anxiously engaged
Week 22 is scheduled for study May 24-30, 2021. I can only say that this week’s lessons are sources of joy and comfort. We get to talk about God’s timing, keeping the Sabbath holy, living with our eye single to God’s glory, and how wonderful it is to be crowned with commandments.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 58:1-5, 26-33, 44; 59:23 – Blessings come according to God’s timing and our diligence.

President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The scriptures will help us resolve all of our personal questions because by reading them we invite and qualify ourselves for the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which will guide us into all truth” (in David A Edwards, “Are My Answers in There?” New Era, May 2016, 42).

The manual specifically asks that you consider why the Lord sometimes withholds blessings for a time. Note that the goal of that question is not on God preventing us from getting blessings permanently, but just not today. Of course the Lord wants to give us everything there is to give, but His wisdom prevents Him from doing what so many of us who have experienced parenting have done. Too often we have given out of the goodness of our hearts to our children when our children were not properly prepared and ready to receive what we gave them. Such rashness resulted in many unhappy circumstances. Some children were ungrateful. Others were overwhelmed by the choices our generosity bestowed upon them, and in their immature state of mind they made unwise choices that led to sorrow.  And sometimes giving too much too soon leads to an expectation of blessings when they haven’t yet been earned and are not really deserved. No matter what the result is from such unwise parental behavior, sorrow is always the end result.

The Lord is perfect. He knows when we are ready and able to handle the blessings He wants to give each of us. Since He is perfect, He is also perfectly patient. He is willing to wait and will work with us until we are prepared in all material ways necessary to be able to handle the blessing both He and we want.

How do we know when we are ready for a particular blessing? If you have spent much time around people in general, we tend to feel we are ready for something long before we actually are prepared to handle the responsibilities of the blessing we seek. It is important that we recognize that all blessings carry with them responsibilities. No blessing is really a blessing in our life if we are not ready to accept the responsibilities and choices that come with that blessing. Without proper preparation such blessings become unwanted burdens.

For example, let’s say you have rented an apartment all your life, and you have always wanted a home. Out of the blue your rich relative dies and leaves you a home. Your dream has come true, right? But are you prepared to handle the responsibilities associated with home ownership? Have you learned to set money aside to pay your yearly property taxes? Are you prepared for the possible change in social status moving into a nice neighborhood brings with it? There are expectations from the neighbors who live there, just as there are expectations from those in your apartment building. Are you ready for the responsibilities of yard care, various expenses in utilities you may not have had to deal with before? Are you able to either fix everything that breaks yourself, or do you have the funds to hire someone to come fix it? Once you own it you can’t just call the landlord and expect someone else to deal with it. I’ve heard it said by some that they bought a home because it had a pool, and they sold that same home because it had a pool. They learned the hard way they weren’t ready for the responsibilities and demands that such a luxury brings with it.

Spiritually speaking, God has already experienced all the spiritual blessings of the universe. He knows what is needed to be ready for each and every one of them. He also knows how happy each blessing can make us, but only if we are properly prepared for that blessing. As you read the verses in today’s lesson, did you notice that the Lord reserved actually living in the newly established Zion for very few people. The bulk of the Latter-day Saints still needed to be out “pushing” the people towards the gospel. There was missionary work that needed to go throughout the whole earth, and this couldn’t be done if everyone was sitting comfortably in Missouri. Besides those he designated should be there He said that those who wanted to move to Zion might have to wait a while. Those who exercised faith, and who prayed fervently might be allowed to come to Zion, but most would have to wait many years before it would be time for them to come. Here is Doctrine and Covenants 58:44-46.

44 And now, verily, I say concerning the residue of the elders of my church, the time has not yet come, for many years, for them to receive their inheritance in this land, except they desire it through the prayer of faith, only as it shall be appointed unto them of the Lord.

45 For, behold, they shall push the people together from the ends of the earth.

46 Wherefore, assemble yourselves together; and they who are not appointed to stay in this land, let them preach the gospel in the regions round about; and after that let them return to their homes.

Reserved blessings

All of us have multiple blessings that are withheld from us for a time. Why just in our time in mortality, how many of us are born into bodies with imperfections that make us unattractive, unable to move freely, or inhibit our mental abilities? How many of us are born into poverty, cruel homes, harsh living environments, or even are made to live in opulence, with every conceivable comfort? Yes, that is also a challenge, for those who have no adversity in life miss out on so many character-building opportunities, and often end up living shallow, unfulfilled lives. How often in our reading of today’s verses does the Lord tell us that tribulation is a required part of our eternal growth? To be denied that growth can be just as troublesome as to be born into perpetual tribulation, but without any visible way out of it or around it.

Some people are denied goodly parents in this life. Some are faced with great illness, situations of deprivation, are born into abject poverty, or to a family where no one cares about them. There are those who want to marry, but can’t seem to find the opportunity to do so, to have children after marriage, but are denied that blessing. Some are denied opportunities of social advancement, of education, of training to take care of themselves. The list of things we might be denied, for one reason or another, is very long. What we need to acknowledge is that God mapped out our needs, and the needs of our siblings before we ever came to earth. He knows what is best for us, and what we need most. He knows where we are needed by others most, and sometimes our tribulations are as much for the welfare of others, either now or in the future, as they are for our own benefit. God has chosen where we were born, the sphere of our influence in this life, and when we will be called home.

Though some things are beyond our control, for God has already made those decisions, and we agreed to them before we came here, some things are up to us. We choose what we believe in. We choose whether or not we will exercise faith, and it is up to us to turn our tribulations into learning opportunities that will help us grow spiritually. The most important things in this life are always under our direct control.

