My Reliance on the Lord Is Stronger Than Ever

by Renee Packer
When I think back on lessons I have learned that have caused a significant change in my life, I am most grateful for a recent experience during a very stressful time that has blessed me. I am currently in my mid-50s, and a few years ago it was revealed to me that the Lord desired me to go back to school full time.

Even though I had an Associate’s degree, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Choral Conducting would be a five-year process. I began my preparation a whole year prior to my first semester back at school. It was an exhilarating time as I felt such guidance from the Lord as to how to use my time for preparation. I was blessed with a drive that was beyond my own, and I knew that if I was indeed going forward with my plans, I would need to be 100% committed. I stopped my two small home-based businesses and put aside the “fluff” in my life. I also focused my efforts on areas where I needed help academically and musically.
As a consequence of my preparation—and with my faith in Jesus Christ—I was able to receive a scholarship that strengthened my confidence in moving forward. 
At the beginning of this process, I reread my patriarchal blessing. As I studied it, one specific point stood out to me. I read that my school work would become easier if I would live the gospel. I felt I was already living the gospel, but I decided right then and there that I would increase my study and really put forth all of my efforts in relying upon the Lord. I knew I would need the Lord’s help during this scary and daunting experience.

I saw the Lord’s blessings pour over me as I increased my devotion to Him and had faith that He was in charge. I gained a testimony that all things are possible with the Lord. As a consequence of all of my preparation efforts—and with my faith in Jesus Christ—I was able to receive a wonderful vocal scholarship that strengthened my confidence in moving forward.

Eight months into my preparation and just three and a half months prior to school starting, I was called to be the new stake Relief Society president. Needless to say, I was shocked and wondered how in the world I was meant to accomplish all the Lord required of me. After accepting my new calling, I went home and prayed fervently as to what the Lord desired me to do concerning school. As I prayed, it became very clear to me that the Lord wanted me to continue in my schooling plans. I saw His hand especially help me in those few months prior to school starting as I completed my preparation.

Several years ago, my sister also attended school in her 50s. One of her professors at BYU encouraged his students to read the scriptures right before every test and promised them that they would be blessed in their effort to put the Lord first. My sister was faithful in reading her scriptures daily in addition to reading them right before a test. She received many wonderful blessings from her faith. Although at the time she told me this I didn’t have plans of attending school, it reinforced to me the power of scriptures in all aspects of my life. I have shared this lesson with my own children and many others through the years and I was reminded of it during my preparation for school.

I knew that if there was ever a time in my life that I needed all the help I could get, it was then. I put this lesson into practice during my school year, reading my scriptures for a second or third time right before every test, juries, vocal performance, or piano proficiency exam. I saw immediate help every time.

There was a certain scripture passage that I read often during the school year, among others, that gave me strength to know that I would be enlightened from above.
“And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things” (D&C 88:11-13). 
Even though I did all I could to prepare, it was never enough, and I knew I needed the Lord to enlighten my eyes and quicken my understanding. I depended on Him with every fiber of my being. My weekly temple attendance never ceased, and this proved to be another immense strength in my life. 

It is often when we are the busiest that we put the Lord a little further down on the list because there doesn’t seem to be enough time, but I was determined to keep Him at the top of my list of priorities as I was counseled to do in my patriarchal blessing. Consequently, I was overwhelmed by the Lord’s mercy and His willingness to pour his blessings on me when I felt so unqualified and inadequate to be going to school full time and accomplish my stake calling. 

The classes I took were extremely difficult, and challenging and never in a million years did I ever imagine I could accomplish what I did, especially all at once. The only way this was at all possible was because of relying on and exercising my faith in the Lord.

I also learned early in my new calling that when the Lord asked me to go and visit sisters, or prepare a talk, or take care of other needs, that He would compensate me in my schoolwork when there was no real explanation of how I could accomplish all that was before me. I’m not that smart! My husband was a tremendous help to me, as was my youngest daughter who was in the same program with me and helped me in areas I was struggling in.

What I was able to accomplish in one year of school was beyond my wildest dreams. I had planned on continuing on, but I realized during the second semester that this was all the Lord had intended for me to accomplish—at least at this time. I am sure that if I had known prior to school that I would put all of this effort in for just one year, I most likely would not have gone ahead with it. The intensity of that year was something I could not imagine doing for four more years to finish my bachelor’s degree at this time, but I am so grateful for what I gained. 

I finished the year with all A’s, something under normal circumstances would have been a great challenge, but under the rare situation I was in, was quite a miracle. My relationship with my youngest daughter is sweeter than ever, and my ability and confidence to tackle the impossible, has been strengthened because of my faith in the Lord.

I have had a testimony of reading scriptures daily for a very long time and attending the temple and have seen the blessings and strength that comes in my life as a mother, wife, and member of the church. I have also come to realize that whenever I increase my faith in the Lord, extra blessings fall into my path. 

I saw this in a most remarkable way this past year as I attended college full-time while serving as the stake Relief Society president. I testify that the Lord will bless us in all areas of our lives when we increase our time for the Lord. He will, in turn, give so much more back. What I gained in one year's time was more than I could have ever imagined. 

I learned to rely on the Lord for all things and to give my time to glorify God. I learned that this work was not about me, but for accomplishing the Lord’s will. Even though I am no longer attending school, my faith has been increased from my recent experience, and my reliance on the Lord is stronger than ever and I know that I can do anything the Lord desires me to do as I trust in His will for me.