Free Will: Part I

I used to love storms, a good downpour accompanied by blasts of electricity tearing across the skies.  It is magnificent to see how the tree bark darkens and enriches the vitality of the colors that hang on the branches.  It used to fill me with exhilarated wonder.  Then I moved into a 50-year-old house in the midwest.  Now any serious rain means nothing but worry, dread even, that my basement will welcome the water from the saturated earth.  My reaction to storms has changed because of a change in circumstances.  As it started to rain again last night I wondered if I could ever enjoy the sound of thunder again.

When I was 16 a wise Bishop told me that anger is a choice.  Of course as a teenager full of angst I was infuriated by the accusation that my anger was a choice.  But in that ironic moment I decided to test the theory and immediately began to notice that I could in fact choose how I reacted to perturbing stimuli.  It’s been many years now and I’m much better at choosing not to become angry, though having three little kids has provided a plethora of new ways to practice that choice.  But what is the extent of our power to choose?

I feel crushed at times by the burdens of responsible adulthood.  Can the answer be to choose not to be burdened by earthly cares?  This is certainly part of what the Savior intended when he said, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  This implies that one’s life is acceptable to God.

We have reason to worry if we try to succeed on our own strength and terms.  But if we are confident that the path we are pursuing is in accordance with the will of God, even directed by Him, then we are promised His strength.  We can with full confidence stop worrying, and “stand still with the utmost assurance and see the salvation of our God” (D&C 123:17).  The challenge then is knowing that you are where and doing what the Lord would have you be and do.  When you know that in the depths of your soul, then worry melts like frost before the sun.  This is true power, not passive positive thinking that everything will work out for the best.

I felt such an assurance last night as raindrops began to pelt the awning outside my window.  I read these words:

Let them repent of all their sins, and of all their covetous desires, before me, saith the Lord; for what is property unto me? saith the Lord….For have I not the fowls of heaven, and also the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the mountains? Have I not made the earth? Do I not hold the destinies of all the armies of the nations of the earth? Therefore will I not make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance? saith the Lord.

Doctrine and Covenants 117:4,6-7

What is property to the creator of worlds without end?  I will choose to let storms once again bring majesty instead of dread to an otherwise meteorologically average existence, and trust that the Lord can bring forth in abundance the things we need for the journey.

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