This is the text of a talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting today – May 26, 2019
In Isaiah 46:10 God says He is Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done.
Heavenly Father will help us to get to our goals. He knows us so well that He knows what our goals will be way before we even decide we have that goal. And He will put us in situations that may be difficult but they will, in the end, get us ready for the next step or even the goal itself.
For example, Elder Uchtdorf told a story in the April 2006 General Conference about having to ride an ugly, black, heavy bicycle to pull a heavy cart and deliver laundry before and after school for many years. He said, “Sometimes the cart seemed so heavy and the work so tiring that I thought my lungs would burst, and I often had to stop to catch my breath. Nevertheless, I did my part because I knew we desperately needed the income as a family, and it was my way to contribute.”
Years later he decided to volunteer for the military and train to be a pilot. To be accepted for the program he had to pass a lot of tests including a strict physical.
The doctors were slightly concerned by the results and did some additional medical tests. Then they told him, “You have scars on your lung which are an indication of a lung disease in your early teenage years, but obviously you are fine now.” The doctors wondered what kind of treatment he had gone through to heal the disease.
Elder Uchtdorf said, “Until the day of that examination I had never known that I had any kind of lung disease. Then it became clear to me that my regular exercise in fresh air as a laundry boy had been a key factor in my healing from this illness. Without the extra effort of pedaling that heavy bicycle day in and day out, pulling the laundry cart up and down the streets of our town, I might never have become a jet fighter pilot and later a 747 airline captain.”
So Heavenly Father helped Elder Uchtdorf to have a healthy body through a really hard trial as a boy before he even knew he wanted to be a pilot.
We don’t really know what kinds of wonderful things we are being prepared for right at this very moment. And if we will partner up with our Heavenly Father we can achieve many great things in our own lives.
I’m almost reading a book right now called Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. The book is all about setting goals and achieving them. Even crazy goals that you think may not actually be possible for you to get to. The point is to go after your dreams by working toward them one step at a time. And once you get there to work on your next crazy dream.
So, the other night I was reading this book and Rachel is telling me all about if you want to get somewhere you need a map, a starting point and an ending point and I immediately thought of how we know our end point goal. If you are a member of this church I hope that your ultimate goal for yourself is the same goal that the Lord has set for all of us. He spells it out for us in Moses 1:39.
For this is my work and my glory. To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
He wants us to return to live with him. To have all that he has. This can feel a little overwhelming. And then sometimes even the points to get there can feel overwhelming and out of reach but we can do it if we look at each of those points as a goal in itself.
So let’s go back. We need a map, we need a starting point, and an ending point. On the map we plot the road we need to stay on by using landmarks. One thing that’s really interesting in the case of setting goals for your spiritual growth is that often the way we get to each point in the map requires the same things over and over again. So if we can get those things incorporated into our lives as habits we can get to the end goal eventually.
Before we can figure out the steps in the plan we need the first point on the map. You can’t possibly get anywhere unless you know where you are starting from.
When I was 16 years old I got my license to drive and I started going everywhere. It was a great feeling of freedom. The problem was, I only knew how to get anywhere from home. I had no idea how to get to my friend’s house from the grocery store. I couldn’t possibly get to the mall from school. So, for a while, before I could go to a new place, I had to drive home and then go to the next place from there. Luckily gas was under a dollar at the time.
We don’t want to be going backward in our lives. We want to start from where we already are. What I mean is that we want to keep building on new knowledge rather than staying stagnant. And what that requires is self evaluation on a regular basis.
It’s amazing how many times we see the people in the scriptures thinking about where they stand with God. I came up with two right away and I know there are more.
In 2 Nephi, Nephi writes: “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.” (2 Ne. 4:17–18.)
Enos tells us in Enos 1:3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the ajoy of the saints, bsunk deep into my heart.
We also need to make an honest assessment of ourselves if we are to progress. And it’s a good idea to do this on a regular basis. In some cases making a self assessment might be difficult. We might be tempted to gloss over some things we have in our lives which are stopping us from moving forward. Obvious things like addictions or bad habits are easy to see but there are lots of less obvious things that might be holding us back. Perhaps anger at someone who may have hurt you in some way, or a refusal to take counsel given in love. Don’t gloss over these things as you consider your starting point.
