Help. Hope. Healing.

The Value of Willing

By Rex Goode

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Sometimes it is so difficult to feel like I’ve made progress. No matter what successes I’ve had in turning my behavior around, I find new things that I need to deal with. I preach against it regularly—the idea that all you need to do is to decide to quit and you’re done. Everything about myself that I want to turn over to the Lord and become a changed man about takes longer than I want it to take. I’m still measuring success by where I land instead of the flight. 

The thing I can’t seem to get to is the full and regular realization that what the Lord is looking for in the present is willingness. It has great value with the Lord and I think we underestimate it. I also think we overextend beyond it sometimes too.

When I say that we overextend beyond it, I mean that we don’t think we’ve accomplished anything by being merely willing. A good example of this is the prayers over the sacrament. The prayer on the bread speaks, not of doing, but of being willing to do three things: 1) “take upon them the name of thy Son,” 2) “always remember him,” and 3) “keep his commandments which he has given them (D&C 20:77).”

The prayer for the water speaks of only one thing to “do” to have his Spirit to be with us, that we “do always remember him (D&C 20:79).”

Nowhere in the prayers are we affirming that we are perfect, only that we are willing. Likewise, in our baptismal covenant we affirm that we “…are _willing_  to take upon [us] the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end… (D&C 20:37, emphasis added)”

Determination is not the same as actually doing. It means one has made the commitment to do so and has invested one’s heart in the activity. That is what the Lord asks of us. When we surrender our willing hearts to him, he will do the rest:

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my commandments, and do them.

And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:25-28)

True obedience always begins with a willing heart and ends when the Lord accepts the sacrifice of a broken heart he can mend and a contrite spirit he can renew. When all is said and done and we become faithful to his commandments, we will look to him and affirm with our whole soul that God was merciful to us in saving us from our sins rather than in them. It is the Spirit that gives us the heart to obey, not our own self-will.

Surrender to it and don’t be ashamed if all you are is willing. That’s exactly what the Lord wants you to be.

Lord, I believe;. Help thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24).

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One Response to “The Value of Willing”

  1. Rusty said:

    Well put. I think what’s so often forgotten is that repentance is explicitly designed for those who have strayed and can’t get back without help. As stated in the sacramental prayer: “…that they may witness unto thee, o God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son…” No statement in there about being able or capable to take upon us Christ’s name–just a willingness to do so.

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