What Lack We Yet?…

Have you ever been afraid to ask a question of someone you love and respect regarding how you can improve and become a better person? I have. For me the asking is not so scary, it is receiving an answer we may not be prepared to hear that is the cause for trepidation. Nevertheless, if we are interested in self-improvement, being a better person for ourselves and for those we love, being a more refined follower of Christ, we need to have the courage to ask, and the willingness to follow good counsel when we receive it.

“Spring Glory” by Kellie Malcolm

What lack we yet? That should be a lifelong question we ask ourselves, and frankly, those we trust. It takes courage to ask, a real desire to know, humility to listen for a response, and wisdom to follow the counsel received. It is well worth the practice to gather information for self-improvement, and it is always wise and rewarding to seek the Lord’s all knowing and compassionate judgement for our betterment.

It is written of our day, “And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled,… they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning,…” (2 Nephi 26:20). This is a people who have stopped or even refused altogether to ask the question, “What lack [we] yet?” It is apparent today that this ongoing concern is prophecy being fulfilled.

We know the story of the rich young man who approached Jesus and in essence asked the question, “What lack I yet?” (Matthew 19:20). He first asked Jesus, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16). Jesus answered by admonishing him to keep all of the commandments. The young man responded that he had kept the commandments of God since his youth, and asked “What lack I yet?” The Lord’s admonition to sell all that he had, give to the poor everything, and “come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21), was more than the rich young man was at that moment willing to receive.

“Christ and the Rich Young Ruler” by Heinrich Hofmann

I believe he was sincere in his question and that the Lord sought in no way to put him on the spot. The sincere question was asked and an honest answer given. Unfortunately, in the moment the answer was more than the man was willing to bear, and he went away grieved.

I like to believe that even though he fell short in the moment, that the rich young man was sincere in his desire, and therefore he would eventually accept the response and follow the Savior’s admonition and invitation to follow Him. I think I have this hope because I recall many occasions when I have received admonitions and invitations from the Lord or His servants that seemed to me too heavy to bear, so at first I faltered, only to repent and ultimately choose to follow where I have been invited. I empathize with this good young man, and I keep asking, “What lack I yet?”

I have a long-time friend and mentor in Elder Larry R. Lawrence. He once served as my stake president and ordained me to the office of high priest in Lord’s priesthood. I have long paid close attention to his words and counsel. In an April 2017 general conference talk he encouraged, “I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question: ‘What is keeping me from progressing?’ In other words: ‘What lack I yet?’ Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you.”

Elder Larry R. Lawrence

I extend this same counsel to us all. Let us kneel in prayer and ask, “What lack I yet?”, and we will be blessed to know what we must do. As Elder Lawrence taught, “If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us.” We need to ask, and we need to follow. The Lord will not ask so much that we cannot follow and progress in a step-by-step process to improve our lives. We just need to ask for help.

It is ever rewarding to ask the Lord for His divine hand in our self-improvement. As the third verse of the Philip Paul Bliss (1838 – 1876) hymn “More Holiness Give Me” requests:

More purity give me,
More strength to o’ercome,
More freedom from earth-stains,
More longing for home.
More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy–
More, Savior, like thee.

“More Holiness Give Me” — Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

Last month another long-time friend of mine, President Marty Page of the Fresno California North Stake, spoke these inspiring words at a local conference, “As men of God we need to overcome these drifting times and keep ourselves connected and growing in the gospel. In today’s world no one drifts toward God. The currents of today’s society are flowing away from God as fast as possible. The currents in which we are floating pull us away from God the moment we take our feet off our spiritual ‘pedal’ and drift.”

Indeed, we cannot allow ourselves to drift through life without guidance and direction. We must have the courage to ask, “What lack I yet?”, the wisdom to listen, and the perseverance to do.

The currents in which we are floating pull us away from God the moment we take our feet off our spiritual ‘pedal’ and drift.”

President Marty Page

It is not always easy to hear from our sweet spouses, our parents or children, our employers or employees, our spiritual leaders, or even the Lord, that we are in need of improvement. It is awkward at best whenever it needs to be presented to us without our invitation. Then let us be proactive instead, and seek-out encouraging direction from those we trust most, and especially from the Lord. Only good will come from our efforts to be better people, more attentive friends, more kindly family, genuine disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Lord through His Spirit will give us invitations and assignments. He will not burden us with all of our shortcomings at once. He wants us to succeed, not become discouraged. We must work on what we lack, and when we lack no more in one area, return, report and repeat. Kneel and ask again, “What lack I yet?”, for the rest of our days, even until His refining powers and genuine love prepare us to return to His presence.

May we all have the courage to ask, “What lack I yet?”, the humility to listen for a response, and wisdom and fortitude to follow through with whatever counsel we receive. Becoming true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ will be our reward. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.