Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ezra 7:10 -- On Preparing our Hearts and Seeking the Lord

"For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments."
Ezra 7:10

I think sometimes what we lack as we go through life and in our attempts to live the gospel is what it is talking about here.  We haven't prepared our hearts to seek God's will and to do it... or to teach it to others.  Most often, we seem to sort of stumble through life, only realizing that we need God when things get really bad.  Then, when they seem okay again, we often forget.  Just as God tells us "if ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30), preparation makes life better in a lot of other ways too.

Christ asked "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28) to teach a similar lesson.  Setting ourselves on a gospel path without examining ourselves and being completely committed is just like jumping in and building half a tower and realizing you are out of money.  Committing our lives to Christ isn't a simple or easy thing, or something that we can lightly walk away from.  If we don't understand what we are getting ourselves into, we are likely to bail the first time the gospel gets inconvenient.

This life and the gospel are meant to try and teach us.  Tithing isn't only supposed to be paid when we have excess cash, and we aren't only supposed to love our neighbors when they are awesome.  Keeping the Sabbath Day holy isn't meant to only apply unless we've made other plans.  And so on.  Part of preparing our hearts is letting go of our take-it-or-leave-it attitudes about God and our pick-and-choose tendencies towards his commandments.  When we realize that we desperately need God all the time, not just in the midst of tragedy, we can start to get to know him better and begin to love him "with all [our] heart[s], and with all [our] soul[s], and with all [our] mind[s]" (Matthew 22:37).  The gospel isn't just outward obedience.  It's everything we are inside as well.  And *all* of it has to be in on this commitment.

Today, like Ezra, let's make sure our hearts are prepared to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it.  Let's make sure the gospel is part of everything that we do and that we are.  Let's not start down the path to Christ and then turn around after we run out of snacks.  Let's prepare ahead of time to stay the course, to return to God, and to become the people that he can help us to be.  Let's not bail on the best thing that has ever happened to us.  Let's hold on with all that we are.

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