Winter 2000

Creating Balance in Life

26 Jan. 2000

Transcript

Creating Balance in Life

 
Brothers and Sisters you have a fine president, but I'll tell you a little secret. Seated at his right is someone even superior to him. It's wonderful when we can set our sights so high like president Woodhouse did when he found his wonderful companion. It was a thrill just a week or so ago to see Sister Woodhouse in the Salt Lake Temple all dressed in white. Although we missed President Woodhouse because he was here with you, I knew that there was clear, divine need for her to be there and for him to be here.
I'm sure that in your experiences together as students, in the friendships which you have created and all that you're doing in your personal lives to be worthy of this experience which brings you all together today, you have to know that you are being directed just like they were being directed. The very things that bring us together today I don't exactly understand. I have no idea what you did in your personal life along the way that allows you to be here today and to be seated alongside such good friends. I don't even understand the personal sacrifices that each has made along the way to be here, but I do know something about friendship and I know something about divine guidance when we seek it.
Today we'll talk about lots of things. We'll talk about things that may in fact alter your behavior. It is always easy to say it is wonderful to be here with you. It's easy to say how much we enjoyed and felt the choir, and we did.
It is a pleasure just to think about not only our own individual paths but to think that at some point in time they'll even get better. As good as it is for you right here and as pleasant as this experience is, I promise you that it will even get better along the way. I also assure you that you are very important as individuals. You're not only important to your Heavenly Father and to our Savior Jesus Christ, but you're also very important to President and Sister Woodhouse. Not just Noah because he's the president, and not just you because you're here, but because the combination of all that surrounds us here helps us to be even seen with the brighter light if that's possible.
That's that wonderful synergy that happens in a college setting. It's the thing that says prepare well while you're here. It's the thing that says don't let anything that would be adverse to what you know brings you happiness get in your way and cause you any kind of a detour right now. That means that you must be wise and that you must be pure. You'll have experiences along the way where you may be tempted. You'll have things that will happen that you didn't plan on. I promise you that as you seek that vertical connection and you attempt to be your very best, that you will be in fact protected while you're here. The adversary is alive and cunning and with desire to let that door just open a little bit so that you might be quickly drawn in. Don't do it. Be so strong in your resolve to do what's right that all that you decide to do and continue to learn while you're here become the very things that keep you protected.
I'm grateful because, like many of you who come from the other side of the world in Asia, our youngest son Spencer-who speaks fluent Portuguese and Spanish, having lived six of his years in Latin America and loves the people of South America-was called to serve his mission in Bangkok, Thailand. Now that's how true it is; that's how it really works. I had a neighbor call me after he heard that and say, "You know it really is true. The process is right, isn't it?"
There's not a lot of connection. It was kind of like when we got a call to serve in a very difficult part of Latin America one time and somebody said to me just casually, "Don't you know anyone?" And I thought well, that's a shallow remark. There is so much good wherever we are.
He is loving Bangkok. When he started his first year at the university where he'd entered a year earlier than he should have (and I was a little concerned because he came back), I was mostly concerned about his normalcy because he'd been in Latin America so long and hadn't really had a social experience. A good social experience for him was teaching a fourth discussion with the missionaries. That's about as social as it ever got for him. So, here he was now cast from that environment into a university setting. I prepared for him a little summary of things that I thought would create balance. I read through those yesterday and thought you know, there's a lot more to it than that. I will give you these six very quickly, and then we're going to move to a much higher path.
I shared with him in written form a letter from his father in preparation for his mission. He hadn't received his call yet, but I wanted him to know how important certain things were. I think he is right now where you are. Some of you have returned from the mission field. Others are getting ready to go. Others have experienced right now in their lives the need for social integration. When he came back, although I was worried about it, I was grateful that he would blow that balloon up just a little bit for the first time in kind of a social way. As a result I wanted to give him a little warning as well. I talked to him about the spiritual side. You might, if you're taking notes, note these six points. Then I'd like you to fill in later talking with your friends and associates what they are. I'll tell you what I told him. I gave him about a page on each of these, but I'm going to give you just one or two lines to get you thinking about it.
On the spiritual side here is what I told him which I think was most significant. Take time now to outline your feelings about the Savior. He'd never done that before. Now he had feelings; I've already shared that he had shared experiences giving a discussion and all the things he was doing down there in different countries and loved that, but he never really outlined his feelings. I think that is something you need to do every once in a while.
I recently saw brother Finlinson and my mission president in the temple, and he had some notes in his hand. I said to him, "That's interesting that you'd make a note here in the temple." He said, "I'm repeating a process that I repeated literally hundreds of times in my life. I'm writing down today's feelings about the Savior."
Now, Brother Finlinson would know that that good brother is one of the Twelve today. That's how important it is that you do that.
I'm providing you a copy of The Living Christ. Take time to review that document. We'll talk about it just briefly here today; but go to a quiet, peaceful setting. I don't know where that is for you, but find a peaceful place where you can go and have a meaningful prayer each day. That's all I'm going to say about the spiritual dimension in this balance. I think right there you have the corpus of something that could be hugely expanded upon.
Academic balance was the number two item that I talked to him about. I think this is the essence: genuinely do your very best. You have to sort all that out with all the competition against your time and all the things you do. Don't allow a social or a work experience to conflict with your academic excellence-that is my counsel to you. Honestly evaluate your academic progress from time to time. Maybe for you that's weekly. Maybe it is quarterly; maybe it is the end of every semester. I don't know, but you decide. Then you'll be clearly spotting yourself along that track that's so important and allowing the balance of that spiritual piece that we've just talked about.
The third point would be social balance. Here is what I told Spencer: surround yourself with friends who have similar spiritual and academic ideals as you, and then you help each other. Probably the most significant thing every elder and sister learns in the mission field is that protective care. I'm grateful for Elder Finlinson. He was a fine example of how you keep yourself pure and keep your focus in the midst of the battle. That's what you need to do.
The fourth point would be financial balance. It's very important; it drives a lot of things. Unfortunately, it drives a lot of unhappiness in the world. As President Woodhouse has mentioned, I've spent a lot of years in South America where I've seen the highest end of financial success, and I've seen the depths of a favella [skid row]. I've observed that sometimes there is happiness in both and sometimes there is unhappiness in that environment. It doesn't seem to be clear that down in the depths of the slum, in a difficult, dangerous condition there would always be unhappiness; and over in the very wealthy, high success area as the world would measure it, there would be happiness. It doesn't work that way. It has a lot to do with how you control and order your life. Under financial balance what I suggested to him and I suggest to you, was to develop a personal budget and then live it. Keep it under control. Two words are probably sufficient-be wise. That's all you need to know to have financial impact-be positive in your life and not negative.
The fifth area of balance would be physical. Plan your day well enough to enjoy some form of physical exercise every day. Now, I try to do that. I got on a stairmaster this morning at 5:30 and I didn't want to. After I was on it, I cranked it up to eight and I was doing it tough. You've been on them; you know what it's like. The small of my back started to hurt, and I thought I have 50 reasons I don't want to be on this thing right now. But, it's the right thing to do.
Every day do a little something to keep yourself in good physical condition. You'll feel better and your mind will be better. Maybe five minutes, maybe fifteen, maybe some days it might need be half an hour. Don't overdo it-you can get caught up in that. Don't let any of this swing out of control. Keep that physical piece going slow and get adequate rest. Eat well and you'll be alert. Good things happen when you do that.
If you haven't seen those Marriott ads that talk about rest and a good rest, they're pretty funny and they kind of fit this physical piece. How important it is. You won't forget quite as much as some of those scenes show if you'll stay focused physically as well as mentally.
The last I would suggest, which I think is a very important balance for all of us (particularly easy to lose sight of in a student setting, individually, but I'll remind you that in a group setting it can happen) is service. It is a very important component of living the gospel. Here is the challenge-plan and carry out weekly some active service for someone in need. Now, that can be the most simple task or it can be complicated. I submit that the simplest ones are best. I also submit, however, that in the very planning of it you'll learn a great deal. Sometimes just in thinking about what you're going to do you've accomplished enough for yourself. That outward piece has to connect as well.
Let's go to the doctrine for just a minute and learn together. We're going to draw from five or six different scriptures that are important ones and ones that I love very much. They are scriptures that have allowed all of us to be here and to do better.
I take you to the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants for starters. There are three very important parts of this verse (verse 85) that I want to start with today. The first is "treasure up in your minds continually." Most of you know the verse; most of you have memorized it in fact. "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life" (D&C 84:85). Ok, it meant something to you. Treasure up in your mind.
The second component of that is the words of life. Now you're learning the words of life right here at the LDS Business College as well as any place I know on the entire planet. You've got examples around you; you're learning things that you will apply. You're knowing that as you treasure this up, that these words of life-be it a very stiff quantitative analysis class for business decisions or some form of humanities or language study-whatever it is, you're learning words of life that will bless you. Then as you treasure them up-which means you put them in your heart-then the promise: it shall be given you in the very hour, that portion, when you need it. Now that doesn't just relate to spiritual doctrine; remember that. It has huge application to academia.
Now let's go over to verse 81 on the very same page in that section. It says don't worry about snacks or what you're going to eat. It says, don't worry about whether you've got Ralph Lauren or JC Penney on your tag. Is that not what it says there in verse 81? "Take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink or wherewithal ye shall be clothed." You don't need to worry about that; you'll be just fine. The point is you level yourself based on performance and preparation to the point that you don't get hung up on worrying a lot about that. Don't worry right now about those kinds of things.
