"A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying" is the theme of Elder Renlund's talk. A couple key points in his talk are:
- God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were. He cares that we keep on trying.
- God promises forgiveness when we repent and turn from wickedness.
The ability to accept the things in our lives and keep on trying is the essence of what makes us disciples of Jesus Christ. Being a disciple is not about being perfect, it is about constantly trying to live our lives in accordance with God's teachings. Part of our Heavenly Fathers plan was to provide us a Savior because He knew we wouldn't be perfect. But accepting our "natural man" tendencies and constantly striving to overcome them and never giving up, makes us latter-day disciples.
He goes on to say:
- Because of the Atonement of Christ and our repentance, we can look at our past deeds and say, “’Twas I; but ’tis not I.” No matter how wicked, we can say, “That’s who I was. But that past wicked self is no longer who I am.”
President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final.” Only if we give up trying, are our chances to return to our Heavenly Father lost. Whatever our sin, whatever our mistakes, the Atonement is never out of reach. Elder Renlund teaches us:
- Even if we’ve been a conscious, deliberate sinner or have repeatedly faced failure and disappointment, the moment we decide to try again, the Atonement of Christ can help us. And we need to remember that it is not the Holy Ghost that tells us we’re so far gone that we might as well give up.
It is important to remember that:
- The Church is like a big hospital, and we are all sick in our own way. We come to church to be helped.
Elder Renlund tells the story of a young missionary named Curtis:
- Some years ago a wonderful young man named Curtis was called to serve a mission. He was the kind of missionary every mission president prays for. He was focused and worked hard. At one point he was assigned a missionary companion who was immature, socially awkward, and not particularly enthusiastic about getting the work done. One day, while they were riding their bicycles, Curtis looked back and saw that his companion had inexplicably gotten off his bike and was walking. Silently, Curtis expressed his frustration to God; what a chore it was to be saddled with a companion he had to drag around in order to accomplish anything. Moments later, Curtis had a profound impression, as if God were saying to him, “You know, Curtis, compared to me, the two of you aren’t all that different.” Curtis learned that he needed to be patient with an imperfect companion who nonetheless was trying in his own way.
I had a few similar but not exact situation when I was serving a mission. I don't think I was mature enough to get from those experience, the things that Curtis figured out. But looking back, I realize God did use those instances to teach me to be more humble, to be more patient, and to be more compassionate. Those are three things I continue to struggle with and are things I need to overcome in my "natural man." But I see now that those experiences are part of who I am today and give me the hope sufficient to keep trying to overcome who I am.
Finally, an invitation is extended to each of us:
- My invitation to all of us is to evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites.
How wonderful it is to have a Savior that forgives us time and time again. We have a Savior who could be so frustrated that he has to teach us the same things over and over again but instead is patient, steady, and full of love for us. I have been reminded that I can never give up. I must keep pressing forward with a steadfastness in Christ. I may not stand before God spotless from the sins of the world, but I will one day stand before Him and tell Him I never gave up trying to be more like Him and His Son each day.