Sunday, June 8, 2014

In Their Hearts

I've been out of high school for over a decade, and I still can't ever remember if you should capitalize High School or not.

Off an on, I get to see the direction my classmates' lives have taken since graduation.  It resembles an aerial firework: at first we all seemed to be kind of headed in the same general direction, then BAM, everyone shoots toward a different place.

Some trajectories were expected, some were not.  Some of the surprises stem from youthful naivete; others from my own personal brand of naivete.  Life has become a lot more real since the explosion.  Both the sadness and happiness is more deep.  At least it seems that way.

In a large part, our own choices have had the greatest influence on our trajectories.  I've been thinking about a section of scripture.  It meant something to me then, and means much more to me now.  It starts like this (you'll probably recognize it as one of the Scripture Mastery scriptures):
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.  Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.   (Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-28)
I've found this to be true.  It felt true in hIgh SchOol and it feels true now.  But the more remarkable part to me, right now, are the scriptures that follow:
But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.  Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?  Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?  (Doctrine and Covenants 58:29-31)
And ending with this:
I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.  Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.  (Doctrine and Covenants 58:32-33)
While in school, I never imagined the extent to which I'd see this last statement come true in the lives of people I know.  I see some pull away from the "work of the Lord" either wholly or piecemeal.  They either "[keep the commandments] with slothfulness" or outright "obey not" and the Lord "[revokes] and they receive not the blessing."  And then they blame the Church or its leaders for their misfortune!  It's uncanny.

Their misfortune is real.  I won't dispute that.  But it's bewildering when they head away from the very thing that would heal their misfortune.

I ought to say "we" instead of "they" because I've been guilty or tempted to fall into the trap of half-keeping the commandments and then saying, "Seeeee!?  It doesn't work.  I proved it."  Though we can lie to ourselves in our hearts and yell it out loud, it doesn't actually work like that.

What does work and what I have proved to myself time after time is what Elder Russell M. Nelson said last April:
"Spiritual truth cannot be ignored—especially divine commandments. Keeping divine commandments brings blessings, every time! Breaking divine commandments brings a loss of blessings, every time!"
If you feel offended, or ignored, or annoyed, or tired, or unfortunate in any way, consider the above in your heart and see where it leads.

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