Now, looking at verse 83, it says to me your Father who is in heaven knows you, and he knows that you have need of all things. "For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things." He knows that it bothers you sometimes that you don't have something that you think you need. But what's really important is you're gaining that. All that you're doing here is in preparation. You can count on that. No wonder-he'll be there for you.
I hope I can get through this, I'm going to try my best. Our oldest son Scott is 28 years old and lives down in Provo where he is looked after by a wonderful couple. You see, Scott is mentally handicapped and physically handicapped to some degree. He is 6'6" and weighs 340 pounds, so he's a big man. He's 28 years old, has a heart as big as he is and is generally safe in most environments. People don't pick on him anymore. They used to a little bit because it was apparent that he was mentally handicapped.
We made an appointment with him to come up to Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago on the express bus. This was before Trax required you to get off in Sandy. He was coming in on this express bus and my wife said to Scott, "Now Scott, don't wander." He loves an environment like the Crossroads Mall where he can go in and talk to people that are nice to him. So we said, "Don't wander Scott; you get off right at the place." We set up a designated time. He was leaving Provo at 5 o'clock. At 6 o'clock he would arrive right across the street from the ZCMI Mall. You know where-the place right there on State Street. The bus would stop there just south of South Temple, and he was going to get off the bus at 6 o'clock sharp. Those buses are pretty good. You know within five or ten minutes when they generally arrive.
Well, we went down there precisely at the time. Recognizing that it might be hard for him to communicate as well to the bus driver, Scott had a little note with him that said I'd like to get off right there; and then defined it exactly where he was to get off. We went there 6 o'clock and he wasn't there. We got concerned because we asked the bus driver who would've been on that 5 o'clock route and he said, "No, I didn't see him. I do know him but I didn't see him today."
So we went down State Street and stopped four or five other buses that were express buses that came up from the University Mall in Provo, and he wasn't there. They hadn't seen him. We got concerned. Well, this is 6 o'clock in the evening. It's a cold night in Salt Lake and it was starting to snow just a little bit. My wife was starting to get a little concerned about it. We had people in Provo that we contacted and they had done a little search down there. He definitely got on a bus.
We got worried after we went back down State Street. About 3300 South, the bus driver said, "Listen why don't you go up to the Shilo Inn and there's someone there from UTA who can probably help you and give you some instruction. They can put an alert to the buses and they can maybe locate him if he's on one of them."
We did that. We went over there, and there was a very fine gentleman who got on the radio and put out a little alert describing Scott to the buses-to everyone who was on the air at that time. No response. Now, it's been almost three hours; it's about 9 o'clock in the evening and we're getting concerned. There are always the little things that trickle through your mind-you know, the kidnaping, the accident, all those things that can happen. Scott is usually very good; and besides that we said, "No Scott, don't wander. We'll be there for you." He knew we'd be there.
Well, after about 15 minutes of waiting outside the open window of the patrolman over at the Shilo Inn, a report came in on the radio from someone who said, "I remember that young man. I saw him; he was on my bus. When we got to the point where I was supposed to drop him off, there was a lot of traffic. You know that intersection that time of night how bad it can be I couldn't get over to where I could safely drop him off. So, I went up another block. Instead of making my normal left down South Temple and going west, I went up to North Temple, made the turn and dropped him off right there on Main Street and North Temple. I did that at five minutes to six."
Well, and not only did we hear that but the Salt Lake City police force is on that same radio frequency. They heard it. We said thanks very much and we blitzed right over to that spot where Scott was dropped off over three hours earlier. There he was-he had not moved a foot. He was standing almost at attention. He was cold; he had a short-sleeved shirt on. He had this little bag in his hand. I'll never forget, in my mind's eye ever, as I stopped illegally and saw this big figure of a man. My wife jumped out of the car and gave him a big hug. A guy behind me was honking because I was illegally parked. Just as she was hugging him, two police cars-without their sirens on but their lights were going-pulled in. It was Miami Vice. They crashed in on there just to make sure he was ok, and there she was hugging him. I thought well, there's a scene. Don't wander; he'll be there for you.
You wonder sometimes, you wonder hey is it all worth it? Have I gone too long? Have I done something wrong? Is there something I can do? Are they coming? Is it going to work. Is it? Endure; then you'll be blessed. It was a great example for us, and it helped me understand.
Go to the Book of Mormon for a minute. Leave your finger in the 84th section; we'll come back to that. Gentle King Benjamin, in verse 15 of chapter 5, I think it says it well: "I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works," and then the promise-this is a Christ-given promise-"that Christ...may seal you his" (Mosiah 6:15). Isn't that amazing? "That you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life" for being steadfast and immovable. It's a wonderful gift but you have to do your part. Don't wonder, don't wander either. Have faith and you'll be blessed.
Now back to the 84th section for a minute, over in verse 106-your responsibility. "If any man [or woman] among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him him that is weak [her that is weak] that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also." We have some responsibility here to do that. You might be the strong one, you might be the weak one and frequently we're both. I'm very grateful personally that there are those friends around who continue to lift some who go through seemingly greater difficulties and moments.
Elder Finlinson and I have a companion who is quadriplegic-from the neck down has no sense of feeling-and a former member of the Quorum of the Seventy. A strange accident put him into that condition. I don't understand. I was with him the other day and had my hand on his head because that's really the only place he can feel, and I watched him try to lift his legs and his arms. Then I thought who is helping who here, you know what I mean? Not easy. Hard to understand, sometimes, but the beauty of it is that it ought to mean something to you.
That verse right there doesn't mean the Melchizedek Priesthood reaching out and lifting the Aaronic Priesthood only. It means a lot more than that to me, and that's why I share it with you. You are very important. It says it right there-look in verses 109 and 110 of that same 84th section. "Let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling.... The body hath need of every member, that all may be edified together, that the system may be kept perfect."
That's exactly how it works. It's not just President Hinckley-it's President Hinckley with great counselors that lift him. I was in the temple meeting the other day. President Hinckley was giving a detailed little review of some small temples. He said one little detail that I happen to already know something about; very little of what he said I did, but that one I did. I observed his counselor on his left, his second counselor-President Faust. As President Hinckley was speaking and made a little mistake in a detail, no one corrected him except President Faust just put his hand gently up on the Prophet's hand, just like that. He didn't say one word and President Hinckley went right back to where he was and said it correctly. Now there's an example that I saw. I don't know how many others witnessed it in the room that day, but I did and I was impressed in the gentle treatment. You don't need to radically tell your friend that he's totally nuts, that he's off the track, that he's totally disassembled and probably never will make it back. You don't need to preach that kind of stuff. Just remember that a quiet, little hand on top of President Hinckley's was all that it took. Your friends know you; you know them. You know the pulse; protect each other and you'll be blessed for it.
You know Scott, who I shared with you never was able to serve a full-time mission but he wanted to? In five months he's going to be set apart as a full-time missionary. He's also going to go to the temple for the first time in preparation to go over and serve in Bangkok, Thailand. Now he doesn't speak one word of Thai. But I'll tell you what, he will teach the same way that you can teach a friend-just for the feeling and the sensitivity and by example. Hopefully, we're all helping each other in this process.
I brought a little prop today that I wanted to show you. This weights about 60 pounds. Actually, this is from Brazil. It was given to us in the Mission Training Center-what we call a CTM down in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I think it kind of represents our opportunities, our privileges here in life. It has the beautiful shape of a stone carver, chiseling out of a rough piece of stone a potential duplicate, probably even better than he thinks he is. There's a great lesson in that. Don't limit and you watched groups move into the session, you watched groups doing initiatory work and you watched these other things going on. It was done in reverence and peace. There I saw order; remember that. When you understand obedience and you've learned that, and you've learned service under covenant-just like it says there in verse 6 talking about obedience-you'll be better. Even with your victories along the way, be humble.
I was amazed that our son had difficulty at first learning the Thai language. He was the Sterling Scholar here in Utah for languages, a very gifted linguist. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese in the same breath. He can give you a Portuguese one minute without an accent and then he can go right over and speak in Spanish to somebody else. He had that ability, but he had trouble with Thai until he learned to depend on vertical help and then received it. Continue, be humble, and when you're humble you'll achieve greater victories.
The last piece which is shown in there in verse 13 is to be patient.
Well, I will leave you with this. One question (write this down) where do I go? Where do I go? We talked a little bit a minute ago about going to a quiet place to pray every day. We talked about the need to help others. We've talked a lot about all these little doctrinal pieces. Go to God; go to God and he'll bless you. He'll bless you in ways that you have no idea. Listen to the words of the Savior in closing in the 15th chapter of John-special language. "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).
To me that's the essence of the living Christ. That document you have in your hand has thirteen paragraphs. Nine of those paragraphs have scriptural references; four do not. Focus on learning all scriptures in those nine and learn what it says in the other four, and you will be endowed with a gift that is beyond anything I could share with you. It's that good. In the 14th verse I close with, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (John 15:14). The Lord is our friend; he loves us. As a special witness I testify to you that he lives. I've not had a personal vision. I've had wonderful dreams like maybe some of you have. I have a companion gifted like President Woodhouse has. I married way above my head; you do that too. When that happens and you also recognize a need to connect, then the answer to "where do I go" is simple. I go where I receive the most help.
I testify that he will be there for you. Don't wander; you don't need to. He'll be there for you. Wait patiently, do your part and then you'll be blessed. I love you very much. I wish I knew each of you personally. Some of you I know. Some of you I even know your parents; some of you I know from other experiences. I only want you to know this-I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, that he loves us. He wants the best for you in this academic environment, in your social world, in all the needs that you have. Reach out and serve others because in that process you'll be serving him of whom I humbly testify.

