Strive to Create Your Own World
I am grateful to be here today, because I love to feel your synergy and your energy. I know that each of you come with unique challenges. But I am in awe as I watch and see your determination and your courage as you prepare to move forward in your lives to make a difference for good.
Recently I read a book. It’s called “The Road to Bountiful,” by Donald Smithwaite. It’s a short, easy-read novel that I checked out of the library on a day that I needed a light read. I did not know that a few simple statements in this book would have a great impact on me for days to come. Let me give you a brief synopsis of the book. I have taken liberty to expound my thoughts beyond the words of the book.
There was an older gentleman, he was 82. He lived in North Dakota, and North Dakota has really hard winters. But he loved it there, he’d lived a good life there, and it had been full. He was the pharmacist of the town, and so he had a little pharmacy right in the center of town, and everyone came to him for medical advice and whether he knew if this pill would work, or that pill would work … he had a soda fountain, it was kind of a gathering place, and he was very well-respected in the community.
The day came that the big-box stores came into the bigger towns close by. And people started going there to get their prescriptions. Then, the day came when it was time to retire and close the doors of his pharmacy. Then his wife died, then he was alone in his two-story brown house. He still had good neighbors, but one day he got a call from his daughter who lived in Bountiful, Utah, and she said, “Dad, it’s time. It’s time for you to come to a retirement center close by so that I can take better care of you.”
She didn’t force him to come, but he knew it was inevitable, he knew it was time. So he said, “Okay, I’ll come. However, I will not fly.”
So, his daughter said, “Okay, when you’re ready then you call me, and I’ll figure something out.”
When he sold all of his worldly goods he ended up with two suitcases and two boxes. He called his daughter and said he was ready. His daughter couldn’t come right then, so she had a nephew, and I’m going to call him “John,” I can’t remember what his name was in the book. But we’ll call him “John.” John was home from his mission, he had one year of college left, he was graduating in business, but he really didn’t know what he wanted to do. All of his friends that summer had gotten awesome internships, and he was bagging groceries at the local grocer. He was depressed, he was sad, he didn’t have a girlfriend, he didn’t exactly know what he was doing with his life, and he was really broke. So, when his aunt called and said, “I have my dad that needs a ride from North Dakota to Utah. I’ll buy your plane ticket and all of your expenses, and pay you, if you will fly and pick him up and drive him back to Utah.”
That didn’t sound too hard, and he was really broke, but he was not happy about it. But he said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” So, he gets on the plane, he arrives in North Dakota, and he zooms in a red car to the great-uncle’s front yard, and he sees the great uncle sitting on the porch with his two boxes, and his two suitcases. And he says, “Well, are you ready to go?”
And he says, “Well, I guess I am.”
So the great-uncle gave one look again to his home, and the boy helped him put his things in the car, and they were on their way. Well, they were only several miles down the road when there was a tornado watch. And John got scared to death. He could see these luminous clouds coming in, he was just beside himself. He didn’t know what to do, he didn’t know where to go, he was in a car … and he thought they were going to die. But the uncle very calmly said, “You know, I know the people that live down this next road here. We can go there, and there’s a barn, and we can park under it until the storm passes.”
So they go in there, and make sure that they’re safe, and the uncle pulls out some sandwiches. He said, “I thought you might be hungry, and also I’ve got some drinks.” John was starving, and so he said, “Okay.” And he couldn’t believe his uncle was so calm, and that his uncle was so prepared.
The tornado, the sandwiches, and the growing friendship, and then trust. As they traveled the miles after the tornado, which was over, they spent the night and then they started on their way. They learned to really get to know each other, and John thought this older uncle was kind of awesome. But then, listen to this: This is the profound teaching in this book, and this is what the uncle said, “John, do you remember reading in Moses 1, where God is talking to Moses, and He says, “Moses,” in Moses 1:4, “I will show you the workmanship of mine hands, but not all. For my works are without end, and also my words, for they shall never cease.” Then Moses 1:33, “I have worlds without number, have I created.” Moses 1:35, “But only an account of this earth and the inhabitants give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man. But all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine, and I know them.” And then Moses 1:38, which says, “And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof, even so shall another come and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.”
And then, do you remember what Lorenzo Snow taught us? Lorenzo Snow said, “As man is, God once was. And as God is, man may be,” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, ed. Clyde J. Williams, 1984).
Okay, I want you to close your eyes for a moment. I want you to picture the universe. I want you to see myriads of stars, and can you picture out there the nebulae being born? And some stars exploding, and some dying, and new stars evolving and new planets? You can open your eyes. I want to submit to you that if Heavenly Father is trying to prepare us to create as He does, would He not give us the opportunity here and now to create our own worlds, to give us practice? I feel this is what the uncle was saying to the nephew. This is what he said, “When I was a young child, I lived in a very secure world. Then, my world expanded to a new world, the world of a teenager. Then I went to college and on a mission, and I was once more in an independent world that I had to even make more choices that I was in charge of. Then I got married, and I had a job, and I had to make many choices to what my world was like. Then we had children, and my wife and I tried to create a world for our family that was good, and where hopefully our children could thrive. Then, I retired and I closed the doors of my business, and my wife died, and I was alone. And I needed to create a world where I would still feel useful. Now I’m 82 and on my way to a retirement home. And it is up to me to create a world that I will be happy in, and that my Heavenly Father will be pleased with. “So John,” and I say to each of you, “You have many worlds, and many adventures ahead. Do you not think that that is part of God’s plan of preparation to help you to become as He is?”
How does this apply to you personally? Are you taking responsibility for the world you are in right now? Are you creating a happy world? A productive world? A spiritual world? What does your personal world look like right now? Do you understand that probably you will just start to get this world right now figured out, and then your world will change to a new world? Some worlds will be very challenging, all worlds will be unique and different than anyone else’s worlds. Your world will intertwine with other people and their worlds.
When you leave today, or in your notebook, even now, it would be a good exercise to write down what your world looks like right now. Creation is a continual process. And so, what do you need to tweak in your world right now? Right now, to make it better. My prayer is that we may each desire to pattern our own individual worlds to align with God’s eternal plan for happiness. I know that Heavenly Father has created worlds without number, worlds without end. I know that our Savior has atoned for us, that we may be like him. As man is, God once was. And as God is, man may become. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Introduction: Vice President Craig Nelson
Sister Vicki Johnson is a service missionary on our campus. Sister Johnson has been a missionary on our campus for the past five years. She worked the first three at the front desk on the main floor, and now serves as an adviser in the Student Development Center. She has a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University, and graduated with a degree in English and communications. She is also certified to teach seminary. She’s been a substitute teacher in the Davis School District and presently substitutes for seminary in the Davis area. She’s been a supervisor for Church Hosting and is also a service missionary for Public Affairs for the Church, which keeps her very busy. She and her husband Don have five children and 12 grandchildren, and they live now in Centerville, Utah.