Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Elder Dale G. Renlund on blessings that come as we draw closer to God

Elder Dale G. Renlund (b. November 13, 1952) served in the First Quorum of Seventy starting in 2009, until his call to the Quorum of Twelve in October 2015.
"The closer we are to Jesus Christ in the thoughts and intents of our hearts, the more we appreciate His innocent suffering, the more grateful we are for grace and forgiveness, and the more we want to repent and become like Him. Our absolute distance from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is important, but the direction we are heading is even more crucial. God is more pleased with repentant sinners who are trying to draw closer to Him than with self-righteous, faultfinding individuals who, like the Pharisees and scribes of old, do not realize how badly they need to repent (see Luke 15:2; see also Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 5:260–62)....
"Whatever our current direction or distance to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, we can choose to turn toward Them and draw closer to Them....
"To draw closer to the Savior, we must increase our faith in Him, make and keep covenants, and have the Holy Ghost with us. We must also act in faith, responding to the spiritual direction we receive. All of these elements come together in the sacrament. Indeed, the best way I know of to draw closer to God is to prepare conscientiously and partake worthily of the sacrament each week....
"No matter where you stand in your relationship to God, I invite you to draw nearer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, the Ultimate Benefactors and Givers of all that is good. I invite you to attend sacrament meeting each week and partake of the holy emblems of the Savior’s body and blood. I invite you to feel God’s nearness as He is made known to you, as He was to the disciples of old, in the 'breaking of [the] bread.'
"As you do, I promise that you will feel nearer to God. Natural tendencies to childish whining, disgruntled entitlement, and derisive skepticism will dissipate. Those sentiments will be replaced by feelings of greater love and gratitude for Heavenly Father’s gift of His Son. As we draw closer to God, the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ will come into our lives. And, as with the disciples on the way to Emmaus, we will find that the Savior has been nearby all along."
- Dale G. Renlund, "That I Might Draw All Men unto Me," General Conference, April 2016, Saturday morning session
Click here to read the full talk

I thought this talk by Elder Renlund was masterful. He introduced his thoughts with the classic insight once shared by an associate: "The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement." That was applied first to the giving of charity, and a review of Church welfare principles. But then it was applied to our relationship with Deity, and the insights were wonderfully beneficial.

This was an invitation to all to "draw near unto" the Savior and our Father in Heaven, and a promise of the blessings that would follow. Some of the specific things Elder Renlund suggested we might do include:
  • increase our faith in Him
  • make and keep covenants
  • have the Holy Ghost with us
  • act in faith, responding to the spiritual direction we receive
He suggested that these items share a focal point in the sacrament, which provides a tool to draw us closer to God as we "prepare conscientiously and partake worthily of the sacrament each week."

I love a challenge with a promise—an invitation to be blessed as we accept inspired counsel. The promises listed here are some I very much desire.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
April 22, 2016

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