The Word: Making real changes in our lives

Published 5:01 am Sunday, February 4, 2024

Late last year, after nearly 40 years of playing the soprano clarinet, I decided to switch up and try the bass clarinet. 

The bass clarinet is in the same musical key and uses the same fingerings, so making the switch seemed like a doable goal. 

On the other hand, it is about double the size, plays an octave lower, and requires a lot more air than a regular clarinet. I quickly found that I had to plan very carefully and mark in the music when and how to breathe when playing. 

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While playing Christmas carols in a church service, I learned that if I got overconfident and ignored my planned breathing strategies, the inevitable result was trying to hit very low notes with inadequate air in reserve, leading to embarrassing honks.

This need to refresh my view of musical performance reminded me of Paul’s admonition to the Romans about conversion, that “we also should walk in newness of life” (6:4). 

When making the choice to come unto Jesus Christ and live a life of devoted discipleship, we must be prepared to make changes ourselves and allow the Lord to change us.

A prophet from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ put it this way: “Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14).

Committing ourselves to Christ means a “mighty change.” It may involve finding new friends or new hobbies. It may require a change of habits or relinquishing destructive addictions. 

Beyond the things that we do, Christ’s grace can fundamentally change who we are. By letting His light into our lives, our countenances can be changed. We can become disciples who radiate our love for the Savior and love for our neighbors. 

Elder David A. Bednar, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught that conversion “is mighty, not minor–a spiritual rebirth and fundamental change of what we feel and desire, what we think and do, and what we are.”

To experience this “mighty change,” a first step is to stand in holy places. Churches and temples can certainly be holy places, but we can also find closeness and connection with our Heavenly Father in other places as well. Nature, our homes, and even workplace offices can be holy places as we pray to our Father and listen for the voice of His Spirit.

A second step toward true conversion is standing with holy people. Fellow believers can encourage, uplift, and strengthen us in our journey along the covenant path.

Finally, we must realize that we will make mistakes. Just as I invariably honk a bit with my new musical instrument, we will occasionally stumble. But if we persist in the right path, keep trying and rely on the Savior, we can truly become “new creatures” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

Dr. Brent Roberts is the Branch President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Assistant Provost for Academic Outreach and Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@hotmail.com.