“The Best Way to Prepare for Your Future,” New Era, June 2019, 2–5.
It is natural to have questions about your future: Where will you go and what will you do? What will happen? And when will it happen? I’m going to answer these questions for you: I don’t know!
Life is a great adventure. But there is something I do know, and it is that not only do we turn to the Savior for peace, and not only is He the only source that never ceases to make us whole, but it is to Jesus Christ that we look for guidance, comfort, and direction.
Toward the end of the Savior’s ministry, His disciples asked Him several questions about His Second Coming, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3).
The Savior told them they would not know and they could not know. This is just the same as for you and for me. We cannot know our futures. But the Savior told His disciples that they could prepare. The Savior’s instructions to His disciples about preparing for the future are also a model for you and for me.
The Savior further answered His disciples’ question by giving them three parables. The first parable begins this way: “And then, at that day, before the Son of Man comes, the kingdom of heaven [shall] be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 25:1 [in Matthew 25:1, footnote a]).
When the bridegroom came, five of these virgins had no oil in their lamps. They went out to buy, and then it was too late. The five who had oil in their lamps were described as wise. They were able to go with the bridegroom (see Matthew 25:1–13).
The Lord has told us in modern revelation the interpretation of this parable. He said:
“For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day” (Doctrine and Covenants 45:57).
How does this help you prepare for whatever happens in your future? The answer is to live so the Holy Ghost is your constant companion. This is how you prepare for the Bridegroom and for what life brings, come what may.
President Russell M. Nelson has said: “Through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, the Lord will assist us in all our righteous pursuits. …
“… We can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own.”1
Worthiness, obedience, sincere inquiry, scripture study, and participating in the redemption of the dead through temple and family history work all help to bring the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
But the companionship of the Holy Ghost often doesn’t happen overnight. Like the oil in the lamps of the five wise virgins, this oil must be consistently sought, drop by drop, day by day, and cannot be borrowed. Nothing will prepare you more for your unknown future than striving each day to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
The Lord has given you talents and spiritual gifts, and you are to build on them. In the next parable, the Savior said, “The kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods” (Matthew 25:14). To one servant he gave five talents, to another he gave two talents, and to one he gave one talent, according to their differing abilities.
Then he took his journey. Both the five-talent and the two-talent servants traded what they had been given and doubled their talents. But the one-talent servant buried the talent he had been given in the earth and hid his Lord’s money (see Matthew 25:16–18). After a long time, the man came back. He was equally pleased with the five-talent and two-talent servants, but he was unhappy with the one-talent servant (see Matthew 25:19–30).
The message is that as you prepare for your unknown future, it does not matter how many or what talents you have; what matters is that you magnify them. We all need to magnify the talents we have been given and be the person the Lord has given us the gifts to be.
In the parable of the sheep and goats, God separated His children based on whether they had given meat when He was an hungered, given drink when He was thirsty, taken Him in when He was a stranger, clothed Him when He was naked, visited Him when He was sick, and come to Him when He was in prison. Both those on the right (the sheep) and those on the left (the goats) asked:
“Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink [or did not]?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee [or did not]?
“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee [or did not]?” (Matthew 25:37–39).
And the king said to them:
“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [or not done] it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [or not done] it unto me” (Matthew 25:40, 45).
The king will say to those on His right, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To those on His left, He will say, “Depart from me” (see Matthew 25:34, 41).
Service to God’s children brings blessings to you as well as to His children, because “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
As you follow the Savior’s teachings, you will be prepared for whatever you face in this life. You will be prepared to meet God, having accomplished your mission in mortality.
I know that these things are true. I certainly pray that God will bless and watch over and protect you, that you will be guided as you go through your life, that you will receive blessings in great abundance, and that you will be able to be ready in life for whatever comes.