Obedience. We either are, or we aren’t. Some children seem to come with a built-in sonar that guides them in a path of relative obedience. Others are high flying and fast running, and often desire to do their own thing. I’ve talked with mothers who have said, “I could have raised ten regular ones for the high-test ones I got.”
As we grow up and older, we get to choose our actions, our words…even our thoughts. Though ugly thoughts may make their way to our mind, we can choose to toss them out instead of dwelling on them. What gifts of positive, happy inner peace come when we make that choice.
Obedience is the first law of God. By obedience, we open the doorway to blessings that otherwise would be beyond our grasp. Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “with every ounce of … obedience comes a bushel of blessings.” (Depositions of a Disciple, Bookcraft Publishing.) Sometimes we see those blessings immediately. Other times, we may never see them- at least not on this side of the veil that separates us from heavenly places.
Isn’t the issue one of being obedient just because? Because we love God? Because we ‘get it’ that we don’t understand all things, so we trust? Isn’t obedience, to some degree, a principle we put into practice as a favor to ourselves and those we best love?
There are so many examples of this Obedience thing. And of the strength we gain from exercising the principle on a daily basis. If we are taught young, and it sinks into our hearts, we are so much the better for it.
Here’s a personal example. Not a proud moment, but a great illustration of wise parents who knew a lesson needed teaching about obedience and honesty:
I was about six. One day I was allowed to walk to the corner drugstore [the corner drugstores were much different in my younger days than now] just because. Certainly not to buy anything, because we didn’t have the money. Pennies were tight when I was little.
I wandered to the candy section and, oh how it beckoned to me. The more I stared, the more I wanted a Tootsie Roll pop. Wait- maybe some rock candy. Nope- definitely a Tootsie Roll pop.
I don’t know what came over me. It wasn’t my nature, and I had never even considered such a deviation from proper behavior. But that day? I wanted that candy. So I grabbed it and stuck it in my pocket.
As soon as I did so, I panicked; knowing I had committed the ultimate evil act. I started to pull it out of my pocket and put it back. But I thought (and I remember it well, to this day), “What if they see me putting it back and think I am stealing it?” I stood there, in utter despair, for what was probably a couple of minutes. It seemed hours. Finally, I left the store and headed home, with that candy burning in my pocket.
Now I had another horrible event in front of me: I had to tell my parents what I’d done.
Once explaining, and figuring I should get some points for not really wanting to take it, but fearing to put it back, I got exactly what was coming: I was promptly – and not kindly- asked to get in the car. They drove me back to the drugstore, and waited on the sideline while I gathered enough courage to tell the man behind the counter of my grievous error.
He took it back, thanked me for being honest, and scolded me a bit for having made a naughty choice to begin with. I think he did that because of coaching that came from my parents back, behind my view.
I wept and wept and wept. Huge tears of sorrow and embarrassment and agony over having done such a thing.
When enough repentance had happened, my dad came in and asked me how I felt about the whole experience. He told me he was disappointed in me for my choice, but pleased with me for making it right.
I will tell you- I NEVER wanted my father to feel that way about me again. I never wanted to experience that feeling again, myself. I learned the lesson.
A bushel of blessings has come because of being taught that lesson about obedience.
Every day, we choose our path for the hours allotted. If we can kneel in prayer at the end of the day, in gladness that we have been obedient to what we know, then surely Heaven smiles. I believe my Heavenly Father was well pleased with the lesson my parents taught long ago; and I don’t want to have Him experience any more sorrow for my choices than I have already made in my life.
Big Asterisk here** Repentance always works. If we choose to leave the sin behind and walk in obedience, the page is cleared. It is never too late to step on the Strait and Narrow, and do our best at being obedient. And since, even with full desire to do everything right, we still goof up on occasion, what a tremendous gift we have in Repentance, where we can ask our Savior to lift the weight of the sin away… and He will absolutely do so.
Stephen L. Richards once said, “The most challenging, dramatic, and vital thing in our lives is this ‘keeping the commandments.’ It tests every fiber of our beings. It is at once a demonstration of our intelligence, our knowledge, our character, and our wisdom.” (Conference Report, April 1948)
He said these words decades ago. They are as true now as then. Harder, in this every darkening world. But well worth the price. No longer need we keep a forbidden candy burning in our pocket, so to speak. We can let it go, make our apologies, and accept the bushel of blessings awaiting us!
Vickey is a professional speaker, author, and songwriter. Her undergraduate study was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in communications. She has taught for CES programs for more than 25 years.
A Billboard award winning songwriter with hundreds of songs to her credit, her favorite use of music is as a tool to teach. In addition to three solo albums, she co-wrote Women at the Well with Kenneth Cope and My Beloved Christ with Randy Kartchner. She is co-writer of the theme song for Utah’s Make A Wish foundation, Special Olympics program, and EFY’s theme song. She also contributed as writer or singer on many compilation albums.
Her website www.goodnessmatters.com is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, & point people gently toward Christ. She writes regular columns for www.ldsmag.com [meridian magazine online] and www.nauvootimes.com [Orson Scott Card’s online site].
She & her husband Dean have eight children & eight grandchildren. She serves as Gospel Doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves in their ward bishopric. Vickey, from Virginia, believes the adage ‘You can take the girl out of the South, but you can’t take the South out of the girl.” She loves flowers, brownies, cooking Southern foods, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets. Oh…and the Hallmark Channel.