Optimism and Joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ | T. Jeffrey Wilks

Optimism and Joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ | T. Jeffrey Wilks


>>WHAT A THRILLING LIFE
AWAITS YOU.>>THE ACQUISITION OF
KNOWLEDGE IS A SACRED ACTIVITY.>>A TRULY EDUCATED MAN
NEVER CEASES TO LEARN.>>THE FUTURE IS IN
YOUR HANDS. THE OUTCOME IS UP TO YOU. ♪♪
>>THIS BYU DEVOTIONAL ADDRESS WITH JEFF WILKS WAS GIVEN ON
SEPTEMBER 25, 2012. ♪♪
>>GOOD MORNING BROTHERS AND SISTERS. WELCOME TO OUR DEVOTIONAL
THIS MORNING. THIS MORNING WE HAVE THE
PRIVILEGE OF HEARING FROM BROTHER JEFF WILKS,
A PROFESSOR OF ACCOUNTING IN THE MARRIOTT SCHOOL
OF MANAGEMENT. WE WELCOME HIS WIFE MELINDA
WHO IS SEATED ON THE STAND AS WELL AS THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS
AND FRIENDS WHO HAVE JOINED US TODAY. T. JEFFREY WILKS JOINED THE
BYU FACULTY IN 2000 AFTER COMPLETING HIS MASTER’S AND
PHD AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY. HE TOOK A TWO-YEAR LEAVE OF
ABSENCE FROM BYU TO FULFILL AN APPOINTMENT AS AN ACADEMIC
FELLOW AT THE FINANCIAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARD
IN NORWALK, CONNECTICUT. PROFESSOR WILKS CURRENTLY
TEACHES A CASE-BASED MASTER’S LEVEL COURSE THAT REQUIRES
STUDENTS TO APPLY BOTH U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL
REPORTING STANDARDS TO A VARIETY OF COMPLEX BUSINESS
TRANSACTIONS. THE MARRIOTT SCHOOL AWARDED
PROFESSOR WILKS THE TEACHING EXCELLENCE AWARD IN 2011. BROTHER WILKS SERVED AS A
MISSIONARY IN THE ECUADOR QUITO MISSION. SINCE THEN HE HAS SERVED IN
MANY OTHER CALLINGS WITHIN THE CHURCH,
AND CURRENTLY SERVES AS THE BISHOP IN HIS HOME WARD. HE AND HIS WIFE, MELINDA,
ARE THE PARENTS OF FIVE CHILDREN. AND NOW WE’LL HAVE THE
PRIVILEGE OF HEARING FROM BROTHER JEFF WILKS.>>I HAVE IMAGINED FOR THE
LAST TWO MONTHS WHAT THIS WOULD FEEL LIKE,
AND IT DOESN’T EVEN BEGIN TO COMPARE. MY DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS,
IT IS WITH GREAT ADMIRATION AND AWE THAT I STAND
BEFORE YOU TODAY. YOU ARE AN AMAZING SIGHT! AS I LOOK AT YOU,
AND THINK ABOUT THE INCREDIBLE STAGE OF
LIFE YOU ARE IN, I CAN’T HELP BUT REMEMBER MY
OWN DAYS AS A STUDENT AT BYU. IN FACT, IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO
THIS MONTH THAT I MET MY DEAR SWEETHEART, MELINDA. I HAD ONLY BEEN HOME FROM MY
MISSION FOR FOUR MONTHS WHEN I ATTENDED MY NEW BYU WARD
FOR THE FIRST TIME. IN SACRAMENT MEETING,
I LOOKED UP TO WATCH THE CHORISTER LEADING THE
CONGREGATION, AND SHE WAS THE MOST
BEAUTIFUL YOUNG WOMAN I HAD EVER SEEN. THAT EVENING, I SAW HER
AGAIN AT WARD PRAYER, BUT I WAS WAY TOO SCARED TO
GO UP AND INTRODUCE MYSELF. FORTUNATELY FOR ME,
HEAVENLY FATHER TOOK CARE OF THAT LITTLE DETAIL BY
INSPIRING OUR BISHOP TO ASSIGN US TO THE SAME FAMILY
HOME EVENING GROUP. THEY ANNOUNCED THE NEW GROUPS
THAT VERY EVENING, WE FLIRTED FOR A FEW MONTHS
BEFORE WE FINALLY STARTED DATING,
AND WE WERE MARRIED THE FOLLOWING JUNE. EVERY SIGNIFICANT BLESSING
THAT HAS COME INTO MY LIFE SINCE THAT TIME,
