Good morning, Brothers and Sisters,
My name is Lindsay Hanson. Me and my son Kenny moved into the ward about a
month but I grew up in the stake and know a few of you. We actually just moved
from the Cordata park ward so not too far but we are excited for this new
adventure. I Am a purchaser for a bolt and fastener company and Kenny is a
Kindergartener who loves to play and read and we are excited to get to know all of
One of the greatest gifts we are given in this life is our agency. What is
agency? It is the privilege and capability to choose our own actions. In 2nd
Nephi 2:27 it reads, "Wherefore, men are-free-according to the-flesh; and-all-things
are-given-them which are expedient unto man. And they are free
to-choose-liberty-and eternal-life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to
choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for
he seeketh that all men might be-miserable-like unto himself." Without our agency
we could not progress in our lives and we would not be able to have the plan of
Salvation. In this life we face trials and our decisions help shape our futures. While
we are free to make our choices, we do not get to chose the consequences of our
actions and this is where repentance and Heavenly Fathers infinite love give us the
opportunity to correct our mistakes that we make and to improve ourselves and get
us back on the path that we want to be on.
In order to repent we need to be willing to change and do things differently than
we are now. President Thomas-S. Monson once shared the story of prison warden
Clinton Duffy. “During the 1940s and 1950s, [Warden Duffy] was well known for
his efforts to rehabilitate the men in his prison. Said one critic, ‘You should know
that leopards don’t change their spots!’ “Replied Warden Duffy, ‘You should know I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day.’”
One of Satan’s greatest lies is that men and women cannot change. This untruth
gets told and retold in many different ways as the world says that we simply cannot
change—or worse yet, that we should not change.
Kevin S Hamilton talks of the requirements of change according to the Lord’s patterns. First we must humble ourselves when we are prideful and thinking we know better than Heavenly Father it does not leave our hearts open to do anything differently than we are already doing. In Mosiah it states For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. Second we need to have faith in Christ and the full blessings and opportunities of his Atonement. We must truly believe in His power to save us before we expect him to be able to help us change, and finally is we do all these things His grace will enable us to change in Mosiah 27:24-26 it says, "For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God."
Sometimes when we think of repentance, we think of it as something for big mistakes in our life and justify away smaller misdeeds and simply sweep them under the rug however this does not hurt or hold anyone back but ourselves.
In the talk repentance a Joyful choice Dale G Runland tells a story from his childhood Fifty years ago, we attended church in a large remodeled home. One Sunday, my friend Steffan, the only other deacon in the branch, greeted me at church with some excitement. We went to the chapel’s adjacent overflow area, and he pulled from his pocket a large firecracker and some matches. In an act of youthful bravado, I took the firecracker and lit the long gray fuse. I intended to snuff out the fuse before it blew up. But when I burned my fingers trying to do so, I dropped the firecracker. Steffan and I watched in horror as the fuse continued to burn. The firecracker exploded, and sulfurous fumes filled the overflow area and the chapel. We hurriedly gathered up the scattered remnants of the firecracker and opened the windows to try to get the smell out, naively hoping that no one would notice. Fortunately, no one was hurt and no damage was done. As members came to the meeting, they did notice the overpowering smell. It was hard to miss. The smell distracted from the sacred nature of the meeting. Because there were so few Aaronic Priesthood holders—and in what can only be described as dissociative thinking—I passed the sacrament, yet I did not feel worthy to partake of it. When the sacrament tray was offered to me, I took neither the bread nor the water. I felt horrible. I was embarrassed, and I knew that what I had done had displeased God. After church, the branch president, Frank Lindberg, a distinguished older man with silver-gray hair, asked me to come to his office. After I sat down, he looked at me kindly and said he had noticed that I had not partaken of the sacrament. He asked why. I suspect he knew why. I was sure everyone knew what I had done. After I told him, he asked how I felt. Through tears, I haltingly told him I was sorry and that I knew I had let God down. President Lindberg opened a well-worn copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and asked me to read some underlined verses. I read the following out loud:“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”
I will never forget President Lindberg’s compassionate smile when I looked up after I had finished reading. With some emotion, he told me that he felt it would be fine for me to resume partaking of the sacrament. As I left his office, I felt indescribable joy.
What if instead of taking accountability he had simply blamed his friend for the firecracker incident and moved on? Or thought that since no one was hurt it was not really a big deal? By blaming others or minimizing our situations instead of taking responsibility for our actions it hinders our capability to truly repent and move forward in forgiveness, if we do not accept responsibility how can we truly repent? Repentance is much more than just knowing we did wrong and it is not just about punishment and guilt. It is us choosing to turn away from sin and turn to our Heavenly Father for forgiveness. Jesus went through the Atonement for each and every one of us. There are times that we may feel like our mistakes are too great or we are not worthy of His love or forgiveness but these are not the case these are the advisory trying to pull us away from the one thing that can make us feel better. When we are feeling lost and insufficient these are exactly the times we need to turn to Him.
In Luke 15 it tells the story of the Prodigal Son, And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
I can only imagine the fear and the thoughts that might have gone through his mind as he travelled back home to his fathers house. Thoughts of his mistakes and how upset his father would be, how he was going to chastise him for squandering his money and living in a way much different that he should have been but when His father sees him he doesn’t yell at him or talk down to him for his foolish mistakes he had compassion and fell on his neck and kissed him. He was so happy to have his lost child back and safe with him, Just as the Father received his son with open arms our Father in Heaven will receive us with love no matter our situation.
One of my favorite quotes is from Jeffery R Holland and it says However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made, or talents you think you don't have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. “
Heavenly Fathers love does not only reach us when we are living perfectly, it is there always. There may be times when we make choices in our lives that pull away from it in anger or embarrassment or out of guilt but when we are ready He is always waiting lovingly there for us with open arms.
Brothers and Sisters, I testify of the power of repentance and have seen the amazing blessings and endless love of Christ and Heavenly Father in my life everyday as I continue to try to improve and grow While the Advisary may try to convince us that we aren’t worthy of forgiveness and that we are too far past grace, Heavenly Father knows and loves each and everyone of us individually. Christ has felt every pain and trial we are enduring and is ready and waiting to comfort us as we turn to Him in our trials and misdoings. I know that no matter what we are struggling with right now, if we turn to Heavenly Father with a repentant heart and a willingness to change, he can give us the strength to do all things and he will remember these sins no more. I am so grateful for this gospel and the power of the Atonement and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.