A central message of scripture is to submit ourselves to God (James 4:7, Mosiah 3:19, Alma 7:23; 13:28, Ether 12:27). When we empty ourselves of ourselves—our agendas, preferences, peeves, demands, expectations—God is able to take up occupancy in us. Filled with Him, we experience great spiritual power. By losing ourselves, we gain ourselves. By surrendering (to God), we conquer (the world).
Yet God tells us to “be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58:27).
How can we reconcile mandated submission with God’s instruction to be anxiously engaged? I think the answer is simple. As we submit our minds, hearts, and wills to God, He lends us more and more of His power. By surrendering our power, we gain His. Submission opens the door to heavenly power.
Priesthood is a good example of this principle. As we submit ourselves to God’s commands, He lends us His power. He allows—even encourages—us to do mighty works. Of course, His power must be used in righteousness. As soon as we try to use that power “in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37).
But God’s invitation goes far beyond blessing babies and baptizing children. Enoch used faith to make the earth shake, mountains flee, and rivers change course (Moses 7:13).
The key to Enoch’s power was twofold:
1. Enoch’s faith was not in himself but in God. When God invited him to be a messenger to the people, Enoch protested:
“He bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?” (Moses 6:31).
I’m sure you see the irony. Because Enoch felt unworthy to be a special messenger for God, He was ideally suited for the demanding task. Meekness is not a weakness to be overcome but a foundation on which God builds. Meekness and humility are preconditions for exercising God’s power.
2. Enoch did not use God’s power to advance his own agenda. He used it to advance God’s work and purposes and bless His children. If we want to enjoy God’s power, our whole desires must be to bless God’s children.
Sometimes lately in my evening prayers I am surprised to find unexpected words pop up, “Father, teach me to use Thy power to bless Thy children.” I think God is inviting me to learn the sacred process of heavenly power.
This idea was especially poignant to me as I participated in BYU Education Week years ago. I visited with people who suffer terrible pains. Several times people told me stories of dashed hopes and grim suffering. One woman told me of profound pains and cried with tears, “I’m done! I can’t go on!” I wept with her. I honestly had no answer for her wrenching challenges. I came home with a nagging melancholy. How can such good people bear such anguish?
It is all well and good to talk of eternal compensations. It is appropriate to offer our love and support. But is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no comfort for the overburdened? Is there no way we can help the desperate?
As I dozed off to sleep, a sacred invitation flowed into my mind: “Bring to pass much righteousness.” I turned on the bedside lamp and wrote those words. They felt like an answer and invitation.
Is there a way that we can exercise faith to draw the blessings of heaven into the lives of those who suffer? We would not truncate God’s educational curriculum for any of His children, but maybe part of the curriculum is for us to be united in yearning for each other. Maybe we can draw heavenly goodness into each other’s lives.
Enoch’s people suffered terribly. Yet their afflictions seemed to open them to Enoch’s invitation to repentance. In their desperation, the people called on God. Enoch exercised God’s power to the chagrin and defeat of their enemies:
So great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea. And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God; (Moses 7:14-5)
While there were wars in the world, “the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness. The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish” (Moses 7:16-17).
The terrible affliction did not break the people, it united them. It created a city unique in the history of the world, a city that drew heaven into them and so that heaven could draw them up. “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24).
Enoch and his people became the prototypic Zion.
“And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).
I think that God is inviting us to create Zion in our communities of concern. God invites us to purge our selfish desires and submit to His perfect purposes so that we can draw heaven’s blessings into the lives of those we love.
I don’t know a step-by-step process to activate this power. I am simply trying to find my way just as I suppose you are trying to find yours. I am asking the Spirit to teach me how I can help the poor, lift up hands that hang down, and strengthen weak knees. I would like to be an agent for God in the lives of those who suffer. I yearn to bless those we love.
In the wilderness of mortality, I feel like Nephi: “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). While I do not know the process, I know that God has created an amazing adventure in godliness for those who respond to His invitation to join Him in blessing His children.
May we draw the power of heaven to bless those among us who suffer.
You may be interested in Brother Goddard’s books such as Soft-Spoken Parenting, Drawing Heaven into Your Marriage, and Between Parent and Child.