President and Sister Worthen encourage students to view life through ‘gospel lens’

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President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen address students on the plan of salvation and remembering the simple things of the gospel Jan. 9. (Savannah Hopkinson)

President Kevin J Worthen and Sister Peggy Worthen admonished students to view their lives and the events around them in the light of God’s plan, and to doubt not.

Sister Worthen began her address by sharing an experience she had planting roses years ago. The roses thrived; however, one year she waited longer than usual to prune them.

“Immediately after pruning, I had several people tell me that it was too late in the season for cutting roses and that I had cut them back too much,” Sister Worthen said. “Initially, it didn’t bother me, but pretty soon I began to believe them.”

She shared two lessons she learned from the experience.

“The first lesson is to not doubt what you know to be true,” Sister Worthen said. “Sometimes we allow ourselves to listen and believe things we know that are contrary to what we know to be true.”

Sister Worthen said people often begin to doubt themselves when others question their beliefs. She shared the plot of an episode of Studio C where Matt is a contestant on “Who wants to be a millionaire” and has made it to the final question. The entire audience and his sister — a professor of history — tell him “George Washington” is the answer to “Who was the 26th president of the United States?” Matt is confident this answer is incorrect, but begins feeling pressure and his confidence wanes.

“While Matt’s plight may be unbelievable, it illustrates why President Dieter F. Uchtdorf once implored, ‘My dear brothers and sisters . . . please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,’” Sister Worthen said. “That is invaluable advice for growing roses and even more so for growing our testimonies of the gospel.”

The second lesson Sister Worthen shared is “the simple things are often the most important things.” She knew her roses needed only a few simple things to thrive including sunshine, water and proper drainage.

“It didn’t matter what advice I was given or followed on how to care for my roses, as long as those simple needs were met,” Sister Worthen said.

She said it is often easy to lose sight of what is most important when bombarded with information.

“We may even begin to doubt revelations we have had,” Sister Worthen said. “It’s important at those times to remember the simple things that helped us develop our testimonies and to trust that focusing on those things will ensure that we stay on the right path.”

President Worthen then spoke on the tendency people have to view events through particular paradigms or lenses and the importance of viewing the world in light of God’s plan.

“We have modern day revelation to provide a more complete and accurate framework in which all our life’s events, both individually and globally, can be better understood,” President Worthen said.

He said this paradigm has many names including “the plan of salvation”, “the plan of happiness” and “the plan of redemption. President Worthen shared five important points Elder Dallin H. Oaks made in his description of the plan:

  1. We lived with Heavenly Father before this earth life.
  2. He provided a plan for us to become like him.
  3. The world was created for that purpose.
  4. The Fall of Adam and Eve was part of that plan; it allowed us to gain a body and experience mortality, both of which allow us to progress.
  5. Christ, through His great and infinite atoning sacrifice, makes the plan fully operative, bringing to pass the resurrection, and making available the cleansing, healing and sanctifying power that in the eternities can perfect us.  

“Most of us have heard this plan so many times that we may not fully appreciate how deep and significant it is,” President Worthen said. “Moreover, when encountering our day-to-day experiences and trials, we too often take off the clarifying gospel lenses that these truths provide and then complain because the resulting distorted image does not seem correct.”

President Worthen then promised students that if they will view their experiences in light of God’s plan, three things will happen: they will more clearly understand gospel principles and teachings, they will respond more positively to life’s trials and they will act more courageously in face of difficult challenges.

“Without an understanding of the plan, even life’s smallest inconveniences can lead to deep discontent and grumbling,” President Worthen said. “On the other hand, viewing life’s events through the gospel paradigm can change the entire nature of unpleasant events.”

President Worthen said viewing daily experiences in the light of the gospel allows us to find joy in unexpected ways and discover why God’s plan is called the plan of happiness.

Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Jr., a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will deliver the next devotional address Tuesday, Jan. 16.

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