© Intellectual Properties Inc.

The Things of Worth

23 Feb. 2000

Transcript

The Things of Worth


It's nice to be with all of you this morning and to be part of this devotional. I think some of the wonderful privileges we have are to speak to our institute, our university students and college students all over the state. I'm delighted and honored to be here with you. Sister Hales–it is hard for me to call her that–was one of our great sisters in the mission field. We loved her very much and appreciate her being with us.
There is a statement that oftentimes a man of many years may die with the heart of a boy. It's interesting that in my life every time I see a tree I think I'd like to climb that tree. I see creeks and streams and think I'd like to swim in those, or pristine lakes or mountains to climb, and I still have that in my heart to do. They'll make me emeritus in a little while and I'll be able to do some of those things I haven't been able to do. But I do want to share with you some thoughts this morning that might be of worth.
Henry Drummond said, "I lived for myself, I thought for myself, for myself and none beside–just as if Jesus have never lived, as if Jesus have never died." I think all that we do ought to be focused on Him and His life. We should live the principles that He taught and have the work ethic, the spirituality and all of the dimensions of life that came from Him.
President Joseph F. Smith said, "After we have done all we could do for the cause of truth, and withstood the evil that men have brought upon us, and we have been been overwhelmed by their wrongs, it is still our duty to stand. We cannot give up; we must not lie down. Great causes are not won in a single generation. To stand firm in the face of overwhelming opposition when you have done all you can, is the courage of faith. The courage of faith is the courage of progress. Men who possess that divine quality go on; they are not permitted to stand still if they would. They are not creatures of their own power and wisdom; they are instrumentalities of a higher law and a divine purpose" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 107-108). I think all of us are. We all qualify for that.
I want to share a verse here, and I think most of you will respond to it.
"At sweet 16 I first began to ask the good Lord for a man.
At 17 I recall I wanted someone strong and tall.
The Christmas I reached 18 I fancied someone blond and lean.
And then at 19 I was sure I'd fall for someone more mature.
At 20, I thought I'll find romance with someone with a mind.
I retrogressed at 21 and found college boys more fun.
My viewpoint changed at 22 when one man only was my cue.
He broke my heart at 23, so I begged for someone kind to me.
Then begged when I was 24 for anyone who wouldn't bore.
Now Lord that I am 25, just send me someone who's alive."
I heard about the young man who went out on his date, and she didn't want to go with him. Finally, after he was so persistent, she decided well, if I go on one date with him maybe he'll get off my back. But he had a great time and she had a miserable one. As they came in, he stood in the porch and he just cupped his hands like this. He said, "If you can tell me what's in here, I'll give you a wonderful good night kiss.
She said, "An elephant."
He said, "Close enough."
As I have thought about what your life is, I'd like to share some things that I think will be relevant. Enoch said he beheld the heavens weep. He prayed to God: "How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? And were it possible [now think about this] that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and...thou art just, thou art merciful and kind forever....How is it that thou canst weep?" (Moses 7:24-31).
And then God let Enoch behold through his spiritual eyes the inhabitants of the earth and the righteousness and the wickedness and the misery. And then you remember the scripture that says that Enoch stretched forth his arms. I can see this mighty prophet with his arms outstretched. "His heart swelled wide as eternity, and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook" (Moses 7:41).
Now I think we have to just understand a little bit about who this Jesus is when we talk about the things of worth this morning.
If you went out tonight, with a naked eye you could see 5,000 stars. With a pair of binoculars you could see 50,000. With a high-powered telescope you could see beyond our galaxy. If this chapel where the Milky Way galaxy, way out in the far distance–almost to the wall–you'll find just a little dot; and that would be this earth. You can look up at night and see the galaxy; we are part of the Milky Way galaxy. They say it's 600 billion miles across and has 400 to 600 billion stars in it. They have identified 21 additional galaxies besides this galaxy.
Over the years some amazing things have happened. But when you think a million seconds is 12 days, a billion seconds is 32 years, you would have to get a dollar a second for 32 years before you would be a billionaire. A trillion seconds is 32,000 years. We have the Hubble telescope that is circumnavigating the earth about 300 miles out there. The mirror is faced out, and the mirror is about eight and one-half feet in diameter. If you pointed–take your arm and point it to a grain of sand at the end of your finger–at the least populated part of the cosmos, there are layer upon layer of galaxies. They say there may be as many as hundreds of billions of galaxies.
"If you could hie to Kolob in the twinkling of an eye,
And then continue onward with that same speed to fly,
Do you think you could ever, through all eternity,
Find out the generation where Gods began to be?" (Hymns, 289)
Now, the Hubble telescope will probe 14 billion light years. Do you know how far that is? How fast does light travel–186 thousand miles a second, times 60 seconds, times 60 minutes, times 24 hours, times 365 in a year, times 14 billion. Do you know how far that is? I actually figured it out during a very dull meeting one day. It's 81 trillion million miles. We're here and we're going some place. Sometimes we think there won't be any space for us out there if we can become as God. But there's space–I want to promise you that my young friends.
Now, another dimension. A lot of you are involved in computers. Does anybody here know what a tera-flop is? It's a trillion calculations. A trillion calculations--imagine that. They have computers now that will do eight and ten tera-flops and in the wings those that will do one hundred tera-flops.
Do you think that the best computer and the smartest computer that we can invent is greater than God or his mind? Is there any wonder to you or have you ever wondered how He can answer your prayer when you have a specific, little problem that's only yours but it's a real serious problem to you? There are almost six billion people; and I don't understand everything, but I think I can understand how He can attend to my little problems–or sometimes they are pretty major problems at least to me–and understand how He does that. Now it's interesting with the computer that they can take all of Shakespeare's works, translate them into 200 languages and transmit them from New York to Omaha in less than one two-thousandth of a second.
We live in an interesting time. I was having lunch with Elder Russell M. Nelson. He is, as you know, a heart surgeon; and he said he's performed almost 7,000 open-heart surgeries. He wrote a chapter in a book that I had the privilege of writing a chapter in at the same time called "Turning Points." In that book they asked us to write a chapter of a turning point in our life. One of the turning points in his life was when he was in medical school. He said he found out that the heart actually pumps 2,000 gallons of blood every day. I just figured out this morning if you get 20 miles to the gallon, you can go 40,000 miles around the earth and about two-thirds of the way around the earth the second time if you're getting 20 miles to the gallon and it does that every single day for as long as you live. Those little valves in your heart, he says, open and close just little oftener than a second (maybe not quite a second depending what your heartbeat is). He said we have never invented a material that will open and fold a billion times in 34 years without eventually tearing or breaking on the creases, but yours don't.
Many talk about this little skin, the cloak that we have over our body. He said if you move a little of it, it will repair. But if you move a lot of it, two-thirds of it or so, you won't live. He said he found out that the miracle really is within you, and you've read that before in the scriptures. The miracle of God is within us–who we are and what we can do. The finger movements and eye movement and all that we have that makes up this body is a wonderful thing. Also, we generate enough energy to lift a 150-pound man the height of an Empire State Building.
Now where does all of this lead? We're here and we're going someplace. If there are hundreds of billions of galaxies out there (and there are), then what we do in this life is ever so important. All of you have kept your first estate, and we are in the process of our second estate. We need to keep our second estate.
David McDougal is the mission president now in Atlanta, and he said either when he was a boy or his father was a boy, they lived on the Great Lakes. I don't think anyone in this room except me would relate to this, but they used to go out in the Great Lakes and cut huge chunks of ice. Then they would have these pulled out of the lake by a team of horses, put them on sleds, take them to an ice house and then cover them over with sawdust. We did that out at Moon Lake outside of Duchesne when I was just a boy. I remember they would bring all this ice and put it in an ice house, and then they would stack sawdust and the ice would keep through July and even into early August–even during the heat of the weather. There was such an insulation factor in sawdust that it kept ice through most of the summer. Then they could make ice cream and other things they would want through the summer.
