Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moral Teaching: a Personal Testimony

But I don't want to!

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How many times have we said this growing up? And now, as mothers, how many times shall we hear it again? 

Not long ago, in my young adult life, I said this over and over again to the urging of my mother to get my teaching degree. Then after college I wandered aimlessly about for a couple of years with no real purpose on this earth but to seek my own pleasure and find my own way.

I returned home after a few months out of the country...lost, confused and spiritually barren. What was I doing? Where was I going? Why was God absent?

Then after a series of circumstances, the main one being that I began to relinquish my own desires for what the Lord might have for me, I began to draw nigh to the Lord and seek His will over mine. 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. -James 4:7-8

After this (and getting married), I needed to find a, a career, to support my husband through Seminary. Well guess what? I felt the holy nudge to interview for a junior high Spanish teaching position. During the interview, for the first time in my life I had the overwhelmingly clear sensation ... like a peace wash over me ... that this is what God wanted me to do. I was offered the job without having any teaching certificate on the condition I would work towards and acquire it during the following 3 years. 

I accepted.

I tell this very condensed version of my life story only to give a living example of "But I don't want to!" ... followed by several years of living in confusion and spiritual torment ... to "But I ought to...and I will." I finally came to the place where I was tired of being selfish and decided to let God prove Himself to be all He said He is. And I would obey and follow Him, as I ought. If I say with my mouth that He is my Lord, then I owe it to Him to show that I believe it by following and serving Him in obedience.

'Ought' is part of the verb 'to owe,' and that which we owe is a personal debt to a Lawgiver and Ruler. -Vol 3, p 126

Was I forced to accept the teaching position? Of course not. But had I disobeyed (or ignored) God's urging Spirit, I would not have experienced first-hand His power working through me during the following 5 years of teaching...nor would I have been as prepared for the next steps of obedience that would come after this.

Even the divine authority does not compel. It indicates the way and protects the wayfarer, and strengthens and directs self-compelling power. It permits a man to make free choice of obedience rather than compels him to obey. -Vol 3, pp 127-128

So what wisdom can we impart to our precious children from our own experiences of choosing "ought" over "want" and willing ourselves to submit to our Higher Authority? Or maybe the opposite: choosing "want" over "ought" and falling into the dregs of stubbornness and selfishness? I can testify that it brings many an opportunity to share with my children in both instances! 

So when I hear, "But I don't want to!" when I ask my daughter to clean the table or my son to pick up toys, I remind them that it is their duty... that I still have to do things I do not feel like doing, but must (like wash the dishes and change dirty diapers)... that they also must learn to do things that are right and necessary even if they don't feel like it ...

because this is just the beginning of learning to obey the Lord.

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