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I Know Not, Save The Lord Commanded Me

In Moses 5 of the Pearl of Great Price we read that after Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden…

And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. ?

Isn’t that beautiful? Such incredible faith! Only after Adam had already demonstrated his faith and commitment to the Lord by being obedient to the Lord’s command did he finally understand why he was asked to make the sacrifice. I’m sure he must have wondered. I wouldn’t doubt that there may have been a little questioning in his mind. This is merely supposition of course, but after all, this is the same man who was in the Garden when all creatures were at peace. He also was given the marvelous task of naming all those creatures. He walked among them and cared for them. And there he was, being asked to sacrifice one of them.. Not just any of them, but the best of them. On top of that, he wasn’t killing it to eat it or to make a bodily covering. He was given no explanation, no rationale for what he was asked to do. But he was commanded by the Lord, and that was all he needed. That was enough.

Robert D Hales said, Every man’s faith is tested. He must develop self-denial either of moral or physical things of this world; he must sacrifice and show the Lord that he will give. These blessings then bring rewards and stronger faith. We do this “with an eye single to the glory of God,” as stated in the fourth section, fifth verse, of the Doctrine and Covenants–not for what we want to do, but rather for what the Lord wants us to do, when he wants us to do it, and in the way his work needs to be carried out. There will be times when we shall not understand why. ?

During a devotional address at BYU, Harold Glen Clark, then serving as the first president of the Provo Temple, shared the following experience.
I recall a manuscript on Reasons for Observing the Word of Wisdom, produced by one of our BYU professors. He wanted us to print it. So we took the manuscript to one of the Brethren, President Spencer Kimball, who pronounced it one of the finest treatments of the subject that he had ever read. Convincing economic, health, and other reasons for following the Word of Wisdom were clearly set forth. “But,” he said, “you left out the most important reason.”

“What is that?” the author asked.

“Because God asked us to,” he replied.

My two favorite one-line quotes from scripture are Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted ? and I know not, save the Lord commanded me ?.
I never really noticed it before, but they’re both centered on faith and obedience born of that faith. (Oddly, my other favorite one-line quote from scripture is Help thou my unbelief ?. It’s a confession of a lack of faith, that in a very humble way, expresses a faith he didn’t realize he had.)

But I LOVE the confidant, sure and immovable faith of both Adam and Nephi. The kind of faith that says I don’t care if I don’t understand why in the world I’m doing this. I’m going to burn the best of my flock. ?

I don’t care how crazy it is. I know I don’t know how to build a boat. But God told me to build a boat, and dog-gone it, I’m building a boat. ?

I know I’ll look like a fool. But I’m building a boat in the middle of the desert and filling it with animals. ?

I don’t care if it doesn’t fit into my plans or even if it isn’t what I think I want. I’m selling everything I own, even giving it away if I have to. I’ll leave everything behind, even my friends and some of my family. The Lord wants me to leave, so I’m leaving. I don’t even know where we’re going. But the Lord has given His instructions, and I will obey. ?

I know it doesn’t make any sense, but I’m going to put mud on my eyes. ? Or, I’m going to look at the carving of a snake on a stick. ?

Who cares if these are just stones? My God will make them shine brighter than a halogen lamp, and longer than any Energizer Bunny battery in the year 2008. How? I don’t know! And I don’t care!. ?

I don’t know. I don’t understand. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no proof it will work and science or research says otherwise. It doesn’t fit into my plans. It’s not what I wanted. BUT, the Lord commanded me and I know in whom I have trusted.

No equivocation. No rationalization. No reasons or excuses in an attempt to justify doing something other than directed. Just faith-born obedience.

These are my favorite stories! And I know there are more out there! Your personal stories of faith. If they aren’t too sacred or too personal, please consider sharing them!

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • davidson February 20, 2008, 9:14 am

    I have to stop typing so I can wipe my eyes. I thought this was so beautiful and so appropriate. Thank you, Tracy. I’m going to think about it and come back later to respond. I’m also going to print this and put it in my journal. You said so well what I’ve felt for so long. There is a big difference between blind obedience and trusting, purposeful obedience, and you captured it.

  • missbrown February 20, 2008, 9:40 am

    I love this! There are many things we are required to do that we don’t quite know why, save the Lord commanded us. That is enough for me.

