Faithful Questions


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Doing the Lord's Will

I recall an experience I had as I was completing my doctorate that has taught me something about listening to God's questions rather than aggressively pursuing my own, no matter how righteous my questions seem to be.

I was just beginning my final year at Stanford, and I was not sure how I would be able to accomplish all that needed to be done.

One day the elders quorum president in the ward engaged me in casual conversation. He said that they were looking for an early-morning seminary teacher to teach the youth in the ward and offhandedly suggested that maybe I should do it. My response was that I didn't see how I could possibly do it during the coming year, given all that I had to do, and the conversation ended harmlessly enough. However, for several weeks I couldn't seem to get the thought out of my mind: "But what if they call you, Alan?" I had never turned down a calling in my life. I had always said to myself that I would accept callings, but I resisted the thought of this calling.

About three weeks later, as I sat in the temple renewing sacred covenants with the Lord, promising him that I would do whatever he asked, a thought from the Lord came into my mind: "Would you even teach early-morning seminary for me?" Well, there he had me. I realized that I had been asking the wrong question. My question had been, "How can I finish the dissertation and move on to a university assignment?" The Lord was asking me: "Are you interested in doing my will more than your own?"

In my heart I responded first with real embarrassment that I had been unrepentant and closed to what I now realized had been his question of me, a question that I thought had come from an unthoughtful and casual elders quorum president. I then promised the Lord that I would do whatever he wanted, even if I never finished the dissertation. I was called to teach seminary the next Sunday. It was one of the most difficult assignments I have ever had. I struggled to prepare for those early-morning lessons. The students were often not appreciative of the sacrifice that I felt I was making, and the dissertation took an additional semester to finish.

I realize now that this experience led me to remarkable opportunities to serve individuals who needed my particular approach. I also see how the Lord taught me about teaching, about the gospel, and about myself through this experience. As I look back, however, the most important lesson for me from this experience is that if I am not careful I may become so involved in pursuing my own questions that I may miss God's questions to me. They come in many forms, and I must school my heart to be open to them.

Excerpt from a BYU Devotional Address, given Dec. 5, 1995, by Professor Alan L. Wilkins. (Speeches, 1995-96, p. 101-102).