On the other hand, and I know this to be true for many women, don’t be too hard on yourself. Get rid of that self talk that tells you that you’ll never get there so why even try. The scriptures and conference talks are full of people repeating over and over again that we will all get there if we just repent and do what is necessary. No where in the scriptures does it say that everybody except (insert your own name here) will be worthy. And before your mind even goes there, it’s not written between the lines either.
So now that we have our starting point and we know where we want to eventually get we can easily figure out the big steps in between.
If we go back to our map image for a minute, say I want to drive from Philadelphia to Howell – a drive I’ve done at least a million times in the last 20 years. The big steps are cross PA, cross OH a little more than halfway, then north to Howell. I know we will need to eat at least 2 meals in there and maybe 4 bathroom stops if everyone is in the car. The meals and potty breaks are smaller goals that I can measure my progress by.
So say you want to set a goal to go to the temple for the first time or to return after a while of not going. That’s the big goal and we can set smaller goals to get us there. There are a few things that need to happen. The temple prep class, full tithe paying from this point on, attending your meetings, magnify your calling, improve your relationship with Jesus Christ by studying the scriptures and praying. Stick Family prayer and family home evening in there and it’s even better.
I just gave you a list of 8 things. If you are already doing some of them that’s awesome. If not then we need a plan to accomplish them. Some of them can be done all at the same time and some of them might feel like too much if you try to add them all at the same time. I’m going to be honest here. If you aren’t having personal prayer and scripture study, start there and do that for 30 days before you try to get the family in on it. That’s not saying you shouldn’t mention what you are studying and learning. You might also want to bear your testimony to your family about how much better you feel or the blessings you are noticing, so that when you start trying to gather everybody together you already have a foundation.
Make sure that if you are setting a goal end date that it is realistic.
Maybe you want to have a better relationship with Jesus Christ. You want to get to know him on a more personal level. In that case prayer and scripture study are key. So you may decide to put pictures on your bedroom wall or notes on your bathroom mirror which remind you to pray and pick up your scriptures. You may read the definition of Prayer in the Bible Dictionary regularly to remind yourself about why we are commanded to pray and the blessings that come from it. You may decide to get some scripture reference books to help you get a deeper understanding of what you are reading. You may decide to memorize the Living Christ document and you may decide to take a year to incorporate all of these things into your daily life so they stick.
What if you hold a current temple recommend, come to church every week, have family scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening? How can you even improve? LOL
If you need help finding a new goal, well, I’m here to help. Could you attend the temple 6 tme per year? How about 12 times? Could you set a goal to find 6 names of people who need temple work done? How is your relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you know him like you want to? Could you study more? Could you improve your prayers? Could you incorporate ministering into your life on a weekly basis? ( I have a lot of suggestions for how to set goals to achieve that)
This life is not a time for being complacent or for feeling as if we are already doing enough. I promise that if you get good at doing the assignments you already have, God has some new things for you to work on. I also promise that if you offer to help Him with his goal of the immortality and eternal life of man that He will bless you more than you ever thought possible.
And now, if you are feeling even more overwhelmed or crushed or even defeated I want to tell you that sometimes saying I quit is the first step to an even deeper commitment. I’m speaking from experience here. Go ahead and say it but then please don’t quit. Please stay. And if you just don’t know where to begin and you and if you need help to build a plan to move forward, call me. I’m super good at making plans.
My job is to meet with each Relief Society sister at least quarterly so I am happy to talk to you. My phone is next to me 90% of the time. I’m constantly checking texts and emails. I want to help you. If you are a brother and want to make a plan, you can call me too but if that’s weird or uncomfortable I know for a fact that our Elders Quorum President would be dancing the happy dance of joy if he could talk with you about what’s next and how to work it into your life.
Often just discussing things out loud with someone else helps you get a clear picture or even to just cement what you already know – one of my favorite things about what happens when I bear my testimony.
In this church we learn to set goals from the time we enter Primary with the Faith in God program, then with Personal Progress and Scouting. The thing about accomplishing goals is that it will always take work. But I know that as you put in that work to improve yourself to become the person that Heavenly Father knows you are, you will have growth and opportunities that may surpass what you ever though possible.
In Matthew 19 It says When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.