Monday, June 14, 2010

A Divine Characteristic: Doing Nothing

". . . And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: 'How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.'

But Alma said unto him: 'The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.'

Now Amulek said unto Alma: 'Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.'

And Alma said: 'Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.'

Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them, the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto them: 'After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone? Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith. And the judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves?"

Alma 14:10-15, emphasis added

In my current personal journey, this seems to be a lesson the Lord is trying to teach me with a vengeance! I have so many concerns in my life, so many problems that either do not have an answer, or do not have an answer I am willing to accept.

I am not good at doing nothing.

Yet, it is increasingly obvious that doing nothing despite being capable of doing something can be a divine characteristic. Obviously, sometimes doing nothing causes us to sin by omission. How do we know the difference? How can we discern when is the time to act and when we should stand by, watching the train wrecking and doing nothing?

The only real answer to that is to depend on the Spirit.

This can be a tall order for someone who has tried with all they have to rely on the Spirit, only to see the effort come to nothing good, to see friends and family hurt by your attempts.

But this is no different than Alma and Amulek above, watching the innocent die because of the words they preached and because of the men who meant the prophets ill. How agonizing it must have been to allow them to pay that price!

I pray that the Spirit will be able to guide me truly as I try to better develop this divine characteristic and learn to simply. Sit. Still. And Wait.



  1. SilverRain,

    I agree with you that we have to learn to rely on the Spirit to know when we should speak up or take action or when we should remain quiet and do nothing.

    I also agree with what Sister Beck said in this last conference: "The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life."

    And for most of us, this is probably the hardest thing to learn. In some situations, it may come naturally. I think it definitely is a life-long learning and refining process for most of us to consistently follow the Spirit.

  2. This is so difficult. It takes huge amounts of trust in God and in ourselves. But I've found the same thing, there just is no other way to navigate this life but to depend on constant revelation.

  3. I tend to think of this more as "letting things happen" or "being able to wait" rather than doing nothing. Patient observing waiting is not nothing.


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