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Jennifer Warnas

Our Ultimate Potential; Our Divine Potential 

[Video plays of children and adults singing “I Am a Child of God.”][1]

Isn’t technology wonderful?

Who am I? These three simple words can be the most empowering, intriguing, and inspiring words we will ever know. Although, at times in our lives they can be the most discouraging, heartbreaking, and hopeless words to truly not understand. Brothers and sisters, what a privilege and blessing it is that we are invited to leave our class work behind and come to devotional in this beautiful and sacred Assembly Hall each week to be edified by the Spirit. As we share our remaining time together on this beautiful summer morning, I invite you to really ponder to yourselves who you are.

As we saw in the video, regardless of your age, background, hometown, profession, or phase in your life, we have all asked at one time or another and received the same answer to this question: Who am I?

As I was preparing for what I might share with you today about our divine potential, I was continually drawn to the thoughts of Elder Robert C. Oaks of the Seventy and Sister Elaine S. Dalton, a past Young Women general president. I pray that the Spirit will continue to guide my thoughts so that I may be able to build upon their wisdom and counsel, and to share everything that the Spirit desires you to learn and what is in my heart today.

Elder Robert C. Oaks began,

You know you are a child of God, a son or a daughter of a loving Father who has structured a glorious plan for the salvation and happiness of each of His children.

[We] understand that we were in the presence of our Father in Heaven in premortal councils, where His plan was presented to all of His children.[2]

And each and every one of us sitting here today gladly accepted His plan.

Everything we know about Christ suggests that He understood exactly who He was and exactly what He was expected to do in His life.[3]

We have been taught that we are sons and daughters of great faith. We brought our faith with us when we came to this earth. Alma teaches us that in premortal realms, we exhibited exceeding faith and good works.[4] We fought with our faith and testimony to defend the plan that was presented by God. We knew the plan was good, and we knew that the Savior would do what He said He would do because we personally knew Him, we trusted Him. We loved Him. We stood beside Him and were very eager for our opportunity to come to earth. We knew what was going to be required of us and that it was going to be difficult. And yet, we were confident, not only that we could accomplish our mission, but that we could make a difference. We have been reminded by many throughout the years that we are choice spirits who were reserved to come forth in the fullness of time to take part in the laying of foundations of this great latter-day work,[5] including the building of temples and the performance of ordinances therein. We are here to do exactly what we have been reserved and prepared to do.

One of the great blessings of understanding our true eternal identity as a child of God is knowing that we have the DNA of the divine in each of us. We are each His son or daughter, with the promised potential to become like Him.

Today, in this crazy world, we receive many warnings about identity theft. And if you are like me, you have come up with some pretty creative passwords to avoid people hacking into your account only to forget what that creative password was the very next day. Needless to say, with all of these warnings and protective firewalls put in place to protect us, some of us have become victims and experienced the problems resulting from this fraud. Identity theft can be costly and cause a great deal of frustration. But we know with some lengthy phone calls, some completed paperwork to proper credit card agencies, banks, and other government institutions, our physical identity can be restored.

But the theft of our eternal identity is so much more damaging, and the long term effects can be tragic. Satan has found the cruelest form of identity theft and is delighted—he is absolutely delighted—when we forget our divine potential.

When I was in Young Women many, many, many years ago, I remember a story that was told by Ardeth Kapp, and it has stuck with me. Its message is as enticing and delicious today as it was back then. It is entitled “The Tragedy at Rayad.”

Once upon a time there was a little kingdom called Rayad. The tiny people who inhabited that kingdom were known as the Rayadites. They lived happily, sharing and caring about each other. Life was good to them. There were only a few things that they needed to watch out for; for instance, eating chocolate cake or wearing the color red. If any Rayadite ever ate chocolate cake or wore red, his spirit would become weakened, and he would care less and less about himself and the rules of the kingdom.

Also living in this kingdom was Zynock, an evil person who wanted to destroy the kingdom and all of the people in it. He hated for them to be happy and loving, for that made it harder for him to influence them. [Zynock knew exactly] what weakened their spirits and made them easier to capture. But Zynock also knew he could not just offer a Rayadite chocolate cake and have them devour it. . . . Nor could he make the most wonderful garment in bright red and expect them to wear it immediately, for he knew no Rayadite was that foolish. The Rayadites wanted to be good and strong. They had promised each other that they would help, love, and strengthen one another in times of need. So how could Zynock weaken his people? How could he get them to succumb to him so that he could destroy them and thus the whole kingdom?

