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Warner Initiative and Diligence

Warner Initiative and Diligence

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Published by Brent Ellsworth

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Published by: Brent Ellsworth on Sep 24, 2012
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C. Terry WarnerRicks College DevotionalFebruary 20, 2001
Susan and I have been here before — when President Eyring presided here, and President Hafen,and President Bennion, and again last year when we were privileged to meet President and Sister Bednar. Two of our children have attended school here. Over the years we have watched thestudents and loved the spirit of this place. It is truly one of our favorite places to be. One day inthe future you will look back and say, I don't think I realized while I was at BYU–Idaho what anextraordinary place it was.You can see that I have been thinking about you. I have prayed to know what I might say that youwould find helpful right now, that you would want to learn and could use immediately to enhanceyour life. Thinking about that, Susan and I began talking about our 10 children. We wrote their names one after another and were almost overwhelmed to realize the miracles the Lord hasworked in their lives. It might surprise you to learn of the common denominator in each of thosemiracles. Each miracle helped them in some way to start seeking on their own to learn and livethe gospel. At the point this happens a person has grown up, and is on his or her way to truesuccess in life and eternal life hereafter. That's when parents can start breathing just a little easier.Let me tell you of a season of my life when I came to appreciate, just a bit the blessings thatcome when we start seeking for eternal things of our own free will. This happened about 41 yearsago, after I had returned from my mission. I found myself in the Army, having been given achoice between being drafted for a longer period or enlisting for a shorter one. I enlisted. Part of the time I was assigned to a company full of men who also entered the army by choice — only intheir case it was a choice a judge gave them either to go into the army or go to prison. You canimagine having to deal with the hostilities of men who were offended by the sight of a barracksmate kneeling in prayer by his bed and carrying the scriptures around with him. And to top it off, part of the time I was extremely ill with a staph infection throughout my body. Yet I count mytime in the Army as one of the great seasons of my life, even when the surrounding conditionsgot ugly. For I was caught up day and night in the scriptures. I would plan each weekend to leavethe base when I could get off duty and absorb myself completely in what some people mightthink a very strange project. The project was to arrange the scriptures by topic according to ascheme I had worked out in my mind, beginning with the creation and the placing of Adam andEve in the Garden of Eden. No one had assigned me to do this or even suggested it. I did it because of my hunger to learn.In those days we had no computers or even copy machines. If you wanted a copy of something,you typed it or wrote it out by hand. How was I to get copies of the many, many pages of scripture I wanted to arrange? I didn’t even have a typewriter. I purchased several paperback copies of the scriptures, cut the passages out that I wanted — with two copies I could get bothsides of the page — and then pasted them on sheets in the desired order.
2Where could I work on such a project? Each weekend that I could leave the base I rented aninexpensive hotel room, pushed the bed into a corner, stacked the other furniture on the bed, andlaid out all the cut-up passages on the floor. I would work for hours, late at night and then earlyin the morning, stopping to go to Church.It would be hard to describe the excitement I felt during these studious hours. The further I gotinto the project, the faster the insights came, and the more on fire I felt. I discovered that after Ihad studied for a while my appetite for spiritual things did not diminish, the way physicalappetite does after we have eaten a certain amount. It grew. I hungered for the things of Godmore than ever before in my life. And I felt the Lord’s Spirit with me. It daily accompanied meinto very difficult circumstances, guiding and protecting me.From this experience I grew in my understanding of the principle that I desire to share with youtoday. The principle is this:Stepping out on our own to do what’s right, to obey the commandments of our own free will, togo beyond the minimum that’s expected — this draws into our lives the delivering and sustaining power of God. This power enlivens our spirit, imbues us with confidence, enlarges our understanding, and fills us with love. People who are lukewarm in gospel activity may think theyunderstand how liberally and mercifully the Lord works with and blesses His children, but theydon’t. For the Lord doesn’t show his strength to sustain and prosper His children unless they arestriving to obey and serve Him (Hel. 7:23 etc.).This principle I recently heard expressed in different words by Elder Enzio Busche. I am going tocall it, the principle of initiative and diligence. The way I state it here expands on what I heardElder Busche say.When we take a responsible step to do what is right or sacrifice what is wrong,there flows to us, often immediately, a quiet confirmation from the Spirit of theLord that we are doing right, and encouragement and strength to keep going. If westart doing any of the things we have been commanded to do, we will be givenstrength to persist, and our persistence will bring us more strength. What the Lordcontributes is infinitely greater than what we contribute, but it comes to us only byour initiative and diligence.To me it seems important to have a clear understanding of these two words.Initiative. An introductory action or step. A willing, decisive action that starts something going.Diligence. Constant, attentive, persistent effort to accomplish something.‘Diligence,’ you may be interested to know, comes from a word meaning to choose or to likesomething — diligence implies caring very much about what we are doing.
3You may wonder whether the principle of initiative and diligence can be found in the scriptures.Yes. In fact it appears there so often that it's easy to overlook: like the air we breathe. The Savior taught:For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him thatknocketh, it shall be opened. (3 Ne. 14:8)I will give you just a few of many instances. The Book of Mormon begins with the initiative of Lehi "as he went forth and prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, on behalf of his people." Then there is the mighty vision in which Nephi was given the interpretation of hisfather’s inspired dream of the tree of life, the iron rod, the Savior’s ministry, and so much more.This Nephi received because he desired to see and hear and know for himself what his father hadreceived, and sat pondering these things in his heart. At one point Nephi wrote,And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. (1 Ne 2:19)You will remember the spiritual initiative of Enos. In the midst of a hunting trip he stopped to ponder the truths his father had taught him, and to pray all day long and into the night. By sodoing he obtained forgiveness of his sins and great promises for his people and for theLamanites. The sons of Mosiah also acted on their own initiative when they renounced any claimthey might have had to succeed their father as king and asked instead to serve a mission in theland of their enemies, the Lamanites. The result of their labors, which lasted 14 years, was thatmany thousands were saved in the kingdom of God. Those four brothers are role models of initiative and diligence."Now these sons of Mosiah . . . had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth;for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scripturesdiligently, that they might know the word of God.But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting;therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and whenthey taught, they taught with power and authority of God." (Mosiah 17.2-3)The prophet Joseph took the first small step that launched the Restoration of the gospel when hequietly arose from his bed one Spring morning and walked a short way into the woods to ask of God which Church was right and to learn of his standing before God. The great majority of therevelations in the Doctrine and Covenants came as answers to questions and requests from theProphet as he studied the scriptures and administered the affairs of the kingdom. These are just afew examples of many — I haven't mentioned the 2,000 stripling warriors — it was their idea torisk their lives in defense of their people — or Moroni, whose life is one bold move after another,or Teancum, or the brothers Nephi and Lehi, or any of the others.

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