Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Child of God

One hundred eighty-two years ago this Spring, a child of God knelt in sincere prayer to ask God a simple question, intending to do whatever he was commanded.

And Satan went berserk. That boy wrote: "immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak." Satan did everything he could to silence the boy whose testimony would enlighten tens of thousands in his lifetime. Millions have now grown because of Joseph Smith's testimony.

But God delivered Joseph! He gave the boy prophet protection from Satan, work to do, and power to do it. Soon, under the new Prophet's direction, other children of God began to be called to serve:

And your whole labor shall be in Zion, with all your soul, from henceforth; yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you. Amen.

The Lord never intended for one child to do his whole work. Jesus Christ leads the work and ensures that all our mistakes are made up, sooner or later. He promises that everyone can be a part of what he is doing:

For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

Every person has a gift. Your gifts may include the ability to share knowledge, or to share wisdom, or to be comforting. The scriptures guarantee that you have at least one. The Lord used astronomy as a metaphor in D&C 88 and in the book of Abraham. D&C 88:44 could be describing how our gifts all complement each other in God's work:

They give light to each other in their times and in their seasons.

We all benefit from each other in different ways. I believe that some promptings are more likely to come to men, while others are more likely to come to women. The poor seem to get more revelation about taking care of each other, while the rich seem to have more light on spending their money efficiently. And the scriptures are clear that our own interests and questions have a huge impact on what revelations we get:

Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Like with Joseph Smith, Satan wants to silence each of us. Of course the light we have is incomplete, there's no way we're going to save the world on our own, but Satan wants us to believe that our gifts, ideas, and interests are irrelevant. He wants us to close our mouths. He will tell us whatever lies are necessary: that women can't be leaders, that men can't be loving, that children can't be wise. Even well-meaning people may believe some of Satan's lies and tell you to be silent. But could the Lord be any clearer?

Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.

Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.

Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Again, most of us know we all have limitations on our authority over others. We don't have the right to declare new commandments, to judge others' worthiness, or to become angry. We do, however, have the right to speak as we are guided by the Holy Ghost. We all have the right to ask hard questions of others, to point out important deficits in what the Lord has revealed so far, and to propose possible solutions until the Lord reveals more on the subject. We can pray with all our hearts for revelation, and we can receive it.

If we open our mouths, we can literally become like Nephi. His father, the authoritative Prophet in the story, saw a vision of a tree and an iron rod leading to it. After Lehi explained the vision to his family, Nephi desired to see the same vision.

And he did.

Nephi learned some different things from the same vision, things more applicable to his own perspective and needs. And when his brethren were arguing about what the vision meant, Nephi could explain with confidence.

I plead with you, don't wait for someone else to be Nephi (who could explain the vision so clearly), or Esther (who saved Israel by lifting up her voice), or Emma (who got us the Word of Wisdom by objecting to church leaders' tobacco use). Don't let anyone tell you that your gifts are worthless. Their light does not invalidate yours.

After all, you are a child of heavenly parents. Is there anything you can't do, if they are behind you?