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I grew up in the Chicago area and joined the Church in my teens. I have had many blessings in my life, and through the gift of agency, have made good decisions and bad decisions. I am grateful for, and have a profound belief in, the gift of the Atonement that allows us to see our life in a spiritual perspective and offers us the opportunity for repentance to become more like Jesus Christ. We are assured that in this life, none of us will really be much like Him, but because of His grace, he loves and accepts us anyway. And, as we ask Christ daily to forgive and reconcile with us, we learn how important it is that we forgive and reconcile with others. This is the essence of the Christian message I have found as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

One of the things I have experienced in particular is the reality of the gifts of the spirit. By this I mean that God is always near to us and knows of our situation. He is willing to bless, inspire and guide us as we diligently seek Him and endeavor to obey His will. I have had many experiences with the Holy Ghost in my life in the form of promptings and impressions that have led me to make decisions or to act or proceed in ways that I otherwise would not have. In looking at the situation later, I have seen that, because of the direction that came to me, situations have turned out much better for my good, and for the welfare of my family, than they would have otherwise in absence of the promptings. I believe that God does hear and answer our prayers, and I have felt this many times in my life.

I also have a testimony of the power of the resurrection, and that when we die, our spirits will go to a place of repose and learning, and that we will be reunited with those we have known and loved here in this life. Our death in this life is by no means the end of our existence. The life of God’s children is eternal, and our purpose in this life is to prepare, as best we can, for eternal life. Christ, as our eternal judge, knows us better than we know ourselves, and will judge us with infinite love and mercy.

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Daniel A. Austin (J.D., Columbia University; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) is an associate professor of law at Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in Illinois, and served in the Taiwan Kaoshiung Mission. He is married to Wendy Warren Austin, and has four children.

Posted March 2011