  • spande2 February 20, 2008, 10:02 am

    Great article, face.

  • Ray February 20, 2008, 10:11 am

    Not to threadjack this wonderful post, but one of the worst parts of child psychology is its emphasis on always giving children a reason for what you ask of them. I believe strongly in doing so in most instances, but there is a very valuable lesson that children need to learn that gets overlooked if they always have a detailed explanation. It is what Tracy addresses here – the willingness to do something simply because it is asked by someone they trust. Always giving them a justification literally destroys their ability to build a foundation of faith – an understanding of simple trust.

    As I said, I believe in the principle of explaining requests (as well as a healthy questioning of authority), but quite often I simply make the request without any explanation – just to see if my children will do what I ask of them. I think Heavenly Father does the same thing with us.

  • kiar February 20, 2008, 10:29 am

    Hmm, Definate food for thought! I love this post, and have personally learned about Faith in the past few months. When we tackled the idea of my husband going to the Police Academy, we were both working full time, and he would have been taking a small paycut, and it would have been fine, since I was working. They wanted to send him during the spring, which would have had him graduate in October, or November. Then I got pregnant. We knew that he was supposed to go to the academy, but I was due in October. How would I be able to work, look after 3 kids, and have a baby all by myself, with him only home on the weekends. So we prayed, a lot! The agency putting him through decided to send him in October, allowing him a few more months to get in the shape required to go. I had to leave work the end of August but he worked his regular job of dispatcher until October, I was able to have the baby a week early (he was to start on my due date) and because of his pay schedule, we didn’t have to stress too much about money.
    We put all our faith in the Lord, and told him that we knew even when things got tight, that we would be ok. Little did we know how much our faith and trust in Him would be tested in the past few months! It seems that whenever it looks the darkest, like not having any gas in his car, something would turn up. I got extremly sick a couple of weeks ago, and he had to return to school, not knowing if I could get out of bed to look after the kids. But a dear friend showed up at our house half an hour after he left, brought food for the kids, entertained them, put them to bed, locked up the house and was on his way. The next day, he and his wife brought dinner and cereal for us becasue they knew I was in no shape to get to the store. Joe was able to be at school, and not have to worry about us which meant the world to me!
    I was feeling down, and kind of depressed the other day, and Joe looked at me, and said “you are not allowed to lose faith! Have you not been paying attention the past 5 months? How can you get so upset about this, when you KNOW that the Lord is looking out for us and will continue to do so?” And you know what? he was exactley right. I don’t have any right to get upset when things look down, because the Lord has pulled us up by our bootsraps every single time. There is no reason to fear. If we do what is required of us, He will provide. That is why we make covenants, and renew those covenants each week.
    Hugs to all of you who are struggling with faith! to be honest, I still do on occasion, but have been learning! Oh boy have I been learning!

  • facethemusic February 20, 2008, 4:44 pm

    but quite often I simply make the request without any explanation – just to see if my children will do what I ask of them. I think Heavenly Father does the same thing with us.

    Very interesting thought, Ray. I know that 95% of the time, I give my kids the spiritual and/or temporal reasons for doing something I’ve asked, that their teacher has asked, etc. And of course, there are times when I blurt out “because I said so”– generally out of frustration, when I’ve already GIVEN reasons, and the reasons just aren’t good enough for the kids. (Or more than likely, they aren’t really looking for a “reason to obey’, but rather just prolonging HAVING to obey. The more questions they ask, the more conversation we have, the more they feel like they’re getting away with not having to
    DO it. :)
    But honestly– I don’t think I’ve ever PURPOSEFULLY given an instruction WITHOUT an explanation, just to see if they’d obey. That would be an interesting experiment! If fact– it would make a great FHE object lesson on the subject of obedience!
    Kiar– we ALL struggle with our faith. Notice that I said my favorite stories in the scriptures are the ones that show that determined obedience born of faith– not that I always posses it! :)

  • jennycherie February 20, 2008, 5:27 pm

    Beautifully written, Tracy. This reminds me of our discussion in the SS lesson last Sunday. The phrase, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” is a beautiful one. It also leads us to, what Kiar mentioned, remembering the times the Lord has blessed us so that we can build up our faith when we are filling a bit down.

  • Alison Moore Smith February 21, 2008, 1:27 pm

    Thank you, Tracy!

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