Learn of Me, and Listen to My Words; Walk in the Meekness of My Spirit, and You Shall Have Peace in Me
Christina Akanoa
Christina Akanoa
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Devotional
February 26, 2019
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I walk today along the path of life.
No more a child protected from the strife.
Now I must face whatever foes may come
And fight with strength until the battle's won.

I trembling fear the task is far too great,
On every side the Tempter lies in wait.
What can I do? I plead to Him above,
Then hear Him speak these gentle words of love:

Learn of me and listen to my words,
Walk in the meekness of my light
And I shall give you peace,
My love will never cease,
For I am Jesus Christ (Janice Kapp Perry)

 

Brothers and Sisters TALOFA and ALOHA!

First, I would like to thank my husband, my better-half, and eternal companion for his kind words of introduction.  David comes from the village of Arorangi on the island of Rarotonga, Cook Islands and from a family who have been pioneers and faithful members of the church. He served a faithful mission in Perth, Australia amongst Aborogines in the outback and has told many great stories about his time with the members there.  He returned to BYUH after his mission to complete his degree in Information Systems with an emphasis in Networking and at the same time pursued another degree in celestial marriage with an emphasis in eternal life.  This is a life-long degree that both him and I are working together to achieve. Currently he is serving in the Bishopric for YSA 3rd Ward as a First Counselor and is an Electrician by professional trade.  Truly the Lord has blessed me with a kind, humble, and patient man who has endured all the many challenges being married to me.     

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of my family who are here today, my mother and family watching from Samoa and the Mainland, and everyone else who have gathered here to hear me speak.  Without their love and support, I would never be able to get through the many challenges and achieve my goals in life.

I am very honored by this great opportunity and invitation to speak at this devotional on a topic that holds much value in my life and have been a guiding beacon in the many challenges and experiences both good and bad that have molded me to the person I am today.
 

The topic that I have chosen to speak on is found in D & C 19:23, and I read: “Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me” (D&C 19:23).

This revelation was given to our prophet Joseph Smith in the year 1929 Manchester, New York as “a commandment of God and not of man to Martin Harris, given by him who is Eternal” (D&C 19).  The revelation exhorts man to repent or suffer and that eternal punishment is God’s punishment however, the Lord has provided the way out through the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ so that all will not suffer if they would repent.

It has been a long 2 months of pondering, stressing, and silently praying for inspiration from my Heavenly Father of what would be my message, HIS message that I should share with you today.  Somehow, through the pondering and the stressing this talk given by Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric kept flooding my thoughts even after searching and re-reading some of my memorable talks throughout the years.  In his talk, A Pattern for Peace, given in the April 2016 General Conference, Bro. Waddell reminds us of how to attain peace as promised by our Savior, and yet how easy it is we forget as we get swallowed up in life’s many responsibilities, challenges, and sorrow.  That sometimes we find ourselves secretly crying and desperately wondering: How did it get so complicated? How did I end up here? And will I be strong enough to overcome and rise from it?

Sorrows in My Life:

1989- My father passed away of pneumonia.  My mother was left widowed with 11 children to raise.  I was very young at the time, and his passing affected me deeply.  He was my hero, my strength, my testimony of the gospel.  Life would never be the same without his presence. 

2003- My brother died of an accident at work.  He was 30 years old.  After his death, my life took a turn physically and mentally.  I started having panic attacks and anxiety.  I was in my first year of graduate school and this affected my ability to think clearly and complete my assignments.  I was not in a good place. 

2011- My older sister died a sudden death from a brain tumor.  I was 7 months pregnant with my first boy, and I was not permitted to travel during this stage of my 3rd trimester.  It was a very difficult time having just lost my first boy to a miscarriage and then the sudden death of my sister.

In this mortal life we live, we are subject to the trials and sorrow along the way even with eternal life as our final destination.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught, and I quote: “The dial on the wheel of sorrow eventually points to each of us. At one time or another, everyone must experience sorrow.  No one is exempt…The Lord in His wisdom does not shield anyone from grief or sadness” close quote (Joseph B. Wirthlin, Oct 2008).  

Elder W. Christopher Waddell adds, and I quote: “Peace of mind, peace of conscience, and peace of heart are not determined by our ability to avoid trials, sorrow, or heartache. Despite our sincere pleas, not every storm will change course, not every infirmity will be healed, and we may not fully understand every doctrine, principle, or practice taught by prophets, seers, and revelators. Nevertheless, we have been promised peace—with a condition attached” Close Quote (W. Christopher Waddell, 2016).

