Devotional Speaker encourages students approach life as a well-planned adventure


Tuesday’s devotional gave students a chance to listen to the insights of Janie Penfield, senior athletic director at BYU, on how planning a successful skiing trip is like making the successful trip home to Heavenly Father.

Penfield identified determining life’s purpose, determining a course in life and staying on that course as the three key characteristics of planning an outdoor adventure that correlate with a spiritually successful life on earth.

Janie Penfield, BYU senior athletic director, addresses students on the required steps to return to Heavenly Father. (Photo by Whitnie Soelberg)

She began by addressing the important choices that each person makes in the course of our daily adventures. She suggested that students remember the counsel of Elder Dallin H. Oaks to consider which of their options is “good, better, or best,” and always to remember that the Lord’s will is the best.

“If we make a conscious decision that we are on the Lord’s side, that we are seeking the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom, then many of our decisions in daily life fall into place,” Penfield said. “Knowing that we will not go towards so many other destinations provides us with significant direction.”

Penfield spoke on how to determine our course in life. She told a story of a group skiing trip in Wyoming that involved little sunshine and low temperatures. Despite the trouble, the group planned some time to take in the beauty of the sights around them, pressed on and were able to finish their trip successfully.

“Just as my friends and I skied on our adventure in Wyoming, we too must be fixed on our course and our purpose,” Penfield said. “We must continue to press forward, despite adverse conditions. We must not be deterred by challenges, big and small, all the while taking in the beauty and wonders mortality affords us.”

She likened the scriptures to the directions necessary to be able to plan such a complicated trip. The scriptures can help by informing us of unknown dangers and of the best paths to follow.

“We are constantly making decisions, and if your life is like mine, most of those decisions are made while in survival mode,” Penfield said. “Perhaps you too let the chaos of life, your studies, your calling, your job or your fun, crowd out the opportunities the Spirit has to speak to you.”

She continued by emphasizing that, in order to achieve a full life with a foundation of righteousness and wisdom, individuals must purposely choose to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

“How do we know what we can do to be a disciple?” Penfield asked. “How do we know what we can do to fulfill our purpose on earth and build the kingdom of God? We have to ask him through prayer. The scriptures have taught us that the Lord will give us answers.”

Penfield also addressed the task of staying on the right course once it has been decided. She spoke about three road bike and cycling rides in which she and her friends found themselves increasingly lost as they missed important road signs and spray-painted arrows on the road along the way.

“I don’t know exactly when my friends and I went off course on these three occasions,” Penford said. “But I can remember clearly when we realized it. Our surroundings weren’t familiar or expected. We didn’t have the biking companions that we’d had before and when we looked for course markings we couldn’t find them.”

She identified multiple ways in which students can stay spiritually alert and safely on the right path to our destination, such as praying, studying the scriptures, and choosing and keeping good friends. However, she emphasized the Spirit as the most important of these helps.

“The Holy Ghost is the only companion of constancy. All of the others will leave us, even if only temporarily to run errands, go to class or go to work for the day. But, the Holy Ghost will be a constant presence in our lives if we will live worthy of it.”

She concluded with her testimony and encouraged students to consult the Spirit in order to return to successfully return to Heavenly Father.

“Let Heavenly Father guide and direct us,” she said. “Live your life with purpose.”

To listen to the devotional, click here.

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