I have a friend whose father always tells her that she needs to decide what kind of person she is going to be.
I have another friend whose choices always frustrate the hell out of me. I just want to shake him and say to him, “Don’t you understand what a crucial time in your life this is? The choices you make now although they seem unimportant and inconsequential will actually determine the path the REST of your life will take! Can you handle this being the rest of your life??”
The truth is that is also a crucial time for me as well. I also need to decide what kind of a person I am going to be.
Another friend called me up not too long ago. She told me that she knew of the things she needed to do. Now she needed to decide if she was going to do them or not.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. –Julia Cameron
A story about commitment:
I once knew a man who had to decide whether to pay his tithing every time his check came, whether to go to his meetings every time they were held, whether to take an alcoholic drink every time he was offered one. Finally a friend asked him: “Why can’t you just decide once and for all which side you’re on? Why do you have to re-examine your loyalty every time a decision is called for? You are spiritually reinventing the wheel over and over again, and you will never make any progress until you can build on what you already know.”
A few weeks later he called his friend and asked for a ride to some stake meetings. The friend was pleased he was going, and when he told him so, the man responded: “You know, I wouldn’t like it if my wife told me she had to decide every morning whether she still loved me or not, or if she told me she only stayed with me because she hadn’t found a reason to leave—yet. I guess the Lord is entitled to more of a commitment than that from me. I’m ready to stop reinventing the wheel and move on.”
Endurance, Commitment, Integrity, Determination, Loyalty. These are words we would all like to describe us. What kind of person we are. But do they?
“Enduring to the end means, in general, entering into the gospel covenant (through faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost) and then remaining faithful to that covenant.
We often refer to those who continue in their commitments to Christ as being “faithful.” In the Old Testament, the words for faith, faithful, andfaithfulness all come from the Hebrew ‘aman, which means “to be firm or reliable” and implies primarily qualities of loyalty and determination. Thus, being faithful means that we can be trusted to keep our commitments. The covenants of baptism and of the temple are solemn promises we make to God about how we will conduct our lives. Enduring to the end is keeping those promises throughout our lives—no matter what. It means we don’t quit because of life’s difficulties or temptations. Conversely, failing to endure means backing away from what we’ve started—first promising loyalty to God and then withholding what we promised. Endurance is not so much a matter of stamina as it is a matter of loyalty and integrity. Can you be trusted to faithfully hold your course? Just as a spouse who can be trusted to keep the marriage covenant is calledfaithful, so those who can be trusted to keep their gospel covenants are called faithful.
Some people are basically saying, “well, today I think the Church is true, but ask me again tomorrow.” There must come some point at which our commitment to the gospel and our conviction of its truth settles questions of faith in advance and predetermines our response to whatever challenges that commitment.
A testimony isn’t like a hypothesis in science, which may be supported by evidence one day and destroyed by it the next. It is a conviction based on the evidence of things not seen that some things are eternally true. (SeeHeb. 11:1.) The provisionally converted are those who just haven’t found a reason to leave—yet. Just as such a relationship would be unsatisfactory in a marriage, so it is unsatisfactory in the spiritual marriage of the gospel. Such individuals need to become converted, to receive the witness of the Spirit and the conviction that accompanies faith. Just as partners in a truly celestial marriage say, “we are sealed, no matter what,” so a truly converted member says: “I am a member of this church. My lot is cast with the Apostles and prophets—no matter what. Above all other issues, loyalties, agendas, and commitments, this is where I stand.”
Without such a prior commitment, some new policy or required sacrifice, some imagined (or real) offense on the part of Church leaders, might challenge our endurance. Of those who fluctuate in their commitment, the Lord said that they have no “depth of earth” in which to sow the word of the gospel, and when trials come, by and by they are offended. (See Matt. 13:18–21; Mark 4:3–20.) We must not fear to send the roots of the gospel deep into our hearts.
Occasionally, those who cannot keep their commitments seek to justify themselves by separating loyalty to Christ from loyalty to his church, but this is impossible. Our covenants in the restored gospel of Christ are covenants which specifically include our relationship with his church and which are administered through his church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We cannot endure to the end in those covenantswithout enduring to the end in that church. This is made clear by the Savior himself: “And now, behold, whosoever is of my church, andendureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (D&C 10:69; emphasis added.)
There are no private arrangements. Enduring in one’s covenants means enduring in the Church. God will not excuse those who leave the Church, thinking that they have good reasons or that they can keep covenants made in and through the Church while rejecting the Church. No matter what their intentions, they are deceived. By definition, if they have not lasted, they have failed to endure to the end.” (you should really read this whole talk. Find it here: http://lds.org/ensign/1993/10/enduring-to-the-end?lang=eng ).
The Second Yes: This is what it is about.
If affliction call into question our friendship with God, then affliction is an opportunity to answer that question with faith. It is easy to say “yes” to discipleship in well-lit chapels and in good health. But, as in getting married, the first yes launches a long relationship filled with opportunities to say yes again. We repeatedly confirm our loyalty until there can be no question.
The second yes, confirming the first, is not usually spoken in words. But however spoken, the demanding language of loyalty makes clear what and whom we love.
Nephi spoke his famous words, “I will go and do,” in the light of his father’s tent. But these words led him to a darkened Jerusalem street, where a second yes required that he use Laban’s sword.
On the road to Damascus, Paul asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Paul’s rather uncomplicated yes to the Lord’s answer was only the beginning. Each challenging cycle that followed called for a second yes by which Paul could verify his loyalty.
When a pioneer woman diligently pulled her cart up yet another hill, she was saying yes again, verifying former decisions. Her second yes was all the more convincing and audible to the hosts of heaven.
This eloquent language applies mostly to mortals. Premortals and post-mortals can speak priorities, but from the dark, sheer canyons of the second estate we state our devotion with extra clarity. The suffering mortal soul, unheard by other mortals, cries out a testament of allegiance. Immortals stop to listen in reverence. The second yes echoes through eternity. It breathes sense into our suffering.
We will fully understand the language of loyalty only after our mortal schooling. We will remember its difficult phrases and courageous messages. We will forever honor those who spoke it well. But our gift to speak the quiet grammar of faith, the rich dialect of cheer, and the sweet poetry of patience will be lost when we leave this mortal scene. IF WE DO NOT MAKE STATEMENTS CLEARLY IN THAT LANGUAGE WHILE IT IS OUR TURN TO DO SO, WE WILL FOREVER WISH WE HAD. This is our last chance.
God accepts the early yes, the one that gets things started. But the latter yes, uttered in discomfort, is the convincing one. Our second yes and the ones that follow will stand forever as monuments to our lives. Perhaps they are the only things we came here to say. – Wayne E. Brickey
“Happily, failing to endure is not a sin one commits once and for all time. While we remain in mortality, we always have the option of repentance. Not long ago, I met a former student who had lost his membership as a result of repeated, willful iniquity. He said that he wanted to straighten his life out. I asked him if he had a testimony, and he said no, he didn’t. Surprised, I asked him why he wanted to repent and regain his membership if he didn’t have a testimony. I will never forget his answer: “I don’t know right now that the Church is true, but I know that I once knew, and I know God knows I once knew. The Church didn’t change between then and now—I did. And now I want to know again what I knew before, and I am willing to repent to do it.”