"When obedience ceases to become an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." - Ezra Taft Benson...quoted by Donald L Staheli titled "Obedience- Life's Great Challenge."
I love the imagery evoked by this quote. I thought of Helaman's stripling warriors who were strictly obedient to the commandments and were greatly and miraculously blessed for it. I want to be strictly obedient like that.
Recently, I have been changing my eating habits to become more in line with the "do's" in the Word of Wisdom. I had read it many times looking for what I should be eating to be healthy. I have tried so many diets trying to protect myself from diabetes, which runs heavily in my family and has always been my fear. But all the information was conflicting. I finally got fed up with the obviously manipulated theories and decided to once again turn to the source of all truth and study the Word of Wisdom. I had just seen the documentary Forks Over Knives again and it struck me that this was in line with the Word of Wisdom. As I began to reread section 89, I discovered a line that changed my entire perspective.
"12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;And it is PLEASING to me that they should NOT be used?? Wait a minute! It says I can please the Lord by simply not eating meat? No mysteries or vague instructions? (Mind blown!) I thought about how I disappoint the Lord in so many ways, and rejoiced that in this one area I could please Him! "I can do that!" I thought. This was a black and white, do or don't do task that I could perform. I began to look up all the verses that referenced meat or grain or food. My thoughts began to be opened to all the subtleties that I had completely missed or discounted. I had often countered that line with D & C 49:18.
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine."
As I pondered and studied, I realized that the Lord was not saying that eating meat was sinful or evil, nor was he forbidding it. He plainly says that there is a time and season when we may need to eat animals. (Winter, Cold, Famine, Excess of Hunger.) Yet when had I ever been in that much need? NEVER. EVER. I went on to read about Daniel and the Kings diet of meat and wine. Daniel asked for a ten day trial. So, I decided to give it a ten day trial too... I didn't even realize the days had passed... I have never felt better since giving up meat and dairy (another story).
It's now been about 6 months of varying strictness. I can feel the difference. But the change has benefitted more than my health. It has benefited my sleep, my ability to breathe, my grocery budget, my food storage planning, and my spirituality. I feel that I am more able to receive revelation, I have a greater desire to learn, and a greater sensitivity to the presence of the Holy Ghost. I have felt warnings and direction for upcoming events and decisions in my life.
What does this have to do with obedience? It is one example of strict obedience that is often greeted with the line "moderation in all things". Another scripture points out the falsehood of this phrase.
I don't want to be moderate. I refuse to be lukewarm.Yesterday I found a 2011 BYU-I devotional by Kim Clark called "Deep Obedience". There is so much food for thought, but here are the five things he advises us to be deeply obedient with.
1. Love God with all your heart. 2 Walk in the strait and narrow path. 3 Bring to the Lord a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 4 Keep the Sabbath Day holy. 5 Do all these things with gratitude and a cheerful heart.Each of these five things could be a separate essay, and I intend to take the time to ponder them and how I can better apply this advice in my life. Let me share with you this thought from his talk. Ask yourself if this describes the often cited (but non-doctrinal) "moderation in all things".
Elder Clark's phrase Deep Obedience is as penetrating to me as the imagery of a Quest for Obedience. Take the time to ponder just where you can improve your own obedience because we have been warned:
"Our Heavenly Father wants all we have to give—our physical and mental capacity, our attitudes and desires—totally committed to serving Him in the name of His Son. He wants to write the gospel covenants in our hearts so that the promises we make to Him become our deepest desires, our most important commitments."
Our time is a dangerous time—a time of great evil and temptation, a time of confusion and commotion. In these perilous times, the Lord’s prophet on the earth, President Thomas S. Monson, has called us to rescue the wounded in spirit, to stand for truth with courage, and to build the kingdom of God. Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts. Kim Clark "Eyes to See and Ears to Hear"I know hard times are coming. I also know that to be prepared I need to be more deeply and strictly obedient in all things.
PS Stay by the Tree!