One time when they were bringing the ice out of the Great Lakes way back about the turn of the century, I think it was David McDougal's [father] who was helping them, and his gold watch heirloom that his father had given him fell out of his pocket into the sawdust. Everybody stopped and they started feeling through the sawdust to find this watch. They couldn't find it anywhere and finally gave up and just simply loaded all the rest of the ice. Young David McDougal's father sat down in the ice house after everyone else had left. When it was absolutely quiet–not a sound–he could hear tick, tick, tick, tick. He just followed the sound, went over and moved a little bit of sawdust and pulled his father's watch out. I've been around a little bit, and that is the way the Spirit works. You do need some quiet time when you really can listen.
We organize a lot of stakes. We do a lot of work in the kingdom, and we have to make decisions. When it comes time to make the decision–if you're really listening and if you're very quiet–it just almost sneaks up on you and you have the answer. We were reorganizing a stake not too far from here; it was the Emigration Stake. As we knelt down to pray just quietly, as we prayed the answer came. Although there were several different attitudes before we prayed who it should be, I had an impression exactly what the stake would be six years from now under different conditions and knew exactly who the Lord wanted. I think one of the things I would counsel in your business life–when you're out in the world–is still take time to listen. The Holy Ghost will not prompt you only in things that are religious or your family matters. It will prompt you out in the world; and it has me many, many times. It has been a great blessing to me, but you have to live worthy of it.
There is another principle that we sometimes forget. In a busy, urban society we don't have the chance to really learn how to work like we ought to learn how to work. President [Thomas S.] Monson had this little "w" formula for success. "Work will win when wishy washy wishing won't." I've quoted that to a few missionary conferences. The important thing is work is important; persistence is important. You have to put in. Somehow you have to balance all that out. There isn't a reward without the effort, and it does take a lot of time.
I think Sister Hales has heard me talk about this an awful lot in the mission field, but years ago I memorized this little verse. You'll love it. It says:
"Said the big white rooster, 'Gosh, all hemlock things are tough.
Seems that worms are getting scarcer and I cannot find enough.
What's become of all those fat ones is a mystery to me,
There were thousands through the rosey spell, now where can they be?'
"The little red hen who heard him never grumbled or complained.
She lived through lots of dry spells; she lived through floods of rain.
She found a new and undug spot; the earth was hard and firm.
The big white rooster jeered, 'New ground? That's no place for a worm.'
"The little red hen just spread her feet both fast and free.
She said, 'I must go to the worms; the worms won't come to me.'
The big white rooster spent his time and period by the ways
Where fat worms had passed in squads back in the rainy days.
"When nightfall found them separately he growled in accents rough,
'I'm hungry as a fowl can be; conditions sure are tough.'
He turned then to the little red hen and said, 'It's worse with you
For you're not only hungry but you must be tired too.
I rested while you looked for worms so I feel fairly pert.
But how are you without worms, too, and after all that work?'
"Little red hen hopped to her perch and dropped her eyes to sleep,
And murmured in a drowsy tone, 'Young man hear this and weep.
I'm full of worms and happy for I've dined both long and well.
The worms were there as always but I had to dig like [heck].'
"Oh here and there white roosters still are holding sales positions.
They cannot do much business now because of poor conditions.
As soon as things get right again they'll sell a hundred firms.
Meanwhile, the little red hens are out a gobbling up the worms."
Great deal of truth in that my young friends. Along with being confident and listening, I think you'll find that it is very essential for you to learn how to work and to work hard. There may be times when you work 18 hours a day. I just had one a couple or three days ago, and you have energy to do it if your spirit will give you the energy.
There's another part to what Elder Nelson said that I'd like to share with you because it fits in right here. I said to Elder Nelson, "How is it? I read an article where a little lady in her seventies picked up the back end of a car off of a baby that was being crushed to death. They estimated the weight to be nearly a thousand pounds. Then I heard about a black man down in the South that lifted a 1,500 pound truck off of a boy that was being crushed." I said, "Is adrenaline that strong?"
He said, "Elder Featherstone, you know it isn't."
And I said, "What is it?"
He said, "Adrenaline is powerful stuff." He said, "Vaughn, it is the spirit of that individual."
That little lady couldn't bear to see a baby being crushed and lifted that off. The spirit gave her strength so that her backbone wouldn't break and her legs wouldn't crumble with that tremendous weight. It was the spirit inside of that woman. We have different kind of spirits. Some of us have a spirit that we've trained to be lazy, and we have to learn to drive it and push it. Mentally, spiritually, physically demanding things will help you to tie into that.
Another point that I think is very critical is servant-leadership. If you want to get ahead, really, service is how you do it. Someone said, "Well you know, if you want to be a leader you can't be a servant because they just don't match." But the greatest leader in all history of mankind was first a servant. If you are first a servant and you want to serve people and you want to help people and lift them and do all you can for them, then you find later on in life that if you have a leadership position you can serve them better and you can serve them broader and more people and reach out far more. I think the servant-leader is servant first right down of the core of his soul (or her soul). Then as that comes along, then they become the servant-leader. The servant-leader is what really does make a difference.
Francois Rene de Châteaubriand said, "In the days of service all things are founded. In the days of special privilege they deteriorate. In the days of vanity they are destroyed."
That is true. In the days of service all things are founded. You'll find that in life. The company I went to work for said something about service. He said, "I'm going to pay you 50 percent of your wage for the service you render and 50 percent of your wage for the work you do." In other words, he estimated the service was equally as valuable as the physical work that we would actually perform.
Another great writer, John Ruskin, said, "I believe the test of a great man is humility. I do not mean by humility the doubt in one's own personal power; but really, truly great men have the curious feeling that greatness is not in them but through them. They see the divine in every other human soul and are foolishly, endlessly, incredibly merciful."
I think I qualify for part of that. I think I've been able to see the divine in every other human soul and see what they can accomplish and put aside their faults and trials. You know, charity is an interesting thing. Charity would demand in us that we have an attitude of absolute submissiveness to God, and to try to do underneath circumstance what He would do. So, when someone in your class gets a better grade or someone seems to have a better relationship with one of the instructors or professors, when they get a better job; if we understand charity, then we are so grateful for them, and we don't resent them getting up. In some of the countries I've served they have a crab mentality. I think all of you know what that is. You don't have to ever put a lid on a basketful of crabs because as soon as one tries to climb up, the others will pull it back in again. They kind of monitor, and that's the crab mentality. We shouldn't have that if we have true charity for our fellowmen as someone rises up.
I remember many years ago hearing about Kay Whitmore. He was the president and CEO of [Eastman] Kodak Company. I thought, I wonder if that's the same Kay Whitmore that I grew up with. I lived just a few blocks from him–wonderful kid. I knew he'd be an outstanding individual. Kind of quiet and shy and reserved, but he became the CEO of this great corporation. Sure enough, it was the same Kay Whitmore, and I met him as an adult. He's been a mission president now and stake president and regional representative, and I've had the chance to get to know him as an adult all these years later. He has just has the same ethic, the same integrity that he had when he was a boy–the same standards. I think that's important for us.
Then, would you maintain a sense of humor in your life? Humor is really important. You know if you only have that one blessing in your life–if you can laugh at life–you'll never go insane. If you can't ever laugh at anything any more, then I'd be a little concerned. You need to be able to laugh at life. Let me give you an example.
A judge was interviewing a woman for divorce and he said, "Why don't you tell me, what are the grounds for your divorce?"
She said, "Oh, we lived on about three and one-half acres, and we have a little home and a stream running through the property."
He said, "No, I mean what is the foundation of your marital problems?"
She said, "Concrete, brick, mortar–I don't know about those things."
"Well, how are your marital relations?"
"Well, his uncle and aunt live here, and my mother and father live here; but he gets along great."
"Well, is there a real grudge?"
"No. We've never owned a garage; we have a carport that takes care of our needs."
The judge was getting desperate and he said, "Is there any infidelity?"
She said, "Yes, there is. My son has a hi-fi set; my daughter has a hi-fi set."
Finally the judge says, "Well, does your husband beat you up?"
