Thursday, April 30, 2015

Alma 29:5-6 -- On Getting What We Want

"Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.
Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?"
Alma 29:5-6

These verses are basically saying that God gives us what we want.  That's interesting, and I know that it doesn't always seem so while we are going through it, but in retrospect I think it is true.  Even the toughest, hardest things in my life have led me towards things that I wanted.  Sometimes the path to get there is difficult, and the lessons that we have to learn to be the person that we want to be are painful... but I believe this wholeheartedly.  God gives us our desires.  The scary part is when we desire things that are bad for us.  I know that God tries to warn us, and help us understand that what we're doing is a bad idea, but we rarely listen.  And right here it explains plainly that we are going to receive based on our desires, whether that desire is good or evil, whether it will result in negative consequences for ourselves or others, and whether it makes us happy or amazingly miserable.
So, if this is true, why don't I live on a private island in a super-mansion?  Well, it's a little bit like a world where everyone has a magical lamp like Aladdin's with unlimited wishes. Hopefully our world is a touch less chaotic than that, but not by a lot.  My desire for a private island has to be balanced against someone else's desire to actually be paid for said island, and God also has to factor in the things that I want to learn and become, which in the end might not be actually possible living like a hermit on a private island after all. :)  Imagine God's job, trying to balance so many positive and negative desires (even within one person), and finding a way to allow everyone to retain enough freedom of conscience to choose for themselves.  Of course, he knows it all ahead of time and incorporates it into his plan of happiness, but wow... crazy.  It reminds me how amazingly powerful and perfect God is.
Another thing that really strikes me in thinking about the fact that we get what we want... how massively important it is that we experience that mighty change of heart that it talks about in Alma 5. If we're getting what we want, we should probably watch our desires a lot more closely, and find the way and do the work to get rid of those desires that are incompatible with peace and goodness and purity.  For instance, wanting to be a hermit probably isn't going to teach me a lot about love and harmony and Zion.  So I have to work on making sure my desire for those things is greater than my desire to be a hermit. :)  Today, let's all work on our desires.  Let's be willing to change our hearts, and give up the desires that aren't compatible with who we really want to be.  Let's be content with the things that the Lord gives us, knowing that they are leading us ultimately to the greatest desires of our hearts.  Let's make sure that's really what we want.

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