3 And this is the manner after which they were ordained–being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
There is a powerful principle at work in this verse:
- Before they were born, people were “called and prepared” to serve in roles of responsibility in this life (see also Jeremiah 1:4-5, Abraham 3:22-23). They were chosen because of the faith and good works they had previously demonstrated and also because God knew they would choose righteously when they came to earth (Alma 13:5).
- Upon arriving here, they found themselves “on the same standing with their brethren” (Alma 13:5) and were “left to choose good or evil.” Only after proving themselves were they formally ordained to the callings which they had been foreordained to hold.
When the prophet Samuel anointed Saul king of Israel, he didn’t immediately announce to the country that Saul was their king. Shortly after, he called the people together and they determined the identity of their new king by casting lots. The lot fell upon Saul, whom Samuel had already anointed (1 Samuel 10). Even then, Saul wasn’t universally recognized as king until after he led the Israelite armies to victory against the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11).
Likewise, when Samuel anointed David, he apparently didn’t tell anyone outside of David’s family, even Saul (1 Samuel 16:6-13). David became king many years later, after conquering Goliath, serving as a musician in the king’s court, befriending the king’s son, becoming commander of the king’s armies, and marrying the king’s daughter.
The anointing in both cases was prophetic, not prescriptive. Although the recipient of the anointing was empowered to realize its potential, the actual realization would come through navigating the circumstances of life rather than by divine decree.
I am grateful for the confidence Heavenly Father places in us. As I strive to carry out my unique callings in life, both formal and informal, I will recognize that I need to prepare myself for those callings through righteousness and faith. It is not enough to be called; we must choose wisely in order to be prepared to complete the work we have been called to do.