“My Last Chance,” Ensign, Aug. 2007, 71–72
At age 18 I decided to leave the Church. For a time, leaving my Savior’s side did not seem to have any repercussions in my life. In my home country of Chile I was able to live comfortably on my salary. I felt I would always be able to finance my worldly lifestyle and could continue to ignore the promises I had made at the age of 14 in the waters of baptism.
I pursued this course for a few years, but then things stopped working out for me. Everything seemed to grow dark around me. I lost my job and had difficulty finding work. I had to do whatever kind of work I could just to survive. This should have made me wake up and find the path once again, but it didn’t.
Not long after this, my father passed away in 1998. Because I was the eldest son, a large part of the responsibility for taking care of my mother and younger brother fell on my shoulders. I bid farewell to my carefree lifestyle and came to realize that sometimes the Lord allows things to happen that we don’t understand until we see the end result.
I believe He allowed me to be drained economically to show me that the only way out was to pay tithing, which I did after returning to church and renewing my covenants. In this manner He patiently and lovingly brought me back to the fold.
During general conference in 2001, President Gordon B. Hinckley introduced the Perpetual Education Fund. I needed the opportunities that such a program offered so I could lift myself economically, but I wondered whether I could meet the program’s requirements.
During sacrament meeting a few months later, our stake president spoke about the program. To my great surprise, I learned that I might qualify after all. I thought to myself, “This is my last chance. I can’t pass it up.”
I then began to consider the responsibilities the program would require of me, and I feared that I would fail and once again fall short in Heavenly Father’s eyes. But I overcame these thoughts, and gathering information from the local institute director, I applied. Considering my past, I had little hope that I would be accepted. I felt that I did not deserve such a blessing even though I had repented and returned to church.
When I received a positive response from Church headquarters, my family and I rejoiced. The amount granted was not enough for the entire academic year, but I went ahead and registered for a major in computer programming. I received high grades and earned a scholarship that paid for the rest of my schooling.
Since then I have done everything in my power to show my gratitude. I work hard, I study hard, and I fulfill my responsibilities in the Church. I attend institute classes to try to make up for the years I missed and to learn what the Lord expects of me.
The most important thing I know is that I have been forgiven for all the bad things I did in the past. All of my plans for the future are based on this knowledge. I will continue to help my family, but now I will be able to do so in a better manner.