Elder and Sister Renlund speak about repentance and God’s power

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Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets the Marriott Center congregation at BYU’s Dec. 3 devotional. (Preston Crawley)

It was a warm December morning as students filed into the Marriott Center to hear from Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund. 

Sister Renlund took the stand first, and spoke about the cultural power of superheroes. She said most people have thought about what superpower they would like to have. She added that while superpowers are fictional, everyone can have God’s power in their lives.

She explained that most of this special power comes from priesthood covenants that help link our names with the name of Christ. 

“Linking ourselves with his name helps us identify with him and changes us as we take on his attributes and characteristics,” Sister Renlund said. 

To illustrate this, Sister Renlund talked about a recent ceremony she attended at the University of Utah where a surgeon, Dr. Craig H. Selzman, accepted a prestigious fellowship. Selzman became the endowed chair for the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, which was named for President Russell M. Nelson and his late wife, Dantzel Nelson.

At the ceremony, Selzman told of a time when he grew frustrated after having to stay late to perform a surgery. He recalled President Nelson as a cheerful and agreeable man when he worked as a surgeon. Since Selzman was recieving the award, he decided to adopt the demeanor of President Nelson. According to Selzman, this helped the hospital staff perform the operation more successfully. 

Sister Renlund closed her talk by addressing the power that can come to individuals by linking their name with Christ.

Elder Renlund opened his talk with an analogy focused on comparing physical and spiritual health. He explained that physical health depends on hormones, which travel through the bloodstream to interact with receptors. Illness can occur when the receptors don’t work.

He said humans have spiritual receptors as well and said that God’s love for his children will never stop. When individuals have a problem feeling God’s love, it is their spiritual receptors that are not working.  

He described a time when his spiritual receptors were not working, noting he was embarrassed about the story but felt it was a good example for those who might be struggling.

When he was an intern in medical school, Elder Renlund worked long hours, which meant he sometimes missed church. One Sunday, he decided to work slowly so that he would be too late for his Sunday meetings and have time for a nap. When he did, he felt bad and decided to repent. 

“With this realization, I got off the couch, knelt on the floor, and pleaded with God for forgiveness. I begged for help,” Elder Renlund said. “As I did, a plan formulated in my mind and heart to change the pattern of behavior.”

That plan included daily prayer and scripture study. This meant that he sometimes said prayers in “unusual” locations, and read his scriptures at work. He noted that his testimony improved greatly after the experience. 

Elder Renlund said that when spiritual receptors fail to function, it can sometimes be the result of mental illness. When necessary, God expects those afflicted to get professional help, he said. In situations where mental illness is absent, Elder Renlund suggested three steps to improve the quality of spiritual receptors. The first is repentance. 

“If you are doing something that is causing receptor dysfunction, repent,” Elder Renlund said. “Repentance is a joyful process. Remember that God does not really care who you were and what you did. He cares who you are, what you are doing and who you are becoming.”

The second step is “feasting daily on the Book of Mormon.”

Elder Renlund said doing so can dramatically improve a person’s spiritual receptors.

The third step is to never miss an opportunity to take the sacrament.

Elder Renlund quoted President Nelson in talking about how individuals can make new covenants each time they partake of the sacrament, in addition to renewing previous covenants.

He encouraged the audience to “give yourself an early Christmas present” and begin the repentance process as soon as possible. 

Next week’s devotional will feature Sister Jean B. Bingham, General Relief Society President, on Dec. 10 at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.

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