Lately, I've been spending a lot of time contemplating this scripture:
2 Nephi 2:26
"And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall, they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given."
It all started a couple of weeks ago when our lesson in Young Women's was on resisting sin. The Young Women's President had us write a response to 10 questions on a piece of paper. "I am a spirit child of Heavenly Father", "I was present in the Council in Heaven", and so on. The first few questions really apply to everyone, but as they went on, we could see the questions were referring to Lucifer. Lucifer is a spirit child of Heavenly Father, he was also present at the Council in Heaven, he is our spirit brother. So.... what's the difference??? Agency--he did not want us to have a choice.
Then earlier this week as I was reading in this month's Ensign, I came across a quote from Elder David Bednar.
"In the grand division of all of God's creations, there are 'things to act and things to be acted upon'. As children of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity and power of independent action. Endowed with agency, we are agents, and we primarily are to act and not merely be acted upon--especially as we 'seek learning...by study and also by faith'.
This brought even more pondering. What power is our agency! We can choose not to be offended, hurt, prideful. We can choose our reactions. The behaviour of others does not dictate our behaviour. We have a choice. We can choose not to put ourselves in situations where we know we would be tempted to compromise our standards. We can choose to associate with those who share our standards and opinions and choose not to associate with those who don't. Our life, our destiny, is our choice. We can bind those who lead us astray with our choices.
But first, we must know ourselves. Study the scriptures, spend time in prayer and fasting, pondering gospel concepts. Pondering our own behaviours. Then, with that knowledge, we can make the choices that will best help us attain our eternal salvation. And when we attain that goal, it will be so much more of a glorious celebration because we have earned it. We made the choices, we set the goals, we endured to the end. We showed our Father in Heaven that we are on His side as He does and will always show that He is on our side.
What a wonderful blessing our agency is! And the power of the Atonement to allow us to try again when we fall short of our goals. What wondrous gifts!