Commencing on Life’s Journey
Devotional or Speech given at
Brigham Young University-Hawaii
December 14, 2013
Steven C. Wheelwright
Sister Wheelwright and I extend to you our congratulations and our love. To help honor and recognize your achievements, we are grateful to have with us today Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Kathy, as well as Elder Paul V. Johnson, commissioner of the Church Education System, and other honored and special guests.
We refer to these graduation exercises as commencement because they represent the start of something new, the beginning of the next stage of life’s journey. On this day of commencement, I’d like to focus my brief remarks on four essential elements we hope you will carry with you as you leave this special campus and continue on life’s journey.
To assist you in remembering these four essential elements, I’d like to refer to a journey that each of you knows well – the journey we read about in the Book of Mormon undertaken by Nephi as he and his family left Jerusalem. You will recall that the first thing young Nephi took with him was a commitment to follow God’s prophet, and he literally followed the prophet, his father Lehi, into the wilderness.
As you leave BYU–Hawaii and commence on life’s journey, we hope that you will take with you a love of the prophets and a commitment to search out, listen to, and follow the counsel of our living prophet. Just as Nephi was aided in his journey by following God’s prophet, I testify that your lives will be guided and blessed as you continue to follow the counsel of God’s living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and the counsel of all of those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.
The second essential element that Nephi took on his journey was the Holy Scriptures. These scriptures not only enabled him to know the mysteries of God, but they made it possible for Nephi and his posterity to keep in remembrance all the Lord had done for them and was willing to do for them. Furthermore, studying the scriptures enabled Nephi and his family to be obedient to God’s commandments, ensuring their receipt of all the blessings a loving Father had in store for them.
As you leave BYU–Hawaii and commence life’s journey, our hope is that you will take the scriptures with you – both physically as well as in your heart. May you continue to study them daily so that you can have the benefit of their guidance in both teaching the gospel to your family and your neighbors and in applying the gospel in all that you do. I testify that as you do so, your life and the lives of those you love will be blessed each day.
The third essential element that Nephi and his family took with them was companionship – both of family and of an eternal companion. Just as it was not meet that Nephi should undertake life’s journey without an eternal companion, so it is with each of you. Nephi and his brothers returned to their homeland to find eternal companions equally committed to the gospel and to following the Lord’s living prophet.
Some of you already have identified your eternal companion, while others of you still need to find that special someone. As you commence this next phase of life’s journey, the Lord does not intend for you to undertake it on your own. He has decreed that you should make that journey with an eternal companion – someone who can share all aspects of life’s journey with you. I testify that life is better and filled with greater joy when you have an eternal companion at your side in all of life’s journey.
The fourth essential element that Nephi and his family took with them on their journey was the Liahona – and a commitment to keep it working through their obedience and faith. As Nephi learned, when they were righteous and stayed close to the Lord, their journey took them through the more fertile parts of the wilderness, whereas when they were slothful and strayed from that commitment, they “tarried” and “did not travel a direct course,” but were “afflicted … because of their transgressions.”1
As you leave BYU–Hawaii and commence on life’s journey, we hope that you will take with you the Holy Ghost as your personal Liahona. However, like Nephi learned, the operation of the Holy Ghost as an effective guide to your daily life will depend on your personal diligence and faithfulness. I testify that as you do so, your life’s journey will take you through many fertile valleys and ensure the blessings of the Atonement for you and your family.
If you will take these four essential elements with you as you leave BYU–Hawaii and commence life’s journey – first, listening to and following God’s prophets; second, studying the scriptures daily; third, seeking diligently to develop an eternal relationship with your spouse and family; and fourth, living worthy to receive and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost – I can promise you a life filled to overflowing with the blessings of a loving Father and His Son.
Then, decades from now, as you look back on that journey, like Nephi of old, you will be able to testify that “the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”2 Such is our hope and prayer for each of you on this day of commencement, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.