The following is, in detail, the things that are unmistakably happening in my life. It is a great blessing to realize true and sustaining lessons are taught through words of the prophets.
"The voice of the Lord is clear and unmistakable. He knows you. He loves you. He wants you to be eternally happy. But according to your God-given agency, the choice is yours. Each one of you has to decide for yourself if you are going to ignore the past and suffer the painful mistakes and tragic pitfalls that have befallen previous generations, experiencing for yourself the devastating consequences of bad choices. How much better your life will be if you will follow the noble example of the faithful followers of Christ such as the sons of Helaman, Moroni, Joseph Smith, and the stalwart pioneers—and choose, as they did, to remain faithful to your Heavenly Father’s commandments.
With all my heart I hope and pray that you will be wise enough to learn the lessons of the past. You don’t have to spend time as a Laman or a Lemuel in order to know that it’s much better to be a Nephi or a Jacob. You don’t have to follow the path of Cain or Gadianton in order to realize that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). And you don’t have to allow your community to become like Sodom or Gomorrah in order to understand that it isn’t a good place to raise a family.
Learning the lessons of the past allows you to walk boldly in the light without running the risk of stumbling in the darkness. This is the way it’s supposed to work. This is God’s plan: father and mother, grandfather and grandmother teaching their children; children learning from them and then becoming a more righteous generation through their own personal experiences and opportunities. Learning the lessons of the past allows you to build personal testimony on a solid bedrock of obedience, faith, and the witness of the Spirit.
Of course, it’s not enough to learn these lessons as a matter of history and culture. Learning the names and dates and sequence of events from the printed page won’t help you very much unless the meaning and the message are written in your hearts. Nourished by testimony and watered with faith, the lessons of the past can take root in your hearts and become a vibrant part of who you are.
And so it returns, as it always does, to your own personal faith and testimony. That is the difference-maker, my young brothers and sisters. That is how you know. That is how you avoid the mistakes of the past and take your spirituality to the next level. If you are open and receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in your lives, you will understand the lessons of the past, and they will be burned into your souls by the power of your testimonies.
And how do you get such a testimony? Well, there’s no new technology for that, nor will there ever be. You cannot do a Google search to gain a testimony. You can’t text message faith. You gain a vibrant, life-changing testimony today the same way it has always been done. The process hasn’t been changed. It comes through desire, study, prayer, obedience, and service. That is why the teachings of prophets and apostles, past and present, are as relevant to your life today as they ever have been.
That you may find joy and happiness and peace in the future by learning the great and eternal lessons of the past is my prayer for each of you—for my grandchildren and all of the youth of the Church, wherever you may be—which I offer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
--Elder M. Russell Ballard
April Conference, 2009