Latter-day Saint Life

Youth Theme Insight: What It Means to Be a "Noble and Great One"


Have you ever had this happen before? It’s dinner time and you’re about to dig into your favorite meal. You scoop your plate full of food only to discover, to your disappointment, that you get full before you can finish it all. I have. And it’s a sad feeling.

When I was younger and this would happen, one of my parents would invariably say, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” I thought it was a ridiculous thing to say. I mean, really, the thought of my eyes being that big was just gross. Of course, that’s not what they literally meant. Still. Gross.

The saying means that sometimes we want more than we can actually take in. We are so hungry that we are convinced we can eat an entire pizza or carton of ice cream when really, most of us can’t. But, if we are hungry enough or love it enough, we feel like we can. So we take more than we can actually eat.

Here’s something weird about getting older. We catch ourselves doing and saying some of the same exact things our parents did. Even the dumb things! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at the pile of food on my kids’ plates and said, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach, you know.” Then they give me the same look as I gave my parents. And I smile because I know they will say the same thing to their kids someday and get the same looks in return.  It’s the circle of life.

Eternal Life—It's Bigger Than Our Eyes

But, what you might be wondering, does this has to do with your life?

You see, your eternal life is huge. It’s long. It’s eternal.

Rather than wanting more than we can see, our life is bigger than we can imagine.

I’m talking—in part—about the length of it, of course. We are trained in this finite existence to attach a beginning and end to nearly everything. Even life. Time is always ticking. There is always a way to measure how old we are and low long we’ve been around. But, eternally speaking, there is no measurement because there is no beginning or end. You have always existed, and you always will. Take a sec and let that roll around in your head.

The prophet Abraham, thousands of years ago, was pretty amazed by this too. In talking about spirits he said they shall “have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are . . . eternal” (Abraham 3:18). Our life is longer than our eyes, right now, can see.

But, I want to talk about more than just the eternal nature of our existence.

I want to talk about the bounty of things that are available to use right now—to you right now. Wonderful things!

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First of all, the fact that you even know you’re an eternal creature is amazing. You have the gospel of Jesus Christ in your life. Do you know what that means?

It means you know what life is all about! 99% of all the people have ever lived didn’t have the understanding you do. Think of all the things you know because you have the gospel in your life. You know:

- That you lived before you came here

- Where you will go when you leave

- That families can be together forever

- That God is your Heavenly Father who loves you

- That Jesus is our brother and our Savior

- That there is a way to overcome sin

- That we can become like God

- That through the grace of the Atonement you can get heavenly help here and now

Maybe you’re so used to hearing these things that they don’t seem like a big deal, but they are.

There’s a saying that goes: “The most important day of your life is the day you were born. The second most important day of your life is the day you discover why.”

You know the whyThat is a huge deal.

Heavenly Beings to Watch Over Us

I know life can be hard. You might struggle in school, work, or socially. Maybe you have a tough family life. Maybe you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. Sometimes life can be downright tough.

But I want you to know that there is more to life than you can see. You have the DNA of Deity in you. You are a child of the Living God with an inheritance waiting that far exceeds your imagination.

I want you to know you’re not alone. Not only do you have a Heavenly Father and Savior watching over you, but you have angels round about you, here and now. President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Visitors, seen and unseen, from the world beyond, are often close to us.” President Thomas S. Monson, on more than one occasion, stated: “How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean.” And James E. Talmage once said that because God loves us, “He has sent heavenly beings to watch over us and to guard us. . . Do we realize that in our daily walk and work we are not alone, but that angels attend us wherever our duty causes us to go?”

Think about it, right now as you’re reading this, you are not alone. I believe it. So much so that sometimes when I’m driving in the car by myself and everything is quiet, I’ll lean to my right and say hello to the people I can’t see. Sometimes I even tell them jokes. I mean, if they’re assigned to hang out with me and watch over me, I might as well make it enjoyable for them.

I love that there is so much more to our lives than we can see. There is a deeper purpose, a more divine plan, and greater and more accessible help, all for us to grab hold of. God is working in our lives in ways we aren’t aware of, preparing us for others and others for us, choreographing people and circumstances according to their will for our benefit and learning. There is not a moment that goes by in this life that something isn’t being done or something isn’t working on our behalf. We truly are the Lord’s work and glory (see Moses 1:39). You are His work and His glory. I hope you know that.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have given you the map and all the tools you need to live this life to the fullest and return home to Them. As you embrace the commandments as roads, not rules and set your heart on living them, not loathing them, you will come to know all of these things for yourself. With willing and purposeful obedience comes eternal perspective. God loves you, my friends, more than you can comprehend, as does your Savior. They love you and long to have you love Them too. And now you know just how to show Them you do.

