Sister Joy D. Jones told a story in the April 2021 general conference about a four-year-old boy who fell out of bed. When asked by his parents why he fell, he answered, “I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t get far enough in!” (“Essential Conversations,” Liahona, Apr. 2021, 13).
“Getting far enough in” is a good way to describe a total commitment to something. It implies being devoted to a cause and investing one’s all to the success of the task. Being all in is a term that is valued as being very worthwhile.
Giving God Our Heart and a Willing Mind
Our Heavenly Father values this trait very much and desires to bless us as He sees these characteristics. One of the “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in June 14-20 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Doctrine and Covenants 2021, 105 emphasizes this message in Doctrine and Covenants 64:34, “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (emphasis added).
The term heart is often used to describe someone’s entire person, or nature. Elder Marvin J. Ashton said: “Why the heart? Because the heart is a synonym for one’s entire makeup. …The measure of our hearts is the measure of our total performance” (“The Measure of Our Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1988). Requiring our heart is the Lord’s way of saying that He needs our very nature to reflect our desire to follow Him.
In a similar way, having a willing mind implies the use of our agency. We believe that we fought for our agency in the pre-existence thereby determining our status here on earth now. We wanted the opportunity and the ability to exercise our will and choose for ourselves. We wanted to follow Jesus Christ.
In the October 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson reminded us that a willing mind involves letting God prevail in our lives and trusting His plan and purposes over all else with these inspiring questions: “Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?” (“Let God Prevail,” Ensign, Nov. 2020, 94).
A complete heart and willing mind type of trust is cultivated by faith and does not come without inspired intention and devoted desire. It pushes our “natural man [or woman]” courage to “becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things” (Mosiah 3:19). We learn to become vulnerable like a child, “Trusting my all to thy tender care … dear Lord … [and] be what you want me to be” (“I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Hymns, p.270).
The prophet Nephi demonstrated this feeling of vulnerability through his desire to be an active, faithful participant in his time. He was tenacious in his efforts to get the brass plates from Laban after being instructed by his father, Lehi, to do so. After two failed attempts with his brothers, he courageously determined that he would be wholly committed and would trust with his heart and a willing mind. He went forward, “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth” (1 Nephi 4:6-7; emphasis added). These verses demonstrate a powerful display of his courage and willingness to follow the Lord’s promptings.
Resolutely Going to Hill Cumorah
In July 2012, our family had been accepted to participate in the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra, New York. Acting with my family in the pageant had been a lifelong dream as I had attended it many times in my youth. I wanted this experience knowing that our eldest son would soon leave on his mission and our window of opportunity would be gone. My husband Dave, myself, and our four children carefully prepared for the months leading up to the event. We packed all necessary items and fully anticipated a life-changing experience as we participated in re-enactments of scenes from the Book of Mormon.
Our flight to Buffalo, New York was to leave very early on the morning of Friday, July 6, so we stayed in a hotel near the airport the night before departure. Because of our early flight, we each took only our pajamas, our toothbrushes, and an outfit for the plane into the hotel. Everything else we left in our vehicle.
At 4:00 a.m. in the morning as we exited the hotel, I turned to the left to head towards our vehicle. I immediately realized that our car was not where we had parked it. It quickly became evident that in the few short hours that we had been in the hotel, our vehicle had been stolen along with all of our personal belongings that we had prepared for the pageant. I stopped, rubbed my eyes, confirmed my conclusion, and immediately felt weak in the knees.
My legs gave out as I sank to the ground and cried out, “Dave! What do we do?”
He replied resolutely, “We planned to go to the pageant. We are going to the pageant.”
That’s what we did. We went forth. With the clothes on our back, our toothbrushes, and our pajamas; we got a taxi, headed to the airport, and boarded the plane. We tried to demonstrate our trusting hearts and willing minds by acting in faith that all would be well.
We did have our life-changing experience as a family! It came in unimaginable and remarkable ways! We saw “the good of the land” as promised in Doctrine and Covenants 64:34; emphasis added). Many, many miracles occurred for our family during our weeks in Palmyra at the pageant that helped us truly understand that Heavenly Father knows of our struggles, cares about the details of our lives, and assists us in remarkable ways.
Our loving Heavenly Parents are all in with each of us. Where much is required of us, much is, in turn, given to us. Having a committed heart and a willing mind qualifies each of us for blessings “so great as you never have known” (Doctrine and Covenants 39:10).