Many years ago, somebody about the age of fourteen had an experience with a divine being, and it changed the course of the world. Prophets saw this person in vision centuries in advance; God chose this individual for a special mission. What person am I describing? You might be thinking of Joseph Smith (and this does describe him), but I’m referring to Mary, the mother of Jesus. At approximately age fourteen,1 she saw the angel Gabriel, which set in motion the birth of Christ. We rightly focus on the fourteen-year-old boy who helped bring about the restoration; we should also celebrate the fourteen-year-old girl who helped bring about the redemption.
Mary is one of the few people in scripture whose names were foretold by prophets. King Benjamin, speaking approximately 100 years before Mary was born, taught that the mother of Christ would be named Mary, a teaching later echoed by Alma (see Mosiah 3:8; Alma 7:10). From Mary we learn that God knows our names and has specific missions prepared for us. Although our missions may not be as dramatic as Mary’s, each of us has an important work that God has foreordained us to do, and he will often give us glimpses into what his plan is for us.
Such was the case for Kayleigh: from the time she was in high school, she wanted to earn a PhD. She didn’t know all the details, but she was confident that this was part of God’s plan for her. When she had three semesters left until her graduation from BYU, she knew she needed a strong summer internship to be competitive for PhD programs in her field of science. She received a grant to participate in cancer research in Provo, Utah. She also felt impressed to explore an internship in immunology at the Harvard Medical School.
Three weeks later, Kayleigh was accepted into the immunology program. It was an incredible opportunity, but she would make twice as much money if she stayed in Provo. As Kayleigh pondered the matter, she felt she should pursue the internship at Harvard. To her surprise, after being there for a month, she received an email from the cancer research center in Provo—the one she had turned down. In the email, the program said, “We’re sorry that you weren’t able to work with us, but we would still like to fund your research.” In the end, she received more money from the cancer research center than she would have had she remained in Provo. She felt that this tender mercy confirmed the correctness of her decision.
Kayleigh performed well at her summer internship, which eventually resulted in her acceptance to Harvard’s immunology PhD program. Looking back, Kayleigh can clearly see God’s guiding hand, one small spiritual prompting at a time. She said, “I feel incredible peace, knowing that my life is in harmony with what God wants me to do.”
Knowing that our lives are in accordance with God’s divine design for us is a vital part of obtaining peace. If we don’t know that our lives are on the path God has for us, we may feel like we are metaphorically spinning our wheels. By contrast, as President Russell M. Nelson taught, “When you know your life is being directed by God, regardless of the challenges and disappointments that may and will come, you will feel joy and peace.”2
Often, we see God’s divine design retrospectively—we look back on our lives and see how he has orchestrated necessary experiences for us to perform his work. Divine design can also work looking forward, as we tap into the Lord’s vision for our lives. Sister Patricia T. Holland described the essence of this concept when she taught: “Every one of us has been designed with a divine role and mission in mind. . . . If our desires and works are directed toward what our heavenly parents have intended us to be, we will come to feel our part in their plan . . . and nothing will give us more holy peace.”3
The Lord's vision
God knows everything and everyone (see 2 Nephi 2:24; 9:20). He also knows each one of us personally. With his knowledge of who we were, are, and will be, God has a deep understanding of the course of our lives on earth. He has foreordained us to accomplish specific missions (see Jeremiah 1:5; Abraham 3:23).4 These two principles are true: (1) God has a plan for each of us, individually. (2) We can, line upon line, tap into God’s vision of what he wants us to do and become. Understanding and acting on these principles invites peace in our lives.
God has a plan for each of us, individually
Consider these quotes from modern apostles:
- • “There cannot be a grand plan of salvation for all mankind, unless there is also a plan for each individual.”5
- • “The Lord has a purpose for you, individually. . . . Discover it and fulfill it. It will likely not be revealed all at once but will be unfolded line upon line. As you pray and work hard, you will find threads of understanding that will lead you to the path the Lord wants you to follow for the greatest enduring, meaningful attainment, contribution, joy, and peace of mind.”6
- • “In our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what his plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses . . . did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us.”7
- • “Allow [God] to make more of you than you can make of yourself on your own. Treasure His involvement. . . . The Lord’s hand is guiding you. By ‘divine design,’ He is in the small details of your life as well as the major milestones.”8
From these prophetic teachings it is clear that God has a plan for each of us, individually. Understanding God’s personal plans for us can motivate us to accomplish things that would otherwise seem impossible. In contrast, if I am not living up to my potential, if I haven’t aligned my life with God’s plan for me, I will not be able to find true peace.
Patterns of peace
- A Personal Retreat: Go on a personal retreat during which you tap into the vision of the Lord’s plan for your life.
- Time Blocking: Block out specific amounts of time each week toward fulfilling the vision that God has for you. Prioritize implementing the personal inspiration you have received.
- Receive and Record Heavenly Guidance: Ask God what he wants you to do. Write down the impressions you feel and act on them.
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Christ wants us to feel peace, hope, and even joy—and He alone is the source of true and everlasting peace. Through scriptural insights, personal experiences, modern psychological research, and illustrations, The Founder of Our Peace offers Christ-centered patterns to help us combat these challenges and invite greater peace into our lives today. Available now at DeseretBook.com.
- Although ancient age-of-marriage statistics do not exist, Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager write, “A few anecdotal incidents, and a wealth of later documentation, suggest that women married young, while still in their teens, sometimes early teens” (Life in Biblical Israel [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001], 37).
- Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Youth Devotional, June 3, 2018, churchofjesuschrist.org/broadcasts.
- Patricia T. Holland, “Filling the Measure of Your Creation,” BYU devotional, January 17, 1989, speeches.byu.edu.
- This knowledge does not take away our agency—we are still free to choose whether or not we align ourselves with the plans that God has for us (see Richard G. Scott, “How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life,” Ensign, May 2012).
- Neal A. Maxwell, “A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, February 1979.
- Richard G. Scott, “Learning to Succeed in Life,” BYU devotional, September 15, 1998, speeches.byu.edu.
- Jeffrey R. Holland, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence,” BYU devotional, March 2, 1999, speeches.byu.edu.
- Ronald A. Rasband, “By Divine Design,” Ensign, November 2017.