I remember being a little kid and getting something from the claw machine arcade game. A miracle, I know.
But it wasn’t the item that I wanted to get.
After thinking about it, I had an idea. I gave the toy to my sister—kind, right?—and I tried again, completely confident that God would help me get the toy I actually wanted this time.
And you know what? I got the toy I wanted on that next attempt.
The experience unfortunately helped shape a false idea of how I thought God worked in my life that I had to correct later on.
Which is why I laughed when Elder Christofferson gave his talk “Our Relationship with God,” and said,
“We ought not to think of God’s plan as a cosmic vending machine where we (1) select a desired blessing, (2) insert the required sum of good works, and (3) the order is promptly delivered.
“God will indeed honor His covenants and promises to each of us […] but not every blessing predicated on obedience to law is shaped, designed, and timed according to our expectations.”
Ultimately, we have to keep the commandments because they help us change and bring us closer to God, not because they somehow manipulate God into giving us what we want.
In Isaiah 58, it states that the people “seek [God] daily, and delight to know [His] ways,” and “have fasted” and yet, the Lord seeth them not.
Why? Seems like all great works to me! But they are doing it for the pleasure of themselves (v. 3).
“Words of transformation are useless if they are contradicted by lives that are not transformed.” (John Oswalt)
As Isaiah said, “we are all as an unclean thing, and our righteousness like filthy rags.” (64:6)
Our keeping the commandments is about changing our ways, not the Lord’s.
And as we rely on Him, we will find treasure far beyond anything our cosmic vending machine could offer.