CES devotional: Giving one's will to the Lord
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Giving one’s will to the Lord is not an isolated act, it is something done every day, said Brother Russell T. Osguthorpe, Sunday School general president, during a Church Educational System devotional on Nov. 3. The broadcast for young adults — single and married — originated in the Marriott Center on the Brigham Young University campus in Provo, Utah, and was translated and broadcast in many languages throughout the world.
“If God’s will is to be done by us and through us, then our will needs to be the same as God’s,” he said. “We need to want what He wants.”
Brother Osguthorpe invited listeners to ponder three questions: First, “What is the meaning of the word 'will'?” Second, “How do we give our will to God?” And third, “How can we know we’re succeeding?”
The adversary would have individuals believe that there is no such thing as will — that they have no choice but to follow their own natural impulses, he said. “Some mistakenly believe that our will is predetermined by our genes and that we have no control at all over it.”
Using the example of people knowing important things for physical health — diet and exercise — Brother Osguthorpe said that the percentage of those who actually eat right and exercise is much lower.
“There is an obvious gap between knowing something and doing it,” Brother Osguthorpe said. “Most people know what they should do, but few have the will to do it.”
It is through revelation — both ancient and modern — that individuals learn they do have agency. They do have a will and desires and, when necessary, those desires can change through the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“When we give our will to Him, this is a gift that is uniquely ours to give,” he said. “When we give our will, we are giving ourselves totally, withholding nothing.”
Giving one’s will to the Lord does not mean that they are giving up their agency, he taught, rather, the opposite is true.
“The more we give our will to the Lord, the more our own ability to exercise our moral agency grows,” he said. “Knowing what God wants us to know, saying what He wants us to say, doing what He wants us to do all lead us to being what He wants us to be. God gave us agency so we could yield ourselves to Him, not so that we could succumb to temptation.”
It is through repenting, putting off the natural man and yielding all of one’s will to the Lord that individuals are able to become who they really are — faithful sons and daughters of Heavenly Father.
“A change of heart is a change of motive, not only a change in action,” he said. “We need to do good things but, even more, we need to do them for the right reason.”
When individuals are on the covenant path of discipleship, their motives are pure and actions are righteous. They do good things because they love the Lord and His children.
“When we really want to be good, but slip and fall, we are yielding to the natural man or woman within us," he said. "When we find ourselves anywhere other than on the path of discipleship, we need to draw upon the powers of the Atonement by repenting, and we will once again be on the right path.”
The process of repentance is one of changing desires and making space for the Spirit. As individuals make space for the Spirit, there is no space left for sin, he said.
“So our will is the collective force of our desires or motives,” he said. “Our will underlies all of our actions. So how do we go about strengthening our will? How can we give our will to the Lord?”
Sharing the example of President Thomas S. Monson and members of the Quorum of the Twelve, Brother Osguthorpe said that it is important to look to the Savior for direction.
“We can say what the Lord wants us to say,” he said. “We can also do what He wants done. Sometimes actions matter more than words.”
Saying and doing the right things becomes easier as individuals make and keep promises — covenants such as baptism and being sealed as an eternal family in the temple — to the Lord.
“So we do all we can to give ourselves to Him, our heart, our will, our soul,” he said. “The more we follow this path, the more the Lord will bless us with His love. And the more we feel His love, the more we know we are succeeding in giving our will to Him.”
Individual’s can give their will to the Lord every day. “It is not an isolated act. It is not the end, but just the beginning. We can say what He wants said. We can do what He wants done. We can be a witness to the world of God’s beloved Son — all because we want to do these things.
As they do these things, a change happens in their heart and their gratitude for the Atonement increases so much that they are strengthened continually.
“I know that we can accept His invitation to come and be strengthened, to come and be forgiven, to come and feel His infinite love,” he said. “Then, with a smiling heart, we will want to sing the song of redeeming love. ...
“Each time we sing it, we will be giving our will to Him, the only gift we have to give Him. He will not only accept this gift, He will expand it and deepen it. He will cause us to feel more capable. He will help increase our capacity to love and be loved. He will lead us out of darkness into light. He will heal and help us in ways that permit us to forgive and be forgiven.”