Today’s Reading: Ether 2: 1-15
5 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel.
6 And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.
When I read about the obedience the people in the Book of Mormon had, I am in awe of their faithfulness–and, in return, how the Lord so clearly blesses them. For example, at the end of Ether 1, the Lord gives Jaredites His first set of instructions. At the beginning of Ether 2, the Jaredites follow those instructions to a Tee. The blessings that follow are immense–the Lord goes before them, talking with them and giving constant direction. They were led to a promised land, being directed continually by the Lord.
Do I have that kind of obedience? Throughout my life, I have prayed to seek revelation regarding big life decisions like whether or not I should serve a mission, accept a different job offers, move apartments or cities, begin having children, stay at home full-time with our new baby vs.return to work, etc.
Often, I feel the Spirit speaks to me as a deep-down “gut feeling”; at some point, something in me just knows what the right answer is. Unfortunately, much of the time I don’t want to heed it. I want to have some kind of reassurance that not only is this the one and only right answer, but–almost more importantly–that if I take this scary leap of faith, I want some kind of guarantee that everything will then work out exactly to my satisfaction.
Have you ever had a similar experience (or, in my case, multiple experiences) like this–when we have felt that the Spirit has prompted us to do something, but we aren’t really ready to do it?
We kick against the pricks. We may try to rationalize another choice that logically makes more sense. We may pray and ask for guidance again, hoping that the outcome will be different this time. Or,we might wish for some momentous spiritual experience that would reaffirm this is, indeed, the right choice so we can move forward with 100% confidence in our next steps.
President Boyd K. Packer told of a similar experience:
“Shortly after I was called as a General Authority, I went to Elder Harold B. Lee for counsel. He listened very carefully to my problem and suggested that I see President David O. McKay. President McKay counseled me as to the direction I should go. I was very willing to be obedient but saw no way possible for me to do as he counseled me to do.
“I returned to Elder Lee and told him that I saw no way to move in the direction I was counseled to go. He said, ‘The trouble with you is you want to see the end from the beginning.’ I replied that I would like to see at least a step or two ahead. Then came the lesson of a lifetime: ‘You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.’ Then he quoted these 18 words from the Book of Mormon:
“‘Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith’” (Ether 12:6).
-President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Edge of the Light,” BYU Magazine, Mar. 1991, magazine.byu.edu, emphasis added.
It is uncomfortable to walk into the darkness, if only a few steps. It is difficult to exercise faith when we won’t receive a witness until after it has been tried. But if we want to have the Lord “go before” us and “direct [us] continually,” we have to be obedient. We have to pray in faith with an intent to obey, even when we might receive an answer we don’t necessarily want to hear. Reading about the Jaredites’ faith and obedient actions–and the subsequent blessings the Lord pours upon them–helps strengthen my own faith and resolve to be obedient, even if it means walking to the edge of the light.
When have you had the faith to walk a few steps into the darkness? What happened?