Choices for Eternity: Prophetic Counsel | Kevin J Worthen | September 2022

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Expanding on the prophetic counsel of President Russell M. Nelson, Kevin J Worthen teaches each of us how to choose our own destiny.

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"As we begin the new academic year, let me join Peggy in welcoming you back to BYU. It is so good to see you here and to feel your excitement and energy.

Fall is a rejuvenating time of year at universities. It is also a time of choices and decisions. Your array of education-related choices has expanded over the years. In elementary school, the school determined when your first class began, what subjects you would study, and who would teach the subject. The school also decided when you ate lunch, what you had for lunch, and even what you did with your recreation time during the day. Over the years, as you gained more experience, your involvement in the choices expanded. In high school, you had choices concerning some of the subjects and some of the teachers. But your choices were still quite limited.

Suddenly, as a college student, you now have almost unlimited choices. You can determine when your first class begins, what courses to take, and which professors you prefer. If you want a break from classes in the afternoon, you can arrange that. If you want a longer lunch hour, you can schedule accordingly. You even get to decide whether to show up for classes. Thank goodness compulsory education laws don’t apply to colleges. Your educational choices also include more basic things, such as which university to attend and what major to pursue.

In addition to expanded educational options, you also face decisions that can affect your eternal trajectory, such as whether to serve a mission or whom to marry. Just as you have gained more educational choices as you matured since first grade, the scope of your general choices will broaden as you make wise choices. This pattern will continue into eternity, as your wise choices in mortality can ultimately lead to exaltation and its endless opportunities for joy.

“During This Life We Get to Choose”
As I contemplated what to say to you that would help you at this key decision-making point in your lives, my mind kept returning to last May, when we witnessed an extraordinary event. President Russell M. Nelson—the prophet of the Lord—invited all young adults throughout the world to attend a special meeting to receive a message directly from him. He encouraged those within driving distance to attend in person at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.1

It was a remarkable evening. Young adults from the Wasatch Front responded in large numbers. Not only did they fill all twenty thousand seats in the Conference Center but thousands of other young adults also congregated in overflow areas on Temple Square and hundreds of thousands watched online throughout the world.2

President Nelson’s message was powerful and profound. It touched on key issues such as the difference between secular education and spiritual education. It clarified important fundamental truths such as the truth of who we are, the truth about what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have offered us, and the truth about our own conversion. Each of these topics by itself was compelling. Each by itself could be the focus of a devotional address—or two or three. Every time I reread President Nelson’s talk, I received new insights on each individual topic. But that only made my task more complicated. The quandary I faced was how to choose which topic to emphasize. Each was so powerful. Each was so important.

At one point I thought maybe I should just show you a video of President Nelson’s talk. After all, President Marion G. Romney on one occasion emphasized the importance of the seminal discourse by President J. Reuben Clark Jr. on “The Charted Course of the Church in Education”3 by reading to his audience almost verbatim President Clark’s entire talk.4 But I had a feeling that my stewardship for this devotional required that I do more than press the play button on a video. So I continued to pray and ponder."

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