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Awake, Put on Your Strength!

Audio: "Awake, Put on Your Strength!"
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Sister Catherine Giménez

Hello everyone! I’m so honored to be here with you today, you have no idea. I am so honored because I am a BYUI student. I’m an online student—and I’ve been an online student forever, but that’s okay, I’m going to graduate someday—but I don’t know how many times I’ve watched devotionals. I’m just honored to be around you. You don’t know how lucky you are to be here and to be surrounded by this wonderful spirit.

Let me share my short testimony about likening the scriptures unto you. [1] I spent many years in my journey to know the Savior. I’ve reached level 52 in life, so far. And I’ve spent many years doing things right, but not having an understanding of our personal relationship with the Savior. And after having a very personal and tender experience, the Spirit taught me that I had to liken the scriptures unto me. I was faithful, but I was not likening everything unto me. And once I realized that, everything changed—my path changed, my attitude changed, and I started to have more joy. So now, every time I read the scriptures, I think that Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are talking personally to me. Every time I attend general conference, I read a talk, I say to myself, “Lord, is it I? Are you talking to me?” Every time, I’ve encountered a beautiful creation of the earth, just for me.

Brothers and sisters, liken the scriptures unto you and you make it personal. And don’t think that you need a personal relationship, that God needs to talk to you separately, that you need a special treatment. Everything that is given is for all of us. You don’t need special treatment from the Lord. The Lord has already declared His word and His love to all His children. Once I understood that, everything changed in my life. Now I can feel joy much faster. I can feel the Spirit easier and faster because of that. I hope you are blessed with the ability to liken the scriptures unto you. And I promise that you are going to be able to feel Heavenly Father’s love for you, and you’re going to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ much better and faster. I know Jesus Christ lives and He is the Son of God. I know He loves me personally and Heavenly Father has given the biggest expression of love through His Savior. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Ricardo P. Giménez

What a wonderful opportunity it is for me to be with you today. Tender feelings come to my heart when I hear BYU-Idaho. You already heard that Sister Gimenez is currently a BYUI online student, and our son Richi is presently a student here; he should be here somewhere, I hope. Yes, he is here. And our daughter and our son-in-law, her husband, graduated from the BYU-Idaho. So we have many years of being connected to you one way or another. Even more, some of you served a mission in the California San Diego Mission, so Sister Gimenez and I had the privilege of being your mission leaders.

Anyway, we are happy to be here with you today. This is a great place to study, learn, and grow, and I know for some of you, the weather, particularly the low temperatures, could be a challenge, but in the end, it is part of the experience, and we can take so much out of it. I remember my days as a college student. I obtained my undergraduate degree in accounting and auditing from the Universidad de Santiago de Chile. There were about 22,000 students, and guess what? Do you have an idea of how many members of the Church were there? Well, even though I spent many years there, made friends, and played volleyball, things which allowed me to meet a lot of the students, I only met two members of the Church, and this was not much different from my time in high school or the neighborhood where I lived. Most of the time, you are the only member of the Church. Still, here, there is a fantastic opportunity to be surrounded by other people who are also trying to be lifelong disciples of the Savior. Another wonderful blessing is how close you are to the campus. I remember traveling for on public transportation to the university and sometimes falling asleep on the bus when I could secure a seat. Wow, good times, good memories. And let me mention one more thing, you have a temple just around the corner, and soon there will be two, and as far as I know, it is the only place in the world with two temples located on the same street. Isn’t that amazing? This is a great place to study!

Okay, before sharing what I have been impressed to share with you today, can we make sure to appoint the Holy Ghost as our teacher [2] so we all can be edified? This means that the most important thing you can hear today is not what I am saying, but what you hear, even though it is not what I said but prompted by the Spirit. Are we good with that? That was not a rhetorical question, I’m looking for an answer—are we good with that?

My dear friends, it is essential that we all understand that the reason why we are here today is because of Him. If He is at the center of our lives, we will not only have access to the redeeming power of His atoning sacrifice but also to the enabling power that comes from Him to help us with our decisions, challenges, and concerns, providing the strength, guidance, and hope to continue our journey as lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ.

