President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy S. Worthen welcomed students back to campus with the first devotional of the fall 2022 semester. Sister Worthen spoke on maintaining an eternal perspective through trials in our lives, and President Worthen focused his remarks on making wise choices that will determine our lives and our ultimate destinies.
Sister Worthen recounted a story from T.H. White’s, "The Once and Future King" of Elijah and a rabbi who met two men as they traveled: one who was very wealthy and one who was extremely poor. In the story, it seems as if the wealthy man is rewarded for selfishness, while the poor man is punished for his charity towards the prophet and the rabbi.
The rabbi was unable to comprehend this and questioned the injustice. It wasn’t until he understood the whole picture that he realized the Lord was working behind the scenes and actually blessing the poor man.
“What Elijah offered the rabbi in response to the rabbi’s desperate desire to grasp the situation was a valuable lesson in understanding that our ways are not the Lord’s ways.”
“Without an eternal perspective we may assume that in some situations, the Lord acts unjustly,” Sister Worthen said.
Sister Worthen testified that no experiences are without purpose when we have faith that all will be for our good. She explained that oppositions and challenges are inevitable elements of this life, and it is up to us to decide how we respond to trials.
Sister Worthen shared how comforting she finds it that we are all agents unto ourselves, and can choose the way that we respond to any situation. Even more comforting is the fact that because of our Savior, we don’t need to go through trials by ourselves.
“Although you may feel devastated in the moment, your faith in our Savior can, and will, carry you through — until the day when you realize how that seemingly merciless outcome helped you transform into the best, divinely appointed, version of yourself.”
President Worthen based his address on President Russell M. Nelson’s worldwide young adult devotional delivered last May. As he reviewed the message given by the prophet, he was drawn back to the title of the talk “Choices for Eternity.”
For college students, the choices made now will affect their lives and eternal trajectory. President Worthen observed that the scope of those choices will broaden as we consciously make wise decisions.
“This pattern will continue into eternity, as your wise choices in mortality can ultimately lead to exaltation and its endless array of opportunities for joy.”
Echoing President Nelson's talk, President Worthen highlighted how significant it is that we have the agency to decide the most important thing in our existence — our eternal destiny. He explained that our desires and actions will decide the kingdom in which we end up.
“Our eternal destiny is not determined solely by a single act, but through a lifetime of actions and decisions. Those actions and decisions prepare us to live in accordance with eternal laws.”
Following this logic, President Worthen taught that in order to eventually live in the Celestial Kingdom and become like our Father in Heaven, we must first become celestial.
“Those abiding by a celestial law abide that law not because it is a requirement, but because that is what they desire to do — that is who they are,” he said. “We get to decide — We get to choose — the most important thing in our existence: our ultimate destiny. God will leave that up to us.”
President Worthen shared that as children of the covenant, one of the most important decisions we can make is whether or not we will stay true and put the Lord first.
“As you make decisions in the coming year, ask yourself, is this choice helping me make and keep sacred covenants? Is it consistent with my identity as a child of the covenant — as an heir to the promises made to Abraham?”
God will do everything in his power to help us return to him, President Worthen said, but ultimately it is up to us.
“Because we are His children, God will love us. But we still have a choice — whether or not to feel and reciprocate that love.”
Concluding with an invitation to re-read President Nelson’s devotional address, President Worthen promised that as we do so we will receive revelation that will help us make righteous choices.
“Nothing but your own will can separate you from the love of God for you. No sin, no harm inflicted by others, no failure, no mistake can alter God’s love for you. Please let Him love you.”