The tale begins with Annie, our beloved Australian Shepard/Border Collie mix, who did not have a tail but who did have very obedient spirit. Because she was obedient, we could trust her and, because we could trust her, she had a lot of freedom.
Zorro, our bemoaned Australian Shepard mix, does have a tail but does not have an obedient spirit. Because he is not obedient, we cannot trust him and, because we cannot trust him, he spends a lot of time locked up.
Though our yard is not fenced, Annie respected the property boundaries and stayed within them, even when we were not home. As a consequence, Annie was free to roam the place. We left her outside even when we were gone, confident that she would be there when we returned, which she was. Her obedience gave her freedom.
Zorro does not respect the property lines and will sneak off to explore the neighborhood when we are not looking.
As a consequence, he is allowed outside only when we are outside. He spends most of his life either locked in the house or locked in the dog kennel because we cannot trust him. His disobedience restricts his freedom.
When I went running, Annie ran beside me, never running further than 10 m in front of me, never straying from the designated path, and always responding with I called. As a consequence, Annie and I ran without a leash (unless we were nailed by the dog catcher); she was free to sniff trees and leave pee-mails on fire hydrants at will.
In contrast, Zorro does not stay by my side when we jog and does not respond readily when I call. Therefore, when I run with Zorro, he must be on a leash. His lack of obedience results in significant restrictions to his freedom; he does not get to sniff anything and he does not get to read or leave pee-mails.
Because Annie was obedient, I took her places with me, exciting places for a dog like soccer games, hiking trails, and beaver ponds. Because Zorro is not obedient, I do not take him with me anywhere. When I go exciting places for dogs, like soccer games, hiking trails, and beaver ponds, he stays home, locked in the dog kennel.
So, what do I learn from this A to Z (Annie to Zorro) dog tale? Obedience brings freedom.
And so it is with my life. Because I am obedient to the laws of health (D&C 89, called the Word of Wisdom in LDS culture) I can “run and not be weary and walk and not faint”. [Okay, I do get a bit weary when I run, especially when I race up and down a basketball court, but I can still run, which I think is the point, and I have not ever fainted when walking.] I am not
addicted to drugs or alcohol, which addictions are very freedom limiting. And I am free from diseases caused by cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. Obedience brings freedom.
Obedience to the law of chastity (Genesis 2:24; D&C 2:22, God’s commandment for sexual purity; abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity after) gives me freedom from sexually transmitted diseases and freedom from the emotional wreckage caused by broken promises.
Obedience to God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy (Exodus 20:8, D&C 59:9-14) gives me freedom, for at least one day a week, from the stressful demands of work. I love this commandment! I am so grateful that once a week, guaranteed, I can “rest from my labors” and freely enjoy my family and the sweet peace brought by reverent worship.
And the list continues…..obedience to the prophet’s counsel to have a year’s supply of food frees me from dependence on others in case of emergency; obedience to Christ’s command to pray always (3 Nephi 18:15) gives me freedom from feelings of loneliness and isolation; obedience to His commandments to search and study the scriptures gives me the truths that set me free from Satan’s traps (John 8:32).
Obedience brings freedom.
Obedience also brings blessings.
I had an insightful experience related to blessings and obedience in the temple last week. Our priesthood leaders asked us to be in the Bountiful Temple chapel by 4:30 for the 5:00 session. Thinking that we knew better—“Being there at 4:30 is overkill” were the exact words spoken—we did not arrive in the chapel until 4:40. We saw the rest of our ward, those who had been obedient to the leader’ counsel, sitting several rows in front of us in the temple chapel. Among those sitting in
front of us I recognized several beloved friends, people I eagerly anticipated worshipping with in the temple.
It was busy in the temple that day, so busy that the 5:00 session filled up before our row was called. Those who had obediently arrived in the chapel by 4:30, as counseled by our leaders, worshipped together. Those of us who arrived later had to wait. And then, because the temple was really busy that day, we had to wait again. Had we been obedient, we
could have worshiped with our friends.
It was a small thing, really. Ten minutes. A missed temple session. Sixty minutes longer waiting in the temple chapel; temple chapels are not bad places to be. We were still able to worship in the temple that day and we had a good experience. But the incident provoked a lot of thought for me. I was not punished for disobedience—I was still able to worship—but I missed the blessing of being able to worship with my friends.
Obedience brings blessings.
More thoughts about obedience……
In ward counsel [ward counsel is a meeting where those with leadership responsibilities in the congregation meet together and discuss how they can best serve the congregation’s members] last Sunday we had a discussion about reverence in our worship service. Our stake president [the local leader with direct stewardship over our ward] has asked that we be reverent in the chapel; that we engage in our conversations in the foyer and, upon entering the chapel, that we sit quietly, listening to the sacred music being played, preparing ourselves to worship our Savior, and respecting the rights of others to do the same.
