Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Smallest Part Which I Feel

I've been reading about Ammon's missionary journeys lately, and I am in awe. Not only was Ammon a great warrior and a missionary, he was also a poet to rival any psalmist. When he got together with his brethren, he rejoiced in the Lord's goodness to them and to the people they had served, saying,

"I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever" (Alma 26:12).

What a great thing to remember--as to my strength I am weak. When we excel in an academic or work environment, it's easy to think we've "prospered according to [our own] genius, and... conquered according to [our own] strength" (Alma 30:17). But the work of the Lord isn't like that--we do everything by His power. It's His work, His message, and when it sinks into the hearts of those we teach, it is He who gets the glory for such success. It's the opposite of the world's emphasis on self-esteem--this is God-esteem.

God-esteem makes a lot more sense than self-esteem, anyway. We're only mortals, after all, and as mortals we're going to fail a lot. Why not base our worth on our relationship to our Father, who "
is the Rock, his work is perfect... a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he" (Deut. 32:4)? Then we can rejoice, not in our own innate goodness, but in the chance He has granted us to be instruments in His hands, to bring to pass His great work and glory (Moses 1:39).

Ammon continued, praising God for delivering so many of the people with whom he has labored:

"Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice? Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.
"Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work.
"Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel" (Alma 26:13-16).

I feel like Ammon. I have been given some incredible opportunities to testify of Christ, and they have humbled me, as I have come to understand that when I do good in the name of the Lord, He strengthens me and gives me power, but He calls the shots and gets the credit for any success. For I, as John, "came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through [me] might believe. [I am] not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light" (John 1:7-8). Ammon's opportunities were difficult, as some of mine have been, but I, like he, rejoice in the opportunity to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in doing His work. Truly, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

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