In the beginning before this world was, two plans were presented to the Father. One in which all in the world would be returned unto him and one in which man would be given his own free will with the ultimate result that some would regretfully be lost.
AND I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.
(Pearl of Great Price | Moses 4:1 – 4)
Our agency, our free will, our ability to choose was the central focus of this “war” in Heaven. Each one of us sitting here today recognized the truthfulness of the Father’s plan and fought for the right to come here and exercise our own free will. Our Father wishes only the best for each of us. He asks us to serve one another, to love Him, and to follow His commandments. In return he promises us all that he has.
This conflict for our will, our freedom to choose, continues in this world today. Our Father desires us to be free to make our own choices and Satan desires to trap us within the snares of our bad choices. As with any conflict, we choose sides. We choose sides through the choices we make and the actions we take each and every day. We must also remember that making a choice to do nothing is still a choice.
As I mentioned before, since we are all here today, I know that each of us has made at least one right choice at the right time. Actually I can say that we have made a number of right choices.
- First off, we all chose to follow the Father’s plan in the pre-existence. We certainly knew what was at stake and we made that choice.
- For those who have reached the age of accountability, you have made the choice to baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- For those who are not yet members, you have made an equally vital choice to follow the promptings of the Spirit to investigate the Church further.
- For the priesthood holders, both young and old, you have made the choice to accept the oath and covenant of the priesthood; to serve the Lord for the benefit of those around you.
- For those who have received your Temple endowments, you have made a choice to live by higher laws. Celestial laws that Satan continually seeks to destroy.
- You all made the choice to come to Church when, I’m sure, there are many other things that you could be doing.
Small choices, big choices, it doesn’t really matter. Our lives are essentially a continuing chain of choices and consequences. Had we the knowledge from our life before this mortal existence, I’m confident that these choices would come easy. We would be able to rely on our own experiences both here and there to make these decisions. BUT, the challenge in this life is that we are to live by faith which therefore necessitates that a veil be drawn between this place and that place. We now find it much harder to offer up and give our will back to the Lord. We become stubborn, self-centered, and selfish. We want to do what we want to do and not what we are counseled to do.
So then lets shift gears a bit…let’s talk now about mistakes…
To me, mistakes seem to be the result of this gift of agency, this freedom to choose. Sure, we can choose to allow that car in front of us to merge into our lane…OR…we can speed up and have them merge in behind us…after all, we should be first. We can choose to walk back into the store and return the money to the cashier because she gave us too much change…OR…we can keep walking because it was her mistake, not ours. When the activity committee asks for help in taking down chairs following an event, we can jump in and help…OR…make plans to leave early so we don’t have to help.
Mistakes, poor choices, whatever you want to call it, we each have our moments, some more than others, when we really fail to love, serve, support, and care at the level we know that we should. These moments ebb and flow throughout our lives. I remember days past when I was actually the first one to volunteer when help was needed and the last one to leave an event after the cleanup was over. I remember days where I was the first person the Elders Quorum President would call because he knew I would be there when needed. Those days however are not these days. Thankfully, I know that there are those of you sitting here today that ARE those people that can be called upon and counted on whenever needed. Those who serve without anger, frustration, or aggravation.
Each day is and must be a learning process. Every choice is an opportunity. Every experience is an occasion to grow. Treasure each one. Make the best of each one. However, these poor choices, these mistakes…how can we possibly recover from them?
Some seem so small that they are just forgotten, some so big that they can never be forgotten.
The emotional, physical, and spiritual baggage that results could bring us down to the depths of despair if allowed to run unchecked. I know that I have seen people dragged down as a result of choices like these…I know that each of you have probably seen the same…
How do we recover? How do we find the will to go on? To do better? To do more? Especially when we know that we’re probably just going to mess something else up tomorrow…
THIS is where the Lord patiently waits for us…he waits to support us in our time of need…we only need to turn to him and faithfully ask for his help…
The repentance process helps us to heal from these mistakes and poor choices that we make each and every day. Anyone who has faithfully asked for and received this forgiveness knows of the weight that is lifted from you…
This is how the repentance process works:
- We make a mistake or poor choice.
- We come to a realization that we are wrong.
- We take all the actions that we can possibly take to right the wrong.
- The Lord then does the rest.
We then must go forth with the goal, with the intention, and with the desire to never do the wrong again…
If we do so then we again will be made whole…
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.
(Pearl of Great Price | Moses 5:8)
For us as Latter-day Saints, repentance needs to be a part of daily life. None of us are perfect and we all have need to repent.
Neil L. Andersen stated in the last General Conference,
For most, repentance is more a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is “re-turning” toward God.
Hopefully your need for repentance is only for small things. If it is for something that feels larger, do not be afraid to seek the guidance of the Bishop. He does not serve alone within the bounds of his own knowledge or ability…the Lord sits with him and he, with the Lord’s help, can help you.
But again, when the sin, mistake, or poor choice weighs heavily upon us, how do we go on?
Brother Andersen continued,
The scriptures do not say that we will forget our forsaken sins in mortality. Rather, they declare that the Lord will forget.
The forsaking of sins implies never returning. Forsaking requires time. To help us, the Lord at times allows the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory. It is a vital part of our mortal learning.
As we honestly confess our sins, restore what we can to the offended, and forsake our sins by keeping the commandments, we are in the process of receiving forgiveness. With time, we will feel the anguish of our sorrow subside, taking “away the guilt from our hearts” and bringing “peace of conscience.”
For those who are truly repentant but seem unable to feel relief: continue keeping the commandments. I promise you, relief will come in the timetable of the Lord. Healing also requires time.
I personally have found that I have a greater need to DO good things and make good choices than I have to NOT do wrong things. When I’m standing well into the light it’s much more difficult to slip into the shadow of darkness. The hardest part is simply making the choice to do so. Choosing to do right…choosing to repent for wrongs…choosing right or wrong every minute of every day…
It simply comes back to the same battle that started the war in the beginning before this world was…