I first have a challenge for all of you, go home today and prepare a talk on agency. It doesn’t matter that you never give it, write it in a journal, put it on your blog. The amount of information, or talks given on agency in the last 10 years is absolutely astounding to me. It gave me goosebumps as I browsed through the information in preparation for this talk. It seems that we are being heavily reminded about the gift, power, and responsibility of our agency as children of God.
So the first thing is our gift of agency that we received from our Heavenly Father and older brother Jesus Christ. I call it a gift because it has been brought and paid for with the heavy price of first Gethsemone and finally on the cross at Golgotha.
Pres David O. McKay said:
This gift was decided upon in our premortal life. We have already heard this month about the War in Heaven so I will only touch briefly on it. But it is crazy to me, when you think about it, HEAVEN. As far as we know there was only one war, and that war was “primarily over how and in what manner the plan of salvation would be administered to the forthcoming human family upon the earth. The issues involved such things as agency, how to gain salvation, and who should be the Redeemer.” (Bible dictionary) This was important enough to destroy our Heavenly Peace with a War. This gift was important enough for our Heavenly Father to cast out 1/3 of his children, so the rest of us could have it. And so it is that Agency the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves and not be acted upon. Is essential to the plan of salvation with it we are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death according to the captivity and power of the devil. (Elder Robert D. Hales)
I have a testimony of the gift of agency. That testimony has been tremendously strengthened over the last two years of my life as I have used it to help myself become healthier through weight loss. I testify that there was a war in heaven,and that The warfare is continued in mortality in the conflict between right and wrong, between the gospel and false principles, etc. The same contestants and the same issues are doing battle, and the same salvation is at stake.
Satan has developed tools of addiction of every kind to try and remove agency from our lives. I am so grateful that my eyes have been opened and I can see my fight a little more clearly.
Which brings me to the power of agency. Pres. Boyd K. Packer related the following.
The old saying “The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts” describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary’s will. Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us.
One way we can give away our agency is to not have our desires in line with our eternal persepctive.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated:
Elder Richard G. Scott put it this way:
Using our agency everyday, to meditate on scriptures, to focus our desires on our health, family, church responsibilities, and fulfilling our mission here on earth gives us a power to thwart the devils temptations.
Again Elder Scott says
In Pres Mckay’s book “Man may know for Himself” is found one of my favourite quotes.
“Every man and every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what he does. It is what he is. Every man, every person radiates what he or she really is. . . . It is what we are and what we radiate that affects the people around us.
He then continues to encourage us.
“As individuals, we must think nobler thoughts. We must not encourage vile thoughts or low aspirations. We shall radiate them if we do. If we think noble thoughts; if we encourage and cherish noble aspirations, there will be that radiation when we meet people, especially when we associate with them.’ (Man May Know for Himself, p. 108.)
Maybe all of us need to consider for a while today what exactly our influence is? This of course where our agency steps in we all have influence but how are we using it. I hope it is one of love, of positive reinforcement, one of forgiveness, one of humility for what my Heavenly Father has given to me. That is my desire.
Back again to Elder Oakes
“When we have a vision of what we can become, our desire and our power to act increase enormously. If our righteous desires are sufficiently intense they will motivate us to cut and carve ourselves free from addictions and other sinful pressures and priorities that prevent our eternal progress. We should remember that righteous desires cannot be superficial, impulsive or temporary. They must be heartfelt, unwavering and permanent.”
I have a testimony of the power of agency, just like David hurled his stones at Goliath to defeat him we to can hurl our righteous desires in Satan’s face to ultimately defeat him.
And that brings us to the responsibility of agency.
I have to remind myself quite often that we are not here on earth for Recess. We are in the exam room. We are being tested. So ultimately life is hard. So what I have decided is that we get to choose our hard. Being a member of this church is hard, chances are if your here long enough you will be throughly offended, hurt, and even sometimes ignored.
But as Elder Neil L. Anderson put it
Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix and forgive others when it hurts. Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely. Will we be astonished at the times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s church and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak? Yes, but this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church , nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I have a testimony that we can use our agency to react to all of life situations. I wake up every morning and choose to be happy. Sometimes I have to make that choice every five minutes in the morning, and sometimes I forget that I made that choice, but I know that happiness and peace is a choice that I can make. So we all have a responsibility to choose our hard. Being happy is hard, being grumpy is hard, forgiving people is hard, holding a grudge is hard. So choose your hard. As we do this our character is built.
Elder Richard G. Scott said:
With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what is His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow.”
I now am so grateful for the gift, power, and responsibility of agency. It was not always so, I remember being a little girl and thinking “ really satan’s plan was that everybody got back that doesn’t seem so bad.” But I think President Monson put it best. When he said;
“We know that we had our agency before this world was and that Lucifer attempted to take it away from us. he had no confidence in the principle of agency or in us and argued for imposed salvation. He insisted that with his plan none would be lost, but he seemed not to recognize - or perhaps not to care - that in addition, none would be any wiser, any stronger, any more compassionate, or any more grateful if his plan were followed.”
Oh I am overwhelmed at the love that my Heavenly Father has for me, that would put a plan in place so that I can become wiser, stronger, be filled with more compassion and become eternally grateful for all of His gifts to me. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Remember to click on the highlighted versions to see where the sources are)