Sunday, October 17, 2010

Presuming to Know

In the time of ancient Israel, the people kept in their possession the ark of the covenant.  Moses was commanded to have it made.  It was highly sacred and was attended to by the priests of the tribe of Levi.  Aaron instructed that "they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die" (Numbers 4:15).  Among other things, it included the book of the law and was carried at the front of the House of Israel as they traveled.

Many years later King David decided to bring the ark of the covenant out of Kirjath-jearim back to the capital city.  They brought it on a new cart pulled by oxen, driven by Uzza and Ahio.  Amidst all the revelry, "Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God."

It seems like a harsh punishment, however, Uzza was aware of the consequences of touching the things he had been forbidden to.  It implies that Uzza thought the ark would fall and that God was being clear that He would not let it fall, or be lost, if they were faithful to their covenants (as He had promised from the beginning).  Uzza presumed to know the outcome and assumed that God needed him to break a commandment to steady the ark -- again, presuming that God would, or could, not protect the ark.

I often think about this story when I hear criticisms leveled at the LDS Church by its own members.  One such criticism is that it appears unfair that women are not given equal opportunity in holding the priesthood.  The criticism is based on the assumption that it is unfair.  How is it unfair?  There is no clear reply, except that it means the men get to have something that the women cannot.  While it sounds childish and jealous, it does also allude to a presumption we know what equity is better than God does -- if He would just ask us our opinion, then He would change His mind.

In the moment, Uzza was not seeing the whole picture.  He was seeing the oxen stumbling and assumed that the ark would fall.  Some members of the church today see the male priesthood line as being a "stumbling" within the church and think that it will fail to bring about the blessings that have been promised to women. 

If we humbly acknowledge that we do not see all that God sees, or even the panorama that is given to a chosen prophet and seer of God, we can realize that we are only comprehending part of the view.
8 ¶ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

  9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:

  11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  (Isaiah 55: 8-11)
Enough, and more!, has been given to us to qualify us for celestial glory, according to our worthiness, but there is much that remains a mystery.  It takes faith to accept that we don't know it all and that there are great reasons for why the Lord works in the way that he does, and to be content with what we have been given.

And what have we, women, been given?  A promise of inestimable worth and joy!
19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life ... and if ye abide in my covenant, ... it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.  (D&C 132:19)
Could we ask for anything more?  What more could we ask for?  To request, while in our limited scope, the priesthood to be conferred upon women, without the direction of the Lord, is to fail to recognize the marvelous worth of the blessings already waiting for us.

Our inheritance is magnificent!
-Michelle Cox, Texas-

1 comment:

Marsha McKneely Ault said...

I am so grateful to be a daughter of God. I am grateful that Heavenly Father allowed his daughters the privilege of carrying and giving birth to his children here on earth. Even though there is pain and sacrifice-and the role we have to nurture and care for these little ones is full of hard work and self sacrifices--it is so rewarding and fulfilling at the same time. Being a grandmother is even better. I love who I am and the potential I have to become one day. Thank you for this blog Michelle. We need more to bear witness to the sacred role we have been given as women of God.