“Let’s see,” he said. “I can’t get them to eat chocolate cake right off, but maybe I can get them to develop a taste for chocolate.”

 That’s when chocolate chip cookies were introduced to the kingdom of Rayad. At first the cookies were ignored and scoffed at. Then some wonderful commercials and billboards showed handsome, wonderful-looking Rayadites eating chocolate chip cookies, and nothing happened to them except they became more popular and sophisticated—at least that’s what the message conveyed on the screens and billboards.

It wasn’t long before a few Rayadites could be seen eating a chocolate chip cookie every now and then, and they seemed to be doing fine. They were still loving and caring, and hadn’t changed [all that much]—so it seemed. So more and more Rayadites began eating the cookies. What they didn’t realize was that the portion of chocolate chips in each cookie had been doubled. They were getting a double dose of chocolate, disguised in the cookie. [In the kingdom] you would hear phrases like these: “That cookie is really good except for a couple of places where it tastes pretty chocolatey. But don’t miss the cookie just for those two places. It’s too good a cookie, and you can overlook the taste.” [Or,] “I heard that one of our friends has eaten a chocolate chip cookie, and she says there is nothing to be afraid of. It won’t ruin your life if you eat it.”

That was true. Lives didn’t seem to be ruined by chocolate chip cookies. Things were pretty much the same as usual. However, some of the teachers and leaders and parents in Rayad suggested avoiding eating the cookies because the taste for chocolate was being developed.

“Avoid the cookies!” came the cries of surprise. “What for? What is wrong with them? They’re not chocolate cake. How stuffy [and uptight] can you get?”

Some who [were obedient to the counsel and] refused to eat the cookies were laughed [and even scoffed at]. Zynock himself began chuckling. He had no idea his plan would work so well. And Zynock was patient. He didn’t care how long it took to destroy Rayad, just so it was destroyed.

Chocolate chip cookies seemed to be moving pretty well. Zynock didn’t worry about the . . . counsel from the leaders, because his commercials and billboards were so [much more] exciting and enticing.

[Soon it began] to introduce a new product of destruction. [Now you might think it was chocolate cake, but not quite yet, for] Zynock began introducing spice cake, white cake, yellow cake, carrot cake, any kind of cake but chocolate—but all with [rich, delicious, decadent] chocolate frosting. More and more commercials and billboards soon could be found around the kingdom, and even a few songs about how wonderful chocolate cake tasted could be heard playing on the radio. Zynock knew he needed them to be subconsciously thinking how delicious a bite of chocolate cake would be. Now in the kingdom of Rayad, you could hear:

“Have you tried that yellow cake with chocolate frosting?”

“Well, no. Is it good?”

“Oh, yes! Granted, it is chocolatey, but it’s not chocolate cake. And it . . . doesn’t have much more chocolate than those cookies we’ve been eating!”

“But [eating] cake doesn’t seem right. I mean, cookies are one thing, but [now] cake?”

“Ah, come on! The [most] important thing is the chocolate, and this is no more than you’ve already been eating. Everybody’s eating it. You can’t pass it up and be the only one left out.”

In the meantime, [more] songs were [constantly playing] the praises of chocolate cake. [Now granted,] the words weren’t that good, but the beat and the rhythm were so cool that many Rayadites listened just for the music. After all, what can music [really] do?”

Zynock began thinking . . . “One thing that strengthens those Rayadites is when they [get] together talking to each other [and trying to encourage one another to be better]. What can I do about that?” Then he reasoned, “[Aha! I’ve got it. I will] use their gatherings and parties for my purposes. . . .

[From that moment on the] parties in Rayad began changing. Instead of the Rayadites talking to each other and playing games . . .  a new trend began. Everyone who was anyone [was hosting] the new kinds of parties.

“Have you been to a party over at our . . . friend’s place yet?”

“[Well] no, I haven’t.”

“You should go. [They are so much fun!]”

“Oh? What do you do?”

“Well, it isn’t like any other party you’ve been to. It’s pretty cool. All you do is go and sit down and watch [some] stuff on the screen.”

“Stuff on a screen? Like what?”

“Oh, exciting, scary stuff that’s pretty good. There are a few scenes showing people eating chocolate cake, but [the rest of the movie is so entertaining, you don’t want to miss the movie because of some of those chocolate cake scenes].”

“People eating chocolate cake? But . . .”

