I already believe He is the fount of all blessings. I believe the Atonement was, is, whole and complete and can save even me from my own self. But I continue to be a pathetic version of me–that diligent, glowingly-countenanced person in my mind. No matter how hard I try. And I read this promise and I feel like the answer is in there somewhere but I can’t shake it out and make it ring true.
I can say “if I desire nothing else, and serve God diligently, he will bless me.” Voila. Two plus Two equals four. But it is nothing I did not already know or believe; it is not revelation, but repetition of truth.
Hmmm. Here’s something. When the promise was fulfilled in this nation’s history, it was not through their own power. When it came right down to it, there was nothing they could do as a nation or as individuals to deliver themselves from the brutal reality of political, bodily bondage to a foreign nation. They could pray in the darkness of the night and treat their wives and families with courtesy, and bow in meekness before their foreign masters. They could be honest and upright and cheerful even, but none of that effected deliverance.
Maybe we despair of real effort to change because we think, hey, nothing I do is going to change x, y, or z. No matter how well I make these bricks or pray, the big guy with the whip isn’t going to cut me any breaks. And so we slog through our slavery, doing the minimum to survive. When really, the order of the day isn’t to change the situation or anyone else mixed up in the middle of it, but to change ourselves.
I don’t actually think I’m guilty of trying to change anyone else—because intellectually I already know I’m supposed to change myself first. Beam before mote, and all. Quite simply, I cannot get myself to be the person I want to be. I can’t. The blasted beam is jammed in there so tight it’s fused to the back of my skull.
But maybe that’s my own personal brand of bondage and I’m mistakenly trying to effect an escape from something only God deliver me from. But if my own faulty nature is the bondage what then does God require of me?
Some 2200 years ago these people were brought into bondage because they turned their backs on God. What have I done, or not done, to bring myself into this place of bondage? I’m not talking about all my annoying personality traits or even my faults. I’m talking about the fundamental source of my greatest sorrows. What have I done to bring myself to this place, and is there anything God would have me do before he will see fit “according to his will and pleasure” to deliver me out of it? I have been mulling this over. Hours. All day.
And you know what it I think it all comes down to? When I consider those things I don’t want to consider, those characteristics that I shy away from examining? It is a fundamental suspicion of God’s goodness. Me. I don’t trust the God who has created, kept and preserved me from day to day, by lending me breath that I might live and move and do according to my own will— even supporting me from one moment to another. I don’t trust him?
Think about it! Every major sin, the blackest faults—they all have their root in this lack of trust. If I trusted Him, I would give freely, everything in my power, every time, knowing that He who has poured out the greatest blessings, every blessing, in my life is surely going to continue to pour them out, and that by sharing I need not fear then to lack time or money or energy.
Would anyone steal or work too many hours or cheat on their taxes if they believed God would provide honest ways to meet their needs? Would anyone marry for the wrong reasons or work a job that violated their moral sense if they believed God had a plan for their lives and could wait patiently for it?
How did I miss that little nugget nestled there in the middle?!“Turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind” Look. There it is, right there in that same verse I have been puzzling over all day, but could not see. I let the middle drop out of three essential statements. I saw the doing part—turn to God, serve him. Skipped right over the trust.
I don’t trust Him.
Who’d have thought. This one is going to need another spin cycle.