In the scripture, the Lord gave us 3 conditions and then a promise:

  1. Learn of Me
  2. Listen to My Words
  3. Walk in the Meekness of my Light
  4. The Promise: “Peace I Give Unto You”

First: Learn of Me

In what ways are we learning about our Savior? Are we doing enough to learn of him? Is our knowledge sufficient in him? What can we do to learn more of him?

In D&C 136:32, we are counseled, and I quote: “Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear.” close quote

As members of the church, we have daily routines, the simple things that we are counseled to do to learn of our Savior and keep us on the straight and narrow path such as:

  • Scripture reading
  • Family and personal prayers
  • Attending the temple
  • Attending all our church services
  • Fasting
  • Paying full tithing
  • Service
  • And others

All these daily, weekly, and maybe monthly routines are important in learning and teaching about our Savior in the homes.  However, I strongly believe that true learning stems from a contrite spirit and a spiritual conversion of when your eyes are open to really see and your ears are open to truly hear. In my home, it is my children that triggers all my senses and helps me break the walls of ignorance that I carry with me.  They teach me charity, humility, patience, faith, long-suffering, perseverance, service, and courage.  A very wise friend of mine said to me one day while enjoying a day at the beach with our kids, “our kids are life lessons from our Heavenly Father, all of them sent to us with a message, one that we must decipher to find our way back to him.  All are born with different personalities that teach us patience” but most of all they teach us charity, the pure love of Christ, which is the love that they have for us as their parents, PURE AND WHOLESOME! The Savior loved the little children and often times his ministering were lessons to be learned from them.  If we could only see through their eyes…  

In 2008, we had a miscarriage, a baby boy whom we named Daniel (after my husband David’s grandfather).  It was one of the most painful experience both physically and emotionally as I had to still give birth to his lifeless body.  Through all the crying and the screaming, many thoughts went through my mind of why this happened and what did I do wrong this time.  After all, I had already given birth to 2 beautiful baby girls.  The recovery was difficult mostly emotionally and mentally, and then physically.  After 2 girls, we were praying for a boy but why did Heavenly Father take him back?

President Thomas S. Monson has taught and I quote: “The world can be a challenging and difficult place in which to live. … As you and I go to the holy houses of God, as we remember the covenants we make within, we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation. In this sacred sanctuary we will find peace.” close quote.

I remember attending the temple quite often with my husband after my recovery.  I pleaded with my Heavenly Father in that celestial room to send us another son.  If he could only send us another son.  My heart will be healed. The very next year, in August 2009, we were blessed with a baby boy, Tetupuariki.  As I held him for the first time and looked into his eyes, I was overwhelmed with a very strong feeling that he was Daniel and that Heavenly Father sent him back as a message of his LOVE for us.  That he is mindful of our pleas if our hearts desires are righteous.

The temple is that sanctuary of peace.  We learn, we listen, we renew our covenants, we contemplate on life’s challenges and how to overcome them but most of all, we find Peace.  The moment I walk up those steps, a feeling of calmness overwhelms me and the spirit assures me that Heavenly Father’s presence is there. 

Second: Listen to My Words

 In D&C 1:38 it reads, and I quote: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).

The scriptures, our living prophet, our church leaders and teachers, our parents, our children are all instruments of teaching and mouthpieces from our Lord one way or another, and yet how often do we really open our ears and listen?

I love how President Nelson addresses this question.  In his talk, Listen to Learn, President Nelson counsels on how we can attain wisdom by not just listening but listening to learn from our different relationships; with our children, parents, partners, neighbors, Church leaders, and the Lord.  He says, and I quote: “the time to listen is when someone needs to be heard” Close quote (Elder Nelson, April 1991 General Conference).

We, as parents and teachers need to learn to listen first then listen to learn from our children.  How often do we interrupt our children when they talk to us about something because “we already know” or tune them out because we’re too busy trying to finish chores in the home or other things that we ‘deem’ important.  The channel of communication between us and our children is special, and we should always have that open to foster the bond of an eternal family.

Children are counseled to learn to listen, and listen to learn from their parents as it could have severe consequences physically and spiritually on their well-being.  While wise parents have a duty to teach their children, it is the children’s obligation to listen and obey their parents. 

As members of the church we need to learn to listen, then listen to learn from our Church leaders.  As the scripture counsels, whether it be from our Heavenly Father or from his servants the prophets, it is one in the same.  Yet, often times, we selectively listen and turn a deaf ear when matters that may be sensitive to us individually or ones that may challenge our bad habits are addressed by our leaders.  However, the Lord has warned us in Acts 3: 22-23 that if we do not hearken unto his prophets we will surely be destroyed.  Elder J. Reuben Clark Jr., said and I quote, “We do not lack a prophet; what we lack is a listening ear” Close quote (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Nov 1948).

