Hello Brothers and Sisters and my friends and family here today my name is Zachary Burridge my family is fairly new to the ward and they been here about 6 months for most of that time I was living in provo for my freshmen year at BYU… I feel so blessed and humbled to be standing here in front of so many people who have helped and guided me in my life. I could never truly repay the support and encouragement I’ve received from so many of you.
I’m truly thankful to be able to come and share some feelings and messages I have before I leave for my mission to Seoul South Korea this Wednesday.
Throughout the preparation process for my mission I’ve been able to exercise obedience often and I’ve come to truly understand it in a much deeper and more impactful way.
In my first year at BYU i was given a great opportunity to exercise obedience when I was called to be the second counselor of our elders quorum in my student ward. A few nights after accepting my calling, a bunch of guys on our floor began to get really sick, because what else would you really expect to happen with tons of messy boys living together in dorm rooms. Our Bishop called me and the president of the elders quorum to see if we could go give out blessings to the sick kids. Because I had been obedient and worthy to use the priesthood, I was able to give blessings and help out the sick kids in our ward that really needed it.
Over the year as Second counselor I had many opportunities to be obedient and help out when I was called upon.
In the talk “The Blessings of Righteous Obedience” from the October 1977 General Conference, Delbert L Stapley talked about our ability to follow commandments.
He said “First of all, we have not been left to walk alone. The Lord has clearly revealed His will concerning His children and shown us His plan of redemption. His laws are explicitly recorded in the standard works of the Church, which are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
Our Heavenly Father has given us tools on earth for us to learn of his commandments and to begin to follow them as well. These include the scriptures, Prophets and Apostles to teach and relay God’s messages, and Jesus Christ as an example of perfect obedience from the time he spent here on earth.
Our Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow and obey while we live here on earth. According to Abraham Chapter 3 verses 24-25 one of our main purposes of coming to earth is to prove that we can do all things whatsoever the Lord shall command us.
Whether it’s the 10 commandments, The word of wisdom or any other instruction we’ve received from God, it’s our duty and purpose to obey these commandments to our best ability.
A great example to me of fulfilling commandments and exercising obedience is Nephi. In 1 Nephi chapter 2 verse 16 we find out that Nephi decides he wants to grow closer to God and increase his faith.
Soon after in chapter 3 he is commanded to go with his brother’s to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Even though his brothers complain and refuse to go, Nephi obeys the commandment in Verse 7 saying, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
Nephi’s obedience is unwavered because of his strong desire to grow closer to God. Throughout the beginning of the Book Of Mormon Nephi exercises obedience and continues to obey and follow the commandments of our Heavenly Father. While some of these commandments seemed nearly impossible such as slaying Laban and building the boat, Nephi knew the Lord would never give him a commandment that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish.
This concept applies to all of us to this day. Our Heavenly Father will never give us any commandments or ask us to do things we can’t possibly do. Our obedience to the commandments is an expression of our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Obedience often seems directly related to spirituality but that's not always the case. Growing up it was important to me to obey my coaches, teachers parents and others adults. Playing basketball and football i always tried me to be as obedient as possible to my coaches. I would do anything the coaches asked would ask me to. In this way I showed them how much I cared about playing and that I respected them.
I also showed obedience to my teachers by paying attention and even trying to quiet down classrooms when our teacher was trying to speak to the class. While i’m sure some of the others in my classes weren’t probably thrilled about being shushed, I knew that giving my teacher my full attention and respect was important.
Unfortunately, there are many out there that choose to try and use their free agency to justify wrong decisions and choices. These individuals know what is right from wrong but deliberately choose the wrong choice because they can. I think my book of Mormon teacher from school explained it best when talking about what he tells his children about their decisions, “Just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you have the right to. We cannot justify for our actions and we must know that once we know the truth of God’s commandments we are held accountable to follow through and obey them.
I think this is also very important when it comes to the temple and continuing to make covenants with our heavenly father. We are all responsible to learn all we can so we can grow as close to God as possible.
When it comes to the rules in the church, they are viewed by some in a negative light, as if to constrain you.
In True to the faith when talking about obedience it states, Many people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for your benefit. They are loving instructions for your happiness and your physical and spiritual well-being.
While they might seem often like strict rules, the commandments are ultimately given to us for our benefit. I know that they are a gift of God out of love and that I live a happier and much safer life following them.
Another amazing things about obedience is that obedience brings blessings. D&C 130: 20-21 says “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated”
These teachings we’ve received from Joseph Smith tell us that when we receive blessings it’s due to the amount of obedience to laws in our lives.
A couple years ago at the stake Mini MTC, I was able to learn a lot about what being a missionary will be like. One of my teachers for the mini MTC taught about obedience as a missionary.
He said “ The mission is one of the only times where it seems you can truly feel 100 percent obedient all of the time.” He talked about the work he and his companions were able to accomplish as they did everything they were told to and followed all of God’s commandments.
I would like to encourage all the youth to continue to be obedient as they prepare to serve future missions and I highly recommend taking advantage of opportunities like the Mini MTC.
Over the last couple of years while preparing to serve a mission I’ve definitely focused on being obedient and learning more about God’s commandments and their importance.
Before having that desire to serve however, there was a time when my family was inactive for a few years. I’m extremely thankful for my parents that during this period of time they continued to hold me to high level of obedience. This made it a lot easier to follow God’s commandments as I started to learn more about them.
While Nephi is a great example of obedience, the ultimate example is Jesus Christ.
In the talk titled “Obedience brings blessings”, Prophet Thomas S Monson talks about our Savior’s obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Prophet said “When faced with the agony of Gethsemane, where He endured such pain that his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” He exemplified the obedient Son by saying, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
Jesus’ perfect obedience in the hardest of situations is the greatest example of obedience. As sons and daughters of God, we should all strive to follow his perfect example.
If we truly have a desire to become closer to God then we can all take advantage of these opportunities and the example that Jesus Christ has shown to us to learn and follow all of the Lord’s commandments.
While obedience is very important to all members of the church, following God’s commandments is absolutely vital when preparing to serve a mission. Future missionaries must be worthy to serve under Jesus Christ's name and must be clean, virtuous disciples of Christ.
I’m very thankful for the obedience of the missionaries that continued to teach lessons to me and my family during our time of inactivity. If those missionaries hadn’t been doing what they were supposed to and were disobedient while serving, then my family and I might not have felt the spirit of their messages. I constantly am thankful for the missionaries that helped bring the gospel back into my life. They have forever changed me and their obedience while serving is directly responsible for the happiness in my life today.
I hope that I can bring that same joy and eternal happiness into the lives of so many people in South Korea during my mission. I’m so excited to help families be together forever and to bring the wonderful message of the gospel into as many lives as I can. I know that the work will be hard but that if I can be obedient and have faith in heavenly father that I will have the opportunity to change lives like the missionaries that changed mine.
As I head out this week on my mission I keep thinking of the words in the 2nd verse of the hymn ‘I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go’, it says:
Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin
Some wand'rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,
Tho dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet:
I'll say what you want me to say.