Last week I wrote about Jeremiah’s striking appeal: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed” (Jeremiah 17:14). I noted that God is willing to heal us, but that we must be willing to receive the gift. I also wrote that we must open our eyes to recognize the many ways God is healing us.
Today, I’m pondering a related passage, also written by Jeremiah: “Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God” (Jeremiah 31:18). The Hebrew word translated “turn” in this passage is shub (שׁוּב), which means to return or to be restored. Jeremiah is asking God to bring him home, and he is pledging his willingness to act on that invitation.
When Nephi returned to the city of Zarahemla, where he had served as chief judge seven years earlier, he was horrified at the wickedness that he saw in the city. Gadianton robbers filled the judgment seats, “doing no justice unto the children of men” (Helaman 7:4). People were punished for doing good; people were rewarded for doing evil. As soon as he had an opportunity to speak with a group of his neighbors, he issued the following plea: “O repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord your God” (Helaman 7:17).
Years earlier, Abinadi had called out the wickedness in the land of Shilom and given a warning to the people: “Except they repent and turn to the Lord their God,… they shall be brought into bondage” (Mosiah 11:21, 23). He subsequently quoted the following passage from Isaiah: “All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Mosiah 14:6). After they were conquered by the Lamanites, Gideon asked King Limhi, “Are not the words of Abinadi fulfilled, which he prophesied against us—and all this because we would not hearken unto the words of the Lord, and turn from our iniquities?
Prophets invite us to turn away from our iniquities and toward God.
At the end of 3 Nephi, after describing the ministry of Jesus Christ on the American continent, Mormon delivers the following admonition, speaking on behalf of the Savior:
Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.3 Nephi 30:2
All of this reminds me of the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “‘Come as you are,’ a loving Father says to each of us, but He adds, ‘Don’t plan to stay as you are'” (“Songs Sung and Unsung,” General Conference, April 2017). We welcome God’s healing power, and we also welcome God’s transforming power, recognizing that He is turning our minds and our hearts away from the things that are holding us down and toward the things that will restore us to His presence and to His glory.
Today, I will allow myself to be turned. I will ask God to guide my mind toward thoughts and actions that are in harmony with His will, and I will accept His invitations, knowing that He is changing me into the person I was meant to become.