I HAVE SHARED WITH MY BEST FRIEND AND ETERNAL COMPANION. I LOVE EVERY MOMENT WE GET
TO SPEND TOGETHER, AND THERE ARE NEVER ENOUGH
OF THOSE MOMENTS! WELL, I KNOW MANY OF YOU ARE
HOPING FOR SIMILAR EXPERIENCES SOMETIME THIS YEAR OR MAYBE
IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS. IN FACT,
THE BEGINNING OF A NEW SCHOOL YEAR IS FILLED WITH HOPE
AND EXCITEMENT FOR ALL KINDS OF REASONS. SADLY, BY THE TIME FINAL
PROJECTS AND FINAL EXAMS ROLL AROUND,
A LOT OF THAT HOPE AND EXCITEMENT HAS JUST
PLAIN VANISHED. I STILL REMEMBER THE
NIGHTMARE I USED TO HAVE AT THE END OF EACH SEMESTER,
IN WHICH I DREAMED THAT I HAD FORGOTTEN TO ATTEND ONE OF
MY CLASSES FOR THE ENTIRE SEMESTER. IT WAS HORRIBLE. FUNNY ENOUGH,
I HAD THAT SAME NIGHTMARE YEARS LATER WHEN I FIRST
BECAME A PROFESSOR, BUT THIS TIME,
I DREAMED THAT I HAD FORGOTTEN TO TEACH ONE OF
MY CLASSES FOR THE ENTIRE SEMESTER. WHAT HAPPENS BETWEEN THE
BEGINNING AND END OF A SEMESTER THAT DRAINS US
OF HOPE AND EXCITEMENT? WHY IS IT SO HARD SOMETIMES
TO STAY POSITIVE AND UPBEAT? I DON’T KNOW AL THE ANSWERS,
TO BE SURE, BUT I WAS ACCUSED AT A VERY
EARLY AGE IN MY LIFE OF BEING TOO POSITIVE,
TOO UPBEAT, AND EVEN NAÏVE ABOUT LIFE. I CAN’T REMEMBER EXACTLY WHEN
THE ACCUSATIONS STARTED, BUT WHEN I WAS 16 YEARS OLD,
AN INSPIRED PATRIARCH PLACED HIS HANDS ON MY HEAD AND
SAID: JEFFREY, THIS IS A GOOD WORLD. YOU WILL BE POSITIVE IN
YOUR THINKING. YOU WILL THINK POSITIVELY,
YOU WILL SPEAK POSITIVELY, YOU WILL ACT POSITIVELY. WITH ALL THE NEGATIVISM IN
THE WORLD TODAY YOU WILL SORT IT OUT AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY
BECAUSE YOU WILL DO THE THINGS WHICH ARE PLEASANT
AND WORTHWHILE. I HAVE SEEN THIS BLESSING
COME TRUE COUNTLESS TIMES IN MY LIFE. AND I CAN TESTIFY THAT THIS
WORLD IS A GOOD WORLD. THERE IS SO MUCH TO BE HAPPY
ABOUT IN THIS WORLD. AND WHEN WE FAIL TO SEE THE
WORLD AROUND US FOR THE WONDER AND JOY THAT
IT HAS TO OFFER, WHEN WE REFUSE TO SEE
THE HOPE AND THE LIGHT EVERYWHERE AROUND US,
WE ARE NOT SEEING THE WORLD AS IT TRULY IS. WE ARE NOT SEEING THE
WORLD THROUGH HEAVENLY FATHER’S EYES. I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING
THAT HAPPENED TO ME JUST LAST TUESDAY AFTERNOON,
I STOOD UP FOR A MOMENT TO TAKE A BREAK FROM MY WRITING,
AND I LOOKED OUT MY FIFTH FLOOR WINDOW IN
THE TANNER BUILDING, WHICH HAS A PERFECT VIEW OF
THE WALKWAY THAT RISES FROM HELAMAN HALLS UP PAST
THE TANNER BUILDING. AS I LOOKED DOWN,
I SAW A YOUNG MAN IN A WHEELCHAIR WHO WAS WHEELING
HIMSELF UP THAT LONG, STEEP WALKWAY. AND JUST AS I STARTED
THINKING ABOUT HOW MUCH EFFORT THAT MUST TAKE,
I SAW ANOTHER YOUNG MAN JUST SLIGHTLY AHEAD ON THE WALKWAY
TURN AROUND AND NOTICE THIS YOUNG MAN IN THE WHEELCHAIR. I DON’T KNOW IF THEY KNEW
EACH OTHER OR WERE COMPLETE STRANGERS,
BUT IN THAT MOMENT, THE ONE YOUNG MAN WALKED
QUICKLY AROUND AND BEHIND THE WHEELCHAIR,
AND HE PUSHED THE OTHER YOUNG MAN UP THE REST
OF THAT LONG WALKWAY. IN FACT, HE PRACTICALLY RAN AS
HE PUSHED HIM UP THAT HILL. THIS SIMPLE MOMENT