“Oh, it’s not [that] bad, and besides, there’s nothing [out there] anymore without a little bit of [chocolate in it]. It’s just fun to get together with . . . friends.”

So Zynock stood back and watched his plot unfold. “Let’s see . . . They’re eating chocolate and they’re eating cake. They’re listening to songs and watching movies about chocolate cake. They’re becoming weaker and weaker, although they’re not even aware of it yet because they haven’t actually eaten it—yet! They are falling [right] into my trap! They think their leaders and parents are [so out of touch. I love when] friends tell them what I want them to hear. Friends are my greatest asset!”

[Across the street, two friends could be heard talking:]

“Hey! . . . Have you seen the latest movie?”

“No,” comes the response. “I thought it was C-rated, for chocolate.”

“No, it isn’t. It’s R-rated for Red. There’s [not even any] chocolate in it.”

And so Zynock continues his plotting—this time [designing] a gorgeous garment . . . not in [the color] red. . . . It’s a luscious pink color.[6]

As you can see, Zynock—or Satan—is quite brilliant in the ways in which he works. First, he prompts “doubts in our minds about our divine potential. He even cultivates doctrine in the world implying that we are much less than we really are. He undermines our faith . . . and . . . confidence” to convince us that we are “so bad that even the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is not sufficient to reach down . . . and draw us up unto our Savior.” [7] Satan has mastered the art of identity theft. Nothing delights him more when he can make us forget who we really are—beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Parents, each with divine nature and destiny.

Is it any wonder that “Satan has increased the intensity of his attacks on [our] identity and virtue. If [we] can be dismayed, discouraged, distracted, delayed, or disqualified from being worthy to receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost or to enter [into those beautiful doors of the temple behind us], he wins.”[8]

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we cannot be shy or timid about who we are. Sister Dalton reminded each and every one of us that we are elect. She said, “You are [sons and] daughters of God. You cannot be a generation . . .  who [is] content to fit in. You must have the courage to stand out, to ‘arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations.’”[9]

Alma asked a powerful question for each of us to consider. “Have ye received his image in your countenances?”[10] If you were able to hold up a mirror and look into eternity, would it be easier for you to remember who you are? Would you see yourself as our Heavenly Parents see you in your reflection? Are you living your life today in a way that allows you to return to Him someday, just as the chorus of “I Am a Child of God”[11] promises?

We must remember that each of us has inherited the royal birthright. Each of us was born to be a king or a queen. Isn’t it beautiful to know that our testimonies draw us closer to the Savior? By understanding His infinite Atonement, it makes it possible for us to repent, to change, to be pure, and to receive His image in our countenance. Our Savior Jesus Christ is the perfect example of one who understood His divine heritage.

The scriptures tell us that in His youth, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”[12] The more His understanding grew, the better prepared He was to fulfill His roles as the Savior of the world.

It is such an inspiring sight to look out and see all of you here at LDS Business College increasing your wisdom and pursuing your earthly education. I know there are some nights, both as students and faculty, we are so exhausted we cannot read one more chapter, write one more ponder, or figure out one more tweak in Brightspace. But we must not settle for less than what the Lord wants and needs us to be.

The time is now. The work is hastening faster than ever before, and we must learn and grow as much as possible when the opportunities arise.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has said . . . “You are . . . the finest [and strongest] generation of young people ever in the history of this Church. . . . You have been prepared and reserved to be on the earth at this time when the challenges and opportunities are the greatest. . . . The Lord is counting on you to be a leader for righteousness and to stand as a witness. . . .  Indeed, it can be said . . . that [we] “are the ‘bright, shining hope’ of the future.[13]

Sister Dalton reminded us: “That light is the Savior’s light. It is the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. By the way you live the gospel, you reflect His light. Your example will have a powerful effect for good on the earth.” Again, she said, “‘Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations’ is a call to each of [us]. It is a call to move to higher ground. It is a call to leadership—to lead out in decency, purity, modesty, and holiness. It is a call to share this light with others.”[14]

Brothers and sisters, as we sit here today, do you realize the magnitude in which you were meant to shine? You were born to manifest the glory of God that is within you. It is not just in some of us, but it is in each and every one of us.

In one of my favorite books, entitled The Peter Potential, the following questions are posed:

Do you think anyone told Peter that he was destined for remarkable things? That he was extraordinary? That there was a spark of greatness in him?