Lastly, we as children of God need to learn to listen then listen to learn from HIM, our Loving Father in Heaven.  The first and greatest commandment admonishes us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul.  The word ‘LOVE the Lord’ also means listening and obeying his commandments as these 2 words are closely connected in the Hebrew language in the Old Testament.  One way to listen to our Heavenly Father is through prayer.  President Spencer W. Kimball counseled that we should take a pause at the end of our prayers to listen intently.  How often do we recall our prayers as a way to listen to our Heavenly Father rather as a way for HIM to listen to us? Maybe a lot of our answers are lost in that moment because we don’t take the time to pause and ponder for an answer after we pray. 

President Nelson continues by saying, and I quote: “Carefully listen to learn from the Lord through the still small voice- the Holy Spirit- which leads to truth.  Listen to learn by studying scriptures that record His holy mind and will.  Listen to learn in prayer, for He will answer the humble who truly seek Him” close quote (Elder Russell M. Nelson, April 1991 General Conference)

Third: Walk in the Meekness of my Light

What is walking in meekness?

In the Webster Dictionary, meekness is defined as: mild, submissive, moderate

In Dictionary.com it is defined as: humbly patient, compliant, gentle, kind

In the Bible it says: “A meek person is willing to be submissive, is humble and gentle, relies on God and is dependent on Him to provide strength” (Bible Dictionary).

In the Topical Guide: it is having a contrite heart, humility, poor in spirit, and teachable

In all these different definitions, the common word that is used is HUMILITY but I also like the definition “to be teachable”, which is the same as one who relies on God for knowledge and strength.  One of my favorite scripture growing up is found in Proverbs 3:5-6, and it reads: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.” Humility then is consulting and relying on the Lord to guide us in all our DOINGS and not what we think should be DONE! 

In his talk To Walk Humbly with God, Elder Marlin K. Jensen said, and I quote:

“To begin, it should come as no surprise that, in the estimation of some, humility ranks quite low on the scale of desirable character traits. Popular books have been written in recent years on integrity, common sense, civility, and a host of other virtues, but apparently there is little market for humility. Obviously, in these coarsening times when we are taught the art of negotiating by intimidation, and assertiveness has become a byword of the business world, those seeking to become humble will be a small and overlooked but critically important minority”. Close quote

Is humility to be mistaken as a lack of assertiveness to achieve or acquire something? Or a sign of weakness in securing that which benefits the individual or the whole? I can say that there may be a few times in our lives when we find ourselves stuck in this dilemma.  How do we then make the right choice?

Meekness and Humility may be problematic to acquire because in our quest for righteousness we might find ourselves justifying our prideful actions (one we are so determined it’s NOT) to achieve that end.  However, as the saying goes “The MEANS does NOT justify the END!”  

A few examples:

  1. It’s almost the end of the month, and I need to get my ministering done.  I will not wait for my partner because she’s always busy.
  2. I’m surprised at how her son only knows the First Article of Faith, and yet he’s 8.  My son knows all the Articles of Faith from 1-13, and he’s not 8 yet.
  3. I can’t believe that the Relief Society teacher is reading the lesson again, she doesn’t have any kids so what’s her excuse for not being prepared.

I believe we all fall short of this important attribute one way or another.  If we are not careful in recognizing these weaknesses, they will turn into habits and become our norms in our everyday thought, speech, and action. 

Fortunately, the Savior provided the way for us to acquire Meekness and Humility. 

When His disciples approached Him and inquired, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He responded by placing a little child in their midst and stating, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).

 King Benjamin, in his profound sermon in the Book of Mormon, provides guidance.  He said:

 “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19

So what does it mean to be MEEK as a child? What important attributes can we learn from our children?

