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Adam Fondren, Deseret News
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf makes a heart shape with his hands to the devotional goers as he exits through the main seating area after the Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults held in the Conference Center on Jan. 14, 2018.

As Latter-day Saints strive to trust God and follow His Son, Jesus Christ, one day they will know that the very hand of God was directing and guiding their steps, said Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

“We will know that the Master Artist had a plan ... all along,” said Elder Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “We will see that He has amplified our talents, prepared opportunities, and introduced us to possibilities far more glorious than we ever could have imagined or accomplished on our own.”

Addressing thousands of young single adults during a Worldwide Devotional on Jan. 14, Elder Uchtdorf — accompanied by his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, who also spoke — shared a message of hope and encouragement.

“Now is the time to commit to Christ and follow His path,” he said. “As you incline your hearts to Him and strive to follow His way, He will intervene in your life and direct your path as you journey through this great and exciting adventure of mortality.”

Nearly 32,000 young adults ages 18-30 gathered in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and in overflow locations on Temple Square for the devotional, which was translated and sent digitally around the globe.

The broadcast was held just two days after the funeral for President Thomas S. Monson. Elder Uchtdorf, who served as President Monson’s counselor in the First Presidency, recognized the late prophet during his remarks.

“I miss President Thomas S. Monson,” he said. “He was my cherished and treasured friend, tutor and mentor. But I can assure you, the Lord Himself is at the Head of His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord has provided a divine plan so that His Church is always led by prophets, seers and revelators.”

Focusing his remarks on the topic, “The adventure of mortality,” Elder Uchtdorf encouraged listeners to rely on God, especially when asking questions.

“In this age of instant answers — where seemingly absolute and unassailable knowledge is merely a Google search away — we sometimes get frustrated when answers to our most personal, important and urgent questions are delayed,” he said. “We lift up our hearts to heaven, and all we seem to get is a frustrating, spinning, ‘wait cursor.’

“We don’t like waiting,” he said.

When the wait is more than a few seconds for a search engine to respond, many might suppose the connection is down or broken, and in frustration he or she might even abandon the search.

“But when it comes to eternal questions, matters of the soul, we must be more patient,” Elder Uchtdorf said.

Teaching that not all answers are of equal worth, Elder Uchtdorf said that answers that come from worldly wisdom or popular opinion tend to be easy to come by, but that they lose their worth quickly when a new theory or trend emerges.

“Heavenly answers — eternal answers — are priceless,” he said. “Receiving these answers often requires sacrifice, work and patience. These answers are worth the wait.”

Using the example of the late 19th century painting style known as neo-impressionism, Elder Uchtdorf compared life to one of these paintings.

“Closer up, these dots appear unconnected and random,” he said. “But when you take in the entire painting, you can see how the dots blend into colors and how the colors eventually form shapes that reveal a beautiful pattern.”

What once seemed arbitrary and even confusing begins to make sense, he taught.

“Sometimes our lives are like neo-impressionistic art,” he said. “The dots of color that make up the moments and events of our days can appear unconnected and chaotic at first. We can’t see any order to them. We can’t imagine that they have a purpose at all.”

But as a person steps back and looks with an eternal perspective, he or she is able to see how the dots interconnect and create a beautiful, grand design.

Sharing experiences from his own life — as a young boy who had relocated with his family twice and struggled in school, as a training pilot and as a young man dating his wife — Elder Uchtdorf said that although the experiences weren’t always easy, it was through those experiences that he learned to work hard and trust in God.

“Don’t get overwhelmed by the many large, difficult tasks of life,” he said. “If you commit to doing the ‘easy’ things — the ‘small’ things God asks you to do — and you do them as perfectly as you can, big things will follow.”

Some of the “small and easy” things can be done perfectly, such as daily prayer, studying the scriptures, living the Word of Wisdom, attending Church, praying with real intent and paying tithes and offerings.

“Do these things even when you don’t want to,” he said. “These ‘sacrifices’ may appear to be small, but they are important, for ‘sacrifice brings for the blessings of heaven.’ ”

In a sense, the leader taught, the “small and simple” sacrifices are the dots of daily living that make up the masterpiece painting in their life.

