Human initiative and God's desires

We are admonished in the scriptures to let our will be swallowed up in the will of God, suggesting that our desires can only be inferior to God's, whose desires for us far surpass our own. There is certainly something right about this; if our concept of God does not acknowledge the superiority of divinity to humanity, we are merely worshipping ourselves.

On the other hand, the account of God's encounter with the brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon (Ether 2:18-25) suggests that there is an important aspect of reciprocity in God's relationship to us. The brother of Jared clearly defers to God's superior wisdom in asking what is to be done about the darkness and lack of air in the vessels they will use to cross the ocean. God comes across to me as a bit amused in the exchange and explanation of stopping up holes if water comes in, etc.

But further, when it comes to having light, God completely defers to the brother of Jared: "What will ye that I should do?" And it is only after the brother of Jared acts on his own initiative that he is able to pierce the veil -- indeed, "he could not be kept from within the veil" (Ether 3:19). Some of what God desires for us is precisely to grant unto us according to our own desires: "I know that [God] granteth unto men [and women] according to their desire ... yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills" (Alma 29:4).

Jesus expressed a similar desire in John 14:14, immediately preceding his famous instruction or explanation of the connection between our love and doing his will (keeping his commandments), his expression of the connection between his love and doing our will: "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

Being reconciled to God is not a passive submission to God's will in which our own desires are merely subjugated to God's. Rather, it is the process of learning as we work through our own desires how to align our desires with divine purposes -- and by so doing, experience the degrees of freedom manifest within the divine unity.

"Verily I say, men [and women] should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness. For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves." (D&C 58:27-28)