Preparation Brings Peace
Commencement Address given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
April 10, 2010
Steven C. Wheelwright
President of BYU-Hawaii
At this time, I'd like to take just a few moments
to comment on three of the things we hope each of you graduates will take with you as you leave this beautiful campus. It is the message that Paul gave to Timothy in 2nd Timothy chapter 1, verse 7, as both Paul and Timothy faced very unsettled times and an uncertain future. Paul's message was simple: "God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
When I graduated over 40 years ago, it was the decade of the sixties. The economy had been growing steadily for several years, jobs were plentiful, and graduate schools had empty seats. Today the world economy is not good, jobs are not plentiful, and graduate schools are more competitive than they have ever been. I know from my discussions with many of you that in spite of the excitement you feel for having completed your undergraduate education, you are also worried about the future, about your future. But Paul's message to Timothy is equally applicable to each of you: God has not given you the spirit of fear.
In a talk given to a group of graduating students like yourselves during the recession of the mid-eighties, President Hinckley asked, "Who among us can say that he or she has not felt fear?" But he then went on to point out that fear is the antithesis of faith. "[Such] fear comes not of God, but rather that this gnawing, destructive element comes from the adversary of truth and righteousness.... The great antidotes to the fears that rob us of our strength and sometimes [discourage us] are the [blessings] of power, love and a sound mind [that the Lord has promised to those who are faithful.]" (Gordon B. Hinckley, "'God Hath Not Given Us the Spirit of Fear'," Ensign, Oct 1984, 2)
As you reflect on what it is that you take with you at this time of commencement, we hope that it will include power, the power of the gospel, the power of truth, the power of faith, and the power of the priesthood that we all have access to. We hope that you know, as do we that as sons and daughters of God, we have the potential to use that power not only to bless and guide our own lives in times of uncertainly and trial, but to bless the lives of all of those around us.
Indeed, God has given us the power of the gospel to lift us above our fears and to strengthen those around us. We need not fear as long as we have in our lives the power that comes from righteously living by the truth which is from God our Eternal Father. Indeed, we then have the promise that with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
And in addition to a knowledge and testimony of that power God has given you, we hope you will also take with you a sense of love, of God's love for you as His son or daughter and of the love of all of those who have supported you to this point of your life, both those on this campus as well as family and friends near and far. But we also hope you will take with you a deep love for the Savior, for His atonement, and for His work and cause in building the Kingdom. Such love can do much to bridge the chasm of fear. How great is the power of love to overcome fear and doubt, and worry and discouragement.
And finally, as pointed out by Paul, you have the blessing of a sound mind to help you overcome fear. Indeed you would not have achieved this day of graduation and commencement had you not had the great gift of a sound mind. And as you continue to apply that sound mind and continue to search for truth, eternal truth, yours will be the blessing promised by the Lord in our own day: "That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light growth brighter and brighter until the perfect day" (D&C 50:24).
Because fear is of the adversary, it is darkness, the absence of light. As you use your sound mind to receive truth, and then apply that truth in righteousness, you will indeed receive more light, further diminishing the darkness and fear around you. And as you do so, you will realize the promise that Paul made to his student, Timothy, that indeed God has not given you the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
As you receive your degree today and go forward in your life, our hope and prayer for each of you is that the foundation you have laid through your diligence and faithfulness on this campus will give you the power, love, and sound mind that will enable you to overcome all fear and to accomplish all the Lord would have you do. Such is our prayer and blessing for each of you and I leave this with you in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.