“You may not see how the dots connect now, and you don’t need to yet. Simply have faith enough for the moment you are living in now,” he said.

Elder Uchtdorf said, “Now you may be thinking, ... ‘That’s all very nice for you. But you are an Apostle. I’m not like that. I’m not important to God. My prayers are not answered. My life is not directed. If there is a plan for me it’s a thrift store version of your plan. A hand-me-down plan. A pat-on-the-head-just-be-content-with-what-you-have plan.’ ”

Recognizing that some may feel that their plan is not the same as his, Elder Uchtdorf reminded listeners that when he was their age he had no idea where his life would take him.

“I definitely didn’t see any dots connecting in front of me,” he said. “But I did trust God. I listened to the advice of loving family and wise friends, and took small steps of faith, believing that if I did the best I could in the moment, God would take care of the big picture.

“He did.”

Most important is a person’s willingness to rely on God to guide his or her steps in life.

“I understand that for some this may seem easy to say and hard to do,” he said. “I agree that you don’t have to go far in today’s culture to hear contradictory voices that discourage or even ridicule belief in God generally, and in our religion specifically.”

Those voices are amplified today through advances in communication, he taught.

“That is your challenge,” he said. “But it also is your privilege. … It is part of your adventure of mortality. How you do it will greatly influence your future and the part you play in God’s work here on earth.”

Elder Uchtdorf encouraged listeners to not let discouraging voices “dissuade you from your journey of faith.”

“Remember, you don’t answer to your critics,” he said. “You answer to your Father in Heaven. His values count.”

Elder Uchtdorf said to follow the promptings that “come to your heart and mind. Use both. Give your best efforts to follow through. Have faith, and God will consecrate your honest efforts for your eternal good. Do this and, in the end, all will be well.”

Elder Uchtdorf promised listeners that as they earnestly strive to know God, his or her faith will increase and as they strive to follow the Savior, their confidence will grow.

“You will look back on this cherished and exciting adventure of mortality, and you will understand,” he said. “You will see that the dots really did connect into a beautiful pattern, more sublime than you ever could have imagined. With unspeakable gratitude, you will see that God himself, in His abounding love, grace and compassion, was always there watching over you, blessing you and guiding your steps as you walked toward Him.”

In possibly the first address she has given to a worldwide audience, Sister Uchtdorf said she enjoyed being with the young adults as well as her “favorite apostle.”

“I know, we shouldn’t have favorites,” she said. “But in my case, it seems OK — because I am married to him.”

In her remarks, Sister Uchtdorf reminded young adults they “are representing the Church of Jesus Christ, and you are powerful leaders in proclaiming the gospel message by your good life and courageous testimony.”

Reflecting on the time when she was a young girl watching as her father was sick and then later died, Sister Uchtdorf shared how her home became a place of suffering, sadness and hopelessness.

It wasn’t until eight months after her father had passed away that two American missionaries knocked on their door in Frankfurt, introducing her family to the Book of Mormon.

“As we embraced the Book of Mormon, it calmed our heartache and healed the despair and sadness caused by the death of my father.”

As the Book of Mormon entered their home, Sister Uchtdorf said peace returned, there was no more darkness in her family, and they were able to feel the Spirit strongly.

The gospel message from the missionaries — who were about the age of listeners in the audience — Sister Uchtdorf said, were “like two angels of glory sent to us by God,” for bringing her family the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

“My dear young friends, you are made of the same divine material. Some of you are married, some are single, but all of you are living among the people of this world,” she said. “You are chosen ones of our days, who by word and deed teach and live the gospel message among your people. For this purpose, you are placed in your village or city, your school or workplace, your nation, your family.

“Don’t forget, you have the potential to be angels of glory to those right next to you.”

Sister Uchtdorf reminded listeners that a leader is one who helps others see, feel and find the right way.

“Please help each other to stay deeply grounded in the Church and in the gospel. God has put you in a place where you have many opportunities to be tools in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. He relies on you, He knows you, He trusts you and He will empower you. He lives, He is real!”

For the first time in that type of setting, after the devotional, young adults met in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and other locations at Church headquarters for activities and refreshments.

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