Coalesce - Revelation first, then Agency

First obey the Lord, then do your own will with Him involved when He hasn’t given instruction.

Tuesday February 13, 2024


Some believe in pre-destiny. That their life is predetermined.

Some believe there is no God and they have to do the best they can with what they’ve got, because that’s all they’ve got.

The truth lies somewhere in between. There is a God, and He wants us to be agents (Doctrine and Covenants 58.28).

Life is filled with choices and many actions to perform In data science, there’s a concept called “coalesce”. In English it means to come together and make one whole. In software, it means to fill in missing data with a default value.

Forgive the nerd talk, but bear with me here: So if you have an empty spreadsheet, and you do the operation coalesce(spreadsheet, 5) it would return the spreadsheet’s value if you had data in the spreadsheet but the number 5 if you had a missing cell. So if you have 10 rows of data in Excel but 3 missing rows, the output would be the 7 original values with 3 cells now with 5 in them. It’s a way of handling missing data, because missing data creates problems.

What is the missing data in our personal lives? It’s “what do we do?” What do we do today? Tomorrow? Next year? What do we do today and tomorrow to prepare for the thing we may want to do next year?

I’ve realized the healthy way to have a relationship with personal revelation is to operate under the constraints of a coalesce. To be whole and one with the Lord, our goal should be to coalesce.

Some rely too much on the spirit. Hoping God will make a choice for us. But he gave us agency. He lost 1/3 of his children because he didn’t want to give up agency. And, by that right, he’s willing to lose you and me too if we’re not willing to exercise our agency. We just choose. This is life. And we must choose Him.

In many things, there is a commandment we can rely on. Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Be honest. Pay tithing.

That’s the priority.

Then there’s the gray area stuff: love our neighbor.

That’s the agency.

Then there’s the really gray area: have joy. Among this is “provide for a family” and “raise them the best way you can”.

So, use a coalesce. Your default value is what you want to do. That’s what you fill in.

Our life should be coalesce(personal revelation, our agency).

Where there’s a commandment or personal revelation from the Lord, do it. Don’t wait. Do it. Follow the prompting. Otherwise, if you have no prompting or commandment to follow, make a choice! Learn. Experience. Enjoy.

I believe the Lord will support us when we follow a pattern of putting Him first, and then defaulting to doing many good things of our own free will and choice when He hasn’t given us instruction.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care what we do. He cares deeply. It’s just more like Ether 2.23 where he wants us to come up with some good ideas.


Bryan lives somewhere at the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and futurism and writes about tech, books, Christianity, gratitude, and whatever’s on his mind. If you liked reading, perhaps you’ll also like subscribing: