The Call of Duty

2 Nephi 23 and 24. In these chapters which are also found in Isaiah 13 and 14, Isaiah teaches us about our call of duty to join the Lord’s hosts and engage in the battle for eternal truth and salvation that began in the War in Heaven. Now as then we must choose sides. We cannot remain neutral. Our choice is to which leader we will give our allegiance. “Our choice is to which authority we will yield obedience: God’s or Satan’s. As Lehi stated, it is a choice between liberty and captivity (see 2 Ne. 2:27). If it is not one, it is necessarily the other” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “You Are Free“, Ensign, March 2013).

The Lord of Hosts mustereth the hosts of the battle.” To muster means to summon or call people for duty and service. The Lord issues His summons to join and serve in His ranks in various ways: “I have commanded…I have also called” “and will yet choose Israel.” He invites us to do our duty and promises great blessings such as these: “I will make a man more precious than fine gold” and “I will be merciful unto my people.” He tells us the outcome of the final battle, that “every one that is joined to the wicked shall fall by the sword” and Lucifer will “be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” To those who accept the call of duty, the Lord assures “in that day…[to] give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.” But ultimately the decision is ours to “be joined with them, and… [to] cleave to the house of Jacob” or not. Heroes choose to accept the call of duty and join with the Lord.

The decisions to accept the Lord’s calls are the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. The greatest battles I have ever fought have been within as I struggled to hear what the Lord was calling me to do and as I determined whether or not I would heed His call of duty. Several times the Lord has gently invited me to draw closer to Him and devote more of my time and allegiance to His work (see Moses 1:39). Whether it was the call of duty I felt at fifteen to read my scriptures daily or the call of duty I felt as a young mother to quit my job so I could more fully devote myself to my family, the Lord has waited patiently for me to hear His call and to choose to accept the call. Once I joined myself to the Lord and cleaved to my covenant to remember Him and serve Him diligently, the battle was over. The duty and service, although hard and trying at times, have consistently brought tender mercies and sweet joys.

It is important to remember that the Lord extends His call of duty to everyone. He “calleth upon all men, and he commandeth all men” to join His ranks (Doctrine and Covenants 133:16, see the entire section as it is a great complement to these chapters from Isaiah.) Often we misunderstand the Lord’s statement that “there are many called, but few are chosen” (D&C 121:34) thinking that we lack the skills, talents, righteousness, or visible Church or community leadership roles that would make it possible for the Lord to choose us. Being chosen by the Lord for His team is not like being chosen for the softball team in school. Your skills and popularity do not qualify you for service. Rather, “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” (D&C 64:34). Elder Russell M. Nelson assured, “Your Heavenly Father has known you for a very long time. You, as His son or daughter, were chosen by Him to come to earth at this precise time, to be a leader in His great work on earth. You were chosen…for your spiritual attributes, such as bravery, courage, integrity of heart, a thirst for truth, a hunger for wisdom, and a desire to serve others” (“Decisions for Eternity,” October 2013).

Elder David A. Bednar explained, “To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen. Please now note the use of the word chosen in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men’ (D&C 121:34–35; emphasis added). I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit ‘the chosen’ to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” April 2005).

The Lord is engaged in His duty or work to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of” each one of us because He loves us and wants us to enjoy all of the blessings and opportunities He enjoys. His call of duty is a call of love and a call to love. When we accept the call of duty we do what God asks us to do because we love Him. When we do our duty we learn to love those we serve. Years ago I accepted the call of duty to be a visiting teaching partner to a sister in my ward I didn’t really know. In my eyes we had many differences and probably would never have sought each other out as friends. And yet the Lord had put us together. In this call of duty I saw an invitation from the Lord to get to know this sister as He knows her and learn to love her as He loves her. And so I prayed and prayed “unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [I might] be filled with this love” (Moroni 7:48). And something amazing happened. I was filled with such a great love for this sister and now consider her one of my dearest friends. Because of my love for the Lord I accepted this call of duty. Out of this duty I learned to love and received love. This call of duty was truly a gift of love from Heavenly Father to me.

When someone is doing their duty we need to remember that they are doing their duty out of love not just because it is an assignment. A love for God is in their work and as we allow them to do their duty whether it be teaching us, listening to us, or helping us, the result for both of us can be a greater love for our Heavenly Father who watches over us tenderly and a greater love for those who willingly reach out, listen, love, and lift as they do their duty. Our hearts and lives will be filled with love, gratitude, and joy as we do our duty and allow others to do their duty. In his April 1986 talk, “The Call of Duty,” President Thomas S. Monson shared this poem:

I slept and dreamt
That life was joy.
I awoke and saw
That life was duty.
I acted, and behold—
Duty was joy.

The call of duty is not just a one time call. Each time it is a call to climb a little closer to your mountaintop mentor. It is a call to know Him. “He commands, and to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal Himself in the toils, the conflicts, the suffer- ings that they shall pass through in His fellowship; and they shall learn by their own experience who He is. We will discover He is more than the Babe in Bethlehem, more than the carpenter’s son, more than the greatest teacher ever to live. We will come to know Him as the Son of God, our Savior and our Redeemer” (Pres. Thomas S. Monson, “The Call of Duty,” April 1986). Not only will we come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ, when we heed His call of duty, we will come to know His love for us and our Heavenly Father’s love for us.

The call of duty is sounded again and again because They love us. They invite us to live as near to Them as we want. The call of duty is a call to do a little better and a call to do a little more. It is a call to be a little better, a call to be more like Him. The call of duty is an invitation to grow and to improve. President Gordon B. Hinckley extended this call to duty in his April 1995 address,“We Have a Work to Do:”

My beloved associates, far more of us need to awake and arouse our faculties to an awareness of the great everlasting truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities.

We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord….We can do it, if we will be prayerful and faithful. We can do better than we have ever done before.

The Church needs your strength. It needs your love and loyalty and devotion. It needs a little more of your time and energy. I am not asking anyone to give more at the expense of his or her employer….[or] at the expense of your families….But I am suggesting that we spend a little less time in idleness, in the fruitless pursuit of watching some inane and empty television programs [or surfing the Internet]. Time so utilized can be put to better advantage, and the consequences will be wonderful. Of that I do not hesitate to assure you….May we go with determination to try a little harder to be a little better.

* Remember a time you accepted the Lord’s call of duty. What were the fruits of your faith?
* Do you hear the Lord calling you now? What is He calling you to do? Will you go and do?

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