Sunday, December 23, 2018

Elder Gerrit W. Gong on shaping our future through today's decisions

Elder Gerrit W. Gong (born December 23, 1953) was called as a Seventy in April 2010, then to the Presidency of the Seventy in October 2015. He was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in April 2018.
"In 2018 we are delighted to learn from our own decisions. We are learning that the battle to get up in the morning is won or lost the night before. We are learning that personal and roommate prayers, having some meals together, putting a copy of the Ensign in a visible place, going to the holy ­temple—and all other regular holy habits—change our hearts and our living environments.
"Attending BYU devotionals and forums is a decision not to let school get in the way of education. Serving in our ward helps us learn from those around us and from the Holy Ghost how to love God and minister. Coincidentally, in such sociality, because we are learning to see others through spiritual eyes (see 1 Samuel 16:7), we make wonderful friends and, in some cases, find our eternal companion.
"On occasion, our Heavenly Father helps us understand how time and eternity can come together in futures we cannot see. In our hearts and minds, the Holy Ghost tells us things we need to but would not otherwise know. (See D&C 8:2; Alma 26:22; 1 Corinthians 2:10–11.) In inspiring, protecting, and guiding us, the Holy Ghost fulfills the promise that 'all things work together for good to them that love God' (Romans 8:28; see also D&C 90:24; 98:3; 105:40).
"In 2018 we began discovering we wanted not only to live a balanced life but also to strive for a consecrated, sacramental life. Of course we must be wise and not 'run faster than [we have] strength' (Mosiah 4:27). And sometimes we must 'be still and know that [God is] God' (D&C 101:16). But with planning, increasing capacity, and consecrated effort, we are discovering something miraculous. This world is not simply one of finite sticks and stones. In the Lord’s times and seasons, this world can also be one of limitless loaves and fishes. (See Matthew 14:15–21; 15:32–38.)
"In a loaves and fishes world, faith, compassion, and blessings are unlimited. So are God’s grace and capacity to embrace, magnify, and heal, just as our patriarchal blessings promise. When we sacrifice and consecrate our relatively meager offering of a few loaves and fishes, the Lord can take what we give and greatly magnify it to bless others."
- Gerrit W. Gong, "We Seek After These Things," BYU devotional, Oct. 16, 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Gong was employed in BYU's administrative department for many years before being called as a general authority, so it must be especially enjoyable to him to return and address the students on campus. In this address shared a earlier this year, he talked to them about what they might be thinking in the year 2040 as they look back on the year 2018. The point was that their state or condition in the future will depend on the decisions they make now.

It's an interesting exercise, and I appreciated some of the suggestions and lessons Elder Gong mentioned. Critical things that we should be learning now in anticipation of the future:

  • Consequences of our individual decisions
  • The importance of " regular holy habits"—doing the basic things that change our heart
  • Growing through committed learning and service to others
  • Appreciating the individuals around us
  • Growing in communication with the Holy Ghost
  • Living an increasingly "consecrated, sacramental life"
  • Recognizing God's blessings in our life

Learning to recognize how God multiplies blessings in this "loaves and fishes world" is a part of our spiritual development. As we make our "relatively meager" contribution, He will "greatly magnify" our portion, not just for our personal benefit, but so that we have much to give to others.

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

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