This article was originally published in Latterdaysaintwoman.com. Terrie Lynn Bittner, the author, passed away. But we are keeping her memory alive by publishing her work.
I’ve spent a great deal of time on the first three chapters of Genesis because it took me into rather in-depth studies of women in the gospel. Now I’m finally ready to move on to Chapter 4 to see what messages it holds for me.
In the Institute of Religion manual for the Old Testament, where I’m looking first, it points out that the Pearl of Great Price clears up a number of confusing things in the Bible. The Pearl of Great Price also tells of a time, recorded in Moses 5:6, an angel showed up and asked Adam why he was performing sacrifices.
Adam admitted that he didn’t actually know why he was doing them. He did them because he had been commanded to do so by the Lord and that was enough for him. The angel then explained to him what the purpose of sacrifices was:
This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
Now Adam would be able to explain it to Eve and to their children and they could do the ordinances with an understanding of the purpose. That would deepen the impact of the ordinance. However, I am more interested today in the “many days” they did it without knowing why. That took so much faith!
There are so many things in the gospel we don’t understand. God hasn’t chosen to tell us everything and so, sometimes we just do them in faith. But what an amazing gift that is. It is often easy to do things when we know why we should do them. It is so much harder when we don’t know and so the sacrifice involved in doing them is much greater.
This makes those things we do without understanding why a greater gift to our Father in Heaven. We are giving Him the great gift of honoring what He taught us even though it doesn’t make sense just now. Things that seem baffling or unfair or hard when viewed through a mortal lens will make so much sense when we finally see them through eternal lenses. But in the meantime, we give them as an offering, a sacrifice, to our Lord in the same way Adam and Eve gave their offering before knowing why.
The Lord could have told them why before they started doing sacrifices. Why didn’t He? Why did He make them wait a long time to understand why they were doing what they did? I think it was a gift to them, a chance for them to build their faith and to demonstrate their desire and willingness to be faithful. They’d gone through a bit of a bad time during their last days in the Garden. Now they were demonstrating who they had become, showing that even though they’d had to leave the Garden, they still loved God and wanted to do as He asked.
There are many things in this life I do that I don’t understand, even though they are commanded. There are parts of the gospel I don’t understand, but I accept them because I know God knows what He is doing. This is one reason it doesn’t bother me that God hasn’t explained to me why I don’t have the priesthood. I’d like to know–I’m a person who thrives on knowing things–but I trust God. My acceptance of that part of the gospel is my offering to God and I’m grateful that He is allowing me to make it. It’s a special offering God gives to His daughters and I can be miserable about it or I can rejoice that He trusts me to accept it in faith.
I am choosing to rejoice and to live up to His expectations of me.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.