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to do a workout with my oldest daughter in my home.  She plays volleyball, and was advised by her Coach to do extra physical activities for strength training on the off-days that she did not have practice.  I could tell she was excited to work out with me for the first time in our home.  As I walked over to put on my shoes, I noticed that my socks were not where I put them from the previous day.  I searched all over the back room near the area where I had my shoes but could not find it.  I was puzzled, how can it disappear that fast when I had just used them the day before.  While I was sitting there thinking of where else it could be, my daughter walks out wearing the exact socks that I was looking for, my socks.  I questioned her, “Are those my socks? Did you take it out of my shoes?” “NO Mum, these are my own socks that were in my shoes!” she replied.  “I never touched your socks! I don’t know where they are!” My other daughter said, “Mum, maybe Dad took it!” and I said, “There is NO way Dad will take it because they’re too small for his feet and he will not fit into it!” At this point, I was fuming.  I was convinced that the socks she was wearing were mine and that she was not telling me the truth.  I asked her again, and she replied nervously knowing that I was angry and that she would be facing consequences real soon.  “I promise Mum, these are my socks and they were always in my shoes!” “So where are my socks and how can it disappear so fast from where I left them?” “If there’s one thing I hate the most is having a dishonest child!” I angrily said to her.  At this point, she was already tearing up not knowing what else she can say to convince me that she was telling the truth.  As the angry, impatient, and poor judgement of a parent I was, I thought I was doing my responsibility to discipline her at that moment to teach her a very valuable lesson. 

A few minutes later, my husband walks in after playing rugby that evening.  He saw my daughter crying on the couch and asked, “What happened?” I told him that she had to suffer consequences for lying to me about using my socks.  And that she would not confess to it.  He said, “Oh, which socks? I took a pair of socks that were in your running shoes to use because I couldn’t find mine!”

You can just imagine the rush of guilt I felt as soon as my husband’s words sunk in.  To make matters worse, my 3 other children witnessed the whole ordeal, and they too knew that I was in the wrong.  Even with the guilt I felt, my pride did NOT subside.  I did not want to let my children see me vulnerable as a parent so I did what I thought was appropriate.  I turned to my husband and BLAMED him for everything.  He took the socks without my permission and my knowledge, which made me think that my daughter took it, and she paid the price for both mine and my husband’s mistakes.  Instead of me, the parent, teaching my daughter the “valuable” lesson that I was so convinced she needed, it was SHE who taught me a very “VALUABLE” lesson that day.  She has never given us a reason to doubt her.  She is considerate, kind, respectful, and honest.  Why did I not TRUST her enough to know she was telling the truth?

Sister Jeans A. Stevens said, “If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth.”

Fourth: The Promise- “And I Shall Give you Peace”

In his talk “Whence Cometh Our Peace?” Elder John H. Vandenberg said, (and I quote) “But peace cannot be achieved by making a sign or by writing words on fences. It must come first and most completely to the individual through his own efforts in keeping the commandments of our Lord and Savior, for God made all men to enjoy such peace”. (End of quote)

This was in reference to his observation of peace signs that were written on vehicles, painted on walls, fences, and sidewalks everywhere he looked and he wondered why so many people were fixated on the idea of ‘Peace’.

He continues, (and I quote) “Just as running madly after worldly things does not bring peace, neither does sitting idly. Because our modern conveniences often leave us much time beyond that which is necessary to sustain ourselves and our families, it becomes important not to spend this time idly; for there is much to be done if we are to partake of the Lord’s peace”.

Before his crucifixion, the Savior reassured his disciples that if they continue to keep his commandments he will send another Comforter, the Spirit of truth, even the Holy Ghost who will continue to guide them and bring things into their remembrance of what he had taught them. Then he said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:15–27.)

Even with the sorrows I had encountered in my life starting at an early age with the passing of loved ones so close and near to my heart, I have been blessed more in return with the many gifts I have received thus far in my life.  2 months after my brother’s passing in 2003, David came into my life.  He was the beacon of light that I needed to rise from my sorrows and a sign of peace that my Heavenly Father wanted me to feel during a very tumultuous time of my life.  Having no knowledge of my sorrows, David’s love for me by his many acts of kindness and examples slowly but surely pulled me out of my abyss and into a newfound peace.   

Each of my children gifted to me by my Heavenly Father is a sign of peace and love that my Savior has promised me.  The gospel, the Holy Ghost, the Temple, the Atonement, and the love of families and friends who surround us are signs of ‘Peace’, which the Lord has promised us.

I wish to end with Elder Waddell’s words, and I quote: “The peace we all seek requires more than a desire. It requires us to act—by learning of Him, by listening to His words, and by walking with Him. We may not have the ability to control all that happens around us, but we CAN control how we apply the pattern for peace that the Lord has provided….” Close quote

My life is blessed to have his sacred word,

To feel his love and know my prayers are heard.

Within my soul his light has found a place,

It leads the way as I receive His grace.

 

The peace I feel, my joy in sacred things,

Surpasses all the world could ever bring.

With humble heart I take a valiant stand.

I will obey this gentle sweet command:

 

Learn of me and listen to my words,

Walk in the meekness of my light

And I shall give you peace,

My love will never cease,

For I am Jesus Christ (Janice Kapp Perry)

 

And this I leave with you and bear witness Of

 

In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.