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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to young adults at BYU on Sunday.

PROVO – Thoughtful planning and preparation are key to a rewarding future, but we do not live in the future, we live in the present, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve, told young adults at a Church Education System fireside Sunday.

"It is the accumulation of many days well-lived that adds up to a full life and a saintly person," Elder Christofferson said. "It is day-by-day that we achieve our goals. It is one day at a time that we overcome imperfections."

He spoke of the importance of approaching difficult goals or tasks one day at a time, and recounted the story of Marcus Luttrell, a U.S. Navy SEAL who wrote a book about his rigorous training and experiences.

"They endured weeks of near constant physical exertion, in and out of cold ocean water, swimming, paddling and carrying inflatable boats, running in sand, and doing hundreds of push-ups a day. They were in a near-perpetual state of exhaustion," Elder Christofferson shared from the book.

He told a story told by Luttrell about a lesson a senior officer taught the SEAL trainees early on. When the training group was ready to give in to the physical and demanding pressure, the senior officer told them to not give up.

"Whenever you're hurting bad, just hang in there. Finish the day," Elder Christofferson quoted the officer. "Think about it long and hard before you decide to quit. Take it one day at a time. Don't start planning to bail out because you're worried about the future and how much you can take. Don't look ahead to the pain."

Elder Christofferson recognized the importance of planning ahead and preparing for the future, but counseled the young adults gathered at the Marriott Center in Provo to deal with hard things or trials by "just getting through the day."

"Take it one day at a time. The Holy Spirit can guide us when to look ahead and when we should just deal with this one day, with this one moment," Elder Christofferson said.

He told the story of the exodus of the tribes of Israel from Egypt and the 40 years in the wilderness. More than 1 million people were fed daily with the gift of manna which came from the Lord.

Elder Christofferson emphasized how the Lord was trying to teach them faith, and to trust in him.

He quoted his colleague Elder David A. Bednar, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, who told a story about the work that goes into a masterful painting.

"A painting is a vast collection of individual brushstrokes — none of which in isolation is very interesting or impressive," he said. "In fact, if you stand close to the canvas, all you can see is a mass of seemingly unrelated and unattractive streaks of yellow and gold and brown paint. However, as you move away from the canvas, all of the individual brushstrokes combine together and produce a magnificent landscape of a wheat field."

Elder Christofferson told the young adults to above all remember that daily mundane and repetitious tasks in our life can seem small, but be significant building blocks that in time establish discipline, character, and order needed to realize our plans and dreams.

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Elder Christofferson advised the young adults to reflect on their personal lives in this season of New Year's resolutions and quoted President N. Eldon Tanner, formerly a counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

"As we reflect on the value of resolving to do better, let us determine to discipline ourselves to carefully select the resolution we make, to consider the purpose for making them, and finally to make commitments for keeping them and not letting any obstacle stop us," he said.

"Let us remind ourselves at the beginning of each day that we can keep a resolution just for that day. As we do this it gets easier and easier until it becomes a habit."

e-mail: mharker@desnews.com