Thankfully the spirit spoke through my self-centered fears, chastening my pride and teaching me a lesson I had never learned before. God is the one who must determine the response to evil, not me. I saw that faithful, powerful, bold advocates of morality, willing to suffer for the name of Jesus, are still of no value if they exercise their boldness, contrary to God’s will. In fact, if they do so, they are no better than the men-pleasers, who live by moral relativity. Both types seek to replace the sovereign God with their own wills, their own ideas of what is right.
I was reminded that for every Abinadi, Samuel the Lamanite and Shadrach, Meshac and Abednegp, boldly proclaiming truth and risking or even suffering death without fear, there are others following God’s will in quietness. The people of Alma, who bowed to political pressure and ceased to pray vocally, the marchers of Zion’s Camp, who abrogated their rights, turned from the fight and went home, the Utah saints who, though willing to go to prison for the cause, embraced the manifesto instead.
I next thought of Peter who showed his willingness to die for the Lord by wielding a sword in defense of his Savior against overwhelming odds in what was an impossible mission, yet seemed unable to embrace the idea of giving up without a fight. I thought of Daniel, who when threatened with death for praying, remained faithful and kept praying without regard to the consequences. God blessed him for his boldness and preserved him from the mouths of the lions. I wondered why Alma and his people did not do the same. Why didn’t they boldly continue to pray no matter the consequences and rely upon God to spare them from their Lamanite captors? God knows His reasons, but I finally recognized that it is God’s will that must reign supreme in our response to pressure and attacks we face because of our moral stands. We may want to always respond as a lion, but God may desire us to be lambs. I do not doubt that the people of Alma would have continued to pray vocally if God had commanded it. The key is that God had a different plan for them then he did for Daniel.
Jesus was the most powerful being to ever walk the earth. When he needed to be a lion, he was a lion. Yet when spit upon, cursed, tortured, and nailed to a cross, the being who could have stood boldly for the right and destroyed all the oppressors, submitted to his Father’s will and became the Lamb. So there it is. I have learned that when I want a lion, when I expect and desire a bold, unashamed response from the church to a world promoting immorality in many hues, I must remember that God, whose knowledge and wisdom far surpasses mine, may want a lamb. When I yearn for conference talks that hit the world in the face with radical, truth, and fill our ears with the moral battle cry, God may desire a different response. When I want war, God may be extending the olive branch. Whether I am the Nephite who is willing to fight, or the Lamanite convert who is not, I must still be ready to fight, submit, or flee as God commands, and be content in knowing the master lion, who can also be a lamb, knows what is best.
My soul is at peace now as I ponder on these absolute truths.
1. This is God’s kingdom restored in our day for the salvation of his children, and it will NEVER again be taken from the earth.
2. God’s prophet is called by revelation, and God will NEVER allow him to lead the kingdom astray. If God wants him to be a lion, the Prophet will rise to the occasion, if He wants him to be a lamb, God’s desire will reign supreme with the mouthpiece of the Lord.
I admit it. I am much more lion than lamb. I have often fantasized about dying for the cause of truth. I have pictured myself at times, facing down a ruthless mob like Lyman Wight, yelling; “shoot and be damned!” I have almost never even considered dropping my sword, and submitting to my enemies because God wills it to be. It would be so easy for me to be a lion for the Lord. It would be much more difficult for me to be a lamb for him, yet now I see that lamb or lion, I am His. I love Him, and therefore, I must submit to his perfect love, powerful wisdom, and compassionate commands. With Abraham, and even with Jesus, I must be willing to say in how I response to evil, “God’s will be done!”
I still stand ready to be a lion and defy an evil world even at the risk of my life, if God wills it. However, I now add to that stance the sincere prayer; “Lord give me strength to be a lamb, when a lamb is what thou dost require.”