“Know this that ev’ry soul is free,
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is given,
That God will force no man to heaven”
(These words were written in 1805, and can be found in Hymn #240: Know This That Every Soul Is Free).
What is this great gift we call Agency? We not only have agency in this life, to choose for ourselves good and evil, but we had it in our pre-earth existence. All of us lived in God’s presence and still could choose between good and evil. And one-third of us chose evil. In fact, within the mix of the remaining two-thirds, many of us still chose evil, but were smart enough to realize the benefits of coming down to earth.
In Moses 5:24 the Lord decrees that Cain will be called Perdition. Cain is our “shining” example of the first Son of Perdition who chose wickedness before coming down to earth to perform the first wicked act as a mortal. This thought is very sobering.
What were my choices in premortality? Did I follow behind the good guys, or bad guys? Did I think I had high intelligence and could outsmart God in any way? Maybe I didn’t think it was all a big deal and I just went with the flow? Or did I stand valiantly stating clearly that I was for the Lord God Omniscient and would do my best to obey always?
And what of my choices down here? Do I truly know who I am, or who I was as a premortal? Does my instinct lend toward righteousness or mediocrity? And is it possible to be better now than I was in that world before?
How many times do I make the choice I know I shouldn’t, but want to anyway? How much mercy does the Lord have to give me agency to do as I please? When will my end truly come, knowing the giver of all things will eventually withdraw my agency?
Tad Callister reiterates what Amulek, in the Book of Mormon, taught, “Amulek then focused on that crucial moment in time when the glorious principle of repentance would no longer be available, when the last ray of hope will have vanished for the unrepentant, the final sliver of light will have faded, and night will have descended in all its blackness.” Amulek says there will come a day when you will be sealed to either the Devil or the Lord. (Alma 34:34-35)
We sometimes assume that since the Atonement exists, it will always be there to save us. It’s true. The Atonement will always be there. Forever, the effects flow through us granting us power unto eternal salvation; however, our opportunity to partake of this eternal blessing is limited. Satan is fighting for our souls. Do we act in pedestrian procrastination our gift of agency? There will come a time when even the atoning sacrifice of our Redeemer cannot save us. Our final choices will act as chains latched to our sins pulling us down into our “own place” (Jacob 5:77, 6:3; D&C 88:32, 114).
We all get caught up in the world. We all struggle with which choice to make. And we all get caught in the spell of following our own will, and not the Lord’s. What level of righteousness do you maintain? What do you do to break out of your level to go higher? What motivates you toward righteous choices, so that your end is assured glorious glory?