2013 Farewell Talk: Agency
This being my last talk before I learn the true meaning of hard work, dedication, and rejection as I serve in Brazil, I would like to thank my ward, all of you, for the service and love you haveshown me. I would also like to thank my Bishop, Bishop Staggs, and my Stake President, President Priday, for their leadership, and for their support in my decision to serve a mission. I would like to thank the missionaries, for the opportunities they have given me to gain a little experience before leaving, and I would like to thank all my friends who came to see me speak. You’ve all been wonderful influences in my life. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents, and, you know, the rest of my family too.Reflecting on how the strength of the gospel in my family influenced me to make a commitment to a mission, I realized that without my parents raising me in the gospel, I would have never had the resolve to make such a decision. Choices such as this can be hard, but when a choice matches that of our God, joy and happiness can be expected. That’s actually what I’m going to talk about today; exercising our agency, or our power to choose, as an advocate of Christ.
Now, in our country, good ole’ America, independence is kind of a big thing, right? We love it! There’s a day dedicated to it. Men and women who use their freedom to make their own choices independently of others are praised and cheered by the populace, and while independence remains a good thing, many fail to realize that one can still be free while remaining in a state of dependence. I make my own decisions, but I still depend on my parents for support and guidance. The highest form of this is dependence on our Father in Heaven. When we put our faith in God, and are willing to make the choices that are asked of us by Him, we will experience more freedom than those that make choices on their own. If we do not depend on God, we may find ourselves tied down by bad decisions, limiting our freedom to choose good or evil. I testify that choosing to depend on God is the right path to follow, but it’s also not as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, we have help. Now remember that, keep it in your mind, because I’m going to tell a story.
Recently I saw a movie called The Way, Way Back. Don’t worry, if you haven’t seen it, this won’t ruin anything for you. Sort of. In the movie, the main character, Duncan, is dragged to a vacation home for the summer with his mom, his mom’s boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s daughter. When they arrive, the boyfriend introduces everyone to some of his old friends. At the vacation home, the adults act like irresponsible teenagers, making terrible decisions left and right. Amidst all their destructive tendencies, Duncan, who is sort of a loser, starts to sneak out of the house during the day, making the active decision to avoid evil, and instead begins to make something of himself. He gets a job working at a waterpark, and works himself into the hearts of the crew working there. Duncan, exercising his agency, chose to escape the troubles of sin and instead sought to do good things. However, Duncan did not do all of this alone. One man made the choice to help him down a healthier path. One man decided to help a lost child on his way. As we struggle in our life, we will also have someone there to help us make the right decisions. Our man is Christ.
In the Book of Mormon, Lehi depended on Christ. Elder Robert D. Hales spoke on this. (Quote) “Father Lehi, the first prophet recorded in the Book of Mormon, also chose to follow the Lord. He was instructed to “take his family and depart into the wilderness.” Despite harsh traveling conditions and the murmuring of his sons Laman and Lemuel, Lehi led his family to a land of promise.” Because Lehi righteously exercised his agency by following the Lord’s commandments, he was given all that was promised. The Lord will never back down on a promise, and if we make the decision to put our trust in Him, we can expect blessings.
Another important principle of agency is the knowledge that righteous agency is extremely difficult to follow if one is ignorant of the truth. In the Book of Mormon, we find an example of this too, in King Lamoni’s father . Having been liedto his whole life, because of the wickedness of his fathers, KingLamoni’s father seeks to kill Ammon, the Nephite missionary, believing him to be a liar and a thief, and fails. With his life in Ammon’s hands, King Lamoni’s father offers the Nephite half of his kingdom, but when Ammon spares his life for only the freedom of his brothers, and for the religious freedom of KingLamoni, this man is struck with the truth, and desires to know more. In fact, once he has learned the truth, King Lamoni lateroffers to give up all his sins, and all that he owns, to know God.As I understand it, I will see this principle in play while on my mission. As I teach what I know to be true, I hope to see those that I teach use their agency like King Lamoni’s father, desiring to come unto Christ.