On my mission, I grew to love the scripture in 3 Nephi 14:7:
“Ask and ye shall receive, Seek and ye shall find,
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
I had never really pondered much about what it means to knock. But one day during my personal study, I gained what was to me, a valuable insight.
Sometimes when we meet up against a major obstacle or when faced with extraordinary difficulties and challenges, it can feel like we’ve run into a wall. Rarely do we immediately think to knock. Why? Because it’s a wall. Or it looks that way. But God says, “Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” So, if we truly believe that, then I guess the first step is to believe that Heavenly Father is able to make that wall into a door. That’s faith. So knocking is asking, but with the faith to turn walls into doors. We ask Heavenly Father to help us find a doorknob. We believe it’s a door.
But knocking isn’t simply asking. I think it involves some effort on our part. Perhaps knocking is a culmination of asking and seeking, with the mindset of turning walls into doors.
On my mission, my testimony was strengthened of the importance of obeying God’s commandments, at all costs. I know that for every commandment He gives us, He is able to open up a door—or a way—for us to overcome our obstacles to fulfill that commandment. But we have to knock, or exhibit faith that any “walls” standing between us and being obedient can become doors, with His help.
We don’t ask Heavenly Father to excuse us because a wall has gotten in the way and halted our progress. That’s the natural man’s excuse: “Oh well, we tried” and “God will understand.” I think we can learn a lot from Nephi. He didn’t say, “I will go do the thing the Lord commands—unless something comes along making it impossible. In that case, it’s OK. I tried.” He had to go back three times before he was able to fulfill the commandment to get the brass plates. After the first failed attempt, Laman and Lemuel’s attitude was that of, “Oh well, we tried” and wanted to head home. But Nephi stood resolute and said, “We will not go down until we have accomplished the thing that the Lord hath commanded us.”
Wow. That shows some pretty strong commitment. What did Nephi understand that we too should understand? Why was it so important to him to obtain the plates? Perhaps Nephi knew that we don’t just obey for the sake of saying we were obedient. He had a strong testimony of the commandment itself and the blessings that would flow from it. He understood that every commandment that God gives us is calculated for our eternal benefit. He kept his eyes on the goal of obtaining the brass plates and didn’t falter when a wall seemed to block the way, but continued forward undaunted until a way was opened. What faith! Nephi believed in turning walls into doors.
When we meet obstacles to obedience, it’s an opportunity to strengthen our faith by knocking.
How? We first get on our knees and ASK Heavenly Father to help us find a way to keep that commandment. Then we get up on our feet and SEEK for a way to be obedient. We take courage and remember, like Nephi, that “The Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” We can learn to trust in the Lord instead of leaning on our own understanding.
We can be the person who doesn’t knock. And we can stubbornly lock ourselves in our little room of doubt, surrounded by our thick iron wall a mile high. We can refuse to open the door, insisting on its utter wall-ishness, insisting that our situation is hopeless and that there is no way to work around our stuck state. And all the while, the Savior stands there beckoning, “O ye of little faith. Wherefore canst thou doubt?” Knock, and it shall be opened up unto you! With God all things are possible, but miracles can’t happen without faith.
The Savior stands on other side of that door we call a wall. He’s more than willing to open up a way for us to pass through our trials, but it’s up to us to exercise faith enough to find and twist the doorknob. Doing so won’t always make our problems disappear. And He won’t always provide an easy solution, but He’ll open up other options we maybe didn’t even know existed or never really considered. And those options can strengthen our faith, if we take them. We can’t always see what lies beyond the door, or how it will all be resolved. As Harold B. Lee put it, “You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you.”
That’s what faith is all about: Turning walls into doors. What an empowering thought! So next time you hit a wall, knock! It’s a door.