- Identity Crisis
- Nothingness or Everything?
- Our True Identity
- Quote from Pres. Packer
- The Plan that Gives Our Identity Meaning
- The Fall
- Diabolic Oposition
- The Atonement of Christ, Redemption and Repentance
- Agency strengthens our Identity
- Kindergarden Decisions
- Covenant Commitment Strengthens our Ability to Choose Right
- Quote from Elder Gong
- Real Intent and Prayer – Ask
- Moroni 7:9
- Central Tenant of our Faith
- Shwan’s Truck Story
- Missionary Bag
- Moral Cleanliness
- Joseph of Egypt
- Following Jesus Christ
- Jesus Christ – Exemplar of Identity and Agency
- Our invitation to Act:
Identity and Agency.
In youth, we try so hard to create an identity for ourselves.
My remarks are designed today to be directed towards the youth, as has been requested by President Beard. My first thought is to reflect upon the foundational principles of my youth that gave me the catapulting ability to jump into life and the experiences that have shaped my life since then. It is my attempt today to put into word some of those primary principles which if we embrace, whether in youth, or at some later date, will provide us with the building blocks for success.
First however, I would like to give this conversation some context or paint a backdrop against which we might begin to understand our place in our Father in heaven’s overarching objectives.
A few days ago, I was reading a scholarly/religious article written the year after Sputnik went into orbit. 1958. 61 years ago.
The Nothingness or Everythingness of Man?
Moses has this amazing experience where he behold God and all his creations and his concluding thought, a very humbling and debasing thought is this: “Now I know that Man is Nothing, which thing I had never supposed.”
But then the Psalmist declared:
What is man, that thou art mindful of him?… For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Psalm 8:4-5
Just a little lower than the angels? That’s definitely not a position of nothingness that in all of God’s creations, man is esteemed as just one off from the angels of God, which dwell in His presence.
So which is it? All or nothing?
In ancient times we read of God confounding the languages of those who attempted to reach heaven in tower. But now God has allowed man to touch the moon, soaring to heights unimaginable. We communicate in living color instantaneously around the globe. Indeed, our thoughts and ideas ascend into the skies, akin to the angels.
Which is it? Is man nothing or everything?
So clearly, God is interested in promoting the human race, not in destroying it. We sing “I am a Child of God?” What if each one of us had a sense of the royal position that we occupied in celestial realms of glory before this earth was formed? What would be our approach/attitude
All or nothing? It depends upon our adherence to principles of light and truth.
Talk about identities? The word of wisdom in my opinion is far more than a simple law of health. Understanding the premise, helps us to understand the purpose, and exposes to our minds additional potholes and man-made or demonic devices aimed at ensnaring us in money making schemes.
As we follow the Gospel covenant path, our true identity becomes more visible to us.
Elder Boyd K. Packer – Identity as a Son of God
You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!2 President Boyd K. Packer
Our identity is made clearer as we strengthen our capacity to act on our agency. Making right choices is as a muscle to be exercised. Some choices are made once. Kindergarden decisions. When we decide what our commitments are, choices become easier to make. But we need to acknowledge that every day we are choosing to follow Jesus Christ.
Consider the connection between choice and asking. Elder Gong illustrates how our prayers have stronger conviction and answers become more clearly discernible when we attach our choices to our petitions. This is what elder Gong said:
Elder Gerrit W. Gong spoke about the choice to marry his wife.
Covenant marriage becomes supernal and eternal as we daily choose the happiness of our spouse and family above our own.
When I asked, “Heavenly Father should I marry Susan,” I felt peace. But it was when I learned to pray with real intent: “Heavenly Father, I love Susan and want to marry her. I promise I will be the best husband and father that I can be. When I acted and made my best decisions, it was then [that] the strongest spiritual confirmations came.” Covenant Belonging
Real Intent – Prayer
And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such. Moroni 7:9
The power to strengthen our identity grows as we exercise our agency. How to illustrate this?
Beloved, now are we the asons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall bappear, we shall be clike him; for we shall dsee him as he is. 1 John 3:2
Being converted unto the Lord starts with an unwavering commitment to God, followed by making that commitment part of who we are. Internalizing such a commitment is a lifelong process that requires patience and ongoing repentance. Eventually, this commitment becomes part of who we are, embedded in our sense of self, and ever present in our lives.
…As we choose to be baptized, we begin to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ11 and choose to identify ourselves with Him. We pledge to become like Him and to develop His attributes. Unwavering Commitment to Jesus Christ
The choice to repentance.
When I was fifteen years old, I made a choice that now was the time for me to repent. I choose to talk with my bishop about some concerns in my past. I choose to face any consequences that would result. Since that time, I have choosen to frequently repent of the smaller details. I have become more anxiously compelled as of late to learn how to use the gift of repentance even more frequently, even daily to draw myself closer to God. I am choosing to repent. I want this in my life.
The choice to be honesty.
Several years ago I drove truck for the Schwan’s Company. (Tell the story of driving the truck.) That day I choose to be honest.
The choice of obedience.
I love the example of Nephi. Nephi not only was obedient, but can you hear in his words his choice to be obedient? “I will go and do the things the Lord commands.”
Obedience as missionary was critical to my success.
The choice of moral cleanliness.
The story of Joseph of Egypt is one that demonstrates the choice to stay morally clean.
Of this Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said:
We can also emulate the spiritual reflexes of Joseph in Egypt: when he was tempted, “he … fled” (Gen. 39:12), showing both courage and good legs! Youth and adults must get out of circumstances and situations which threaten. The Tugs and Pulls of the World, October 2000
Perhaps being somewhat aware of the target that sat on my head as a young man preparing to serve a mission, and that the devil was bent on my destruction before getting into the mission field, I found myself at one such junction.
The choice to follow Jesus Christ.
We use phrases to describe intentional choice. We say things like “full purpose of heart” “with all the energy of my heart” “with real intent” What we are saying is that we choose. We are exercising that one defining characteristic that set us apart from all the rest of Creation. We are beings of decision to act for our selves. As we choose God we become more aware of our identity as such.
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, apray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, (or in otherword, with the full awareness and active choosing and desiring to choose this thing) that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is… Moroni 7:48
Choose you this day whom ye will serve…
It is my prayer that as we intentionally choose to follow our Savior Jesus Christ through our actions, that we will become more aware of our true identity as Sons and Daughter of God.