The Word of Wisdom promises, “And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;” What are these treasures I am supposed to acheive? I doubt it means that the Saints will have more patents and trade secrets than any other people. It doesn’t seem to mean we will win all the academic contests. What treasures have you found as you have kept that principle with a promise?
I certainly wish that every time I joined my friends at a local coffee shop and watched them drink decadent a triple-double-chocolate-cappuccino-dessert-in-a-mug with a beautiful design swirled into the froth, while I sipped a boring herbal tea, that there would be little monopoly stickers waiting at the bottom of our cups: a Go-To-Jail-Do-Not-Pass-Go-Do-Not-Collect-$200 in theirs, and a Special-Trade-Secret-Plus-1-Million-Dollar-Bonus in mine. But, alas, I’m always simply left wondering about the paradisiacal wonderland of flavor that I’m missing out on while I silently console myself, “At least mine was significantly less calories.”
The Word of Wisdom is one of those little commandments that I’m not sure I’ll ever really understand. I, of course, see the value in abstaining from drugs and alcohol. I, too, see the value in avoiding hot drinks infused with the naturally addictive substance of caffeine. I’m not too sure, then, why Coke or Red Bulls or energy gels fall under the “okay” umbrella. It could even be argued that because chocolate contains caffeine, it should be avoided as well. (I’m inexplicably grateful chocolate rests comfortably dry under the “okay” umbrella, though, because if it did not, half of my current diet would be prohibited.) To be clear, I couldn’t care less whether or not someone ingests any of these foods or drinks. I’ve had my fair share of Dr. Deppers and energy gels and I have a serious weakness for Chai Tea Lattes (I purposely avoid them knowing how easily addicted I could become). So many inconsistencies, so many opportunities to choose, so many conflicting cultural and religious experiences: all over whether to drink that decadent triple-double-latte-coffee-mocha-etc., or not. But by focusing on these minute, minor, miniscule details of the Word of Wisdom, Searching, (and it’s easy to do), you’ll become nothing but frustrated.
Might I suggest another approach so poignantly and succinctly summed by the late Neal A. Maxwell when he said,
“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we ‘give,’ brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!”
The most beautiful thing about this Gospel, in my humble opinion, is that God has given us the opportunity to choose to follow him, abide by his commandments, and align our wants and desires with his. This perspective makes every decision and choice in our lives all the more important and meaningful. There is no such thing as a “mundane” choice, or irrelevant decision. Every time I choose not to order a Chai Tea Latte, that’s significant, because I’m attempting to align my will with God’s. And I’m not doing it because caffeine is going to kill me. I’m not doing it because I’m a mindless cow in a herd of principle-abiding cattle. I’m not doing it because it makes a whole lot of logical sense, per se. I’m doing it because He asked me to, and sometimes, that needs to be enough.
The most wonderful thing about all of this is, the more we submit ourselves and align our wills with His, the more our afflictions will be “swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38). That’s a beautiful image, isn’t it? Being swallowed up in joy? Being immersed in God’s eternal love? And when I’m confused about the purpose or principle behind a particular commandment, I always try to step back and view it with a perspective that contains me being swallowed up in the joy of Christ.
So no, Searching. I don’t think following the Word of Wisdom will cause you to be smarter or faster or more capable than someone who does not. I don’t think you’ll receive a special invitation sealed in a golden envelope, congratulating you on 10 successful years of abstaining from coffee and inviting you to to the Most Important Trade Secrets of The World conference. But perhaps following a seemingly mundane commandment will instill within you the knowledge that every choice you make is important. And if every choice is important, every moment of your life becomes significant. You might find proof of this in reflecting upon your important relationships and friendships. Think of your dearest friends, and then think about where and when you met, how your friendship developed, and why you have remained close. There’s a good chance that as you look back upon all the important relationships in your life, it was your choices, however big or small they may have been, that allowed for those people to enter and influence in your life.
I like thinking about that because it’s empowering live in the powerful reality of choice. I like that I can choose to make my life meaningful, important, and worthwhile, and that I can include people in my life who feel the same way. I like that my choice to follow God is just that: a choice.
Because after all, Christ died for us to be able to choose. So best not let it go to waste, my dear.