Another Tender Mercy
Several years ago I remember being impressed with a thought while listening to general conference, and that was that we weren't given the gift of agency so we could choose whatever we wanted, but Heavenly Father bestowed this gift on us so that we could prove to him, and ourselves, that we would choose what he wanted. I was pretty sure that Elder Bednar taught that, but I couldn't find where.
So, fast forward to 2010 when we started having a series of lessons on agency in Sunday School and Relief Society. I tried looking for that quote again, but wasn't successful. Then it became my turn to prepare the lesson and the Spirit said it should be on obedience. One of my favorite scriptures on that subject is D&C 11:20 and I knew that Elder Bednar had talked about that in relation to Moses 1:39. So, I looked up that talk, and, lo and behold, found that "lost" teaching. You can find it yourself, in the "Tender Mercies" talk from the April 2005 general conference. What a wonderful example of the Lord's tender mercies.
Here's the passage so you don't have to read the whole talk if you don't want to:
God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.
Enoch was instructed by the Lord on this very point of doctrine. Please note the use of the word choose in these verses: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
“And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father” (Moses 7:32–33; emphasis added).
As we learn in these scriptures, the fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God. Thus we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God.
One of the most well-known and frequently cited passages of scripture is found in Moses 1:39. This verse clearly and concisely describes the work of the Eternal Father: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (emphasis added).
A companion scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants describes with equal clarity and conciseness our primary work as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father. Interestingly, this verse does not seem to be as well known and is not quoted with great frequency. “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength” (D&C 11:20; emphasis added).
Thus, the Father’s work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children. Our work is to keep His commandments with all of our might, mind, and strength—and we thereby become chosen and, through the Holy Ghost, receive and recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives.