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Larry Barkdull
Thursday, February 20 2014

Are Wayward Children Strategically Placed in Families?

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  This is a critical piece of information for parents. Despite their feelings to the contrary, a child’s rebellion is not a parent’s failing but rather a parent’s calling.

When the child does turn back—and many of them will—they will begin to remember who they really are and resume their premortal work—the work of redemption--by gathering the living and the dead to Christ and disseminating the gospel blessings to them, much in the same way “the faithful…of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors…in the great world of the spirits of the dead.”[vi] The scriptural stories of the Apostle Paul, Alma and the Sons of Mosiah are given to us as universal models.

We must keep in mind that because our children were assigned to come forth in the last days, they are targets for the Adversary. We are clearly taught that children born in the Covenant in the last days have come to earth with the singular assignment to prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming. Therefore, our children, who are born or adopted into the lineage of Israel are “marked” for greatness because of their former greatness. President Ezra Taft Benson said,

In all ages prophets have looked down through the corridors of time to our day. Billions of the deceased and those yet to be born have their eyes on us. Make no mistake about it—this is a marked generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us. Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been so well organized. Now is the great day of the devil’s power. But now is also the great day of the Lord’s power…. While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time: God has saved for the final inning some of His stronger and most valiant children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly.… You are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God….The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will win.[vii]

An Amazing Promise Waiting for Fulfillment

Clearly, to be purposely and divinely placed at this crucial time and place, each of our children had to have proven exceedingly righteous. Joseph Smith revealed, “There is a time appointed for every man, according as his works shall be.”[viii]

Paul explained that this “time appointed” would be especially true of the latter-day children of Israel; they would be specifically singled out and strategically placed because premortally they had “conformed to the image of [God’s] Son.”[ix]

Therefore, God took careful note of their potential to do good and deigned to position them in an era and circumstance that was best suited to their strengths and weaknesses. Elder Erastus Snow, explained that the premortal ministry of God’s “peculiar people,” destined them to assume important mortal callings in the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthoods:

For he has had his eye upon the chosen spirits that have come upon the earth in the various ages from the beginning of the world up to this time…The Lord has sent those noble spirits into the world to perform a special work, and appointed their times…and their future glory and exaltation is secured unto them; and that is what I understand by the doctrine of election spoken of by the Apostle Paul and other sacred writers: ‘For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.’ Such were called and chosen and elected of God to perform a certain work at a certain time of the world's history and in due time he fitted them for that work.[x]

This is an amazing promise that should give parents of “elect” albeit wayward children cause to patiently persevere and hope that their children will yet remember who they are and rise to the stature of their premortal greatness.

The Noble and Great Ones

Pursuant to the perfect foreknowledge of God, our children were likely assigned family placement, birth time, location, and mortal opportunities according to their strengths and weaknesses. According to many sources, they were among the noble and great ones, who were shown to their forefather, Abraham.

Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good.[xi]                                                                                                           

Speaking of our children’s premortal nobleness and greatness, President Spencer W.Kimball said to the youth, “The prophets in this dispensation have taught us that special spirits were reserved to come forth at this time in this last dispensation. You are among those very special spirits![xii]

If you have a wayward child, this may be hard to believe. You might ask, “Was my troubled child included in the prophet’s declaration?” Yes! Speaking to the youth of the Church, Elder H. Burke Peterson said, “My dear friends, you are a royal generation. You were preserved to come to the earth in this time for a special purpose. Not just a few of you, but all of you.”[xiii]

The Noble and Great Ones will do the Work of Redemption

What was the premortal work that our children did so well that caused them to be distinguished above the majority of the hosts of heaven?


Redemption is not a work of God, it is the work of God, and therefore it is the preeminent work of all celestial beings—those who are or would be gods.