Consider the lessons we can extract from verse 2.

2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

We don’t have direct control over which tribulations we face in this life. But how we face and handle those trials is all up to us. Are we seeking the lessons God is presenting to us with each trial? Are we trying to learn to be Christlike in every facet of our life, no matter what is going on around us, or to us? This is why those who are faithful during tribulations have the greater reward in heaven. Whether in life or in death, the person who keeps God’s commandments is the person who will be rewarded with the greatest blessings, for they have prepared themselves to receive those blessings. Life is all about learning to turn to God in our efforts to make the best of whatever life throws our way. When we learn to lean on the Spirit as we live out each day, we are learning wisdom, for that is what He teaches us as we pray to our Father for direction and a change of heart.

So does it really matter what we are given and what is withheld from us during mortality? Not really, for our mortal status does not determine our spiritual status. Our spiritual status is determined by our choices. Choose to be believing in what the Lord tells us. Choose to exercise faith, pray, fast, minister to others, and to be patient with whatever personal hardship you have to face in your life. These are the choices that determine our eternal destiny, not whether we were born as an important person or into great wealth. Even those people must learn to love and put others before themselves. In this we are all equal in the eyes of God.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 59, Section Heading – Who was Polly Knight?

President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The scriptures will help us resolve all of our personal questions because by reading them we invite and qualify ourselves for the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which will guide us into all truth” (in David A Edwards, “Are My Answers in There?” New Era, May 2016, 42).

The manual says enough about Polly Knight. I can’t add anything on her account, so let’s look at something we can learn from Polly’s example.

Polly’s heart appears to have been single to the glory of God. She didn’t want to come to Zion just because she could earn the accolade of the first Saint to die in Zion. That would be dumb. Her attitude about coming to Zion reminds me of the attitude of Simeon in the New Testament (Luke 2:25-32).

25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,

28 Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

32 light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Simeon was waiting patiently on the Lord. He knew he would not die until he had seen the Christ, but he had no idea how old he would have to live to be before that would happen. His eye was single to God’s glory. He lived his daily life as one who sought to be obedient in all things, but waited on the Lord’s timing and pleasure for his blessing to be given. Polly was a faithful woman who knew she would die soon. She also knew the saints had been called to travel to Missouri. As death crept closer and closer to her, her only desire was to fulfill the commandment to go to Zion. I am guessing that where she died wasn’t nearly so important to Polly as that when she died she was in the act of being obedient to the Lord’s prophet. This had become the pattern of her life.

Here are the first two verses of Doctrine and Covenants 59.

1 Behold, blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory, according to my commandments.

2 For those that live shall inherit the earth, and those that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them; and they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father, which I have prepared for them.

Crisis of faith

This part of the lesson is personal. Feel free to skip it if you like, for it is a lesson I chose to learn at a time when I was surprised by a trial of my faith.

In the early months of 2021 the vaccines were being rolled out for the Covid virus. I had absolutely no faith in the vaccine. I was very much against getting it, and had zero plans to do so. But then the prophet went public with the statement that he not only got the vaccine, but that he hoped all the Saints would be good global citizens and also get the vaccine. This was not a commandment. It wasn’t a “thus saith the Lord” moment. But boy did it bother me. He was asking me to do something that I was strongly against doing, and had already decided against doing it.

For days I stewed over why this bothered me so much. Finally I had an epiphany. No, I had not been commanded to obey the prophet, and yes, I was free to do as I wished in regards to the vaccine. But it occurred to me that someday I would face my Savior and account for my level of obedience to his servant. The prophet had directly asked that I get the vaccine. Did I really want to have to face the Savior and tell him that I disagreed with his servant, so I chose not to obey his direct request? What if the vaccine paralyzed me? What if it killed me or gave me a stroke, or any other maiming thing happened because I was vaccinated? What would I do?

My final decision was that I would stand before my Savior and tell him I had been obedient in all things to the living prophet. Whether in life or in death, just as the two verses above state, I wanted to have a clear conscience before God that I had done what was required of me. If that meant there was even the slightest danger of death, so be it, for my faith is that whether in life or in death, the blessings of God will be given to the faithful.

I know there are many who have chosen not to get the vaccine, but for me it became a matter of obedience and exercising faith in God and His servants. I believe these first two verses of section 59. I was comforted when I found the following quote that addressed this very situation.

The only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4-5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6). (Harold B. Lee, Teachings, 526)

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-19 – Keeping the Sabbath holy brings temporal and spiritual blessings.

President Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The scriptures will help us resolve all of our personal questions because by reading them we invite and qualify ourselves for the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, which will guide us into all truth” (in David A Edwards, “Are My Answers in There?” New Era, May 2016, 42).

Today’s lesson will receive a lot of attention from many who write or record videos about Come, Follow Me lessons. I would like to take a slightly different approach. I would like you to read the article below and discuss the answers to the many questions asked within the article with someone of your choosing. If you have no one with which to talk about the issues brought up in the article then try to look at the questions from different perspectives and be your own devil’s advocate. The important issue here is that we all see the Sabbath through different lenses and levels of understanding. All of us can be better blessed by the Sabbath, but we all need to start from a different point and proceed. My hope is that this gives you some good food for thought about your own perspectives on what the Sabbath should mean to you.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and Covenants 59:3-19 – Crowned with … commandments

To understand what it means to be “crowned” with commandments, which is an accolade, a reward for our personal goodness, I needed to write a separate article. You can reference it here.


Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the file.

Anxiously Engaged in a Good Cause

Week 22