She says, "Yes he does. About three mornings a week he gets up earlier than I do."
The judge says, "Why do you want the divorce?"
She says, "Well, I don't want a divorce. I never wanted the divorce. My husband wants the divorce–he says he can't communicate with me."
You've got to be able to laugh at life, I think. I heard about this 66-year-old golfer that could drive the ball way down the fairway far beyond where he could see. His eyesight was failing and he was losing balls right in the middle of the fairway. So he went to the pro and he said, "You know, I lose balls right in the middle of the fairway and I don't want to do that. I want to be able to find them. Have you got any suggestions of what I can do?"
And without any hesitation the pro said, "Oh sure." He said, "We've got this 88-year-old golfer that hangs around here all the time. He can't play golf any more–he's all crippled up–but he loves the game. He has eyes like an eagle." He said, "Why don't you team up and go out on the course. You drive the ball; he'll spot it for you."
So they teamed up, they went out to that first hole, and the younger golfer teed the ball up and he drove way down the fairway far beyond where he could see. He said to the older golfer, "Did you see where that went?"
He said, "Yes."
He said, "Where did it go?"
He said, "I forgot."
Can I just say you're going to need a sense of humor in life?
I just want to say something about spirituality and purity, and they do tie together. You can't truly be spiritual if you're not pure. Years ago a great man, Roy Walker, who had written study courses for the Sunday School and for the priesthood of the Church was asked, Who of all the General Authorities impresses you the most? With only a slight hesitation (this is way back in the late 60's) he said, "They all are wonderful men, but I think Elder Boyd K. Packer impresses me the most because he has a purity of heart for one so young." Also he said, "He seems to have a special understanding of how the Lord wants things done."
I said to Elder [James E.] Faust just before he was called to the First Presidency–we were having lunch together–I said, "I believe Elder Packer is one of the greatest seers in our dispensation."
He said, "I think he is one of the greatest seers in any dispensation." He said, "I think Elder Packer can see around corners." I hadn't heard that description before. Spirituality is important and you maintain it by staying pure.
Do you remember this great verse? Walter Malone is in the Tennessee State Hall of Fame; and if this is all he ever did, he deserves to be there. He wrote a poem entitled "Opportunity," and I love it. When you memorize something it becomes part of you. I wanted to have this with me all of the time. I've used it dozens of times, but I think you'll be impressed with it. I want to have you think of your own personal lives and purity and then think of Walter Malone. Again, remember he entitled it "Opportunity".
"They do me wrong who say I come no more
When once I knock and fail to find you in;
For every day I stand outside your door,
And bid you wake, and rise to fight and win.
"Wail not for precious chances passed away,
Weep not for golden ages on the wane!
Each night I burn the records of the day—
At sunrise every soul is born again!
"Laugh like a boy at splendors that have sped.
To vanished joys be blind and deaf and dumb;
My judgements seal the dead past with its dead,
But never bind a moment yet to come.
"Though deep in mire, wring not your hands and weep;
I lend my arm to all who say "I Can!"
No shame-faced outcast ever sank so deep,
But yet might rise and be again a man.
"Dost thou behold thy lost youth all aghast?
Dost reel from righteous Retribution's blow?
Then turn from blotted archives of the past,
And find this future's pages white as snow.
"Art thou a mourner? Rouse thee from thy spell;
Art thou a sinner? Sins can be forgiven;
Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell,
Each night a star to guide thy feet to heaven."
("Opportunity," from Opportunity and Other Poems by Walter Malone.)
If that's all Walter Malone ever did, I think he deserves to be in the celestial hall of fame. It's a great verse. There is a very simple way another puts that.
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again."
But the King could, and the King can, and the King will. If you've done something terribly wrong or made a mistake, He can put you back together again. Tomorrow's pages are as white as snow–I think that's important if you're going to stay clean and sweet and pure.
I was down in California. They assigned me to home teach a woman. She had been baptized in the church, then active for about two years. Then her little daughter drowned in a swimming pool. She said, "How could God be so cruel as to do this to me, to our family–take our little child, our little girl?" She didn't understand, of course.
They said, "She won't have anything to do with the Church; maybe you can get in and talk to her. So, I got my younger companion and we went over. She did let us in and her husband was not home. I said, "Tell me what happened with your daughter." It was difficult for her to tell. She'd been on the phone and all of a sudden she noticed her little two- or three-year-old daughter was gone. She ran right out of the door and to the neighbor's pool and saw her baby laying in the bottom of the pool. She dove in, but she didn't know how to swim. She just leaped in, and she didn't know how to get to the bottom. She struggled and struggled to get down where the baby was, and she couldn't get there. A man on the street heard all the commotion, and he came running back and dove in. He pulled the woman over to the swimming pool bank. Then he went right down the bottom, picked up the baby and brought it up. With a lot of work the baby still didn't recover.
Question: How much do you think Sister Moffitt would have given for the simple skill of swimming? She'd have given her house; she'd have given all the income they had, everything in this life she'd have given. She would have given even her life. In fact, she was going to. She wasn't going to come up without the baby if this man hadn't come and rescued her.
There are skills you're going to find in life that are equally that important. I think that you'll find over the long haul that [they include] spirituality and staying close to the Lord, having a study program every day of the scriptures and faithfully being involved in prayer.
We had a serious problem with one of our children. Our daughter was expecting. They didn't tell any of the rest of the family, only her mother and I and her husband. The four of us knew. About four or five months before the baby was born, there were serious problems with the baby. We just prayed for the whole time that the baby would be born all right. We pled with God. One Sunday morning just a couple or three weeks ago my daughter called and said, "Daddy, I just had the little baby."
I said, "How are you sweetheart?"
She said, "I'm fine."
I said (it was the hardest question I've ever asked in my life), "How's the baby?"
Then amid sobs she said, "He's healthy and normal in every way."
I hung up the phone, and all I could do was say thank you God; thank you God; thank you God. It was just a little problem in our life. Some of you have had those kind of situations in your homes–down syndrome children or children born with other abnormalities or something's wrong with them. God can perform miracles, but we have to ask. I think as you find when you pray, you do ask.
And then, let me conclude with just two thoughts. The first one again is a great verse that I memorized–I think since I was in the mission field. I got it from a missionary. He quoted it, read it and I got it from him. It applies to every single person in this room.
"The God of the great endeavor gave me a torch to bear.
I lifted it high above me in the dark and murky air;
And straightway with loud hosannas the crowd proclaimed its light
And followed me as I carried my torch through the dark and starless night,
Till drunk with the people's praises and mad with vanity
I forgot 'twas the torch they followed and fancy they followed me.
"Then slowly my arm grew weary upholding the shining load
And my tired feet went stumbling over the dusty road.
I fell with the torch beneath me. In a moment the light was out.
When lo! from the throng a stripling youth sprang forth with a mighty shout,
Caught up the torch as it smoldered, and lifted it high again,
Till fanned by the wings of heaven, it fired the souls of men.
"And as I lay in the darkness the feet of the trampling crowd
Passed over and far beyond me, its paeans proclaimed around,
And I learned in the deepening twilight this glorious verity,
‘Tis the torch the people follow, whoever the bearer may be."
("The Torchbearer," unknown, from The Master of Men, comp. by Thomas Curtis Clark)
In our day it's been President [David O.] McKay and President Joseph Fielding Smith and President [Spencer W.] Kimball, all the way up now to President [Gordon B.] Hinckley. Each time one of them passes away, a new torchbearer carries them. But isn't the torchbearer, it's the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we always get that straight in our minds, we'll be blessed.
And then this from the Savior and the greatest sermon ever taught: "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I said unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, o ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek" (Matt. 6:28-32). [And here it is:] "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt 6:33).
I promise you that is true. This is the greatest work on the earth. There's only one true, living Church. I love it with all my heart. I can't tell you the feelings I have down deep inside. I want everyone to know. I wish there were some way. It's like we have diamonds and rubies, and we would like to share them with everyone.
This is the Church of Jesus Christ. He is the author of the atonement. He is the King of Kings, and I love Him more than my own soul. I pray I might be worthy just to walk a few steps in this life doing something worthwhile and trying to follow His pattern of living.

