It was easy for me on the mission. I was told specifically what I needed to be doing. I was supposed to wake up at a certain time each morning and go to bed each night; I knew when I needed to exercise and eat my meals; my whole life was planned out for those 20 months that I served. When I got home, I felt all alone. What did I do with my life? It was a whole new challenge with many different opportunities. How was I going to decide which ones were the best ones for me to take? Did the Lord really expect me to make these choices?
I spent a lot of time praying and visiting the temple, searching for the answers that I needed. I can still remember the answer that came. My mission was like the Law of Moses. I was taught all the things that I needed to do. But my life after my mission was going to be a chance for me to live the higher law. I was no longer compelled to live the gospel; it was now my choice to do so.
The law of Moses, like my mission, was a strict law that was given to prepare the children of Israel to receive God's higher laws. "Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained: When Israel, as a people and as a whole, failed to live in harmony with the law of Christ as contained in the fulness of his everlasting gospel, the Lord ‘in his wrath’ withdrew the fulness of his law from them. Because ‘they hardened their hearts’ and would not ‘enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory, … he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also’ (D&C 84:19–28.) That is, he took the Melchizedek Priesthood, which administers the gospel, out of their midst in the sense that it did not continue and pass from one priesthood holder to another in the normal and usual sense of the word. The keys of the priesthood were taken away with Moses so that any future priesthood ordinations required special divine authorization. But in place of the higher priesthood the Lord gave a lesser order, and in place of the fulness of the gospel he gave a preparatory gospel—the law of carnal commandments, the law of Moses—to serve as a schoolmaster to bring them, after a long day of trial and testing, back to the law of Christ in its fulness. There is the fulness of the gospel, and there is the preparatory gospel. There is the full law of Christ, and there is a partial law of Christ. The Mosaic system was the partial law, a portion of the mind and will of Jehovah, a strict and severe testing arrangement that would qualify those who obeyed its terms and conditions to receive the eternal fulness when the Messiah came to deliver and to restore it. (Mortal Messiah, pp. 59–60.)"
The Old Testament Student Manual describes the Law of Moses as a "preparatory gospel" that included the "principles of repentance, baptism, remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments. Moses was diligently trying to sanctify his people and prepare them to see the face of God. The Israelites hardened their hearts and were not able to enter into God's presence.
My mission was a time where I was able to study, ponder, pray, and build my testimony on the fulness of the gospel. I spent my days declaring the preparatory gospel to those I came into contact with. Through my obedience, I had built my testimony on the foundations of the gospel but now that I had returned home, it was time to do more. I needed to learn how to humble myself, make my own decisions, and turn to God in prayer for his guidance and revelation. The Bible Dictionary says:
"Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
Heavenly Father was telling me that he trusted me enough as his child to make my own decisions; to find my own purpose. He was teaching me about the power that I had within my self to become like him. I would be learning how truly powerful the gospel was as I willingly "offered my whole soul as an offering unto Christ" (Omni 1:26). I was not a perfect person; but I could learn how to become perfect as I changed my will to be in tune with His will for me. Through the Atonement of Christ I would be able to "partake of his salvation" and feel "the power of his redemption" as I felt for myself the power of his justice and mercy on my behalf. I could prepare myself and ready myself to return to God's presence.
The future had many opportunities - finding my spouse, being entrusted with God's children, and teaching those children how to progress until they could make their own correct choices - eternal progression. It all started with learning and growing in knowledge of the gospel; then making correct choices through obedience until one chooses to live the higher law of the gospel. Under the law of Christ, one does not need to be told what to do, or given additional commandments to live because he will choose to do the correct things because of his love for God and love for his neighbor. This is what Moses was trying to teach his people. It truly is the Power of Becoming.
More about the Law of Moses ...
The Law of Moses was a law of reparation. It "specified how the law was lived in daily, practical situations while still teaching the law of Christ."
Many of the laws taught "what ought not to be done rather than with what should be done."
Exodus 21: 22
If two men are fighting and strike a pregnant woman causing her to miscarry, punishment is given. An accidental abortion was cause to be severely punished; deliberate abortion without justifiable cause would be far more serious.
Exodus 22: 1-17 Making Restitution
“In all these cases, there is not only judgment by God against the offender but also restitution to the offended. Restitution thus is closely linked to atonement, to justice, and to salvation.” (Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, pp. 459–62.)
Exodus 23: 1-4 Law of Righteous Living
Don't ignore your neighbors or enemies when they are in trouble. If their animals are loose, go and bring it back to them. Be honest and be helpful.
It is unfortunate that many people, some even in the Church, think of the Mosaic law as a substitute for the higher law of the gospel. We call it a lesser law, and so it was, if the word lesser is used in the sense of progressive steps. But some people assume that lesser means of lower importance and significance, or of a lesser level of truth and righteousness. Such is not the case. Note what other scriptures teach about the law:
The law of Moses was a “preparatory gospel” that included the principles of repentance, baptism, remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments.
Mosiah 13:29–30 It was a “very strict law” of “performances and ordinances” designed to keep the Israelites “in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.”
Jarom 1:11; Mosiah 3:14–15; 13:31; 16:14; Alma 25:15; 34:14 The law of Moses was highly symbolic, being filled with types and shadows, all of which pointed toward Christ and His future Atonement.
JST, Galatians 3:8, 19
The law of Moses was added to the gospel, not given as a substitute for it.
Galatians 3:23–24 The law of Moses was given as a schoolmaster or tutor to bring Israel to Christ.
Alma 25:16; Revelation 19:10 The law of Moses is understood through the “spirit of prophecy” or “a testimony of Jesus.”