  1. Thank you for this article. It is needed, very encouraging, and well written and documented. God bless you for this and other pieces that you write.
  2. I truly thank you.
  3. Yes, it all rings true! I have read the book "Rescuing Wayward Children". What a marvelous revelation of information, inspiration, truth, hope and love! Can you share some light for us? My husband of 13 years wants to know why we had to endured 24 yrs. for him and 35 years for me of previous bad marriages and had 14 children between us; and then we finally divorced and were able to find each other. Why couldn't we have met in the beginning? We have two active out of that 14. I understand those dynamics now.
  4. I've respected your insights and integrity since we met. Your comment about my music being important but not as important as I am has left a lifelong, helpful impression. This article reached a part of my heart that needed the message. Thank you again, my friend. God continues to bless you in way's that bless others.
  5. Very comforting, Larry, as all of your writing is. I have forwarded it to friends who are in the trenches dealing with difficult situations with their children, and will keep a copy for myself too.
  6. Some of us who are not wayward are placed in wayward families!
  7. Joseph Fielding Smith said: "We have no scriptural justification for the belief that we had the privilege of choosing our parents and our life companions in the spirit world. This belief has been advocated by some, and it's possible that in some instances it is true, but it would require too great a stretch of the imagination to believe it to be so in all, or even in the majority of cases" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Way to Perfection, 44).
  8. Love the ideas captured in this article. I'd love to hear your thoughts on another aspect of the issue. God says in the scriptures that he GIVES us our weeknesses as gifts. Is is possible that the same agreement was made in reverse, that the "wayword child" met with God and accepted the "gifts" that would lead to a period of struggle because the parents needed the challenge of raising a wayword child for their own eternal progression?
  9. Brother Barkdull said early on that this is his own interpretation, and rightly so since we have no scripture that teaches this. I have no reason to doubt he is right, however its a double edged doctrine to teach that more valiant souls were born here and now. It logically follows then that less valiant souls were born elsewhere, and this was once taught over the pulpit. But in todays PC world no one is saying that now, but where and when were the less valiant born? What is our answer to that?
  10. EXCELLENT! I've lived this & learned & grown SO much. A real "stretching" of my heart & soul.
  11. Maybe some took on mental and emotional handicaps to help us learn to have charity, patience, long suffering etc... I feel that my son who came with bipolar disorder and other brain difficulties came this way because of his great faith and knowledge that it would help his family get back to Heavenly Father. I don't think anyone wants to have these difficult mental illnesses.
  12. Vardell, I would think that at least some of those less valiant spirits were born during the time of Noah. But that's just a guess and not Scripture.
  13. Very interesting to come across this today, as this was very similar to our lesson in Sunday School today.
  14. While I do know that some children are assigned to certain families, I agree with the Joseph Fielding Smith quote above. In our imperfect state, all it would take is a few bad decisions to mess up the whole system of every child being assigned to every parent. Two of my Seven children are not active in the church and it grieves me, but I continue to love and pray for them and I have hope they will return.
  15. We seem agreed that mental illness is not “waywardness.” Some destructive behavior (moral turpitude) may be characterized as spiritual illness. The article expresses hope for healing of any illness, even if it is not scientifically defined. Society struggles objectively to minimize injury, to provide public safety, by establishing a limited framework of control during periods of healing these illnesses. On the other hand, a subjective attempt to define “wayward” as “being different from what I believe” appears hopelessly judgmental. Indeed, I do not believe that keeping my promise to remain “active in the church” makes me non-wayward. Some children who are not “active in the church” have far deeper understanding than mine of certain precious truths. It would be disingenuous of me to promote a belief system that ranks me morally superior to people who radiate a special light while marching to a different drummer. I do not indulge myself in the self-serving fantasy “my children will eventually believe as I do because I have been right all along.” That judgmental posture would stunt MY growth.
  16. Thanks for this article. It will help many of us. I was a little bothered by the photo though...It makes me uncomfortable to view a sweet little baby as one who might stray. Just my feelings. But THANKS again!

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