There is a passage from B.H. Roberts’ History of the Church that I find inspiring and simultaneously, to my shame, personally damning. Roberts cites a statement reportedly made by David Whitmer to Wm. H Kelly and G. A. Blakeslee concerning Joseph Smith and his translation of the Book of Mormon.
Whitmer said of the Prophet Joseph:
He was a religious and straightforward man. He had to be; for he was illiterate and he could do nothing of himself. He had to trust God. He could not translate unless he was humble and possessed the right feelings towards everyone. To illustrate so you can see: One morning when he was getting ready to continue translation, something went wrong about the house and he was put out by it. Something that Emma, his wife, had done. Oliver and I went upstairs and Joseph came up soon after to continue the translation but he could not do anything. He could not translate a single syllable. He went downstairs, out into the orchard, and made supplication to the Lord; was gone about an hour–came back to the house, and asked Emma’s forgiveness and then came upstairs where we were and then the translation went on all right. He could do nothing save he was humble and faithful.
Though, unlike Joseph, I am somewhat literate, I do not think that my need to rely on the Lord is any less. The idea that I can do anything of worth without his aide is pure delusion, though I often find myself under such delusions.
And the fact that the Lord’s aide might have been withdrawn from Joseph merely because he was “put out” about something his wife had done, makes me tremble at my own sins.
I have found that the Lord reminds me of this fact every time that I make a mistake: inevitably someone asks if I will give them a priesthood blessing shortly thereafter–and I am forced to humble myself before both the Lord and those I have offended before I am able to pronounce the blessing.
The Lord is amazingly patient and merciful with me, and for that I am grateful.