Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy invited students to submit themselves to the ways of God in his devotional address. He said those who heed that direction will find themselves closer to God.
Cook opened the address explaining there is a natural man or woman that resides in each mortal being.
“The natural man or woman is the mortal part of us that allows the physical, the temporal, or our own desires to overrule our inherent spiritual goodness,” Cook said. “We are dependent upon God and Jesus Christ to help us change our nature.”
Cook went on to share a personal story of Bob and Stubby, two of his family’s horses. Stubby, being particularly stubborn, defied Cook’s direction from the time the family acquired him. But after more than a decade of training, Stubby became a lead horse.
The family changed the horse’s name from Stubby to Spinner after he gave up his wild nature. The horse was transformed by matching his will to that of his master. That would not have been possible without the master’s patience and dedication.
Cook analogized the story of Spinner to the spiritual journey each individual embarks on in mortality. Those who commit to following Heavenly Father will be blessed.
“Blessings do come as we submit our will to Heavenly Father, and the more fully we submit our will to Him, the richer the blessings,” Cook said. “They may not be the blessings we expect, but they will always be the blessings we need.”
Aligning one’s will with God may not always be easy. Enticements of the adversary are present at every corner, according to Cook. Pride, an attribute of the natural man, results from following such enticements and rebelling against God.
However, Elder Cook said “nothing is impossible” to overcome through the process of repentance with the power of Christ’s Atonement. Practicing humility will focus the individual on God’s will and guide them back to the Spirit. The enticements of the Spirit can be used to combat those of the adversary.
Cook encouraged students to understand their true worth by seeking Heavenly Father’s approval instead of the world’s. “The pride of the world today has no walls” as social media breeds all kinds of thoughts and opinions, positive or negative.
“I suggest that it is more important than ever to look to God and let Him communicate to us our worth and the value of our contributions, rather than looking to others,” Cook said. “We can let Him influence our decisions — what we wear, where we go, whom we go with, and what we do.”
Looking to Heavenly Father will lead His sons and daughters to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The path of discipleship is ongoing and requires hard work, but it will bring the righteous closer to “pulling off the natural man and becoming Saints”.
Cook concluded his remarks by testifying of Christ’s example and His unity with Heavenly Father.
“Jesus Christ sets the perfect example for us,” Cook said. “His only desire is to fulfill God’s plan. God’s will is His will. God’s work is His work. They are one.”
Carolyn Billings, Director of Sports Medicine in BYU Athletics, will deliver the devotional address next week on Tuesday, Oct. 17.