“Understanding our Father’s will and choosing to follow His will is the great test of our lives,” Elder David F. Evans, General Authority Seventy, told Brigham Young University-Hawaii students during a campus devotional on March 23. His wife, Sister Mary Evans, introduced him to the audience.
“Your greatest happiness and spiritual security will come as you love and trust God enough that you will willingly give your agency to Him and say, ‘I will do as you direct,’ ” he said.
Elder Evans, who serves as the second counselor in the Asia Area presidency, spoke to students about “choosing the Father’s will” and began with the doctrine of the gathering of Israel.
“It is because of this doctrine that we hope that after you receive your education in this and other institutions of higher education you will return to the country, culture and language from which you came,” he said. “The gathering to where God placed each of us is a vital part of the Lord’s plan for you, your family and for His Church and Kingdom.”
Elder Evans spoke of how, in the early days of the Church, conversion often meant emigration. Today, the gathering takes place in each nation, and using words from President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Evans said that “Zion is wherever righteous Saints are.”
Again drawing from the words of President Nelson, Elder Evans said, “Spiritual security will always depend upon how one lives, not where one lives. Saints in every land have equal claim upon the blessings of the Lord.”
Elder Evans shared his experience of living almost 10 years in Asia. He observed that each new generation of leaders is largely composed of those who have come to understand the Lord’s doctrine concerning the need to gather back to the lands of their birth and nationality.
“These leaders made the choice to seek and follow the Lord’s will in this important matter,” he said. “In some cases, this may feel as if this is hard counsel or hard doctrine. For some of you, it will mean giving up some things of comfort and, for some, even wealth.”
For many, it means they will live in less comfortable places than where they live as students.
The Lord promises that individuals and their families can be spiritually secure regardless of where they live and that they will have enough as they first seek to do His will in their lives, Elder Evans said.
“Your spiritual security, and that of your family, will depend on how you live the gospel, not by living in some different country or culture,” he said.
Speaking to a diverse student body, Elder Evans encouraged listeners to work to build and strengthen the Church where they were born. As the rising generation accepts His doctrine, and gathers back to their own countries, they are able to be a part of the Lord’s plan to build up and more firmly establish His Church in each country, culture, language and people.
“There they will work together to build up and strengthen the Church in that place,” he said. “There they will establish multigenerational families who will be the spiritual strength of that country and place.”
Some may ask if there are exceptions to this pattern, he said. “The answer is that surely there are exceptions. One example, there are some of you who have fallen in love with and married someone who is not of your culture, language or place. That’s what happens here at BYU-Hawaii. The two of you will need to prayerfully consider your choices and make sure that the decisions you make are consistent with the Lord’s will for you and your family.”
It is important to prayerfully consider the Lord’s teachings and seek His will when making decisions.
“As you make the decisions that will affect your life and the lives of each member of your family and others, please remember that the spiritual guidance necessary to know whether your circumstances and choices are pleasing to the Lord will come as you first desire to do His will and accept His doctrine, and then seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost in your life and the life of your family,” he said.
The Lord promises those who keep His commandments and seek to do His will shall have spiritual direction and guidance.
“Just as in the Savior’s life, we will need to choose to follow the will of the Father daily, and throughout our lives,” he said. “Indeed, continuing to choose to do the will of the Father becomes the mark of our discipleship. It is when we choose right and follow His will, especially when the choices feel difficult, that we grow the most in our love for God and our fellow man. This is how we become true disciples of Jesus Christ.”
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