In his message at the April 2023 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson said, “Whatever questions or problems you have, the answer is always found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.” [3] Then he extended an invitation: “Learn more about His Atonement, His love, His mercy, His doctrine, and His restored gospel of healing and progression. Turn to Him! Follow Him!” [4]

Now, there are times in our lives when we think that we know what is happening, or we believe that we are paying attention to the things that matter the most in our lives, but in the scriptures, we learn about many invitations to “awake,” even to make sure that we are awake. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t say that I am a morning person. However, I believe these scriptures do not refer to the time we wake up every day. This is about going through life with headphones like these ones, not paying attention, or listening to the guidance we are receiving or are available.

Have you ever been at the stop light when another car stops next to you, and you can hear the “punchin-punchin” coming from the music in the other car? Or is it you, the one with the “punchin-punchin” music? Yes, yeah, some of you have seen or done this. How are they, we, going to hear the council, the messages that Heavenly Father is trying to give us, if we are so distracted, even though we have our eyes open, but maybe, in reality, we are not “spiritually awake.”

In the Book of Mormon are 17 references to “awake” inviting us to: “awake from a deep sleep,” [5] “awake! and arise,” [6] “awake, put on the armor of righteousness,” [7] “awake my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul,” [8] and “awake, awake, put on thy strength” [9] among others.

We can also learn from King Benjamin’s experience. In Mosiah 3:2, King Benjamin explains that the things he is about to share with the people were known unto him by an angel of God, who said unto him “awake,” and then King Benjamin said, “and I awoke, and behold he [the angel] stood before me.” Up to this point, everything seems to be going well. The angel spoke to King Benjamin, inviting him to pay attention to what he was about to share with him, and then King Benjamin replied that he was awake. But then, it is very interesting what happens next when the very first thing that the angel said to King Benjamin in the next verse was, “Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee.” [10] Maybe King Benjamin was thinking, wait a minute, I already mentioned that I was awake, but even though he may have had his eyes open, the angel was inviting him to open his heart, to awaken his soul so he could understand the things he was about to share with him.

Well, I guess in our lives, sometimes we may think that we are awake, that we are paying attention, that we understand what is happening in our lives and around us, but because we still have our headphones with the noise canceling function on, we are not listening to what Heavenly Father is trying to let us know, or unnoticing the guidance and help that He is putting in our path to help us to keep moving forward in our journey to return “home,” to our eternal home.

Many years ago, after returning from an activity in our ward, when we were about to go to sleep, my daughter asked if we would pray together, the two of us that night, to which I replied, sure, honey. Then she looked at me with a serious, worried face and said: yes, we need to pray because I have a problem. (I am so thankful that she was six and not sixteen when she told me that!) So, I asked what happened. Then she explained that when we were at the activity in the church that day, she lost her pink rubber CTR (Choose the Right) bracelet. Well, in my mind, this was not a big deal because I could easily buy another one, and the cost was probably just a few dollars. But then the invitation to make sure that I was awake came from her when she said: Let's pray so we can find the bracelet. I was the old guy, the leader in the church, the one who knew the scriptures. Still, at that moment, I realized that I needed to make sure that I was awake, that I truly understood the situation, and how much Heavenly Father is in the details of our lives, including a matter that may seem insignificant from a world perspective. After praying with her, I went to my room and prayed a lot more, asking for the guidance necessary to understand the situation and provide the answer my daughter was looking for.

The next day was Sunday, and I needed to attend my early morning meetings. Although I planned to participate in a sacrament meeting in a different building and park my car on the street, I decided to park my car inside the church property. I don’t know if you are aware of this, but in South America, big, tall fences surround some church properties, probably 13 feet tall, so you need to open the gate to enter the property. Still, that day, I decided to park inside, and even though there were no parked cars and the closest spots to the door were available, I chose to park in the middle of the parking lot, like “this is my parking lot.” Then, when I turned the car and started facing the building wall, I noticed a little pink thing on the ground next to the wall. My heart started beating fast, and it was not because of the monetary value of the pink rubber CTR bracelet. Instead, it was for the opportunity to awaken to the principles that we teach and try to live daily in our lifelong journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.

My dear brothers and sisters, fellow children of Heavenly Father and disciples of Jesus Christ, making sure that you are awake will help you throughout your life, especially in those moments when we look for additional help, guidance, and reassurance that there is someone who loves and cares for you.

