And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will. (Words of Mormon 1:7)I have always been enthralled with this verse from Mormon, who discusses his feelings about including the small plates of Nephi in his record after having already made an abridgment of the same material from the large plates of Nephi. (Many of us are very familiar with the results and the larger picture. The Lord worked upon Nephi to make that extra record. The Lord worked upon Mormon to include that record. Then, when Joseph Smith lost the translation of the main record, the extra record was in there to save his bacon from enemies who had altered the first translation and were waiting for him to retranslate it so they could show the altered version and cast aspersions upon his spiritual gifts and calling. Joseph Smith translated the extra record rather than retranslate what was lost, and this showed the great fore-knowledge and preparation of the Lord.)
As I was saying, it always enthralls me that Mormon was able to realize this prompting and follow it, considering it was asking him to do something as unusual as add a repeat of the material he had summarized. He explains it with the only explanation possible in such a situation—“I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.” That is true humility and trust right there. His submission is palpable.
To experience the Lord working in you to do according to his will is a fascinating experience. I had a recent sample of it myself. It’s as though you find a topic occupying your mind and/or you feel you must do something in particular, usually something you ordinarily would not consider needful. Sometimes it requires you to change your plans at the last moment, and that can be embarrassing, especially if other people are involved in those plans and participating. It can be disquieting to find that the same thoughts are recurring about what needs to be done, as much as you try to push them away. You may come up with excuses why it should not bother you, but you can’t get rid of the slightly unsettled feeling that you have to do it until you actually get it done. (Or at least that’s my experience from my less-humble less-submissive perspective. (See? I have a long way to go..))
It is possible to detect from the previous verses HOW the Lord worked on Mormon to include the small plates of Nephi. You can follow it by the action words from verses 3-6:
3 And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi.I find this description precious because it shows me that the whispering of the Spirit wasn’t a sudden impulse that was felt for a moment and then gone; it was something that drove Mormon onward. It stirred a hunger in him to find more material, it pushed him to search and read, it must have heightened his sense of edification and pleasure in what he read in Nephi’s small plates, it must have made those things seem extra precious as he pondered them at length, it must have increased his desire to share them with us.
4 And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass—
5 Wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi; and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people.
6 But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren. (Words of Mormon 1:3-6, emphasis added)
How does this apply to us today? I think the process Mormon describes happens over and over today in the church as diligent teachers prepare their lessons, as speakers carefully prepare their talks. Heck, I’m a primary chorister and I’m finding myself go through that process as I plan for singing time. (I SEARCH for the best songs for the theme, I FIND a good song, the song PLEASES me, I CHOOSE it, it is CHOICE to me and I KNOW it will be choice to the children who sing it.) As we seek out the best and choose the best for ourselves and to share with others, we will find that the Lord has worked in us to do according to His will.
Can you recall a time when you experienced the Spirit working in you to do the Lord’s will this way? Did you know it was the Spirit right off or did it take a while to sink in? Was it easy or hard for you to submit? What was the result?
Image: Mormon Abridging the Plates, lds.org, http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,8555-1-4779-5,00.html