Below is an excerpt from Randall J. Brown’s book, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior (pp. 50-52). Experiencing Christ was published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc. In this excerpt Brown discusses the need to turn our will over to the Lord’s, in order that He might build us to be all that we are meant to be. I was in awe as I “randomly” read this part of his book today, because just this morning in my personal study of the scriptures I learned about the very topic he brings up–the ancient practice of circumcision! Brown shares the symbolic nature of that covenant token and how it can be applied to our lives in order to help us draw closer to the Lord. Brown belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”), and is a devoted follower and disciple of Jesus Christ.
For ancient Israel, circumcision was the token of the Abrahamic covenant. Those who received it enjoyed the privileges and undertook the responsibilities of the covenant. It symbolized dedication to God and separation from the world and from sin.
Colleen Harrison, in her book He Did Deliver Me From Bondage, spoke about what a peculiar sign the Lord had chosen to be the token of the covenant. Why would the Lord have chosen something so private, so personal, and so sensitive (Colleen Harrison, He Did Deliver Me From Bondage, 62)?
In the scriptures, the Lord speaks of another form of circumcision, the circumcision of our hearts: “Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day” (2 Nephi 9:33). The circumcision of our hearts is a high-tech surgical procedure requiring such precision and skill that only the Master Physician can perform it. We must lay our hearts, bare and exposed, before the Lord’s view to be opened, hollowed, and then hallowed. The spiritual circumcision of our hearts, much like physical circumcision, requires total humility, because we are opening and exposing to the Lord the most intimate and private inner parts of our nature. We are laying everything, good and bad, before Him and allowing Him to skillfully dissect and cut away, not only that which is unholy and impure, but also that which is unnecessary for our wilderness journey. The Lord, in return, gives us back a new heart, a heart like His own.
The Lord, speaking to Israel through the prophet Ezekiel, taught, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
This is the mighty change of heart process, the process Paul referred to when he said, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, [and] quicken their minds” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 361).
Henry B. Eyring found himself praying through the night about a very important decision in his life. Needing to know the Lord’s will, he experienced the following: “I found myself praying, ‘Heavenly Father, it doesn’t matter what I want. I don’t care anymore what I want. I only want that Thy will be done. That is all that I want. Please tell me what to do.’ In that moment, I felt as quiet inside as I had ever felt. And the message came, and I was sure whom it was from. It was clear what I was to do. I received no promise of the outcome. There was only the assurance that I was a child who had been told what path led to whatever He wanted for me” (Henry B. Eyring, “As a Child,” Ensign, May 2006, 14–17).
Jacob taught, “Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works” (Jacob 4:10).
Genuine surrender is being willing to say, “Father, if this problem, pain, sickness or circumstance is needful to fulfill Your purpose and glory in my life or in another’s, please don’t take it away” (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 81). C. S. Lewis said, “The more we let God take over, the more truly ourselves we become— because he made us” (C. S. Lewis, as quoted by Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life, 80). Can we have the faith and trust to give it all to the Lord? Can we turn over all our regrets, our present problems, our future ambitions as well as our fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, and hurts? Can we put Jesus Christ in the driver’s seat of our lives and say with the same conviction as Paul that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13)?
The Psalmist wrote: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). C. S. Lewis made an insightful comment on building houses:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 176).
Unless we are willing to let go and allow the Lord to build our lives, we will labor in vain to build our own. The vanity and unbelief of clinging to our own wills deny us the privilege of experiencing Christ. There is no other way.
I invite you to learn more about our Savior Jesus Christ and how He can more intimately become your Master Physician by prayerfully studying the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, and by meeting with Mormon missionaries. I have studied the Book of Mormon many times as a second witness to the Holy Bible, and I have spent time with Mormon missionaries! I know from personal experience that both of these things truly helps the participant draw closer to Jesus Christ–which is a sacred and holy opportunity that everyone should have.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.