When I think of how the gospel positively influences my life, I can identify three distinct yet overlapping ways I have been blessed. The gospel gives me understanding, hope and direction.
1. The Gospel Gives Me An Understanding of My Purpose Here on Earth
Because of the restored Church of Jesus Christ (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Mormons”), I know who I am. Each of us can likewise know and declare our divine nature. We are a part of something bigger than ourselves–something bigger and greater than we can probably ever grasp in this life. Our purpose is noble and grand. It requires our utmost care and attention.
At times, we will be tempted. But, with a solid understanding of who we are, we can do hard things.
Elder Richard G. Scott teaches, “When you really understand who you are, it is not difficult to resist Satan’s temptations” (“Realize Your Full Potential“).
Constantly recognizing our divine origin helps us to make righteous choices accordingly. Our great primary songs teach this: “I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store; If I but learn to do His will, I’ll live with Him once more” (“I Am a Child of God“).
Losing that focus is what gets us into trouble. I so appreciated Sister Julie B. Beck–Mormon Women’s Leader–quoting Eliza R. Snow this past General Conference. Sister Snow taught:
“I know we like to be appreciated but if we do not get all the appreciation which we think is our due, what matters? We know the Lord has laid high responsibility upon us, and there is not a wish or desire that the Lord has implanted in our hearts in righteousness but will be realized, and the greatest good we can do to ourselves and each other is to refine and cultivate ourselves in everything that is good and ennobling to qualify us for those responsibilities” (“And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit“).
What does it matter if we don’t get all the recognition we want? Or, if our life plan doesn’t take every turn like we thought it would? We are sons and daughters of a King. All things do witness Him, and He has a detailed plan that includes each one of us. He knows us by name, and He loves us.
Elder David A. Bednar (a Mormon apostle, just as apostles of old: Mormon Doctrine] has clarified,
“God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit ‘the chosen’ to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen. . . . we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord“).
In order to choose God, we have to first come to know Him–and it’s through His Gospel that we do so. With the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ came the restoration of important truths including those which concern the nature of the Godhead, the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel, and the plan of salvation.
The First Vision, like other events that have since taken place, reminds us of the power and importance of prayer coupled with scripture study. The heavens are open and personal revelation is real.
As we immerse ourselves in Christ’s doctrines, we can each–through the Holy Ghost–come to know God and come to choose God, understanding what He has given us. Knowledge is power, and we have that power because of the fruits of the Gospel. I’m so thankful for the difference that has made in my life.
2. The Gospel Gives Me the Kind of Hope That Can Only Come Through the Atonement & Resurrection of Christ
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin tenderly reminded us:
“We have made mistakes. . . . No matter how badly we want to go back and begin again, we can’t. We can, however, repent and begin where we are today” (“Three Choices“).
I have felt the beautiful cleansing power of the Atonement in my life. I have also experienced times where I wrongfully felt like hope and forgiveness were unreachable conclusions. I wanted so badly to take my mistakes away, but I couldn’t. None of us can. We can, however, repent, with the loving help of our Savior, and find peace.
Satan lies to us, telling us that we can’t. But the truth is located within the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can become clean; we can feel joy and love because of the light of Christ. We can be forgiven and trust in the hope that we have been promised.
Because of the Gospel, we have reason to be patient and optimistic. President Packer has said, “When you feel weak, discouraged, depressed, or afraid, open the Book of Mormon and read” (”
I think, at times, we may feel like the Savior’s disciples did, when in the midst of storm they wondered, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38).
Referencing First Nephi, Elder Bednar has counseled, “When words cannot provide the solace we need . . ., when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (“The Tender Mercies of the Lord“).
Even in times of intense pain, and perhaps especially in those times, I have felt the love of God. I have seen His hands at work in my life, and I know that my burdens are light because of Him. I know we can trust in the Lord.
We need not be afraid, only believe. Even in our darkest hours, we are not alone. Elder Wirthlin poignantly reflected:
I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross. . . .On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled. It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God. I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.
But the doom of that day did not endure. The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind. . . .
Elder Wirthlin continued:
Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come. No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come” (“Sunday Will Come“).
The message of the Gospel is a message of hope. Christ’s Ministry, Atonement and Resurrection truly teach us that Sunday will come. I know with all my heart that it will. What a reassuring peace that is–a peace that only comes through our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ.
3. The Gospel Gives Me Direction, Daily Helping Me to Know What I Need to Do and Who I Need to Become
President Faust explained:
The gap between what is popular and what is righteous is widening” (“Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief“).
Elder D. Todd Christofferson adds,
…we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. To come to Zion, it is not enough for you or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. We are to become not only good but holy men and women. Recalling Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s phrase, let us once and for all establish our residence in Zion and give up the summer cottage in Babylon” (“Come to Zion“).
The road to Zion is marked by the doctrines of the Gospel. We find direction in the scriptures–The Bible and the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ–and in the counsel we receive from our modern-day priesthood and auxiliary leaders. We find direction in demonstrating faith and keeping our covenants. We find direction in the Temple, which is truly the House of the Lord. What a privilege it is to attend! We find direction in how Christ lived–He literally showed us the way and is our Perfect Example.
As we consult these resources while seeking for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we can understand the truth of all things. A perfect knowledge may not come easily and may not come now, but it will–in time–if we go forward in faith.
Extremely applicable is the powerful prompting Elder Neil L. Andersen received while preparing for his mission in the midst of feeling inadequate. The impression that came is this: “You don’t know everything, but you know enough!” (“You Know Enough“).
So it has been in my life. I have had enough answered prayers, enough spiritual promptings and enough blessings to know that Zion is where I want to be. I have had enough confirmations about the things I know to warrant being faithful in the things I don’t.