Have you ever wondered how many total possible combinations of NCAA brackets there could be if everyone in the country completed a form indicating which teams they thought would go all the way? Assuming 300,000,000 bracket forms, the total possible combinations would be 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. How would you like to bet all of your possessions, all of your money, everything you own on your guess of who was going to win?
I don’t think there are too many people who would be willing to make that bet. We just don’t know what the future holds and who out of 64+ teams is going to win the final championship. It would so foolish to bet anything let alone everything. The odds a so steeply and exponentially against us.
Would you change your mind if I told you I know exactly who was going to win? If we could take all the guessing out of it we would be crazy not to bet everything on our bracket!
In the battle between good and evil we do know which team is going to win. We know there will be hard fought skirmishes and even casualties, but we know who is going to win the battle. Good, the cause of righteousness is going to win. Satan’s fifteen minutes of fame will quickly come to an end and he will be banished from any glory, eternal happiness, progression, resurrection…he will have nothing.
So, knowing who is going to win, knowing what team will be victorious, we would be foolish not to bet everything we own, even our very lives on the Lord’s team. The payoff on such a sure bet is more than we can comprehend. Here is how the Lord puts it in D&C 84:35-38:
35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
Talk about the best deal in town! Wow, I don’t know how anyone could top this. I have spent a lifetime looking for good deals, but there is nothing the world has to offer that can even start to compare to a promise from the Lord like this. It is the same as having a joint checking account with the Creator of the Universe – “Therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” There will never be any “insufficient funds.” We will have a spiritual credit card without any limits and without gimmicks, interest or fees.
Even though this promise is part of the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, it is a shared blessing for husbands and wives who have proven faithful until the end. What a marvelous way to start our eternal life in the hereafter!
And, to make matters even more joyful and wonderful, each player on the team will be given special recognition for our part in the team victory. We all will be MVP’s in our own special way. We will have that enthusiastic embrace from our Coach. We will be celebrating for joy. We will cut down the nets, watch the film and know that the refereeing throughout the whole game was perfect.
We know the outcome. We know who will win. We have been recruited to play on the best team on planet earth. Our team Captain leads the way. We have been given permission to bring on to our team other players to help our cause. Let’s bet our lives on this one!
One principle my mission president taught me has really stuck with me. That is; “If nothing changes, everything stays the same.” Very profound isn’t it? You can’t do the same things and get different results. I think many times we get stuck in a rut with our approaches to specific trials in our lives. We approach the situation the same way each time, only with more vigor or more frequency and with even more earnest prayer with the hope that this time we’ll be blessed with success. This counsel was a monumental breakthrough for a missionary who was spending six hours a day tracting, praying every moment, losing hope and finding no success. In 1 Nephi, Lehi praises the Lord for the knowledge he received from Him and says, “thou art merciful and will not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish.” If we come to the Lord, He will always lead us in the right direction but it will always require change. We have to be willing to do things the Lord’s way which may ask that we give up certain habits, comforts or ways of life. He won’t let us perish, but not changing is perishing.
Changes have to be made on our part so the Lord can bless us. Just as Lehi and his family were led to the Promised Land, He has lands of promise for each of us if we are willing to give up the comforts of our lands of inheritance. In my life I’ve seen the great blessings that follow when I make the changes the Lord has asked of me. Changing the group of friends I hung out with I was blessed with lasting friendships, giving up selfish desires I was able to serve a mission, breaking up with Andy I was lead to Klave. In each of these examples I had to sacrifice something I was comfortable with to receive my lands of promise and untold blessings. This principle of change applies to circumstances as large as Dad and Mom moving to Utah to smaller circumstances such as how to discipline our children or our relations with others. To progress towards perfect happiness we have to be making changes as the Lord leads us and gives us strength, or everything will stay the same.