Sunday, March 19, 2017

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on submitting our will to God

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"Seventy years ago, Lord Moulton coined a perceptive phrase, 'obedience to the unenforceable,' describing 'the obedience of a man to that which he cannot be forced to obey' ('Law And Manners,' Atlantic Monthly, July 1924, p. 1). God's blessings, including those associated with consecration, come by unforced obedience to the laws upon which they are predicated (see D&C 130:20–21). Thus our deepest desires determine our degree of 'obedience to the unenforceable.' God seeks to have us become more consecrated by giving everything. Then, when we come home to Him, He will generously give us 'all that [He] hath' (D&C 84:38).
"The submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we 'give,' brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God's will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!
"Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!"
- Neal A. Maxwell, "'Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father'," Ensign, Nov 1995, pp. 22-24
Click here to read or listen to the complete talk

The concept of consecration is one of the most beautiful and sacred gospel doctrines. In humility, we offer all that we have to God—everything. We hold nothing back, dedicating every possession and every ability to Him and His work. At that point, He is able to bless us in ways he could not before, including giving us "all that He hath."

I love Elder Maxwell's analysis of what it is we can really give to God. He helps us see that no possession or ability is really ours to give; it's only our will, our agency, our commitment that we can truly and wholly offer to Him:

There's a verse in our hymn "God Loved Us So He Sent His Son" that I love. It's one of those "extra" verses printed at the bottom of the page that we sometimes neglect to sing. But consider the beauty and truth of these words written by Edward P. Kimball:
In word and deed he doth require
My will to his, like son to sire,
Be made to bend, and I, as son,
Learn conduct from the Holy One.

Hymns No. 187
How truly blessed is one who learns to bend his will to God, and thus learn conduct directly from Him! As we consecrate all that we possess, we are blessed with all that He possesses.

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