The Noble and Great Ones 

We mentioned Abraham earlier, and I wanted to talk a little more about him and his experience. If you remember, Abraham had a really rough childhood, and he narrowly escaped being sacrificed by his own father to an idol (see Abraham 1:5-15). And you thought your home life was hard sometimes! Anyway, Abraham had to leave his homeland and live in a strange place he’d never been before. I have to imagine he was feeling pretty sad and lost. He had to have wondered what his life was going to be about and where he fit in.

It was during this time that God showed Abraham a glorious vision of the entire universe. Abraham saw the stars, planets, and learned how they all worked together. He learned that the universe was not just some accidental collection of stuff wandering about at random, but that every part of the universe was under God’s control, “For,” God told him, “I rule in the heavens above” (Abraham 3:21).

I stood outside high in the mountains near my home one evening, away from the lights of the city, and gazed up at the stars. They were stunning and seemed to go on forever and ever. There were more stars than I could count, and I knew that what I was seeing was only a tiny fraction of what was really out there. On the one hand, I couldn’t help but feel very, very small in comparison to the stars above me. But on the other hand, I also couldn’t help but feel close to my Heavenly Father. I felt gratitude for my Creator as I gazed on His creations.

As I stood there and pondered, I thought of Abraham and wondered if he must have felt similar things to me while seeing his vision, because as marvelous as this grand galactic tour was, it wasn’t the final lesson the Lord had for him.

The Lord then showed Abraham another vision, this one involving people instead of planets, and Abraham saw “the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones” (Abraham 3:22).

Imagine seeing the greatest people ever to come to earth! Abraham surely saw such people as Adam and Eve; as Moses, Nephi, and Mary; as Peter, James, and John; as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other prophets and apostles. Abraham saw countless others as well in this vision, good people in every age who would follow God. Whenever I think of this moment, I imagine the following exchange taking place between God and Abraham:

“These are my noble and great ones, Abraham,” God says. “What do you think?”

“They are wonderful,” Abraham says. “Truly wonderful people.”

“But Abraham,” God says with a smile, “Don’t you see? Don’t you recognize that man right there, with the dark hair? That’s you, Abraham! You are one of my noble and great ones. I chose you before you were even born.” (see Abraham 3:23).

That moment changed Abraham’s life forever. When he saw himself as God saw him, and when he learned that God knew who he was before he ever came to earth, Abraham suddenly knew who he was, and where and how he fit in.

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Now, here’s the most amazing part. I have a testimony that if you were to see this vision of Abraham’s, that you would indeed see many of those noble and great ones you have read about in the scriptures, just like you would expect. But I promise you that if you looked hard enough, you would eventually recognize among their ranks someone who looked a lot like you, only more glorious and beautiful than you could possibly imagine. And, just like Abraham, it would change your life forever.

Elder Robert D. Hales wrote

“Once we understand the grand panorama of the plan and see ourselves in it, we gain something invaluable, even essential: eternal perspective. Eternal perspective informs our daily decisions and actions. It steadies our minds and souls. When persuasive but eternally flawed opinions swirl about us, we are steadfast and immovable.”

When you and I understand who we really are, where we come from, and what our eternal destiny is, then everything else will fall into place. It will become easy—almost instinctive—to show God we love Him by keeping His commandments. We will have greater power to resist temptation because we will recognize that our decisions here determine our happiness in the eternities ahead. We will be able to see with better eyes than the world, be able to spot the dangers and tricks of the adversary, and be able to make better choices. And we will know that we are not random accidents, wandering through a world that doesn’t make any sense. We will know and understand that our Father and His Son are watching out for us, love us with all Their hearts, and want us to succeed and be happy forever.

Yes, life is bigger than our eyes, and thankfully so. When we understand there is more to life than we can see, we also can understand—and hopefully do now—that there are more to the commandments than we can see. He loves us and has shown us in every thought, word, and action. May each of us strive each day to say to the Lord through our actions and decisions, “Lord, I love thee, so I will keep thy commandments.”

Lead image from Shutterstock.
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