I’d like to thank Riley and Sister Wilson for their words, and Mada, Rachel and Lindsay for the music that they performed.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Caeden Knight and I’ll be serving a mission in the Nicaragua, Managua North Mission. It’s a happy/sad/every emotion possible all mixed together. All my life I’ve been raised and taught of the blessings that come from serving a mission, yet there are feelings of sadness-not wanting to leave such awesome people and everything behind. But I do testify that the decision to go on a mission is the best decision I have made. I appreciate all of you, for everything you have done for me, too. The message that I’ll be sharing with you today is that of relying on our Heavenly Father. This is definitely something that I have began to really be grateful for my Heavenly Father as the time is winding down, as I’ll be leaving in a week.
Why is it important to rely on our Heavenly Father? This is something that definitely takes time, but in order to rely on our Heavenly Father, I think it is vitally important that we know who he is. When we come to know who our Heavenly Father in heaven is, and his son Jesus Christ, we can begin to have that relationship with him.
I’d like for you to ponder the encouraging words of Robert D. Hales throughout my talk.
“If you or someone you love is seeking purpose in life or a deeper conviction of God’s presence in our lives, I offer as a friend and as an apostle of God, my witness that He lives.”
We come to know that He lives because we believe the testimonies given by his ancient and living prophets here on the earth. In the New testament, we know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have a physical appearance. The disciple Stephen testified,
“Behold, I see the Heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.”
We know that they have faces and that they stand in one place at a time, and that they converse. The Prophet Enoch declared,
"I saw the Lord, and He stood before my face, and He talked with me, even as a man talketh with one another.”
The Brother of Jared saw God the Father.
“And it came to pass that when the Brother of Jared had said these words, Behold the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the Brother of Jared and he saw the finger of the Lord. And it was the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood. The Brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.”
We know that the Father and His son, Jesus Christ, have feelings for us. In the book of Moses we read,
“And it came to pass that the Father of Heaven looked upon the residue of the people and wept.”
And we know that God and his son Jesus Christ are immortal and glorified beings. Joseph Smith recounts this of Jesus Christ:
“His eyes were as a flame of fire, the hair of his head was white like the pure snow. His countenance shown above the brightness of the sun. And his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters.”
But also, we have the most powerful testimony from a latter day prophet which we hear over and over again.
Many of you had the opportunity to go to the little birthplace of our religion, where the Prophet Joseph Smith prayed in the Sacred Grove and was visited by both the Father and his son Jesus Christ. Not too long ago we heard the testimonies of the Spirit that testified to each of you that Joseph Smith indeed saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ. These sacred experiences that we have need to be our anchors. In times of doubt, you can always refer back to those moments because you cannot deny the feelings of the Spirit.
A couple years ago I had the opportunity to go to EFY and I didn't really know what to expect. I didn't really think that it was going to be totally spiritual but I was wrong. I actually found one of my best friends from kindergarten who will be serving a mission pretty shortly in October in Germany. He is able to be here. Cache and I got to room with someone that was pretty cool, but he explained to us some of the struggles that he had in life. As the testimony meeting came he bore his testimony that through Cache and I and through going to EFY that he has no longer has any intention to do wrong. And that was a testimony to me, the first time I had really felt the spirit.
Without God, life would end at the grave and our mortal experiences would have no purpose. Growth and progress would be temporary, accomplishment without value, challenges without meaning. There would be no ultimate right and wrong and no moral responsibility to care for one another as fellow children of God. Indeed, without God, there would be no mortal or eternal life. God loved us so much that he sent his Only Begotten Son to suffer and bleed on the cross for all the sins of the world. Because of Him, we can repent. Because of Him, we can return to live with Him again. Because of Him, we are saved. Because of His Atonement, we can be raised up unto life eternal. Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer, and I know this to be true. In order to live with our Father in Heaven, we needed to have a Savior who would take upon himself all the pains and sorrows of everyone who would walk on this earth. Everyone can take part in this, and that’s the beauty of it. We rely on our Savior because we wouldn't be able to return to our Heavenly Father without Him. The Atonement works. I don't care who you are or what you’ve done, obviously what you do, theres consequences for it, and it may make it harder, but He is always there and you can always repent. Theres nothing you cannot repent for. He is always there for you and He loves you. Of course you can make it easier on yourself. The Lord loves you and wants all His children to return to live with Him. He sees you as the being you are capable of becoming. He wants you to know that you matter to Him and that’s really what matters the most. I know these things to be true by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The way to know the truth about God, is through the personage of the Holy Spirit. His work is to testify of God and to teach us all things. The Holy Ghost acts in perfect unity with our Father in Heaven. We can receive a testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. In 2 Nephi 31:18 we read,
“And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father, and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.”