© Intellectual Properties Inc.

5 Suggestions for Your Future

22 Mar. 2000

Transcript

5 Suggestions for Your Future


Brothers and sisters, it's a privilege and pleasure for Delores and me to be with you here this day. For those who speak Spanish, muy buenos días. It is a pleasure to meet a few that are from Chile and Bolivia and Mexico and other parts.
I hear that there are about 40 different countries represented here. I pray that all of you feel extremely at home with us here in the states. We love you and appreciate you very much. We are glad to be a part with you.
I am indeed grateful to have the opportunity to get to know you a little bit. Delores and I have looked forward to being here today to share testimony and feelings with you. A prayer in our hearts is that as we would leave this day, we would all have renewed testimonies. The testimonies would be strengthened regarding the Savior of the world, the purpose of life, our Heavenly Father and help us on our way–just a little bit.
I almost have to touch myself to realize that I am alive at the turn of the century and of the millennium, especially in a day that I know the ancient prophets have seen. Speaking of prophets such as Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, even in the New Testament–Peter, that had seen our day, these brethren had seen our day in their way. They bore testimony of that–of what they had seen. With great anticipation they thought about those things and left record of that. We are actually kind of at the summit of the history of the world as we live. Once again, I almost have to touch myself to realize that I am truly alive today. I hope you realize the generation in which you live.
If we will take careful observation, we will see that the Church is positioned as it really has never been in the past. It is an exciting moment that we live in. We are on the threshold of great expansion in the Church. What an opportunity it is for us to be alive at this time and to realize that we can participate. As I look at the expansion that will take place and is beginning to take place, I really feel that on the cutting edge of that growth will be the family, also the retention of our new members. The people in this world will see you and your families and be drawn to the Church. May we be blessed in making decisions that would allow those on the outside to see what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might be like.
It won't be long until you will leave this marvelous institution. You will go out into the world. There will be a myriad of opportunities for vocational pursuits and many, many opportunities in terms of recreation, entertainment, learning. You're grasping the gospel. You'll have much to do and many opportunities. I also know that you will have many learned character traits as you go forward. I would pray that as your family, those that are around you, maybe employees or employers, the world at large, as they see the traits that you have and the character traits that you have, they would be drawn to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They would know that you were someone they could follow.
It's interesting–especially those of you who will go out into the world away from an LDS society or predominantly LDS society–you'll find that many people have never been around a member of the Church before or gotten to know us very well. Whatever you are, that will become their perception of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is. I pray that all of us would make decisions that would conform with what the Savior would have us do.
Have Confidence in the Existence of God
Brothers and sisters, I would like to talk about five suggestions that I feel could be helpful to you in your future as you plan for a successful future. The first one is this: to have total confidence in the existence of God, your Eternal Father, also confidence in the relationship that you have with Him and that He so desperately wants to have with you.
The scripture that is probably more used than any other that I know of in the Church is found in Moses 1:39. As we read that particular scripture, it helps us to learn that the Lord receives happiness as we enjoy the blessings of an immortal resurrected body first of all. Second, we can enjoy the blessings of celestial life. That particular scripture says, "For behold, this is my work and my glory–to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
That is a marvelous scripture. As I read it, I realize that we are talking about the Heavenly Father and Savior who literally have worlds without end. Yet, with all that they have and the implications of their being quite busy and occupied with all of that, I think one thing that gives us great hope is the fact that what is most interesting to them is our welfare. They are interested in children and brothers and sisters and in our eternal welfare. That becomes their greatest concern.
I think that there is one absolute that I would hope you would leave here with or gain in your life. That absolute is this: that your Heavenly Father does exist. I know that, that He loves you and that He wants you back. He wants every single one back in His presence. He knows you from beginning to end and that there are great opportunities. He wants you back so badly that He allowed his Son to suffer–beyond anything that we can comprehend–here in this mortal life. That is how badly He wants you back. Even to the point where in the Garden of Gethsemane, He suffered the sins, the suffering, the temptations, the pains, the anguish, anything that we would ever go through–a billion of souls–to where it literally pressed the blood from every pore in His body. He never would have done that, except that that is truly how badly He wants us to return. He wouldn't have allowed His Son to do that. Jesus wouldn't have done that, even for a minute, except there was no other way.
There is a problem sometimes. Because of our own weaknesses and imperfections, at times we get to wondering if the Lord really does want us to return. It can almost be a little self-defeating as we get a little negative on ourselves. Please don't do that. Please understand that He wants us all back. He loves us. The plan is available to us whereby we can return to His presence. Not only does our Heavenly Father want us to have an immortal, resurrected body that will be beyond anything that we can imagine in its beauty and glory and function, but also that He wants to share the type of lifestyle that He enjoys with us. I absolutely know that to be true. That is made possibly only through His Son, Jesus Christ.
I grew up in a home; I feel like I was born of goodly parents. I am so grateful for the parents that I have. I have tremendous respect for kind, loving, hard-working parents. Through their example–also through their words–they taught us as children to have faith in the Savior. It seemed like they always tried to catch us doing something good. My parents were just that way. They would catch us doing the good things in life–or try to. Then, they would try to accentuate the positive things we were doing. I am so grateful for that.
At the same time, they had no problem making corrections when those needed to be done. I recognize that any correction, guidance or counsel that they would give me or my brothers and sisters was always to help us to become a little more like Heavenly Father. It was never meant to beat us down or to make us feel unappreciated. It was always to help us in our lives and to move us along.
I think a little bit about the fact that there are some out there in the world who have a feeling that if they are corrected because of the commandments, that somehow our Heavenly Father doesn't love them–wants to put them in a box where they can't wiggle–or that it is to restrain them in their lives. I have learned that that isn't true. Heavenly Father has literally given us the commandments to help us, to build us, to expand us, to have us be a little bit more like Him. I really do appreciate that.
Going back to my folks and the fact that they expected us to do some things that were correct–once again I would say I really appreciate the correction that they gave us during our childhood and youth. Even in later years, they had no problem helping us with counsel, when that was needed.
I'd like to tell you a little story about my father, to give you an idea of how patient he seemed to be with us. My father came out of the Pacific Northwest. He owned a company that was involved in the timber industry. Occasionally, he would run some of his own machinery. I was in the woods with him one day when I was about 17 years old. He had had a breakdown with one of his machines and asked if I would go to town to get a part for him, which I did. I got in his crew truck and started going into town. I ended up being on clear, ice-slick roads. I was coming around the corner and the crew truck slid across the road and turned upside down. If you can imagine, this truck was upside down and the wheels were about the same level as the highway I had been driving on. I was standing on the edge of the road, talking to a Washington State patrolman. As you can imagine, he was a little stern, etc. I was standing there and quite nervous as a boy. Along came my father in his pickup. I can still see his face this day, as he rolled down his pickup window and looked over to make sure I was okay. He looked and saw that his truck was upside down and pretty well totaled out. Then, he looked back at me. He said, "Jackson, you've got it upside down. You'd better get it greased."
