Building on a Sure Foundation
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
April 14, 2012
Steven C. Wheelwright
Since President David O. McKay presided and spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for this special campus in 1955, much has been said about the impact and contribution that you and so many other graduates would make as you departed from BYU-Hawaii and pursued the next phases of your life. Frequently we speak about President McKay's prophetic vision of you in terms of "learners, leaders, and builders. " Today I would like to speak about your going forth to become builders - builders of strong homes and faithful families; builders of strong communities and successful careers; and builders of the kingdom of God.
I love the counsel given by Elder Bruce R. McConkie regarding your charge to be builders. Speaking at general conference, he said,
"Every person born into this world builds a house of some sort and puts it on a foundation of his choosing. And every house built in this mortal sphere is subject to the storms and strifes of life. Our mortal probation is one in which the divine purpose calls for rain and winds and floods. We live in the midst of a swirling storm of sin. The rains of evil and the winds of false doctrine and the floods of carnality beat upon every house. [But] it is within our power to build a house of faith, a house of righteousness, a house of salvation" (Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, May 1981, "Upon This Rock").
At this special time of commencement I would like to share three principles that we hope will be hallmarks of your life of building. While each of you has already contributed much to the building of your education and character, the future will require that you take on even greater challenges in your efforts to build a life filled with the peace and joy the Savior has promised.
The first principle I'd stress is that of creating and maintaining a firm foundation. A foundation built on rock and not on sand (Matthew 7:24-27). A foundation that will prove sufficient for all the Lord has in store for you. A foundation that "cannot fall" (David B. Haight, General Conference, April 1972, "A Foundation Whereon Men Cannot Fall"). And the scriptures make it abundantly clear that the only sure foundation is one built on the Savior and His gospel.
Our hope is that your time at BYU-Hawaii has provided you with the opportunity to establish deep footings for both a spiritual and a temporal foundation. Much like our new on-campus building sites, which are currently "settling" before we start preparing and pouring the footings and the foundations, we hope that you have become settled and anchored securely and soundly in learning by experience and by faith.
But we also know that you will need to nurture, refine, and strengthen that foundation going forward. You will need to do so by making and keeping sacred covenants, by seeking the Lord's help daily, by following the Lord's prophets, by living worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and by serving faithfully and willingly in all you are called to do.
The second principle is making sure that you are always building for eternity. I love the motto of the Church College of New Zealand, "Build now for eternity. " Whenever the prophet Joseph Smith was asked by the saints how permanently they should build their homes, he responded, "Build as though you were going to stay forever" (Joseph B. Wirthlin, New Era, March 1990, "Build It Right"). Building for eternity ensures that the quality of the materials - the ideas, values and character - you use in whatever you build will be worthy of your good name and reputation and the talents with which the Lord has blessed you.
And this principle is true whether building a career or a business, establishing an eternal home and family, or helping to build the kingdom in some far corner of the world. Indeed if you commit to and follow this second principle in all you do, then when circumstances, associates or the honors of men would tempt you to compromise or lower your standards, like the prophet Nehemiah of old, you will be able to respond, "I am doing a great work, I cannot come down" (Nehemiah 6:3).
When you follow this principle of "building for eternity," the Lord can enhance and magnify your efforts far beyond what you might have envisioned for yourself. I've always appreciated the way in which the Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, described the result when we follow this principle. He said: "Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts . . . and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?
"The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of- throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace" (Lewis, C. S. , Mere Christianity (London: William Collins, 1970), 172).
The third principle of building I would share is what is referred to in the scriptures as "fitly framed" (Ephesians 2:21). When constructing a physical building, this is what ensures that all of the elements are tied together and that the building has integrity. This is the characteristic that is needed if physical buildings are to have sufficient structural integrity and resilience to withstand earthquakes, tornedoes, hurricanes, typhoons and other natural disasters.
When building an aspect of your personal life - whether a marriage, a family, a career, a community, or the kingdom - this principle enables each aspect both individually and collectively to withstand every challenge. By being "fitly framed," each aspect of your life is tied to that sure foundation which cannot fail whatever storms or circumstances may come. As you hear the Savior's words received through His prophets and the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and bind yourself to Him and His gospel, you will be fitly framed and will merit all that He has promised.
We have great faith in you and in your future. Our hope at this time of commencement is that you will go forth committed to build on that sure foundation of Jesus Christ, consistently build for eternity, and through your thoughts and actions, all aspects of your life will be fitly framed and tied to that foundation. Let me conclude my remarks by echoing the closing words of King Benjamin to those he loved so dearly:
". . .remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer. . . that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds,. . . when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you. . . because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall" (Helaman 5:12).
I testify that these are true principles and that they will lead you to peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.