When we have the desire to know that our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ live, we can seek to know for ourselves: like the uneducated boy, Joseph Smith, who had a question. As we seek guidance for anything it may be from our Heavenly Father, we will receive an answer from the Holy Ghost.
I often have talked about the blessings that I receive by my amazing priest quorum and I have really grown to love these people that are striving to do the exact same thing that I’m doing. I’ve come to know that the gospel is what makes us happy. As a priest quorum, we have had so many great teachers that have really encouraged us to find out for ourselves if the things they teach are true. They don't have to do what they do, but they do it because they love us. Everyone in this church, they do things not for any benefit but other than to help us as kids. It was there that I began to recognize the Spirit. Oftentimes a member of the bishopric will stand up at the end of the sacrament meeting and point out that the Spirit has been there. With the Spirit we learn that the gospel is really what makes us happy. The Lord promises us this in 2 Nephi 31:20:
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the words of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
Part of relying on the Lord is recognizing that we cannot do things on our own. The marvelous thing is learning that you are not alone and trusting that the Lord is always there and he will always help. Those of you who know me, know I love sports and they are a huge part of my life. Towards the end of the season my sophomore year of high school, I broke my ankle and tore all of the ligaments in it. This was a hard time, it being the first time that I had broken anything. I had to have three surgeries and I wasn't able to participate in anything for the remainder of the year in any sports seasons. This was devastating because I love doing sports, I love them. I worried that I wouldn't fully recover or get back to normal. I really struggled because as a way to relieve stress and negative emotion I run, lift, or play sports. The fact that I couldn't do that was really frustrating. But I remember specifically, I had to get in the bathtub and I had to lift my foot up, it was not a fun experience. But I remember being there and just asking, “why? why do I have to go through this?” The most peaceful feeling came over me and I knew that it was going to be okay. Now that I look back, my junior year I had the best season of my life. I had no injuries. This is a testimony to me that God loves us. He cares about what our wants and our feelings are.
Preparing to go on a mission has been quite the journey. I have grown so much more spiritually over the past few months. The mission has really made me think about why I want to go on a mission and why we serve missions. It is not easy, but the blessings that come from even just getting your call are tremendous. You learn the importance of obedience and that you cant live the gray area to be effective. As a kid sometimes we think that we can be spiritual only on occasions. It doesn't work. It really doesn’t. As you prepare to go to the temple, you realize that the Lord requires more of you. He needs you to be worthy. I had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple yesterday. The temple is the literal house of the Lord, it even says it on the temple. You learn and take upon you more responsibility, but greater blessings come with that responsibility and obedience.
I’d like to close with stating how grateful I am for the experiences I’ve had. This has been my ward since I can ever remember. I’ve had amazing bishops. Bishop Burner was able to come. Bishop Wilson, now one of my best friends. Bishop Baltich. My friends that have given me memories that I will never forget, to them I bear testimony that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and that they love each and every one of you. They want you to be happy. I know that true happiness comes from living the gospel. When you make right choices and you choose to not make a bad choice, it strengthens you. You receive strength by resisting that, it gets easier and easier as you resist that. God will help you because he knows who you are and the desires of your heart. All of my friends have the biggest hearts and I’ve gained strength from all of them. God promises us that He will neither forget nor forsake those who incline their hearts towards Him. The worth of souls is great in the eyes of God.
I cannot wait to be able to give the people in Nicaragua a sense of hope:
That what we have is the greatest thing.
That God loves us and that He wants all of us to be happy and for all of his children to return to live with Him.
That there is something to look forward to.
That they can learn the principles of the gospel that will make them happy. I cannot wait to see the gospel change the lives of many, as there have been wonderful examples of people that have served missions in this ward that have taught me so much.
That we may look to him for guidance and for help because we cannot go through this alone, is my prayer. I love the gospel and I know it to be true.
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.