The 2016 mutual theme is wonderful. It is taken from 2 Nephi 31:20: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.” Never before in the history of the world has it been more important for youth to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ. Each of us is unique! God loves us and expects us to press forward.
Press forward Now is the time to learn to work together with others and be ready to stand on our own. Pressing forward means picking up the weary while strengthening our own testimonies at the same time. When I was in my youth, we had a team of horses. Their names were Ted and Bell. They were powerful draft horses similar in color but nothing else. Ted was about six inches taller than Bell, and he seemed to naturally lead. When the conditions were smooth and easy, Ted always would pull the wagon a little ahead of Bell. Bell, whose build was shorter and much stockier than Ted’s, had a much calmer disposition. In most circumstances, she was content to let Ted press forward. However, when the pulling was tough, Bell would match, if not exceed, Ted’s force. Despite their differences, they were an amazing team. In one particular situation when my father and the horses were in danger, it was as if Bell understood what to do and single-handedly dug in to pull them free from danger. She saved Ted and my father that day, yet within a few minutes, she was content to allow Ted to take the lead again. We often have leadership opportunities; sometimes we are assigned to lead and sometimes we naturally take that role. Either way, we need to be ready to push forward with steadfastness in Christ. At other times, we may be required to follow, and when those circumstances arise, let us push forward and do so without hesitation.
Have hope As we press forward steadfastly, we will have “a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God and of all men” (2 Nephi 31:20). Hope is a wonderful attribute. Preach My Gospel states that hope “is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement” (“Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service,” , p. 53). Hope is something we all need. Discouragement is real, and we must learn to conquer it. We are able to conquer discouragement and other challenges through hope, self-confidence and optimism. We all know someone who lightens everyone’s load when they are around. We need to learn to be that type of person. We need to lift others rather than be a burden to them. President Gordon B. Hinckley was that type of person. He made everyone smile and feel good about life. These are the last days, and they will be full of challenges. Yet, this is how President Hinckley saw these times: “There never was a greater time in the history of the world to live upon the earth than this. How grateful every one of us ought to feel for being alive in this wonderful time with all the marvelous blessings we have. And on top of all that is the Restoration of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” (in Church News, Aug. 14, 1999, p. 7). Even though President Hinckley has been gone several years, his words and example still have a way of bringing hope to us.
Study scriptures and pray We press forward with hope and a love of God and all men. We must also feast “upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end” (2 Nephi 31:20). I encourage each of you to learn to feast upon the word of Christ. When I was about 14 years old, my father was called to serve as a mission president in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I was not happy about leaving my home in Wyoming and everything I loved to live in a big city for three years. This was the first time in my life that I began to feast upon the words of Christ. I read the Book of Mormon, I prayed, and I determined that, rather than be a burden to my father and mother, I would be a blessing to them during their service. I learned that reading the scriptures and praying help me press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and maintain a brightness of hope and love toward God and all men. I encourage you to emblazon this scripture on your heart. I know that God loves you. I testify that He will help you face any trial or challenge as long as you are pressing forward, showing your love for Him by obeying His commandments.