Elder Hales’s humble address given in the October, 2011 General Conference, clearly ill, as he has been for many years now, was delivered in soft tones, but hit me with the force of a spiritual freight train. (“Waiting Upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done,” Elder Robert D. Hales, Ensign, November, 2011, p. 71.)
Since the time I received my Patriarchal Blessing when I was twenty years old, I have (sometimes with more success than others) endeavored to understand the Lord’s desires for me. I have thought in very specific terms: what is this mission I am to do? What did Father in Heaven and I agree upon in the pre-mortal realms that I would do here in mortal life? When will He reveal this to me?
I am sixty-four years old, in poor health, and feel my time is growing short. Always feeling inadequate, I have done the best that I could, raising my family while stricken with mental illness, and then, once that burden was released, spending most of the hours in the day writing, attempting in my own way to lead “lost ones” to the fountain of living waters. Why am I not more powerful, more talented, more successful in this task?
Questions such as these plague my thoughts, and have done for years. Recently I was very surprised to receive the personal assurance that I had already done what I had agreed to do and what the Lord required of me. His concern for me, at this time in my life, is to care for my body which has been much afflicted over the course of my life. The truth of this inspired message was in the fact that it did surprise me very much. I was ready to continue to drive my exhausted body, pulling my handcart, relying on faith to preserve me. But this was not required of me.
The Lord knows me better than I know myself. I, though willing to embark on another project, went home from the temple that day, laid down for a nap, and slept, virtually without ceasing from Tuesday afternoon to the next Monday morning! My body was far more worn out than I realized. The Lord’s concern for me had been justified. Seeking medical care, in a very short space of time, I found that I had two potentially serious illnesses that needed immediate attention. Freed of that desperate feeling that I must do more, and more, and more, I am now attending to them.
My Lord’s knowledge of me is thorough and complete. I am told that He knew me well in the pre-existence. Whatever the future may bring, His will for me now is not to be engaged in “manic marketing” of my books, but to simply “be still” and leave all that to Him. He wants me to heal. If I “wait upon the Lord,” as Elder Hales has counseled us, all will be well. I need not worry. His ends will be achieved.
From Elder Hales talk, I take several points, culled masterfully from the scriptures for our benefit, in which he defines “waiting upon the Lord.” They are:
This is a comprehensive, and obviously lovingly compiled list that Elder Hales has given us. Should we follow it, it will tutor us in all the divine virtues: faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. In following this counsel, we will come to know the Lord intimately in our afflictions.
Could it be that our greatest purpose in life lies in learning to “wait upon the Lord,” to exercise our personal agency to completely submit our will to His? Is it in this way that we qualify to have the Lord’s grace work in our behalf? Is this how we follow the path to exaltation?
King Benjamin declared it to be so in his address to his people: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off thenatural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh 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)
When we look at the Book of Mormon, we ask so many times, “Why did the Nephites turn from righteousness to wickedness in such a short time; whereas the Lamanite, once converted never fell away?” The answer, as we all know is pride. They went the way of their riches and worldly learning. They lost this dynamic which Elder Hales has explained. They did not live by faith, so they lost the entire concept of “Thy will be done.”
This is the Last Dispensation, never to be taken from the earth. Because of this, we know that not all the “Nephites” will turn wicked, but some will learn these steps for themselves, and never forget the great, eternal blessing of submission.
I have concluded that I must live my life in the pattern outlined by Elder Hales if I am going to complete the course that I know Heavenly Father has laid out for me in this race called eternal life. I am submitting, though it is a hard lesson for me. I must concede that (though I could, through His grace, if the Lord willed it), it is not my mission to move mountains or convert all those haughty spirits in the “great and spacious building.”
As we are living according to the creed specified by Elder Hales, waiting upon the Lord, we will experience miracles through the grace of God. In my years of writing, I have experienced many remarkable things. I recall sometime in my youth hearing the Prophet David O. McKay say that we know the Spirit is working in our lives when we receive pure intelligence concerning something we previously did not know. Usually, this happens when we are endeavoring to live line upon line, precept upon precept, and we come to a place where grace imparts an understanding of some principle we did not have previously, that is necessary for completion of our task or journey.