When we think of being used, it is rarely a good experience. Normally, being used means someone is manipulating us to get something for themselves, an advantage or perk, like we are some kind of tool to be used at their good pleasure then tossed aside until needed again. There is a certain quality in that act which smacks of callousness and disregard for another’s feelings. That is how the world uses others, but that is not how the Lord uses us. Being used by the Lord is an exalting experience, not a demeaning experience. Please, let me explain.
The Nature Of Learning
Our purpose in mortality is to learn wisdom, which means we learn to trust in God with all our heart, with all our soul. That means that we are willing to follow His direction, keep His commandments, and work and wear out our lives in His service. In exchange for this trust we put in Him, He promises us that we will receive everlasting life at His side. (Doctrine and Covenants 123:11 – 14), (Romans 6:22), (Alma 32:41)
Intellectually learning of spiritual things is only marginally possible. Most spiritual things cannot be comprehended with just the intellect. To comprehend spiritual things we have to learn to feel things that are not detectible to our physical senses, become sensitive to the whisperings of the Spirit so we can feel or sense what we need to do, or what is correct in a given situation.
Spiritual learning takes experiencing things that lay outside of the normal mortal experience. It is only after we have experienced these things with our spiritual senses that our intellect is able to begin to grasp and connect the dots as to how all this fits into our lives and how it affects us and our behavior.
An example would be a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Intellectually, the Book of Mormon makes very little sense, because there is no proof of its story, no proof of its authorship, nothing. It must be taken completely on faith, and the Lord wants it that way. It is only after we have exercised faith in the promise in Moroni 10:3 – 5 that we discover through a Spiritual witness the truthfulness of the book. Once I know the Book of Mormon is true I am able to place greater faith in Joseph Smith as the translator of the book. Along with that comes faith in all that Joseph Smith taught as a prophet, as well as faith in all the prophets who have followed in Joseph’s footsteps.
As I exercised faith in something my intellect couldn’t grasp I received a spiritual confirmation of truth then was able to have faith in a host of new things that formerly made no sense either, but now have a foundation of truth behind them. Now I can start to live my life according to new teachings and beliefs that would have made no sense otherwise.
The point is this, the intellect is not enough. To learn of spiritual things we need to have spiritual experiences that teach the intellect about the way things truly are in the universe. Living according to what we have learned through the Spirit teaches us wisdom – how to act like God. Spiritual knowledge teaches us how God feels about things, how Jesus would act in a given situation, and how we should act and feel to bring joy and gladness into our life.
Using People With A Spiritual Twist
The Lord is not here to personally do good things for us. One of the great blessings of this life is that He has placed us in an environment where we must learn to act in His behalf. By learning to act as God acts, we become like Him. That includes using people as God uses people. I bristle every time I say that, but it is still true. If the Lord wants to bless Sally down the street with someone to talk to so she isn’t lonely, what does He do? He sends a neighbor who is sensitive to the whisperings of the Spirit to Sally’s house to check in on her. If the Lord needs to bless a financially struggling family with some temporary help He urges them to go to the Bishop. The Bishop has already agreed to be the hand of the Lord in helping God’s children with their spiritual and temporal needs.
The Nature Of Covenants
When we covenant with the Lord, in exchange for the blessings we personally receive, we promise to allow Him to use us as He sees fit. Look at the baptismal covenant we all made. It is found in Mosiah 18: 8-10
And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
When we agree to mourn with those who mourn, we are agreeing to comfort others who stand in need of comfort in place of the Lord. He uses us to bring comfort to others. Does that make Him selfish? No, unless you consider saving a child who is desirous of learning to be a God selfish. It is also not selfish that an additional child is receiving comfort otherwise not available to them. Our Father in Heaven is already ultimately happy. He is doing this for our benefit, not His. The Lord uses us to be His witnesses at all times and in all places. In exchange for allowing Him to use us to do His work on the earth we are promised redemption. Sounds like a much better deal than when your boss used you to get his/her last promotion at your expense, because you got squat!
We are the Lord’s hands, eyes, and feet. We are His back and legs that bear the burdens of His children in mortality. We stand in His stead and represent our Savior in helping to perform the work of salvation for our brothers and sisters. In return we are promised that salvation will be ours for our efforts.
How Does This Work?
In the October, 1997 General Conference, Janette Hales Beckham, who was then the outgoing Young Women’s General President, made some wonderful remarks regarding how this life works. Following are several quotes from her talk:
“… our perception of the real world to some extent is dependent on our experience.”
“In order to have faith, or know that we have faith, we need to have experience with faith.”
“Learning to discern the teachings of the Spirit is an important part of helping faith become a reality.”
“Experience can also help us recognize when good feelings are lacking.”
“… We should not bring up our children to respond to the exciting, the thrilling. … They are a titillation of the nerves. To be moved is one thing; to be excited or titillated, a very different thing. If we bring up our children always to be wanting something new, … they will have to have a stronger [and stronger] stimulus each time until they finally [burst]. But if we inure our children to stability, to repetition, to normal life …, then they will live decent lives” (the Abundance of the Heart , 222-23; emphasis added).”
The common thread throughout these quotes is the word “experience.” Intellectual knowledge of the goodness of God or the ways of God are not enough. We have to learn what it means to be like God, which means we need to experience a godly life. The only one who can teach us how to live a godly life is a god. Fortunately for us we have three of them at the ready, willing and wanting to help us learn. We just have to submit to their direction so we can learn how to do it.
When the Lord gives us opportunities to serve in the Church we learn how to behave as Christ behaved. It is a slow process, not a quick fix. We need to learn wisdom in how to apply the teachings of the gospel. We need to learn when to apply specific teachings of the gospel. We need to learn to look past the physical and discern the spiritual capacities and value in each person, which takes experience with revelation and recognizing the promptings of the Spirit.
We are blessed to be used by God. By becoming His servants, and by carrying out His will, we see the blessings of eternity unfold in the lives of those around us, as well as in our own lives. We begin to grasp what it means to be charitable, forgiving, tolerant, and at peace within ourselves. This is a lifetime of learning, falling down, getting back up, and trying again. Yes, there are definite advantages to being used by God. It is a win/win situation. The Lord uses us to help Him save His other children. This blesses their lives and saves our own.
Kelly P. Merrill
Kelly Merrill is semi retired and writes for https://gospelstudy.us. He lives with his wife in Idaho. His strength is being able to take difficult to understand subjects and break them down into understandable parts. He delights in writing about the gospel of Christ. Writing about the gospel is his personal missionary work to the members of the Church and to those of other faiths who are wanting to know more about Christ's gospel and His Church.
I love your inspired writings. Thank you so much.