Visions Past, Present, and Future

 

Elder Nelson CommencementCommencement Address given at 
Brigham Young University-Hawaii

April 9, 2011 
Elder Russell M. Nelson
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Sister Wendy Nelson and I extend our sincere congratulations to you graduates and your families.  We are very proud of you and grateful for you.  We bring greetings to each of you from President Thomas S. Monson, his noble counselors, and my beloved brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

VISIONS FROM THE PAST

You are beneficiaries of prophetic visions of the past.  The Restoration of the gospel was initiated and authenticated by visions and visitations from heavenly messengers.  You know very well that on February 12, 1955, President David O. McKay founded the Church College of Hawaii.  Then he spoke of a vision that came to him 34 years previously, during which he witnessed a group of international school children participating in a flag ceremony at the Church school in Laie.  President McKay recounted that he had seen in those children the ability of the gospel of Jesus Christ to unite all people.

He spoke of the influence of the new school which now has become Brigham Young University-Hawaii.  With prophetic vision, he said: "From this school, I'll tell you, will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good toward the establishment of peace internationally."  (Brothers and sisters, he was seeing you!)

During his dedicatory prayer, President McKay revealed further insights regarding the great potential of the place whereon he stood.  From his prayer, I quote: "We dedicate our actions in this service unto Thee and unto Thy glory and to the salvation of the children of men, that this college and the temple and the town of Laie may become a missionary factor, influencing not thousands, not tens of thousands, but millions of people who will come seeking to know what this town and its significance are."

VISIONS OF THE PRESENT

Today I stand on this ground made sacred by the prophets and apostles who have labored here through these many intervening years.  Now I see bright and able young men and women from more than 70 countries, representing a host of diverse languages and cultures.  You have received a foundation for a lifetime of learning.  You have prepared yourself with secular knowledge that will better enable you to render service of worth to your fellow human beings.  You have prepared yourself with spiritual knowledge of "things as they really are, and of things as they really will be."1

Now you leave BYU-Hawaii, prepared to be leaders in your homelands and elsewhere.  You have been taught to learn, to lead, and to build.  You know how to integrate the unchanging truths of the gospel into the challenges of an ever-changing society.  You know how to liken the scriptures unto yourself, that it might be for your profit and learning.2

VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE

With these blessings of prophetic visions of the past and present, you logically ask, "What about our future?"  May I offer my vision of you and your future.  There is good news and bad news.  I won't try to separate them because both may come at you at the same time.  You enter a world caught in a steep slippery slide of diminishing moral values.  Against that backdrop, your character and integrity will let you stand out and shine like a lighthouse.  If you are true and faithful, you will stand out in stark contrast to the surrounding masses mired in mediocrity.  You will be anchored to eternal truth.  You, your families, and your homes will be become beacons of hope in a darkened world.  You will be seen as citadels of stability wherever you live.  Your faith and optimism will make you leaders in your communities, in your countries, and in the kingdom of God on earth.

It will be your privilege to proclaim the gospel to the world, teaching people of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatever God has commanded you.3

You will place a high priority on those two great commandments: to love God with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself.4  You will continue to learn and build in yourselves an ever-increasing capacity to serve others.  As you do so, you will find that your own lives have been enlarged and enriched.5

When you serve your fellow men and women, you serve God and help to establish His Church in those lands where you live.  You will be the Relief Society leaders and the Priesthood leaders of the future.  And most importantly, you will nurture the next generation who one day will bear leadership responsibilities in their world of tomorrow.

You will be examples to all with whom you associate"”examples of forbearance, of integrity, of controlling your tempers, appetites, and emotions, as you honor the priesthood and your sacred covenants.  You will cherish your righteous and youthful years.  I plead as did Paul, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."6

As you adhere to the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will be in great demand.  And you will find true joy in total obedience to God's laws.  While some others choose which commandments they will keep, you know the fallacy and danger of this approach.  It will only lead to misery.  You will gain protection and spiritual strength in complete obedience.  After all, he or she who does not stand for something will likely fall for anything.

What will keep you joyful and safe, physically and spiritually?  Obedience!  Obedience to all of God's commandments will allow the Holy Ghost to be your constant companion.  Obedience to your baptismal covenants, renewed weekly as you partake of the sacrament, will allow the Spirit of the Lord to be with you.  Such obedience will prepare you to be great leaders, great wives and husbands, great mothers and fathers.  Such obedience will allow you to become more like the Lord.7

Obedience to counsel from past prophets will also bless your future.   President Joseph F. Smith gave this timeless prophetic direction: "We say to our young people, get married, and marry aright.  Marry in the faith, and let the ceremony be performed in the place God has appointed.  Live so that you may be worthy of this blessing."8

Prophetic visions often carry a warning.  Present prophets fervently warn that pornography, infidelity, and immorality are all tools of the adversary.  They will destroy you, physically and spiritually.  Satan's objective is to hook you and make you miserable, even as he is.9  Shun these traps now and your future will be brighter.

Remember, your goal is exaltation and eternal life.  That goal is God's glory.10  Too many young men postpone dating and marriage to pursue careers or hobbies.  Young men, it is time for you to be men"”men of God"”who with women of God pursue progressive steps of love, courtship, marriage, and family.  Marriage of husband and wife is ordained of God.  They become a family which is the preserver of the human race.  The family is the engine that drives the economy.  The family is the gateway to eternal progression, exaltation, and everlasting joy.

Prophetic visions of the past, of the present, and for the future come to you as a gift, to guide you to all that our loving Father in Heaven has in store for His faithful children.  The Lord's vision for you as His elect children requires that you be clean, virtuous, and qualified for eternal life.

Now on this special occasion, I would like to invoke an apostolic blessing upon you, my beloved brothers and sisters.  I bless you with a deep desire to be devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you will feast upon His words and apply them in your daily lives.  I bless you with continuing success in your occupational and educational endeavors, that you will be able to provide for your needs and be able to share your bounty with the poor and the needy.  I bless you with health and strength to fulfill the measure of your creation.

I so bless you and leave my testimony with you that God lives.  Jesus is the Christ.  This is His Church.  President Thomas S. Monson is His prophet today, whom we love and sustain.  This blessing and testimony I leave with you, with my expression of love and gratitude for each of you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

NOTES


1.  Jacob 4:13.
2.  See 1 Nephi 19:23.
3.  See Matthew 28:19-20.
4.  See Matthew 22:37-39.
5.  See Matthew 10:39
6.  1 Timothy 4:12.
7.  See 3 Nephi 27:27.
8.  Gospel Doctrine, 275.
9.  See 2 Nephi 2:27.
10.  See Moses 1:39.

Photo by Monique Saenz.