"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
February 6, 2013
Surrender and Victory
by Kathryn Grant

In the movie What If, Kevin Sorbo plays Ben Walker, a young man eager to leave the confines of Clearville, his small-town home. He puts his plans for the ministry on hold and tells Wendy, his fiancée, that it will only be temporary as he leaves to pursue work in a distant city.

Fifteen years later, he’s become a hard-hitting investment banker—his past in Clearville, including Wendy, all but forgotten. But hours after a big promotion, while driving his new luxury automobile, he’s intercepted by an angel and taken back to Clearville for a divine “what if”: a second chance at the life God wanted for him—life as a preacher in Clearville, husband to Wendy, and father to their two children.

Not surprisingly, Ben resists his new situation. It’s boring, seemingly mundane, and a waste of his business talents. And to the dismay and puzzlement of Wendy and the children, he insists he’s not their husband and father.

But there’s no escaping, and slowly Ben realizes that his selfish attitude and actions are hurting the people around him. He finds the angel and insists that he stop the “what if.” Instead, the angel tells him the key is surrender to God—total and complete surrender. It’s this surrender that changes Ben’s life as he takes his focus off himself and wholeheartedly seeks to follow the Lord’s plan for his life instead of his own.

After watching this movie, I found myself wondering what it would be like if I surrendered my life more fully to the Lord. Like many of you, I’m trying to keep my baptismal covenants and follow the Savior. Yet there are times when I resist the Holy Spirit telling me to do something I find uncomfortable or unpleasant. Sometimes I’m not as humble and submissive as I know I should be. There are times I go through the motions, but my heart’s not in it. I want to do things my own way. And the truth is, I like feeling as if I’m in control of my life, even though time has proven that to be largely an illusion.

The irony of surrender to God is that it’s the “only surrender which is also a victory” (“Settle This in Your Hearts,” Neal A. Maxwell, October 1992 General Conference). In fact, as I look back on those times when my will was most surrendered to God’s, I see that those are the times of my greatest peace and happiness.

I love the description of the humble followers of Christ in Helaman 3:35: “Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Emphasis added.)

So the challenge of this week’s column is for each of us to do our own “what if”: for one day, embrace wholehearted surrender to the Lord. Make it a goal to learn His will and to do it, without question or reservation (see “A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit,” Bruce D. Porter, October 2007 General Conference). I wonder how this could make a difference for each of us and those we love.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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