Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Heber C. Kimball on becoming trusting and submissive to God

President Heber C. Kimball (June 14, 1801-1868) was a member of the first Quorum of Twelve Apostles ordained in this dispensation in 1835. He served as first counselor to Brigham Young from 1847 until his death in 1868 at age 67. He was the grandfather of Spencer W. Kimball, who became an apostle in 1943 and served as president of the Church from 1973-1985. His great-great-grandson, Quentin L. Cook, currently serves as an apostle.
"Comparing us to clay that is in the hands of the potter, if that clay is passive, I have power as a potter to mold it and make it into a vessel unto honor. Who is to mold these vessels? Is it God Himself in person, or is it His servants, His potters, or journeymen, in company with those He has placed to oversee the work? The great Master Potter dictates His servants, and it is for them to carry out His purposes, and make vessels according to His designs; and when they have done the work, they deliver it up to the Master for His acceptance; and if their works are not good, He does not accept them; the only works He accepts, are those that are prepared according to the design He gave. God will not be trifled with; neither will His servants; their words have got to be fulfilled, and they are the men that are to mold you, and tell you what shape to move in.
"I do not know that I can compare it better than by the potter's business. It forms a good comparison. This is the course you must pursue, and I know of no other way that God has prepared for you to become sanctified, and molded, and fashioned, until you become modeled to the likeness of the Son of God, by those who are placed to lead you. This is a lesson you have to learn as well as myself.
"When I know that I am doing just as I am told by him who is placed to lead this people, I am then a happy man, I am filled with peace, and can go about my business with joy and pleasure; I can lie down and rise again in peace, and be filled with gladness by night and by day. But when I have not done the things that are right, my conscience gnaws upon my feelings. This is the course for me to take.... to this you have got to bow, and you have got to bow down like the clay in the hands of the potter, that suffers the potter to mold it according to his own pleasure. You have all got to come to this; and if you do not come to it at this time, as sure as the sun ever rose and set, you will be cut from the wheel, and thrown back into the mill.
"You have come from the mill, and you have been there grinding. For what purpose? To bring you into a passive condition. You have been gathered from the nations of the earth, from among the kindreds, tongues, and peoples of the world, to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, to purify and sanctify yourselves, and become like the passive clay in the hands of the potter. Now suppose I subject myself enough, in the hands of the potter, to be shaped according as he was dictated by the Great Master potter, that rules over all things in heaven and on earth, he would make me into a vessel of honor.
"There are many vessels that are destroyed after they have been molded and shaped. Why? Because they are not contented with the shape the potter has given them, but straightway put themselves into a shape to please themselves; therefore they are beyond understanding what God designs, and they destroy themselves by the power of their own agency, for this is given to every man and woman, to do just as they please. That is all right, and all just. Well, then, you have to go through a great many modelings and shapes, then you have to be glazed and burned; and even in the burning, some vessels crack. What makes them crack? Because they are snappish; they would not crack, if they were not snappish and willful."
- Heber C. Kimball, "The Potter and the Clay," Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 2, 1854; see JD 2:150
Click here to read the full talk
See also Ensign, January 2011, pp. 60-61

Heber C. Kimball was one of the spiritual giants of the early restoration; but he was a relatively simple and uneducated man, next to many of his brethren. He worked as a potter, so had person insights into the craft and art that he often referred to in his discourses.

I love this description of how we need to become humble and submissive to the direction of God and His servants—like "passive clay in the hands of the potter." If a potter is trying to mold clay that isn't cooperative, for whatever reason (wrong consistency, contains impurities, not properly prepared, etc.) he is unable to achieve the desired results and will eventually remove the clay from the wheel and subject it to further preparations.

President Kimball likens this to our situation in life. We have to learn to be subject to the molding that comes from both from the trials and tests of life, and from the counsel of the Spirit and the leaders placed to represent God. It is only in this way that we can experience the process "that God has prepared for you to become sanctified, and molded, and fashioned, until you become modeled to the likeness of the Son of God." What a beautiful analogy!

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