In the booklet For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices, the message from the First Presidency reads: “There may be times when you don’t feel strong or capable. That’s normal. Especially in those moments, turn to the Savior. He is the ‘strength of youth.’” [11]

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is our advocate; He knows how to help us. He knows our potential and our challenges, but sometimes is about us, making sure that we are awake, that we are listening, and that we are building our foundation upon the “rock of our Redeemer” so “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” [12]

When you feel that you are not good enough, maybe this is the time when you are only focusing on yourself, but when you turn to the Lord, you will be able to see the path, awaken to your potential, and be guided and inspired by the Holy Ghost. This is why we turn to Him. “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” [13] This deliverance of bondage is more than just being physically incarcerated; it also includes other types of bondage, like physical, emotional, and spiritual. It is not that this bond will always be a big mistake or sin; sometimes, small things get in the way of ensuring we are awake. Too much scrolling Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok; too much FIFA, Fortnight, or other games; but also low self-perception, erroneous ideas, etc. [14]

In the New Testament, in Revelation 3:20, we learn the Savior stands at the door and knocks. Have you ever seen this picture? Have you ever noticed that there is no doorknob on the Savior's side? We are the ones who need to open the door and let Him in. The verse continues, “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” [15] If we open the door, the Savior said, “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” [16]

Well, my dear friends, I can’t leave without extending an invitation. Probably, if I say, 1 Nephi 3:7, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded,” one of the first things that will come to your mind is “I will go and do,” which is excellent. If this verse is unfamiliar to you, it is okay, but take time to study it.

Even though my invitation is not related to “I will go and do,” it is still connected to this verse but is actually in the second half: “For I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

Do you know? Do you really, really know that the Lord will never, never, never ever ask anything from you without preparing a way for you to accomplish what he hath commandeth you to do?

I invite you to write your thoughts and feelings about the second half of this scripture. Take time today to do it. Do you really know? How do you know? Have you ever had an experience that helped you to know? If you know that Heavenly Father and our Savior will never ask anything from you without preparing a way to accomplish what they have asked, great good for you. Could you please write it down?

If you don’t know it yet, that is okay. Please write how you feel. And what are some things you can start, continue doing, or stop doing to receive an answer? Please remember to be patient, and if you exercise faith in Christ with a sincere heart and real intent, you will receive the confirmation you are looking for. [17]

Therefore, my invitation is to write, today, your feelings about the second half of the verse in 1 Nephi 3:7. So, will you write your thoughts and feelings about the second half of the verse in 1 Nephi 3:7 today? Will you do that? Okay, let’s try again. Will you do that? Yes! Super.

So, what did you hear today? Did you hear something that was not said? Please ponder on these thoughts and feelings and decide to act, even if starts with just a desire to believe. “If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words,” said the prophet Alma the Younger. [18]

With all the energy of my soul, I bear witness to the reality and divinity of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He loves you. He knows exactly what is happening in your life. His arms are wide open, extending the invitation: “Come unto me, and I [your Savior] will give you rest.” [19] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom upon the earth; this is not just an institution, this is God’s kingdom upon the earth. And the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ that can help us get closer to the Savior. President Russell M. Nelson is God’s mouthpiece these days, and I look forward to hearing his words in a few weeks at the general conference.

Awake, awake again, and put on thy strength, . . . put on thy beautiful garments.” [20] In the sacred name of our Savior, Master, and Strength, even Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] See 1 Nephi 19:23.

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 88:122.

[3] Russell M. Nelson, “The Answer Is Always Jesus Christ,” Liahona, May 2023.

[4] Ibid.

[5] 2 Nephi 1:13.

[6] 2 Nephi 1:14.

[7] 2 Nephi 1:23.

[8] 2 Nephi 4:28.

[9] 2 Nephi 8:24.

[10] Mosiah 3:3.

[11] For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices (2002).

[12] Helaman 5:12.

[13] Mosiah 7:33.

[14] See 2 Nephi 26:33; Dallin H. Oaks, “All Men Everywhere,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 77.

[15] Revelation 3:20.

[16] Doctrine and Covenants 88:63.

[17] See Moroni 10:3–5.

[18] Alma 32:27.

[19] Matthew 11:28.

[20] 3 Nephi 20:36.