That's just my father. First of all, he would make sure that we were well and that all was fine. Then in private moments he took time to help me learn to handle the ice better. He helped me–rather than feeling like there was a dead end in my moving ahead as a young man, and learning to do things in this world–he helped me with it. I appreciated that. I hope that I can somehow show the same type of patience and love with my own children. I hope to catch them doing good and accentuate the positive in their lives to help them move forward.
As I went through that process, my young friends, I literally learned not only that my parents loved me, I learned that Heavenly Father also loved me and that He would be patient with me as I was learning to work my way though this life. Those are lessons that I have learned. I also learned that my Heavenly Father not only would allow me to have challenges in my life, but there would be nothing that would come to me in the way of a challenge that wouldn't be a blessing to me. It will be the same with you. There will be nothing that comes into our lives [except to] strengthen us and help us and bless us, if we handle that challenge correctly. I'll get into that in just a few minutes.
Please understand that that loving Heavenly Father of ours want us to return. I know that we don't all have parents who would lead us in the right direction necessarily, but one day you will be one. You can guide your children–you can help them and bless them.
Live the Commandments of God
Number two: have faith in Jesus Christ, receive all the ordinances of the gospel and then keep all associated covenants. Just as I have felt that my righteous parents were leading and guiding me as best they could, I also learned that our Heavenly Father loves us and will lead and guide us in any way that He can. I am grateful, once again, to the Savior of the world and for what He has done.
Brothers and sisters, as a General Authority of the Church the greatest responsibility that I have is to testify of the reality of the Son of God, of Jesus Christ. In this little, intimate setting today, I just want you to know that I know of Him, of his goodness. Through Him we can return to our Heavenly Father.
I'd like to tell you about a story that you know quite well, I think. It has to do with King Benjamin and the Book of Mormon. Do you remember this great prophet-king? We can read about him in the Book of Mosiah. He was a man who had great discipline. He loved the Lord dearly and he loved his people. He wanted to do whatever he could and to teach them properly so that one day they would be able to return to the presence of their Heavenly Father.
We don't know how much he prayed to have answers to his questions. We do know this–that an angel of the Lord appeared to King Benjamin and taught him the precise things that he should teach the people. In the first, second, third chapters of the Book of Mosiah, we get some great teaching there–in the fourth, also. There is one scripture that I would like to read to you. It is in Mosiah 2:41. It helps us understand the fact that we have been given the commandments of God. Once again, I would say this, that the commandments have never been given to restrain us or to put us in a box where we can't wiggle around. The commandments of God have been given to make us happy, both in this life and in the life to come, to expand us, to make us more like our Heavenly Father.
The scripture says this, "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
My dear friends, I know that this particular scripture is just as relevant today as it was when it was received by the people under King Benjamin in his day. May the Lord bless us to understand that happiness–eternal happiness–comes as we keep the commandments of God.
We are not perfect; I know that. It's wonderful that the gospel of Jesus Christ makes provision for our errors. Through faith, repentance and obedience, the cleansing power of the atonement can work with us–making it possible that we can be clean and one day return to our Heavenly Father. I think we need to know that the repentance process generally is not easy. Nonetheless, the machinery for the cleansing power of the atonement is in place, and we can call on this. It is available for all of us.
I'd like to make a little invitation to you, my friends, today–something that you can do to help you be successful. I hope that you'd remember this–to do two things. One is that from this day forward, as long as you live, that you would partake of the sacrament worthily each Sunday. Second, that you would, in time, acquire a temple recommend. Then, as you live through your life, you would always be worthy of that recommend. One day when you die, as we all will, you will have a valid temple recommend that you were worthy of in your purse or wallet.
I promise you as King Benjamin stated, as we live the commandments of God, as we keep our covenants, that happiness will come into our lives. I'm talking about eternal happiness and the ability to have the style of life that our Heavenly Father has.
Follow the Lord's Will for Your Family
Number three: understand and follow the will of the Lord regarding the eternal family. Delores and I love our family very much. We presently have seven daughters, a son,18 grandchildren and another one coming. Of course, that was this morning. By now maybe there are two or three that we are not aware of. Our family is just at an age where it is growing rapidly. We are grateful for our children and our grandchildren; we love them dearly.
Most of you are still single. I want you to know that your children exist, just as ours do. They are still in their pre-mortal state but are looking forward to the opportunity of coming to this life to prove themselves. They anxiously await that. What a marvelous thing it is that you can prepare to receive them. They will come in their time and as the Lord has ordained things. You and your spouse will have the pleasure and responsibility of raising a family. I will never forget when Delores and I came out of the Oakland Temple 34 years ago hand in hand, then in time to know our children, to see them start to come into our lives. I think Delores and I felt that it was interesting how the Lord seemed to have so much confidence in us as a couple. More than anything else, we filled a great responsibility toward them. That has never gone away.
I want you to know that we are very proud of you. I am sure that each of you has a desire to do what the Lord would have you do in this regard–that you would do all you can to ultimately establish and have your eternal families.
The proclamation on the family will be a great help to you, in knowing what to do regarding the family. Please don't, under any circumstance, allow the persuasions and philosophies of men to interrupt your family's eternal happiness. You know as well as I do that there is much out there that can be tapped into, that wouldn't be the will of the Lord.
As the president of the North America West Area which includes California and Hawaii (there are 175 stakes in those two states), I have been very involved in the California iniative and the Hawaii iniative regarding same-gender marriage. I have been overwhelmed by the goodness of the Latter-day Saints in understanding the will of the Lord regarding this very moral issue that has come up. I thank my Heavenly Father, eternally, that His hand has been in it, helping us–the inspiration that has come from a prophet, the inspiration that we have felt as an Area Presidency. Then, to see the Saints work so hard when the family was so at risk–I am grateful for that. I am grateful for the clear direction that we get from a prophet of God, from the scriptures, from the family proclamation, and the other things that help us know what to do.
I'd like to quickly read three paragraphs of the family proclamation. I believe that you have all read it and understand it. I pray that you will spend time with it. It says:
"We, the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children...."
I know that's true brothers and sisters.
"The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife...."
"We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."
Brothers and sisters, I'm so grateful for this proclamation, for the help that it gives us. I pray that you'd understand it, that you would follow it, that you would be very careful in what you do.
I just want you to know that the Lord has never changed down through the centuries in this regard–regarding the family. Our society and the norms of society have changed a lot. You know that. I know this also. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. I have seen things; I know what goes on in this world. I know that the adversary invites us at every turn to involve ourselves in things that we shouldn't be involved in. I pray that all of us together would move forward.
I think that the message I give you this morning is that we must be absolutely true to ourselves. We must be absolutely true to our spouse or our future spouse. I know that this begins as we keep the covenants that we have taken. In our associations with others, we are proper and correct. This would happen before marriage vows are spoken. We would determine and pre-determine how we were going to act regarding these things.
View Life From the Lord's Perspective
Number four: try to obtain the Lord's perspective in our decision making. I think that the Lord has invited us to see long range and long term while we live in a world that really has short-range vision. I think we need to school ourselves in trying to see things from an eternal perspective.