This is a fabulous idea but very hard to apply in real life. We, as an LDS people (like most groups of like-mined people) are very friendly. We love to meet and greet each other and it is not a quiet process. In most cases, we see each other
only at church and want to catch up. We also want to reach out to each other; if someone looks great or looks sad, if someone has been absent for a while and is returning, if there is a stranger in our midst, we want to reach out to them, to recognize them, to let them know that we notice and that we care. And we do it when we see them in the chapel. That is what the Savior would do, wouldn’t He?
I think not. I think the Savior would do all of those things—He would notice, reach out, validate, greet, perhaps hug and definitely love—but I think He would do them somewhere besides the chapel. I think the Savior would be obedient to His Father. And, if we believe that our priesthood leaders are called of God (which we do, Article of Faith 5) and we believe that they are inspired of God to lead, guide, and direct us according to His will (which we do, D&C 1:38), then we must believe that the counsel given us by our leaders is the counsel God would give us, if He were here. And the Savior, who submitted His will perfectly to His Father’s (Matthew 26:39), would follow God’s counsel.
Christ was perfectly obedient. Though sinless and clearly without need to wash away sin, He was baptized in obedience to His Father’s commandment (Matthew 3:15, 3 Nephi 31:7). In obedience He prayed and worshipped in the temple (Luke 2:49). He told the Nephites “I came into the world to do the will of the Father, because my Father sent me” (3 Nephi 27:13). And, ultimately, though it was so painful that it caused blood to seep from His every pore (D&C 19:18), Christ submitted His will to the Father’s (Matthew 26:39) , obediently “drank the bitter cup”, paid the price for our sins, and was lifted up on the cross and crucified.
Christ is our perfect example and He was perfectly obedience. His obedience bought us freedom and great blessings, even the greatest of blessings which is life eternal (D&C 14:7).
Our obedience will bring us freedom and great blessings also. I know that when we obey God we open doors to special blessings that are available only through obedience (D&C 130:21). I have a firm conviction that there is a power in obedience, that obedience to God in and of itself, brings a tremendous power into our lives that comes as a direct
result of willingly submitting our will to the will of our Father.
There are many who would disagree. They would say that obedience to God’s commands restricts us, that we are
an oppressed and limited people because we obey the fictional dictates of an imagined being, that we follow blindly and are suppressed by our ignorance but I know that this is not true.
I know that obedience frees us because we obey freely. We, like all of God’s children, have the freedom to choose and we choose to obey our God because we trust Him. We know Him, we love Him, and we trust Him. Because we trust Him, we obey Him and because we obey Him, we are free, we are blessed, and we are powerful.
So, in the spirit of obedience, Lance, Chick, Tanah, and I spent our Saturday afternoon and evening in SLC at a youth family history event. I could care less about family history. Really. I find it mildly interesting that Joseph Smith broke one of my ancestor’s legs in a wrestling match and that one of Lance’s ancestors was a famous “madam” in Park City but only mildly interesting. I am much more interested in the fact that the Black Widow we kept in a jar all winter is still alive and ate four crickets this week. The family history “bug” (like the Black Widow) just has not bitten me. I feel no desire to know about my
However, I have a HUGE desire to have the blessings promised to those who do family history and I have a HUGE testimony of the power of obedience so off we went to SLC, to spend our precious Saturday listening to presentations on family history. Blah, blah, blah…... Obedience can be boring…...but it often gets better and Saturday’s experience kept getting better and better as the evening wore on. We left the conference totally jazzed about family history and totally committed to
start working on FamilySearch.org today (as in 3/24/2013).
And I fully anticipate we will receive the promised blessings. Elder Bednar [one of Christ’s Twelve Apostles on Earth today and certainly a mouthpiece for God, D&C 1:38], in his October 2011 conference address (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/10/the-hearts-of-the-children-shall-turn?lang=eng&query=october+,+elder+(name%3a"David+A.+Bednar") invited the youth to participate in family history and promised some great things to those who do. He said:
"I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience
the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors,
and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord
for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I
urge you to help other people identify their family
"As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to
the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in
your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will
link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase.
Your testimony of and conversion to the
Savior will become deep and abiding. And
I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the
adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be
safeguarded in your youth and throughout your
I took the liberty of bolding the promises I am most excited about. Read those!!! As we (I am still in my youth
geologically speaking) accept the invitation to do family history work our conversion to the Savior will be DEEP and ABIDING, we will be PROTECTED from Satan, and we will be safeguarded for our WHOLE LIVES!! Holy promises, Batman!!! I would do a lot (a lot more than simply doing some family history) to secure those blessings for my children.
And, who knows, maybe I’ll even learn to like family history work in the process. :)
So, there you have it—this week’s letter. It is LONG and not really very funny but I hope that it will provoke
thought. I do have a testimony of obedience and felt compelled to share it today. Consider it my Easter message given a week early. Next week I will return to a more traditional post. Click in to learn about Grace’s science fair, the latest on Miles and M----, a poem about happy toes (Beth Adams is amazing!) and maybe even more about the Black Widow.