Like Ananias and Sapphira of old, we sometimes hold back "part of the price" from the Lord (see Acts 5:2). These withheld portions are what I call "our little rebellions."
From the returned missionary who slackens his grooming standards, to the woman who hides her talents for fear of criticism, we all have our little rebellions.
During the Steve Young era, my little rebellion was watching the occasional 49ers game on Sundays. For some church-going football fans, there are two Sabbath days: the one that ends at midnight on Sunday and the one that ends just before the game starts.
Holding back a portion from the Lord comes in a hundred permutations, but such withholding is a selfish withdrawal from our own potential.
Rebellion is a blessing lost
Ironically, when we refuse to surrender our will to the Lord, we impede our ability to give even that which we are willing to give.
I saw a striking example of this with my friend Fred. A weekend stock-car racer, Fred lived for the thrill of the finish line. Along the way, he became an expert procrastinator and master of excuses. "I’ll quit the racing-circuit when ... " "I’ll accept a church calling if ... " "I’ll take my family through the temple as soon as ... "
On the third turn of a Sunday-night race, Fred was called home in his mid-40s. He had crossed mortality’s finish line, not someday, but now. His willingness to change his ways at some elusive future date was crippled by his unwillingness to please God today.
Consider another friend who attends church faithfully, yet refuses church membership. By his own admission, he welcomes social camaraderie but shuns full commitment to God.
People who shun commitment to God are often fanatical in their commitment to the natural man. Committed to themselves, they lose the blessings of commitment to a higher, nobler cause.
Commitment can be a daunting thing, especially for new members of the LDS Church. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, sustained commitment requires faith. Faith fuels that commitment even when intellect questions the math of duty and service.
What is your "little rebellion"?
The Master declared, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).
For this reason, the Lord is as concerned about the desires of our hearts as with the outward manifestation of our little rebellions. In other words, our rebellions flower in a hundred ways but stem from the same toxic root.
The person who consistently refuses church callings has much in common with the football Sabbath breaker. The lazy scripture reader suffers from the same lethargy as the casual home teacher. Selfishness is contagious.
From teenagers rebelling against their better angels, to adults whose pride is an iron anchor unwilling to budge, the cure for our little rebellions is Jesus Christ; not Christ in the ethereal, unapproachable sense, but Jesus in the genuine-friend sense.
Until our clenched fist yields to the Master’s hand, we cannot walk hand in hand with him.
When we pay the full price discipleship demands, including the surrender of our will to the Lord, we gain the very thing we so jealously withheld: our true self-worth. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, "It is the only surrender which is also a victory!" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Plow in Hope," Ensign, May 2001, page 59)
William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School. He practices law and teaches law and ethics. A former Phoenix stake president and current high councilor, he is active in Interfaith and a U.S. Air Force veteran.