Day 25: Choose to Believe

Mosiah 8:20-21

O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!

Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest.

In my quest to become a disciple of Jesus Christ (to be serviceable and obedient), I have noticed my own predilection for contrariness. A big part of me fights against being obedient, following the promptings of the Spirit, and desiring godly things enough to act. For example, I knew I needed to serve a mission for a long time before I could bring myself to even fill out the paperwork. As I tried to bring myself around to this personal commandment, I began praying for a desire to serve. Like Ammon exclaimed to Limhi in Mosiah 8:20, the Lord suffered long with me: He was patient and kind and helped me prepare to serve well even as I “fled” from Him.

The Prophet Brigham Young taught that sometimes members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “live far beneath [their] privileges” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. by John A. Widtsoe [1954], 32; qtd in New Testament Teacher Manual, Lesson 30). Certainly Ammon thought so of humankind in general! And while God will suffer long with us because He loves us, if we want to learn the mysteries of God, gain wisdom, and achieve our greatest potential, we have to choose to believe, we have to act out of an inner desire to learn and achieve.

I know from experience that the path of discipleship is no cake walk. Maybe you, like me, “tremble inwardly at what may be required” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance”, General Conference [Apr. 2002]). But, whatever you do, don’t run away! Choose to believe, pray for a desire to believe if you need to. The Lord will suffer long with you and He will help you not only become your best self, but He will help you achieve marvelous good in this life and receive eternal life in the next.

Day 19: Consecrate thy performance

Nephi 32:9 and 2 Nephi 33:3-4

Ever since reading Elder Maxwell’s talk “Consecrate Thy Performance” (General Conference, April 2002) on my mission, I have been obsessed with 2 Nephi 32:9. It reads,

…ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.

This became the motto of my mission: I was learning about consecration and how to do God’s work in His way for the rest of my life. I tweaked the last line a little, though, interpreting the doctrine a little more broadly to include consecrating my “performance” (actions, deeds, behavior) for the welfare of others’ souls. To me, this form of active and intentional consecration entails dedicating oneself, and specific actions, to a specific purpose. It gave my mission so much more purpose and depth to be actively dedicating my daily work to the welfare of my and others’ souls.

In 2 Nephi 33:3-4, Nephi follows up the doctrinal teaching of consecration with an awesome exemplary lesson. First, he writes about his recent efforts in his life’s work, to bring others to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see 1 Nephi 6:4). He writes that he prays constantly for his people to accept Christ (“I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith…”). He then testifies, “I know that the Lord God will consecrate my prayers for the gain of my people…” (emphasis added). Nephi prayed, exercised faith, and asked God to consecrate his performance.

What follows in verse 4 is further testimony about how God would consecrate/dedicate Nephi’s life’s work: “And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto them; for it persuadeth them to do good; it maketh known unto them of their fathers; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.” One way in which Nephi knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God would make his efforts holy and successful was that God would transform his weak written record into a persuasive document, capable of convincing people to accept Christ, endure to the end, and inherit eternal life––i.e. saving souls.

These verses capture the essence of the invitation and promise made in 2 Nephi 32:9, confirming to us that the words are true and God will indeed consecrate our performance if we ask Him to. This doctrine is so important and straightforward. I invite you to apply it in the performance of your Church callings, parenting, community service, ministering, and even friendships! Consecrating your actions will bring tremendous spiritual power into your life and help you bring others to Christ.