I remember one of my earliest conversations with God when I was still a young man walking the streets of Detroit.
I remember I was studying principles that involved learning how to be a tool in the hands of God and wanting to be able to do miracles with the power of God.
I was in Detroit, and it was becoming clear that it was going to take a miracle or two to serve the people there in any meaningful way.
During this time, a theme that kept surfacing that related to turning your will over to God. Or, giving your heart, might, mind and strength. And consecrate your life unto Him.
Because I was deep in the moratorium of life, and because I felt like I was just getting out of my parent’s home and beginning to get a life of my own, turning my life over to someone else, voluntarily, did not seem like an attractive option.
I found myself being plenty resistant. I found myself, for a few days, avoiding conversations with God the same way one might avoid someone on the playground that they decided not to be friends with.
The internal pull to not only connect with, but have a meaningful relationship with God would not go away.
When I reached out again, He was still there, being quietly pleasant as he usually is.
I started trying to explain myself, although He had not asked for an explanation. I said something like, “I would dedicate my life to you, but…it looks really…boring.”
“I mean, everybody I know who is a dedicated servant to you either is a boring person (modern day prophets…I know because I tried to listen to them in General Conference and it bored me to death) or they get killed (everybody knows that all the prophets in the scriptures and Joseph Smith got killed).
More pleasant silence.
“And….I don’t know that I really want to let go of what I want to do (although I really don’t have a clue about what I want to do with my life….for sure). I just really don’t like the idea of spending my whole life doing things I don’t want to do.
The communication that occurred from there came in the form of conceptual insights, but if the messages were transposed into spoken words, they would have sounded something like,
“Maurice….do you think I am unhappy?”
( I am embarrassed to say that this question revealed more of my egocentrism.)
My reply, “I have never thought about your happiness.”
“Well, what I have read and been told about your personality and your plans, I would guess that it is very unlikely that you are unhappy.”
“Maurice, do you think I am happy?”
“Um, I guess, based on the process of elimination, if you are not unhappy, then you are happy.”
“Maurice, do you think I have, I understand and I use the best recipes for happiness and joy that are available in the universe?”
“Maurice, did you miss the part where it was my goal and plan for you to have, understand and use the best recipes for happiness and joy that are available in the universe?”
“Maurice, as I have watched you, it appears that you understand and value the apprentice/mentor relationship, yes?”
“So, if you want the best and most efficient and effective education and training toward acquiring, understanding and using the best recipes for happiness and joy that are available in the universe, it would be wise for you to become an apprentice to the most excellent mentor, yes?”
“Would you allow for the possibility that I may be the best choice for a mentor?”
“Then, maybe, it makes sense that the most efficient and effective way to experience the best happiness and joy would be to commit yourself as an apprentice to me, yes?”
It has not been hard, since then, 30+ years ago, to answer the questions posed by President Nelson,
And then later…
As I carefully walked through President Nelson’s talk, it was as if he had heard my concerns from 3 decades ago. I was worried, for some strange reason, that God did not have my best interests or happiness in mind. President Nelson says,
I was worried that if I became an apprentice of God, I would forfeit my freedom of choice. President Nelson says,
I was afraid turning my life over to God would make life very stressful. President Nelson says,
And when I worried that consecrating my life to being a tool in the hands of God would not be enjoyable, President Nelson reminds me of…
Are you willing to become His apprentice because you trust Him to be your mentor?
So, I started a new journey. With small baby steps, just a little bit at a time, I began to move forward as if letting God prevail would bring a life of peace, happiness and success more than I could achieve on my own.
President Nelson reminds us of a principle, or rather, a key foundational concept with which we can build with great confidence.
Instead of becoming a carbon copy “servant of God” as I had feared, it started to become clear that my unique personality, gifts and strengths were part of the Divine recipe.
He needs different ingredients to “bring to pass the immortality and Eternal life of man.” Even my unique set of intrinsic motivations and desires seem to be important to the recipe.
I remember reading in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be unto you; and if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.” (D&C 6:8)
So, instead of becoming like everyone else, my individuality became enhanced; like the different organs in a human body or the different parts to the motor of a car.
Of course, learning to become a powerful tool in the hands of God, one must be trained. It does not come for free or without work, just like anything else on this earth. President Nelson clarifies the recipe…
And when we start to get overwhelmed and/or we start to feel like we set not making a difference…
And, alas, we will have the privilege of being part of God’s miracles.
And in conclusion, let’s not forget, because President Nelson keeps reminding us, that Satan will always try to sabotage this whole edifying experience.