In 1988, an earthquake devastated an Armenian city. After the shaking stopped, a father ran breathlessly to his son’s school, now a pile of rubble, and began to frantically yet carefully remove the broken pieces of the building. When others told him to stop because there were no signs of life and it was hopeless, he replied that he had made a promise that he would always be there for his son. He removed rubble for 38 hours. Other parents cried and wailed, but did not help. Then the voice came. “Dad! It's me Armand! I told the other kids not to worry. I told them that if you were alive, you'd save me and they'd be saved!” The father helped his son and 13 other boys and girls from the debris (President James E. Faust, “Them That Honour Me I Will Honour,” April 2001 general conference).
Like the father in the story, there is a God, a kind and generous Heavenly Father, patiently and lovingly reaching out to you and me through the rubble of our lives, hoping to bring us to His Son. He is not a God sitting stoically off in a corner of his vast creations waiting for us to get our acts together. He is a God reaching out to us, and we must do our part to reach out to Him. As His daughters and sons we need Him to complete our divine destinies.
Recognize Your Divine Identity
Life is a divine gift, bestowed by a divine Father. Yet as we walk by faith along the road of life, it stretches out before us as a mysterious gift. In our quiet moments on the side of the road, a yearning rises within us. Something undefined stirs, hinting that we are “strangers who have wandered from a more exalted sphere” (Eliza R. Snow, “O, My Father,” Hymns #292). This spiritual force tugs at our heartstrings, encouraging us to discover our divine destinies.
When we take the time to peer inside the grand, sweeping vision of the restored gospel we find ourselves “in the light of eternity.” And in this spectrum of gospel truth and light we find our divine self. But what good to us is a divine destiny if we don’t know that we have one? Recognizing who we are and our divine potential takes a little more than 15 minutes of scripture study a day and a checklist. But if we can become as young Joseph Smith who, “At about the age of 12 years … became seriously impressed with regard to the all-important concerns for the welfare of my immortal Soul” (1832 account of the First Vision), we will find it. Here are four ways to get started:
1. Learn About Your Divine Parentage
Despite unique circumstances and struggles with feelings of self-worth, you have divine origins. As the “offspring of God,” we are “struck from a divine spark” as President John Taylor taught, and nurtured in divine realms by Heavenly Parents. As our Divine Parents, they have given us an eternal destiny, which is disguised to us while we gain knowledge of good and evil during our earthly experience and learn to “become as the gods.”
C.S. Lewis reminds us that “it is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship... You have never talked to a mere mortal” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 1942, p.9).
2. Understand the Redeeming Power of the Atonement
Christ, by His light and truth and obedience, takes us from the fallen world back into the joy-filled, light-radiating presence of our loving Father in Heaven, who, like the father of the prodigal son, anxiously awaits for our return and “… had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Christ is our unfailing Friend, Confidant, Elder Brother, Eternal Guide, and source of truth and light. As we come to acknowledge the role of the Atonement in our lives and understand how Christ fulfilled His own divine destiny, we can begin to see our own destiny and create a plan to fulfill it.
Inspiration comes as we yearn to understand the Atonement. When we read the scriptures about Christ’ infinite sacrifice and ponder the mysteries of godliness and our own divine origins, light fills our lives and we see things more clearly and as they really are.
3. Come to Comprehend the Eternal Nature of Man
It is with knowledge of the restored gospel that we can see things of this life more clearly and know the mystery of our existence. This includes coming to understand our eternal natures. Even before our birth, we existed as spirit children of Heavenly Parents, who now continue to nurture us until we reach our eternal, glorified resurrected states where we can be like Christ—filled with light, truth, intelligence, and glory.
Through spirit birth in premortality, we literally became the offspring of deity. As the Apostle Paul taught, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29). Through premortal conception, divine characteristics are instilled within us. Put poetically, President John Taylor taught that we come from, “a spark of Deity, struck from the fire of his eternal blaze, and brought forth in the midst of eternal burnings” (President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, p. 368). As you study the Plan of Salvation and your own patriarchal blessing, look for examples and insights into your life and talents as a premortal spirit. Alma 13 is also a great source of inspiration on premortal events.
4. Strive to Be a Disciple
All life centers in Jesus Christ, who is the great Creator, Savior, and Redeemer of all things. Your eternal life journey is only made possible in and through Christ as He guides you back to the Father’s presence.
Strive to be more of a disciple of Christ. A true disciple of Christ is someone who loves Him. A disciple strives to have a personal and individual relationship with their Savior and Redeemer. They come to know Christ as a person and as the perfect Son of God. They know that “every soul who comes unto him and sanctifies his life will see his face and know that he is” (D&C 93:1).
To be a disciple, we need knowledge of what is required of us by the Master. Study the scriptures and the words of the prophets to understand those Christ-centered attributes as you strive to be a better disciple.
We live in a world brimming with meaningless over stimulation. Many times we find ourselves swept up in a frantic rush to grasp prestige and popularity at the expense of our divine identities. Those mocking souls from the great and spacious building point fingers of scorn as our worldly culture tells us that we are less than who we really are. Every day we need to remind ourselves of our quest to unearth our divine destiny by exploring the core truths of the restored gospel.
We need to embark on a search for truth and meaning. We need to yearn for it. We need to fill ourselves with testimony and insights into the deeper truths of the gospel. The revelations through the Prophet Joseph Smith teach us of man’s divine and eternal potential, made possible through the transforming powers of the Atonement of Christ.
Find more insights and helpful advice for reaching your eternal potential in David Olsen’sThe Yearning Soul, available online at Books&Things or Amazon. Olsen blogs at MySoulHungered.com about The Yearning Soul and other related topics. He is the president of Market Builders, a national public relations and marketing agency. He has served as a bishop, seminary teacher, and in various other callings in the Church.