Thursday, November 15, 2018

Elder L. Tom Perry on the decisions of mortality

Elder L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) was called as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1972, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1974. At the time of his passing at age 92, he was the oldest living general authority and the third in seniority among the leading quorum.
"Life is full of choices.... Decisions are before us every step of the way. Richard L. Evans said in the film Man’s Search For Happiness: 'Life offers you two precious gifts. One is time, the other, freedom of choice—the freedom to buy with your time what you will. You are free to exchange your allotment of time for thrills. You may trade it for base desires. You may invest it in greed. You may purchase with it vanity; you may spend your time in pursuit of material things. Yours is the freedom to choose. But these are not bargains, for in them you find no lasting satisfaction' (italics added)....
"Have more confidence in yourself than allowing your decisions to happen just by chance."
- L. Tom Perry, "Making the Right Decisions," General Conference October 1979
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

I remember the classic film Man's Search for Happiness (produced by the Church in 1964) so well from my youth and from my missionary service. The beautiful narration of Elder Richard L. Evans was calm and strong, and the message so timely. (View the original video here.) Elder Perry quotes from the movie, expressing the choice we all have in how we use our time during our mortal experience. We can choose to follow a path of pleasure, entertainment, selfish desires, greed, or material prosperity. But if we choose that direction, we will "find no lasting satisfaction." The movie points out the difference between temporary, temporal pleasures and the lasting, eternal joy of the Gospel path.

Elder Perry emphasized in his talk that we need to be bold and certain in making our decisions in life. He talked about the principle of deciding in advance to be committed to the Gospel path, including specific principles and commandments that might confront us; and to make sure our decisions are carefully made based on our principles, not "allowing your decisions to happen just by chance." We must ponder and prepare in order to be wise in our choices, since those choices so quickly establish the path we will follow in life—and in eternity.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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