I was preparing for General Conference this coming weekend and following the invitation of President Russell M. Nelson to study the first vision and ran across this statement made by Joseph Smith:
. . . that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.Joseph Smith – History 1:8
It struck me as I read this statement that this is why the Lord chose Joseph Smith – and not anyone else – to be the person He appeared to and used to usher in His restoration of the fullness of His gospel – Joseph could be taught.
Certainly the Lord prepared the world circumstances to be perfect for Joseph Smith to be the person he was and to be prepared to do the work He had for Joseph to do, and certainly we must consider that Joseph was foreordained to this role, but the Lord made it clear at least once that there were others He could choose to replace Joseph if need be:
And I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph; and in weakness have I blessed him;
And I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed, even things which were from the foundation of the world, and the things which shall come from this time until the time of my coming, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.Doctrine and Covenants 35:17-18
So it was not absolute that Joseph Smith should be the one accomplishing the work of the restoration. He was chosen for a reason. And that reason was because he was still malleable. He was so “unacquainted with men and things” – with the way mankind has set things up to function – that God could teach him, could mold him, and could instruct him how to do things the way God does them or wants them done.
Now, I believe the Lord prepares us all through the life circumstances we have according to the things He wants us to do in His kingdom if we are willing to work, but there is a profound truth here that is important for all of us to remember in our eternal progression:
God can accomplish the most with those whom He can mold.
It is all too easy for us as we get older and gain more life experience to think we have all the answers and know how things work and that we have nothing left to learn. If Joseph’s life experience and revelations show us nothing else, we should see clearly just how wrong that perspective really is.
If we wish to make the most growth in our life that we are capable of making; if we hope to accomplish amazing, great things in life and participate fully in the work of the Lord; if we hope to progress into beings like God is, it is crucial that we learn how to let God mold us. We need to see the rust in our lives – in our way of thinking, believing, and acting – and let Jesus help us clean it up and reshape us into tools He can use to accomplish miracles with on this earth.
As I consider my life right now I realize just how important it is for me to unlearn a few things so I too can be more “unacquainted with men and things,” and thereby become a more malleable hunk of metal that the Lord can reshape into a powerful tool in His kingdom. The quickest way for this to take place is to let go of what I think I know and allow God to mold me into what He alone knows I can be. This is my goal and my quest. May it be all of ours as we seek to live up to the potential God sent us to earth realize.