“Everything the Savior did and said was for the benefit of humankind,” Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, told students at Brigham Young University during a campus devotional on Feb. 3.
“His Atonement. His example, His teachings — everything was to help us not only to have a more abundant life on earth but also to attain the most abundant of all life — eternal life.”
Sister Esplin explained she had recently been reading the Savior’s words from John 10:10. The words she read made her ponder and apply them to her own life. Quoting the scripture she said, “I am come that they [meaning you and me] might have life, and that they [you and me] might have it more abundantly."
She emphasized three principles the Savior taught that would lead people to a more abundant life.
The first principle is to seek light and truth. “The Savior blesses those who are ‘seeking diligently to learn wisdom and find truth,’” she said.
Sharing stories from former BYU students, Sister Esplin explained how light and truth can enlighten the soul and be an answer to prayer.
“The search for knowledge, light, and truth is one of the reasons we are on earth,” said Sister Esplin. “It is a lifelong pursuit that requires great effort and diligence on our part, whether by study or by faith.”
The second principle of living an abundant life is about looking at life with an eternal perspective and can be found in the words of Isaiah, she said. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).
Using a story written by religious writer Harleigh M. Rosenberger about a man who walked across the United States on foot from California to New York, Sister Esplin underscored an important principle. She said that at the halfway point, a reporter asked the traveler what was his most difficult experience so far. She said Rosenberger described the man’s response:
“The traveler thought long. Through his mind went the toilsome climb over mountain passes; hot dry stretches of desert. Sun. Wind. Then he said quietly, ‘I guess my greatest problem was that the sand kept getting into my shoes.’
“Sand in his shoes. Not some great crisis that he had faced. Not some danger that had almost taken his life. But sand; sand that wore blisters on the soles of his feet. Sand that ground its way between the pores of his skin and irritated constantly, that made every step an agony. Sand in his shoes. ...
“Now there was one hint the hiker suggested when the sand got into his shoes. He had to stop and dump the sand from them.”
Sister Esplin said, “In our journey in life we too are troubled with sand in our shoes — sand in the form of change, challenges, trials, and temptations. We can either let these things stop us short of our goal or we can find ways to dump the sand from our shoes and continue our journey.”
The third principle of living an abundant life is the importance of feeling and expressing gratitude, Sister Esplin said.
Emphasising this principle, Sister Esplin shared a scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (78:19).
She shared a story from the January Ensign about a young woman she knows named Elizabeth Stitt. Elizabeth learned the importance of gratitude when she was able to do research for her undergraduate degree in the same city where she had previously served a mission.
Elizabeth traveled throughout the city to do her school project and was blessed with many positive experiences, said Sister Esplin. Elizabeth felt so blessed by her circumstances she thanked her Heavenly Father every day in gratitude even when things didn’t work out well.
Sister Esplin said that one day Elizabeth took some time to ponder on her experiences. She wondered why Heavenly Father was helping her so much. The thought came clearly to her mind: “ ‘It is because you are being grateful.’ Elizabeth said, ‘That day I learned that sometimes gratitude precedes the blessing.’ ”
“It’s interesting how gratitude works,” said Sister Esplin. “We think we are giving back to the Lord by being grateful, but instead the Lord blesses us still more — for being grateful.”
On occasion a problem can arise when people get things that they haven’t worked hard for, said Sister Esplin. Some people might even expect things to be handed to them. By using the sacrifices of the early saints as an example Sister Esplin said, “We need to be grateful not only for those who went before and sacrificed so much but especially grateful to God from whom comes every good thing.”
Sister Esplin reiterated that the abundant life can be attained through seeking light, truth and knowledge, through looking through the lens of an eternal perspective and through feeling and expressing gratitude. “Now is our time to contribute — our time to build, our time to dig, our time to plant,” she said.