Tuesday, August 2, 2016

D&C 9:8-11 -- On Effort and Opportunity

"But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
Now, if you had known this you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now.
Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now;"
Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-11

This is God speaking to Oliver Cowdery, explaining why he was having trouble translating, and why he didn't need to anymore.  I am sure that there are some things in here that Oliver wasn't very happy to hear, and as we apply these ideas to our own lives, some that we don't really want to hear either.  But I also think that God offers us a lot of wisdom and perspective here that might help us avoid pitfalls in our lives.

One thing that we often don't want to hear is how much things depend on us--on our efforts and our choices.  It is very tempting to feel like all we have to do is lay all of our troubles on the Lord, and he will take care of everything.  And certainly, with faith, the Lord can fight battles for us.  However, God also wants us to learn, and so he isn't going to just do things for us that we can do for ourselves.  He steps in when we have no power to go on and we need to recharge, not just because we'd rather sit on the couch.  Life and faith and the gospel take real effort.  We have to study, research, and work to do the right things, and to become better than we are.  If God just did everything for us, what would be the point of this life at all?  We would learn nothing, and become nothing.

Another thing that we rarely want to hear is that "the time is past" and we've missed an opportunity.  We rage against this idea, thinking somehow that the idea is unfair in light of the idea of repentance.  And yet, the ideas are compatible.  There are permanent consequences to our actions, associated with lost opportunities.  That doesn't mean that we can't be bright and new and completely forgiven, but it does mean that maybe we can't go back and re-make a choice, or un-break a trust, or take advantage of an opportunity that we used to have.  It's a hard thing to hear when God tells us that the time is past and whatever we really wanted to do or learn is no longer expedient.  But in this, as in all else, the Lord knows best, and he also prepares ahead of time, knowing what will happen.  There will be other opportunities, and other potential and possibilities to learn and grow and become who we need to be. We can't go back, but we can, and should, go forward, at peace with the past potential that is no more, and trusting that the Lord will bless us abundantly.

Today, let's remember to let go of the past, and invest in and work for the future.  Let's do everything we can to be ready the next time that God grants us an opportunity, and let's jump in and do everything we can to keep it and to make it grow.  Let's listen to God and trust him, knowing that he will never leave us without comfort, or hope, or at the end of a tragedy.  The happy ending is coming, even if it isn't what we expected at first.  It will still be better than we can imagine, guaranteed.

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