Each person who comes to earth fought for the kingdom of God before they were born and continues to do so on earth through sharing, teaching and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Understanding these principles can help one understand who they are.
Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Tazuko Yamashita, discussed answers to three questions for students during a March 23 BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast, to help them understand who they are and their divine identity.
‘Do you remember what you were doing before you were born?‘
“You are God’s children,” Elder Yamashita said. “You were living with your Heavenly Parents.” Although each person was happy at that time, Heavenly Father knew that His children could not progress or develop the godlike qualities He possesses without leaving Him for a time.
To do this, each person would need to leave their premortal home, gain a physical body, leave their physical bodies behind at death and be reunited with them in the resurrection. “If you passed your tests, you would receive the fulness of joy that your Heavenly Father has received,” Elder Yamashita said.
Heavenly Father called a grand council in heaven to present His plan for His children to return to Him and become like Him. “We call it the plan of salvation,” he said.
At this council, each person learned that on earth, a veil would cover their memories so they could choose good or evil and follow Heavenly Father based on faith rather than knowledge or memory of Him. “He would help you recognize the truth when you heard it again on earth.”
Some would be deceived and not follow the gospel, and there would be trials on earth like sickness, disappointment, pain, sorrow and death. “But you understood that these would be given to you for your experience and your good,” Elder Yamashita said.
However, Heavenly Father would provide a Savior so His children could overcome sin and death and make it possible for them to return to Him.
“Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give His life for you, and take upon HImself your sins,” Elder Yamashita taught. “He, like your Heavenly Father, wanted you to choose whether you would obey Heavenly Father’s commandments. He knew you must be free to choose to prove yourselves worthy of exaltation.”
He was not the only one to volunteer. Satan said that he would redeem all of mankind. and would take all honor for their salvation.
Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ as the Savior. Because of this, Satan rebelled and there was a war in heaven in which a third of the hosts of heaven were cast out.
During this war in heaven, “I am sure you were at the forefront of the fight then,” Elder Yamashita said to the BYU–Hawaii students. “I am sure you were chosen and incredible spirits. I am very proud of you.”
‘Returned missionaries, what [gifts] did you bring back to home?’
Many of those listening to the devotional were returned missionaries, for whose faithful service and sacrifices Elder Yamashita gave appreciation. Then he asked what gifts they brought home.
President Gordon B. Hinckley shared 10 gifts all missionaries ought to take home from the mission field, which Elder Yamashita quoted in his devotional address.
- A testimony of the living reality of God, our Eternal Father, and HIs Son, Jesus Christ.
- A greatly engaged understanding of the gospel.
- A love for the people among whom you labor.
- A greater love and appreciation for your parents.
- An understanding of the meaning of hard work.
- An enlarged understanding of the meaning and true worth and value of personal virtue.
- Increased poise, the ability to meet people, to converse with them, to talk with them.
- The courage to act.
- The faith to do.
- The humility to pray.
Elder Yamashita expressed his deep gratitude for the faithful missionaries now enrolled at BYU–Hawaii. “You served the Lord in the great work of proclaiming the gospel and establishing the kingdom of God. Thank you very much for all that you have done.”
But there is still more work to be done. He encouraged returned missionaries to continue to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, love and help each other, minister to others, read the Book of Mormon, go to the temple, hold family home evening, pray, attend sacrament meeting and worship the Lord on Sunday, invite others to come unto Christ and testify of Him and His Atoning sacrifice.
“I know that you have brought many good souvenirs from your mission field,” Elder Yamashita said. “Do not hide these souvenirs. Please continue to use those souvenirs you have taken from your mission field for your life.”
‘Are you ready to be a missionary?‘
Sister Yamashita answered this third question, addressing listeners who have not yet served a mission.
Sister Yamashita joined the Church after meeting with missionaries when she was in college. One night while studying the gospel, she felt the Holy Ghost tell her, “Go on a mission. Go on a mission. Go on a mission.”
She began saving money and preparing to serve a mission for two years. On her 24th birthday, she realized that she was older than most sister missionaries and began to wonder if she would miss the chance to get married.
“Once again, the Holy Spirit came down to me and said exactly very strongly, ‘Don’t worry about your future. Peace be unto your soul,’” Sister Yamashita said. “My whole body was filled with the Spirit, peace and love. … I committed again to go on my mission.”
Soon after, she was called to serve in the Japan Tokyo North Mission, where she met a wonderful young man. Each time she heard his testimony, she was filled with the Spirit.
A month after completing her mission, she was prompted to write a letter to this young man. She did not expect to get a letter back from him, or so quickly. In that letter, he asked her out on a date, and the two of them were married three months later.
“Do you remember, before my mission, what the Spirit said?” Sister Yamashita said. “‘Don’t worry about your future. Peace be unto your soul.’ …
“Heavenly Father really loves you. Heavenly Father really knows your needs.”
By living the gospel and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost speedily, that same peace of soul can be felt by all.
Elder Yamashita told listeners that they are the battalion of the Lord. “You were fighting with Satan and his followers at the forefront during that war in heaven. Now, you are fighting with Satan and his followers at the forefront on this earth as a chosen spirit.”
In closing his address, Elder Yamashita shared an experience when he was a young teaching assistant at a university supervising a 50-meter running test. In the last group of students was a blind student and his friend. After all the others had completed their test, the friend guided the blind student to the starting line, then stood at the finish line and clapped his hands. The blind student then ran into his friend’s outstretched arms.
“They have taught me an important lesson,” Elder Yamashita said; “that is, we all need a help of someone to make a goal.”
To reach the goal of eternal life, each person needs the help of the Savior and His Atonement. “Only Jesus Christ, our Savior, can atone [for] our sins. Through His Atonement, we are cleansed, healed, forgiven and strengthened.”
Watch the devotional here: