Friday, April 20, 2018

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on learning to submit 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.
"Thus, the whole mortal schooling process has been so carefully structured to achieve results which could be achieved in 'no other way.' (Hel. 5:9.) We can come to know the Lord as our loving, tutoring Father and God—but not as a policeman posted at every intersection of our lives!
"Hence, our submissiveness to the Lord must be the real thing, not the equivalent of obeying the speed limit only as long as the highway patrolman is there in his pace-car. Indeed, awaiting full development is our willingness 'to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us], even as a child doth submit to his father.' (Mosiah 3:19.) This is a sobering gospel truth about submissiveness! It is a wintry declaration! This truth is not likely to evoke from us an 'Oh, goodie' response!
"During our schooling in submissiveness, we will see the visible crosses some carry, but other crosses will go unseen. A few individuals may appear to have no trial at all, which, if it were so, would be a trial in itself. Indeed, if our souls had rings, as do trees, to measure the years of greatest personal growth, the wide rings would likely reflect the years of greatest moisture—but from tears, not rainfall."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Thanks Be to God," Ensign, July 1982, p. 51
Click here to read the full article

Sometimes, we are tempted to view God as Elder Maxwell warns us: a policeman standing watch, eager and alert to catch us in any misdeed or violation and punish us swiftly and appropriately. But Elder Maxwell invites us instead to view Him as "as our loving, tutoring Father and God." Having that understanding makes a very large difference in how we interact with him. King Benjamin's wonderful comparison about how a child submits to a father in receiving guidance and training is so appropriate. As we learn to recognize the loving and tutoring nature of our Heavenly Father, we begin to understand the real meeting of submissiveness and the blessings that can flow from it.

But as we ponder the tutoring nature of our mortal experience, we have to be careful about how we view our own tutoring as compared to those around us:

Sometimes we think we are the only one being "tutored with trials." Elder Maxwell points out that there are many who bear crosses we can not see. But regardless, we need to recognize that the greatest growth and progress can come in the times when the difficulty seems the most painful and hard to bear. The call to be "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) is never more crucial than in those precious moments.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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