What is your vision? Here you are, young men and women poised on the threshold of life. Is your vision merely occupational—a job? When you look in the mirror, do you see just a future accountant or legal secretary or interior designer? Or is your vision grander than that? When you look in the mirror or when you close your eyes, do you see in your mind’s eye the person you are crafting as a figure of nobility and dignity? Do you see someone with a divine royal heritage and with important contributions to make to the welfare of mankind and the upbuilding of the kingdom of God? Do you ever look down the road 10 years, 30 years, or 50 years and see yourself? If so, whom and what do you see?
These are questions of great urgency for you because, like the sculptor standing before the unblemished block of granite, you have one great gift that will never again appear quite as fresh and unsullied as it now presents itself. I speak of the great blessing opportunity.
Your life is yours for the molding. Blessed with the vigor of youth and few obligations, this is the season of your great opportunity. But opportunity is an elusive commodity. It is, quite literally, here today and gone tomorrow.
Carpe diem is a Latin phrase. It means “seize the day.” You have “today” within your grasp. But unless you “seize” it, it will slip through your fingers like quicksilver and be gone. Oh, certainly, the sun will come up each morning throughout your life, and each day will present an opportunity of sorts for good works and happiness. But no other “today” will ever again be quite like the one that is now in your grasp. Carpe diem.
This is a time and a season to make of your life a magnificent work of art. But how do you do that? As in all things, the life of the Savior is instructive. You recall that when He was only 12 years old, Mary and Joseph took Him with them to Jerusalem. They became separated, and for three anxious days the worried couple sought their divine Son. They found Him in the temple teaching among the doctors of Jewish theology. In gentle reprimand, His mother, Mary, said, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father [referring to Joseph] and I have sought thee sorrowing.”
In answer and equally gentle reminder of His divine station, Jesus responded, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48–49).
There was a soberness about Jesus even as a child, born of His recognition of His great mission. He was anxious to “be about [His] Father’s business,” and that anxiousness colored every aspect of His life. Is there not a teaching there for you and me? We, too, have a sacred mission—our “errand from the Lord,” to borrow Jacob’s marvelous phrase (see Jacob 1:17).
What Kind of Person?
Is it not time to be about our Father’s business? You and I did not create the world into which we have been born. But we certainly can create the kind of person we will be as we walk in it. This is not an entirely easy process. Joseph Smith lamented his difficulty.
Said he, describing his youthful experience after obtaining his errand from the Lord: “During the space of time which intervened between the time I had the vision and the year eighteen hundred and twenty-three … I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been” (JS—H 1:28).
Does that have a familiar ring to you? “Guilty of levity”? Or “associating with jovial company”? Doubtless all of us have been guilty of these. These are not, in Joseph’s words, “great or malignant sins.” But they are unworthy of those called of God as we have been. Paul’s great expression rings down the centuries: “When I was a child, … I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13:11).
The time has come to “put away childish things.” This means developing a genuine sense of purpose about life. It means seeing “today” as the wondrous opportunity it is. Today is the day to make the most of your education, to prepare for missionary service and for temple marriage. Today is the day for magnifying Church callings and responsibilities, for thrusting aside self to render Christian service. Today is the day for right decisions and resolute determination—your mallet and chisel—to prepare for tomorrow. This is the very essence of being about your Father’s business.
My dear young friends, carpe diem! Seize this day! Grasp the marvelous opportunity that is at hand! Your today is garnished with the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Your tomorrow is bright indeed—if you make the most of today.
What is truly distinctive about the gospel is the promise of tomorrow. The holy temple is the great symbol of that promise. Its eternal ordinances, the truth it represents—these provide the luster to tomorrow, both in time and in eternity. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, has purchased tomorrow for us. The temple seals this wondrous blessing upon us in all its fulness.
We need only to grasp it today. Carpe diem!