In word and deed he doth requireWhen still a fresh new apostle, President Packer made this comment in an address at BYU:
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One.
Perhaps the greatest discovery of my life, without question the greatest commitment, came when finally I had the confidence in God that I would loan or yield my agency to him – without compulsion or pressure, without any duress, as a single individual alone, by myself, no counterfeiting, nothing expected other than the privilege. In a sense, speaking figuratively, to take one’s agency, that precious gift which the scriptures make plain is essential to life itself, and say, ‘I will do as you direct,’ is afterward to learn that in so doing you possess it all the more” (Obedience, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [December 7, 1971], 4, quoted in A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing, p. 13).As I discussed this concept of turning our will or agency over to God with some friends last week, some expressed their difficulty in doing so. One said, however, he finally had come to terms with the idea, knowing that he could at any time take it back again. Knowing that he still had a choice, he knew he had not lost his agency, but given his compliance with the Lord’s will freely, as Elder Packer describes.
It occurred to me that we lend our agency out all the time. We may lend it to a spouse or friend as we compromise for the sake of the relationship. We give it to the state who issues our driver’s license as we agree to obey traffic laws. Some of us may give our agency (even unwittingly) to addictions or bad habits.
Another friend told me once, “why wouldn’t you want God to direct your life?” Great question.
I can see times in my life where this principle has been easier than others. It’s easy to pray for God’s will when I’m pretty sure His will is moving in the same direction as mine. It’s much tougher to seek His will when I’ve been praying for a specific outcome for some time without clear results, and it finally occurs to me that He might want something different than I do, or that He might have another timetable.
When dealing with a concern with one of my children, I can remember praying for months for resolution – my resolution, that is: Take this burden; Heal him; Save him. The Lord was fully prepared to save my child (of course the Savior had already done so!), but not in the way I dictated, nor in the time I expected. I found I finally had to let go and allow God to work in His ways (which are not my ways).
King Benjamin reminds us that in order to put off the natural man, we can rely only on the atonement of Jesus Christ and become “as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
My experience is that King Benjamin is right. Time has demonstrated to me that my God is merciful and kind. Father (in Heaven) knows best.