I like how Elder Ballard, in his talk “Return and Receive,” makes the distinction between goals and plans, and I also appreciate how he makes the point that when goals can be shortened into a few short words, they become easier to remember. I can use that every day.
What I love about his talk is that he simplifies the Lord’s goals for us into two words: “return” and “receive.”
Does this refer to now, or does it mean in the eternities? The true answer is yes. We need to return to Christ now in order to be with him in the eternities, but there are better reasons than that. The blessings that we desire from him are often conditional to our obedience to his commands. When we return to him, we can be assured of his protection in this life. (Which is very powerful when troubles hit — we can be assured that this is simply a growing period that we can get through by turning to Christ and following him.) We get to experience as much divine joy as we can prepare to receive. We gain a peace that can be difficult to explain. We become more than we could have ever made of our own selves.
Sure, I want to find that, when I die and pass on to my next eternal adventure, that I have qualified for the Lord’s blessings, but the blessings that keep me the most humble and the most focused are the ones that I have received in this life — they remind me that I am being watched over and cared for every moment of every day.
It would seem that I have already covered that, but there is a “minor detail” that I have discovered in life. We are actually capable of truly believing that we are doing all that we can do to receive the Lord’s blessings and still not receive them. It sounds a little crazy, but it’s true. I have learned from my experiences that there is more than one reason — but they all come back to me:
- I refuse to accept the Lord’s blessing because I’m demanding something different. I think this is the one I use most of all. The Lord sends the blessing and I miss seeing it (and miss the opportunity to be grateful) because I expected a different consequence. I think tithing is a big one. I grew up in a different religious tradition, and my spiritual leader once promised that if we would give to the Lord, we would receive 100-fold. To a pre-teen, that sounded like a pretty good deal, so I scrounged up $5 and put it in the offering plate. I never did see a flat $500 come my way in one lump sum! However, as a faithful tithe-paying adult, I have seen my health blessed, I have been inspired by the Spirit to prepare for twists and turns in my life that I didn’t see coming, and I have been blessed with good jobs that I enjoy. I have also been blessed with the assurance that, if an emergency comes my way, I can approach the Lord in prayer with a clear conscience as I ask for help.
- The Lord wants to give me a bigger blessing, but I’m not ready to take the extra steps and do the extra spiritual work to receive it. This is one I encountered as I have prayed for years to have some hurt feelings removed from my heart. I can finally say that I am on the road to being free from them, but I may suffer lingering effects for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until the Lord “tricked” me into studying a topic that was completely unrelated that I was able to make enough connections to try things his way. Surprise! It’s working.
In the comments below, share your story on how you became convinced that you should return to Christ and receive his blessings. If you aren’t sure yet and have questions, feel free to comment below as well, or send me a message through my contact form.