The Lord did. The Lord told Peter who he was. He showed him the possibilities of who he could become. Without the Lord, Peter was just a simple fisherman; with the Lord, his potential was immeasurable.[15]

The same is true for you. There is a spark of greatness that is just waiting to be ignited. Your possibilities span the universe. You have within you the potential to become someone remarkable. Have you dedicated yourself to discover the life you were meant and the potential that our Heavenly Parents have instilled within you?

One of my favorite invitations from this book is: “If the Lord can do great things with a single loaf, imagine what He can do with a single life.”

President Ezra Taft Benson said, “You are choice spirits, many of you having been held . . . in reserve for almost 6,000 years to come forth in this day, at this time, when the temptations, responsibilities, and opportunities are the very greatest.”[16] He encouraged us to live up to our divine potential. He continued: “Remember who you [really] are and the divine heritage that is yours—you are literally the royal [sons and] daughters of our Father in Heaven.”[17] And prophetically he has declared: “You have been born at this time for a sacred and glorious purpose. It is not by chance that you have been reserved to come to earth in this last dispensation of the fulness of times. Your birth at this particular time was foreordained in the eternities. You are to be royal [sons and] daughters of the Lord in the last days. You are . . . ‘of a noble birthright.’”[18]

In closing, I would like to share with you one of my favorite examples of knowing our divine potential from this beloved Disney film, The Lion King.[19] We are all familiar with the story about the young lion cub, Simba, who because of the death of his father, Mufasa, decides to run away and not take his rightful place as the king of Pride Rock. Many years later, Simba is approached by the wise Rafiki, in which he promises to take Simba to the edge of the river to see his father.

Simba quietly looks over the edge and sees his reflection in the pool of water. At first, he’s a bit startled, perhaps by his own mature appearance. But then he realizes what he is looking at. With a disappointed sigh, Simba says, “That’s not my father. That’s just my reflection.”

“No. Look harder,” Rafiki replies as he motions over the pool. Ripples form, distorting Simba’s reflection, which then turn into Mufasa’s face. “You see, he lives in you.”

Simba is amazed. The winds pick up and in the air a huge image of Mufasa is forming from the clouds. Mufasa calls out, “Simba. You have forgotten me.”

Simba replies, “No, Father. How could I?”

Mufasa tells his son, “You have forgotten who you are, and in so, have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the circle of life.”

Simba, confused, asks his father, “How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.”

Mufasa tells him, “Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king.”

As the image of Mufasa starts to fade, he says to Simba one last time, “Remember who you are.”

Brothers and sisters, it is my testimony that we will always remember who we are, that we will never forget that we are sons and daughters of the one true King. I testify that I know the Savior lives. I testify that because of His Atonement, when we struggle, we are given the strength and the courage to stand up and return on our journey back to our Heavenly Father. I know the words in the Book of Mormon to be true, that they can provide us with guidance and direction when we are need in this crazy, crazy world.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are led by a loving prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, who receives modern-day revelation because the young boy, Joseph, knelt in a grove of trees and asked, “Why?” I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for the blessing of eternal families, which sealed me to my sweetheart—not only for this life, but for eternity—and the sacred privilege of being a mom to my two beautiful daughters, Sophia and Chloe, who teach me every day what being a child of God truly means. And I leave these things with you in the name of the Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] “I Am a Child of God,” Mormon Channel,

[2] Robert C. Oaks, “’Understand Who You Are,’” BYU Speeches, Mar. 21, 2006.

[3] Oaks, “Understanding.”

[4] See Alma 13:3.

[5] For example, see D&C 138:53; Ezra Taft Benson, “A Message to the Rising Generation,” Oct. 1977 General Conference.

[6] Ardeth Greene Kapp, “The Tragedy at Rayad,” I Walk by Faith, Deseret Book Co: (1987).

[7] Oaks, “Understanding.”

[8] Elaine S. Dalton, “Remember Who You Are!” Apr. 2010 General Conference.

[9] Dalton, “Remember.”

[10] Alma 5:14.

[11] “I Am a Child of God,” Children’s Songbook, p. 2.

[12] Luke 2:52.

[13] Elaine S. Dalton, “It Shows in Your Face,” Apr. 2006 General Conference.

[14] Dalton, “It Shows.”

[15] Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler, The Peter Potential: Discover the Life You Were Meant to Live, Deseret Book Company: US, (2014).

[16] Benson, “A Message.”

[17] Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Women of the Church,” Oct. 1986 General Conference.

[18] Benson, “To the Young Women.”

[19] The Lion King, Walk Disney Pictures, (1995).


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