Commandments—a Beautiful Reservoir of Invitations and Blessings
I wanted to do all that the Lord asks, but I wondered how I could fit it all into my schedule.
Throughout His mortal ministry, the Lord invited individuals to give up all that they had to follow Him (see, for instance, Matthew 8:18–22; Mark 3:31–35; Mark 10:17–22).
While we may not be asked to leave fishing boats or all our riches, two ways we might be asked to give Him our all is through our time and obedience.1
With all the activities on our daily to-do lists, it may feel overwhelming to do everything the Lord and His prophets invite us to do. For instance:
Have meaningful, unrushed prayer
Study the Book of Mormon daily
Study Come, Follow Me each week
Attend the temple regularly (where reasonably accessible)
Research and build our family history trees and perform proxy ordinance work
Share the gospel
Participate in home evening
Serve in callings, in our homes, and in the community
Accept topical study invitations from Church leaders (for instance, President Nelson’s invitation to study all scripture verses about the Savior2 or to study about God’s priesthood power3)
And many more
While balancing family, friendships, home responsibilities, work, children’s schedules, and other interests, it may feel intimidating or impossible to do all of the above. I’ve been there before, and sometimes that worry still comes to mind. But I view this thought differently now because of promptings I received years ago.
Once when I prayed about how I could better follow the Savior, I was reminded that I could be doing the actions above more faithfully. While I was very consistent with some of them, others of them seemed to rotate within openings in my schedule.
With the inspiration to strive to be consistent at all of them, I was also reminded of two prophetic messages:
1 Nephi 3:7: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
When President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, spoke in general conference of writing down evidences of the hand of the Lord in his family’s life each day, he said: “I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day.”4
I decided to put my trust in Nephi’s words and remember that the Lord would not give me any commandment (or collection of them) that He wouldn’t help me keep. And I also was inspired by President Eyring’s commitment to faithfully obey the invitation to journal daily even when he felt too tired to do so. If, with his busy schedule, he could stay obedient when tired, then I knew I could as well.
So I decided to put more faith in the Lord’s ability to help me accomplish all that He invites me to do. I prayed to Heavenly Father and I also sought to “counsel with the Lord” (Alma 37:37) to know the appropriate time or frequency I should devote to each invitation and commandment. I knew that some would be easy to accomplish because they were already part of my daily discipleship. And I also acknowledged that I may not be able to do some activities, like family history, for as long as other people may be able to. But I knew I could do something regularly. I also trusted that in these situations, as President Russell M. Nelson promised, “the Lord loves effort.”5 I knew that He also values the widow’s mite (see Luke 21:1–4) and whatever I was able to give. After all, we each can provide different offerings at different times in our lives or even in each day or week.
After prayerfully putting together a plan about how to accomplish the things I wasn’t doing as regularly as I could be, I prayed for divine help and strength to act on that plan. I also relied on the promise from President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) when he counseled:
“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.
“We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives.”6
I decided to prioritize the Lord in my schedule, in my actions, and in my heart and to leave my metaphorical “fishing nets” and better consecrate my life to Him.
Did that mean doing spiritual things 24 hours a day? Not in the sense of spending every minute reading scriptures or doing family history. But it did mean intentionally inviting Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ into each part of my day. In turning my heart to Them that way, I was reminded that all things temporal are spiritual as well (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35) and that the Lord can be my focus in all my labors (see Alma 34:17–27). And it meant staying focused on what matters most as I strive to become a more intentional disciple.
Small changes started to make a difference and provide a path to improved obedience. If I was on my phone for a few minutes in the morning, I could use that time on FamilySearch’s Family Tree app instead of scrolling randomly on social media. While I waited in a line, I could make a quick call, send a text to minister to a friend, or talk with someone near me.7 I ended the day with my journal instead of with entertainment. I woke up with a better focus and a daily schedule to prioritize spiritual study before other distractions of the day arose. I followed President Nelson’s counsel to “make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy.”8 I became aware of moments where I would usually become distracted by good things and instead tried to use that time for the best things.9
And you know what? I was able to fit everything into my schedule and still have time to enjoy other things. The mathematics of my time seemed to defy logic, yet I knew it was another way the Lord performs miracles in our lives that we can’t explain.
As Sister Michelle D. Craig, Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, taught: “You and I can give what we have to Christ, and He will multiply our efforts. What you have to offer is more than enough—even with your human frailties and weaknesses—if you rely on the grace of God.”10 I felt (and continue to feel) that promise fulfilled in my life, and I’ve found that my schedule is actually less stressful, not more so, when I seek to do all the Lord asks. I’ve found that the commandments and invitations of the Lord bring far more richness into my life than anything else can.
While I should not have been surprised by what began to happen as I acted with renewed faith and experienced the miracles that made it possible to do all that the Lord asks, I am still in awe at how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have helped me accomplish what had before seemed impossible in my schedule (see Luke 1:37). Not only did the Lord “prepare a way for [me] that [I] may accomplish the thing which he commandeth” me, but the increased joy and fulfillment that came into my life was more than I could have anticipated. And I began to realize that these efforts are really more about whom I am becoming than about just what I am doing.11 A large part of that becoming led me to see that my heart was drawing closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and helping me become more like Them.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once said, “At times, some people get confused, thinking that the commandments are restrictions or limitations that complicate life, that take away opportunities or happiness or the pleasures of life. In reality, the commandments protect us and guide us to happiness. They are not to restrict but rather to make possible—to allow us to achieve in this life and in the next—what we truly desire and what our Heavenly Father, who loves us, wants for us.
“... So, ... please don’t complain about the commandments. Don’t say, ‘I don’t want any more,’ but rather say, ‘Yes, more, more. I want to progress. I want to be happy. I want to be like my Heavenly Father. And the commandments show me how to do so. They open up the pathway before me.’”12
As I faithfully do my very best to obey each prophetic invitation, it is helping me better live on the covenant path and become more like my Savior, who provides our perfect example of obeying all the Father asks of Him. Along the way, I’ve realized that prioritizing these commandments and prophetic invitations isn’t about achieving items on a to-do list but rather about a way of living to help me grow. I see them as opportunities to honor my temple covenants as I consecrate my heart and my schedule to the Lord as a sign of my love for Him and desire to become like Him. As I have sought to honor those covenants, I have felt the reality of receiving the “power to do all that God wants [me] to do.”13
I now like to picture each invitation from God as a reservoir of joy and blessings that are waiting for us if we simply choose to enter the waters. Heavenly Father wants to bless us beyond our comprehension, and He provides us with commandments that allow those blessings to come through our obedience (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:20–21). We just need to choose to trust Him and His ability to help us keep all of His commandments. When our hearts, hands, and time are given to Him, we will see Him perform miracles in our lives.