Stay positive, Elder M. Russell Ballard says


Sharing counsel in the loving way a grandfather would talk to his grandchildren, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to young adults at the institute adjacent to Utah Valley University on Oct. 30, reminding them to stay positive amid a world of challenges and trials.

“We gather here at this institute as students who desire to know more about the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Ballard said. “We gather here in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.”

Students filled the chapel and overflow gymnasiums of the Orem Institute of Religion to hear the apostle’s remarks of simple, practical counsel.

Reminding young adults that they are sons and daughters of loving Heavenly Parents, Elder Ballard spoke of the Plan of Salvation that allows all to become like their Father in Heaven.

“You enjoy knowledge of who you are more than any other people on the face of the earth,” the apostle taught. “Because you have the gospel of Jesus Christ you know that you are a son or a daughter of eternal [parents].”

Because of that potential, Lucifer is trying to discourage and persuade individuals away from what Heavenly Father has in mind for them, he said.

“You have to keep a very positive upbeat outlook in life,” he said. Rather than having a “woe is me” or “things aren’t working the way it should” attitude, individuals must have faith in a loving Heavenly Father — especially when prayers appear to be unanswered or answered in a different way than one would like.

“We can get ourselves thinking sometimes in a way that is spiritually destructive,” Elder Ballard said. “Rather, let's just take the position if we understand the great plan of happiness, we understand that this process of going through mortality is going to be tough!”

Reassuring listeners they will work things out and they will find their way, Elder Ballard said, “whatever the challenges are that you may be confronted with in your life, you will have inner strength. You will have inner conviction. You will have a spiritual power within you to be able to always see that whatever the battle is, … [you are] going to win it.”

Prayer is an important part of becoming close to Heavenly Father, Elder Ballard taught. “He is personal, our Father knows us and He loves us and He is close to us,” he said. “So, we can talk to him and we can ask for guidance and direction and sometimes we will get the answer that we like, and sometimes we don’t. And sometimes we wonder why not and the ‘why not’ takes a long time … before we realize that God knows best what’s good for you and for me.

“That takes faith. It takes faith on your part and my part to believe that God knows what’s best and for us to be patient and be willing to do what he would have us do.”

It is also important to refrain from telling God what to do, the apostle taught.

“I have never, ever, told God what to do,” he said. “And don’t you do that either. … Sometimes we don’t ask, we tell Him what He should and shouldn’t do. And I’m sure He must on occasion just smile and say, ‘well, someday, someday, someday they’ll understand.' ”

Rather than insisting or telling God what to do, individuals should ask Heavenly Father for guidance in their lives.

“If you are striving to live the gospel and you are doing the simple things day by day, the Holy Ghost will be your companion. He will teach you all things and He will bring back your remembrance whatsoever the Lord has asked us to do.”

The companionship of the Holy Ghost helps people know they are never alone, even though there may be days where one might feel lonely. “You have the promised gift of the Holy Ghost, a companion which will teach you all things.”

Asking listeners to take a moment to review their own life and the expectations and directions in which they would like to go, Elder Ballard spoke of some “simple things” that make a large difference.

“Are you saying your prayers?” Elder Ballard asked. Encouraging listeners to put [prayer] back in their life and to keep it, he invited all who weren't praying to start that day and to not let it slip away again.

Other simple practices like fasting, searching the scriptures daily and faithfully attending sacrament meeting — without the disruption of technology — all help individuals in their personal worship.

“If you take anything away from today I hope it is that you will never again take the sacrament without deep thought,” he said. Encouraging listeners to listen to the prayer and to think about the covenant they have made, Elder Ballard taught the sacrament is a time for individuals to develop more of a relationship with their Savior.

A practice as simple as reflecting on the Savior can help as individuals develop a stronger relationship with the Savior.

Sharing what he does when he feels weary and weak in the work and is wondering if he can keep up and do all Heavenly Father wants him to do, he “lets my mind go to Gethsemane.”

"I think of the Savior of the world making it possible for you and me to find forgiveness, find strength to overcome."

[email protected] @marianne_holman

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