Agency is something that is very important. The topic comes up often in church lessons and talks and conversations. I don’t really know if it is something that other churches talk about as much as we do in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but I do know that it is something that is taught from an early age.
We see agency from the very first story with people in the Bible Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2 Eve chooses to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of course there are consequences to her choice and then Adam’s choice to be with her in her move from the Garden of Eden into the world of hardship. But God tells them that all of the toil and hardship are to be for their good.
From then on there is agency in everything we do. We can choose for ourselves whether to follow God and His laws or to follow our own will. But no matter what we are always free to come back to God and begin again which is what repentance is. It is a turning toward Christ and a fresh start in our walk with Him.
Now I’ve known this since my early meetings with the Missionaries of the church when I was 17 years old. I understand it mostly. I don’t love it when it I watch those I love make choices I know will take them further from God and the Spirit’s constant influence in their lives. But I do know it is the only way to ensure that things will go according to the ultimate plan. Can we truly feel joy in doing the right thing if we are compelled to do it? How many of us feel joy when we see someone using their bridge card to buy groceries because of a government program. I mean we probably are happy that they have that opportunity but contrast that with the feeling of bringing groceries that you bought directly to someone’s home when you know they are struggling. Honestly, you paid for both. One with your tax money and the other with money you have on hand. Which feels better? To me it is the one where I got to choose to help.
Don’t get mad. I see the point of government programs. I’m just trying to illustrate a point about the difference between weing compelled and using agnecy.
All through the scriptures we see people using their agency to choose to live contrary to the commandments and also to live according to God’s laws. Choosing God does not mean that we will become prosperous as far as worldly goods or that we will have no troubles or that things will always run smoothly. It does however bring a sense of peace, joy and a feeling of love that may be difficult to find another way.
Jesus used His agency
The reason I’m thinking of this today is because of a talk I listened to this morning given by Cleon Skousen. Thank you to my friend Ben for the link.
The talk is not about agency. It is about some questions I’ve been pondering for a few months but there is a part that stuck out to me today and I thought about it in a different way.
At about the 30 minute mark Brother Skousen is talking about the moment in the Garden of Gethsemane before he suffers for our sins. According to Mark and Luke Jesus prays 3 times that if there is another way to please let Him not have to go through with the suffering. When He realizes that there is no other way and that we all need Him he says to the Father not my will but Thine be done. At that moment the suffering for our sins and pains and hardships begins. It is the beginning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ which begins that night in Gethsemane and and ends when he dies on the cross. When I say ends I mean His suffering ends. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is endless of course and we are so grateful for His beautiful sacrifice which He chose for our sakes.
But when I listened to that today I realized that it’s true that Christ really could have at that moment just said it’s too scary or too hard and walked away and because agency is so important to God He would have let him go. I have no idea what would have happened but I knew at the moment that I thought those thoughts that it is a true thing.
Why is that an important thing for me to realize?
Why do you think the Spirit bore witness to me today so strongly of this thing that I know but have been wishing wasn’t so? Well, I’m not going to go into details here in the public place but I will say that sometimes it’s difficult to watch your children make choices contrary to what you know is best for them. But the beautiful thing is that in the end everything will be ok. At least that’s my testimony. And if it’s not ok, then it isn’t the end. And the end may not be for a very long time yet.
Trusting is not an easy thing. Waiting is not an easy thing but I also know that as we study the scriptures and keep our eyes focused on the things that are most important and look for the hand of God in our lives we will see that hand more and more and the trusting and the waiting will not feel so heavy while we allow our loved ones the opportunities ot learn things for themselves – which is the whole point of agency.
Now, many people refer to agency as free agency. I purposely choose not to do that because I do not believe that agency is free. There are consequences attached to every choice we make. Some are good and some are hard. But regardless there is always a payment. It is not free.
I do pray that I will be able to use my agency to bless others and to help those around me and to be a good example to my family and friends. I also pray that I will use my agency in such a way that others will trust me and will be willing to share their heartaches and struggles with me and I in turn may be a comfort to them.