It is a great blessing to be with you in devotional today. Most of you probably know that President Clark and I have been “off track” for a semester while he recovered from a kidney transplant. This is only the second semester of school he has missed in 41 years, so you know that school is where he likes to be! We are really glad to be back.
We hope that we won’t hurt your feelings by continuing to keep President at a safe distance during this season of colds and flu, but we have to keep him healthy to avoid any chance of rejecting his new kidney. He won’t be mingling much around campus; but if he does meet you one on one and he offers you an elbow touch or a gloved hand rather than a regular handshake, don’t take it personally and know that he loves you.
We have been so blessed by the support and prayers of all of you. For every sacrifice and extra effort made in President Clark’s absence and for every prayer that has been offered, we say: “thank you. Thank you so very much.” We have felt the power of those prayers.
This is a wonderful time in your lives. You have the great blessing to be at BYU-Idaho where the Lord has put in place for you an opportunity to gain a wonderful education while also becoming His disciple leaders. But you are going to have to work hard. You will need to be diligent in preparing for and participating in class and in doing your assignments.
Schoolwork is not the only hard thing you will face while you are here. Life is often hard. Challenges and trials will come that will also require hard work. But hard work alone, both in school and in dealing with trials, won’t get you where the Lord wants you to be. You will need to open your heart and mind to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I want to share with you today two principles that I know will help open your heart to the Spirit, deepen your faith, and strengthen your reliance on the Lord.
The first principle is: Embrace the experience.
If when you are facing something that is hard you feel fearful and discouraged, remember that we all have that natural reaction. But you can choose not to let fear and discouragement drive your actions. Instead, you can choose to act in faith to embrace the experience knowing that the Lord gives us hard experiences to help us grow and learn. You can embrace the learning and growth and rely on Him to help you through whatever it is you have to endure. Let me give you an example.
A little over a year ago President Clark and I were hoping for a miracle and trying to delay the deterioration of his kidneys by implementing diet and activity restrictions. But we came to understand that was not the Lord’s plan. Instead, we felt impressed that we should embrace a transplant. That was the Lord’s plan.
We knew there would be pain and suffering involved, not just for President but for our son Andrew who would be the donor. By embracing the whole experience, President could deal with the pain and suffering knowing it would be just for a while and then this wonderful gift would make new life possible for him.
This decision had a tremendous impact on us. It helped us to humble ourselves before the Lord. We felt Him closer to us, and we drew closer to each other. The Lord blessed us and Andrew and his family with positive attitudes and with many, many tender mercies.
When hard things come, embrace the experience. Ask the Lord what He wants you to learn, and then embrace the pathway to learning and growth.
The second principle is: Get outside yourself.
Another natural reaction you might have when things get hard is to withdraw inside yourself. In those times it is easy to become self-absorbed. But that is not the Lord’s way. He wants you to get outside yourself and get some help. There are people all around who can help you. It might be a roommate, a bishop, a classmate, one of your faculty, or someone in the Tutoring Center or Counseling Center.
And there are also people all around who you can help. You need to help others even when you are faced with hard things yourself. Reaching out to others opens your heart to the Spirit. It helps put your situation in perspective and keeps you from withdrawing. It keeps the spirit of entitlement out of your heart and helps keep gratitude in it. In short, helping others helps you humble yourself before the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, I hope and pray that you will work hard, embrace the experiences that come your way, and get outside yourself to serve others no matter what is happening in your life. I know if you do, you will open your heart and your mind to the Holy Ghost and the Lord will guide you in your experience here at BYU-Idaho. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.