I think to help us understand this principle, I'd like to share a scripture with you [from] the 117th section of the Doctrine & Covenants. To me this is kind of an obscure scripture. We don't talk about it very much in the Church. This scripture recites the situation of three men who were living in Kirtland, Ohio. They were called to go to Far West, Missouri, with the express purpose of helping to establish Zion. Well, these three men didn't go even though they were good men. They didn't leave Kirtland when they were supposed to, because they had stayed to help sell their personal property–for the greatest gain that they could get. Well, it's interesting.
In the fourth verse, the Lord said, "For what is property unto me? saith the Lord."
Then in the eighth verse, it says, "Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman,...that you should covet that which is but the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters?"
Brothers and sisters, over the years I've tried to think about those two items–the drop and the more weighty matters. I'll repeat it once again. It says,"Is there not room enough on the mountains of Adam-ondi-Ahman,...that you should covet that which is but the drop, and neglect the more weighty matters?"
The drop would evaporate. We know a drop of water would evaporate almost instantly, and we know that it is temporary.
Let me make an analogy for just a moment. Let's take a home for example. I love our home; we have a nice home. I feel that most of our society would need a home, an apartment or a roof over their head. I feel that a home would need to be nice, comely and clean. We'd have a place where our family could be drawn around us. At the same time, Sister Dickson and I know that when we leave this life, we can't take it with us. It's home, but it's earthbound. We cannot take it with us as we go through the veil. We can say the same thing about our automobiles, computers or pop-up toasters–the infinite number of things that we have. They are all nice–most of them are nice–many of them are very necessary. I recognize as much as I like a new car, there is no way that I can take it through the veil with me when I leave this life.
On the other hand [are the] the more weighty matters. When I think of the more weighty matters, I think of things that are eternal–things that will influence my family and me eternally. I think of the Savior of the world, of the atonement. I think of the priesthood that we hold. I think of the knowledge we gain. I think of those things to which I am eternally sealed–that would be my wife, my children, my grandchildren, the extended families–family going both directions. I think what the Lord is saying is this: Never, ever give up those things that matter most in pursuit of those things that matter least.
The natural man or woman will make the wrong decision almost every time. They will almost always go after the shiny, the whatever, instead of those things that would give them eternal happiness. Brothers and sisters, all that I would like to help you with here is the idea–try to look at things from the Lord's perspective. Make sure that when we are looking at things and making decisions that we have a long range view. I'm talking about an eternal view of what we are going to do. It will make all the difference in raising your family and helping them to know in the decisions they make.
Handle Challenges With Faith and Confidence
Number five: handle challenges with faith and confidence. I indicated earlier that I know that our Heavenly Father would never give us a challenge, first of all, that's greater than we can handle. It will always be for our good–if we will handle it correctly–in the long term.
I'd like to tell you about a little situation. You've noticed that Elder Dickson just has one arm. I'd like to talk about that for a minute. Go back to 1962. At that point I was called to go to Mexico as a full-time missionary. Yet, in the moment that I was ready to go, I found myself in the hospital. I had a very serious sarcoma–bone cancer of the right arm. The doctors indicated that I probably wouldn't live more than a few weeks. It was a very, very critical situation. I received a blessing from my father, a priesthood blessing. In that he indicated that I would live, go on my mission to Mexico, have my family and basically have a normal life. Really all that happened, except for the normal life. Having seven daughters and Sister Dickson–8 women in the house–it wasn't very possible to have a normal life.
We had the most fun. I can't even express what a fun life it has been with all of our girls and John; it's just been wonderful. Why do I talk about this? I talk about it because of the fact that having one arm for 37 years has probably been one of the greatest blessings in my life. I've learned a great deal about patience and other things. It's been a great blessing because I have learned that we have challenges in our lives, we must face those challenges, win and move ahead.
I was extremely right handed–still am. When I first tried to eat soup, I couldn't even get it in my mouth or keep it on the spoon. I couldn't figure out how to move a brush when I'd look in the mirror. I couldn't write. I had to learn to do all of that over again.
I'll never forget the first time when I was in my bedroom. I had just gotten out of the hospital. My body was strong. I had been playing high school football and working in the woods. I just didn't have that right arm to get things done. I was in my bedroom alone with my tie in my hand thinking, now what in the world am I going to do with this crazy tie? You know I thought about mom. I thought maybe she could come and help me. Problem is, she didn't know how to tie a tie, nor could she go to Mexico with me. I realized that I was going to have to do it on my own. About five minutes later–having used my teeth a little bit–I had tied my tie for the first time.
I learned that if I were just a little patient and positive–in many things we have to put the Lord in the formula to help us, and have faith in Him and in ourselves, etc.–that I could move forward. Well, I have tied my tie ten thousand times and done many, many other things. I have learned along the way that those things are things that we need to do. Those challenges are given to us to make us stronger. They are given to us for our good.
Remember the prophet Joseph Smith, while he was in the Liberty jail? I always thought what a name for a jail–named after Liberty, Missouri. He was in the Liberty jail and he asked why all of this. I don't think it had to do with the deplorable condition in which he was living. I believe that it had to do with the fact that the saints were out there in the wilderness, between there and Illinois, that the cause of Zion seemed to be stalemated. His family was out there; he was incarcerated. He asked the Lord why. The Lord said in the 122nd section of the Doctrine & Covenants, the 7th and 8th verses, He wanted him to know that all of these things would be for his good and to give him experience. He said, "Know thou, my son, that all of these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."
Then he said,"The Son of Man [speaking of the Savior] hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?"
The point is that no, the prophet Joseph Smith had to suffer a little, or quite a bit. We have to suffer a little, but nothing like what the Savior has gone through.
I want you to know that no matter what the challenge may be in your life, it will be for your good and give you experience. You must work with it, deal with it and move ahead. It may be physical, especially as you get older. It's more likely to be economic. Maybe trying to find your spouse. Maybe dealing with temptation. Maybe dealing with the fact that you are suffering because of the sins of someone else. Maybe you have been abused as a child, teenager or as an adult. Maybe you have lost a loved one–or lost a loved one with regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ–whatever it may be. There are thousands and thousands of challenges. You don't have to go looking for them; they'll pop up automatically. You already know that. The message I'm giving you is as they come, you handle them well and the Lord will bless you.
Brothers and sisters, our time is up. I wouldn't leave here without telling you how much I love the Savior of the world, how grateful I am for what he has done. I want you to know that I know that there is a God in heaven, that He does want you back. He wants me back. He wants us all back. He loves us so much that He made that possible through His Son. We have great opportunities in this life. I pray that not one individual will skip out on the opportunities that your Heavenly Father has for you. We love you dearly.
With regard to loving prophets, I'm not exactly sure why the Lord has allowed me to know them so well. The President of the Church and his Councilors of the Twelve, almost on a daily basis I'll be with one or several of them. I just want you to know that these are good, holy and honorable men that love the Lord. I truly believe that they would do anything–even give their lives–if it would help any of you to get a little further on in your progression with regard to the plan of salvation, getting to know your Heavenly Father. President Hinckley is about as energetic as a man as I have ever seen. Don't miss anything that comes from him. The Lord seems to have blessed us with an exciting prophet who is in a dimension all by himself.
May the Lord bless us to listen closely. We love you. I thank you for this opportunity to be with you.

© Intellectual Properties Inc.