Ul•ti•ma•tum - noun, pl. -tums
A final, uncompromising demand or set of terms issued by a party to a dispute, the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force.
Throughout the less inspired portions of my life I've sometimes asked the Lord, over and over and over again, to do something that fit my demands. I wanted people to love me unconditionally. I wanted them to understand and befriend me. I wanted them to appreciate the sacrifices I was making. I wanted a happy family, the perfect life, and the ability to make my trials melt away with faith and prayer. In some of them, I found myself simply asking the Lord for help, but in others I realize that I was dictating what I would and wouldn't do, based on His involvement in my life. I was giving God ultimatums.
They all made sense to me, and, to be honest, were based on extremely poignant needs and rooted in strong faith that the Lord, in His power, could do anything for me. But with each fervent request there was a consequence I had constructed - a penalty if God did not do what I told Him I needed Him to do. I wouldn't date if I didn't have the assurance that I would someday find a wife. I wouldn't tell my priesthood leaders about past transgressions unless they, or the Lord, told me to in no uncertain terms. I wouldn't engage in life and society if society and life didn't understand me. In each case, along with the fervent prayer, was a caveat... and those caveats limited the ability of the Lord to teach me, inspire me, and help me achieve the goals I had in the first place.
An ultimatum with God tries to enforce my will, my logic, my timeframe, and my knowledge onto the ruler of the Universe... instead of humbly asking Him for help and being willing to do whatever He asks of me.
But God can give ultimatums, too.
The conversion stories of Paul, Alma the Younger, and the people of Ammon have always been intriguing to me. In a moment, these people received a personal ultimatum from God and changed a massive part of who they were, how they saw life, and how they interacted with the Lord... and never turned back. It applied to them so deeply and personally that they could never, ever forget... and it gave them the strength to resist temptation for the rest of their lives. Now I think I know, at least in part, how they felt... because it's happened to me.
A little while ago I had a dream. In the dream, I was sleeping in a bed with my siblings. I got out of bed and my mother came in the room, then clearly explained that she knew about all of my past sins. "I love you," she said, "and I understand what you are going through, perfectly. But if this (sins associated with SSA - pornography, masturbation, ...) ever happens again, you will begin to lose your ability to help them (indicating my siblings)."
The dream broke, and I woke up shaking. It was obvious to me what it meant. There's no one on earth - my mother included - who truly understands me perfectly. Only God could say that. And the consequence that He revealed - beginning to lose my ability to help my brothers and sisters here on the earth - touched me deeper than anything else could... because it was personal, because it made sense, and because I knew it was real. That was it - the Lord had drawn the line in the sand, and crossing it again, even once, would have clear, present, and lasting consequences for me... and also for others. If I ever crossed the line again, something would be lost in me - and due to my lack of faith, someone else's needs would go unmet and unnoticed.
It will take a lifetime to see what I do with the knowledge I've gained from God - whether I will value my own salvation, and my ability to help others, or whether I will trade those for the things I think I want. Whether I will make my own demands, or follow the will of God. Whether I will forget, or burn the memory in my heart. Either way, the ultimatum is down... and it's my choice from now on. I value my ability to help others, and my own eternal happiness, more than anything else, and so I plan on doing everything I can to stay faithful, no matter what the cost.