Great Is the Work He Has in Mind For You
Alma 14:1 Alma 17:10
The missionary returned home from his two-year mission the day before his grandfather’s funeral.
The chapel was full.
After his mother finished playing a musical number on the piano he stood up to speak. Tearfully he began. He thanked his mother for the beautiful song she had played. He spoke of the time his mother had spent practicing and preparing for that moment, and of her desire to perform in celebration of her father’s life. He spoke of the Spirit we had felt so strongly as the music filled the room, lifting us, bringing comfort and peace.
Then he asked a very important question ––what if the piano had not been in tune?
It would not have mattered how much practice had occurred, or even how much preparation had taken place, if the instrument had not been in tune we would not have felt the spirit there.
It was an impressive sermon, one that has occupied my mind.
Throughout my life I, too, have prayed to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands. But, I have never really thought about how important it is to always be in tune so that I will be prepared in the very moment the Lord needs me.
The last time I had my piano tuned I watched for a while as the man worked.
It is a tedious business, requiring all of the other strings to be muted, isolating just one string at a time to insure that it gives the correct pitch. I found it interesting that the man didn’t just tune the strings he thought I used the most. To ensure the instrument would be ready to play, he made sure every string was in tune.
The same is true in our life. If we want to act as an instrument in the Lord’s hands, we must first work on being in tune.
I love how this lesson is taught by Alma and the Sons of Mosiah.
Before they left on their fourteen-year mission to the Lamanites, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah spent some time in the wilderness. The scriptures teach us that they “fasted and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God.” (Alma 17:9 emphasis added) After many days the Lord spoke to them saying, “Go forth…be patient in long suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands.” (Alma 17:11 emphasis added)
After hearing the promise of the Lord their “hearts took courage to go forth...
for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
And assuredly it was great.”
There are two lessons we learn from this scripture.
First, to become an instrument we must pray that the Lord’s Spirit will not only abide with us, but also go with us wherever we serve.
Second, sometimes it requires long suffering and affliction before we can act as an instrument in the hands of the Lord.
The Spirit of the Lord is sensitive, which means that to allow it to abide with us and to go with us will require us to look at how we are living. To really be in tune we must evaluate the music we listen to, the books or Internet sites we read, the television shows and movies we choose to watch, and the conversations we participate in. We have to decide whether they invite or detract from the Spirit, and then we have to choose if those that are questionable are more important to us than keeping the Spirit. It is true, being constantly in tune will require sacrifice on our part, but in the very moment when the Lord performs a great work through us every sacrifice will become worth it.
Elder Uchdorf counseled, “In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.”
Perhaps we could make a conscious effort every day to live in a way that will allow us to be more in tune ––to live in such a way that will not offend the Spirit. We could choose to participate in activities that will allow the Spirit to be with us. We could listen and act upon promptings that come to us through impressions, prayer, or through our scripture reading that day.
Maybe in moments of longsuffering or affliction we could consider the lessons we are learning. Would they come in useful at a later time when someone walks a similar road to the one we are on? Could we remember the aching, the stretching, the longing? Could we remember the moments of succor and the answers along the way? Would sharing those lessons with someone else at a future time allow us to act as an instrument in the hands of the Lord?
If we prepare ourselves, the Lord will use us in ways that we would not think of on our own. Like Peter, I am “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it.” (Phil 1:6 emphasis added)
We must come to believe that great is the work the Lord has in mind for us, and then let our hearts take courage.
The touch of The Master’s hand can do amazing things with an instrument that is in tune.
Then great will be the work that we are undertaking. Assuredly, it will be great.