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BYU associate athletic director emphasizes living life with purpose

“We are all here on earth as a type of adventure,” said Janie Penfield, associate athletic director at Brigham Young University, at Tuesday’s devotional.

An avid skier and adventurer, Penfield told students “planning with purpose is the best way to ensure that each adventure is successful.” She spoke of her experiences skiing through trails, where most often there are several trails to choose from, making each skier question themselves, “Where to? Followed by, which route?” She said, “Before we begin we must determine the purpose of our trek, so we know which trails to take. Then we must ski on course or we will not reach our destination.”

Penfield said such adventures are like our life experiences. “We left our Heavenly Father to obtain bodies, to be tested, to make covenants, to gain knowledge and experience, and to hopefully return to live with him,” said Penfield.

She said often we do not remember our purpose and get distracted by seemingly “good” things. “There are many good things that we can do, but we must stay true to our purpose and live the life of a disciple,” Penfield told students.

Reminding her listeners that it is easy to become discouraged by the challenges and disappointments of mortal life, she told students, “We have the power to control what role, if any, they play in keeping us on or off the path of discipleship. The collection of our choices will determine our final destination.”

“So, what can we do to ensure that we build a lifetime of righteousness and accumulate wise choices? We can live our lives with purpose; the purpose to gain eternal life and be counted as a disciple of Jesus Christ,” said Penfield.

Citing President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she said the path of discipleship can be set as our purpose by “following the Savior, striving to be like Him, listening to and obeying the spirit promptings, and devoting ourselves to holiness and happiness.”

Penfield spoke of how the restored gospel provides a map for life, and that people cannot reach eternal life by chance. “We must determine our course to ensure that our daily choices have a chance of leading us there.”

She spoke of the importance of reading the scriptures. “Thus the scriptures become a road map, a set of divine directions to assist us on our journey through mortality and return home,” cited Penfield.

She also spoke of the perils of making “survival mode” decisions—decisions made in the moment due to lack of preparation and follow through. She told students of missed opportunities because of letting the chaos of life affect priorities. Then she reminded them that the decision to be a disciple of Christ “is the path to our best and happiest self.”

Penfield spoke of the importance of setting goals and allowing them to become individual course markings. “They are the significant choices in our lives that allow us to recognize that we are in alignment with our Father in Heaven. He has given us the personal guidance and direction we need to accomplish our goals. The companionship of the Holy Ghost provides us with unlimited personal revelation, direction, comfort, strength and guidance from God,” said Penfield.

Prayer is the line that allows us to communicate with our Heavenly Father, and by living worthy and seeking the Father, He gives us the companionship of the Holy Ghost to guide us.

 “We will move with the push and pull of the world, away from the path that leads us to return to our Father in Heaven, if we are not committed to our course and purpose. We must be committed and we must do all that we can to stay the course,” said Penfield.

She reminded students that they can stay on course as they heed the counsel of the prophets and constantly study the scriptures. She spoke of the importance of friends, and urged listeners to cautiously choose those who will impact their lives. She also spoke of the importance of maintaining faith and testimony through righteous living and regular repentance, of obeying the laws of God, and of allowing the Spirit to influence our lives.

To read the talk in its entirety, visit speeches.byu.edu. The devotional will also be rebroadcast on BYUtv. Check byutv.org for schedules, as well as on demand availability.

Writer: Stephanie Bahr

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