IN TIME, 1:30 P.M. ON A TUESDAY AFTERNOON,
WITNESSED TO ME AGAIN HOW MUCH LIGHT AND GOODNESS ARE
EVERYWHERE AROUND US IF WE WILL JUST LOOK FOR IT. SO TODAY,
I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU FIVE LESSONS THAT I HAVE LEARNED
IN MY LIFE ABOUT HOW TO BE POSITIVE IN A WORLD FILLED
WITH NEGATIVISM. EACH OF THESE LESSONS IS
BASED ON EXPERIENCES I HAVE HAD AS A HUSBAND
AND A FATHER. NOW, I AM FULLY AWARE
THAT ELDER STEVEN E. SNOW SPOKE TWO WEEKS AGO FROM THIS
VERY PULPIT ABOUT OPTIMISM. BUT AS MUCH AS I TRIED TO
STEER MY THOUGHTS TO ANOTHER TOPIC,
THE SPIRIT KEPT BRINGING BACK TO THIS ONE. SO I CAN ONLY TRUST THAT
HEAVENLY FATHER THINKS THAT WE COULD USE A DOUBLE DOSE
ON THIS PARTICULAR TOPIC, AND PERHAPS EVEN
MORE AT TIMES. THE FIRST LESSON
ABOUT BEING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD IS THAT
RIGHTEOUSNESS DOES NOT MEAN PERFECTION. A HUMOROUS EXPERIENCE
WHEN OUR FAMILY WAS YOUNGER TAUGHT ME THIS LESSON. I SAY HUMOROUS, IT IS NOW,
BUT IT WASN’T THEN. WHEN MY OLDEST DAUGHTER,
ASHLYN, WAS ALMOST 10 YEARS OLD,
WE WERE CAMPING AT PALISADE STATE PARK IN THE MOUNTAINS
ABOVE MANTI, UTAH. WITH MY KIDS SO YOUNG,
THEY WEREN’T A WHOLE LOT OF HELP SETTING UP OUR MASSIVE
TENT WITH THOSE FLEXIBLE, FIBERGLASS POLES THAT YOU
HAVE TO PUSH THROUGH THE SLEEVES IN THE TENT AND THEN
TRY TO LIFT ALL AT ONCE TO GET THE TENT TO RISE. WHILE MY WIFE WAS UNLOADING
OUR VEHICLE AND SETTING UP THE REST OF CAMP,
I WAS STRUGGLING TO GET THE TENT OFF THE GROUND
ON MY OWN. THEN SUDDENLY,
WITH ONE OF MY PUSHES ON THE POLES TO GET THE TENT TO RISE,
I SNAPPED THE POLE. I AM ASHAMED TO ADMIT
THAT AT THAT MOMENT, I LET SLIP FROM MY MOUTH
A COLORFUL WORD THAT I DARE NOT REPEAT HERE. OH, IT WASN’T A HORRIBLE WORD,
BUT MY DAUGHTER CLEARLY RECOGNIZED IT TO
BE A SWEAR WORD. I CONTINUED ON IN MY BATTLE
TO SET UP THE TENT, AND EVENTUALLY SUCCEEDED
WITH SOME DUCT TAPE AND OTHER MAKE-SHIFT EFFORTS
TO GET THE TENT UP. UNBEKNOWNST TO ME AT THE TIME
WAS THE CONVERSATION THAT FOLLOWED BETWEEN MY
DAUGHTER AND MY WIFE. MELINDA LATER TOLD ME THAT MY
DAUGHTER APPROACHED HER WITH A TROUBLED LOOK ON HER FACE
AND SAID, “MOMMY, I THOUGHT DADDY WAS PERFECT.” MY IMMEDIATE REACTION WAS TO
FEEL HORRIBLY ASHAMED FOR HAVING CRUSHED MY DAUGHTER’S
PERCEPTION OF ME. MY SECOND REACTION
WAS TO THINK, “WOW, I MANAGED TO GET MY DAUGHTER
ALL THE WAY TO TEN YEARS OLD CONVINCED THAT I WAS PERFECT?!” BUT ALL HUMOR ASIDE,
I FELT PRETTY BAD FOR WHAT I HAD DONE. AND THEN CAME THE
TEACHING MOMENT. MY DEAR WIFE SAID
SIMPLY TO MY DAUGHTER, “DADDY IS NOT PERFECT,
BUT HE IS RIGHTEOUS.” IT WAS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS WHERE
I WAS PROFOUNDLY REMINDED THAT I HAD MARRIED AN ANGEL,
FOR WHO COULD HAVE COME UP WITH A BETTER RESPONSE IN
THIS TEACHING MOMENT. PERFECTION CAN SOMETIMES BE
THE ENEMY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. WHEN WE GET SO CAUGHT UP
WORRYING ABOUT BEING PERFECT, ABOUT BEING A PERFECT SPOUSE,
A PERFECT SON OR DAUGHTER, A PERFECT PARENT,
A PERFECT TEACHER, OR A PERFECT FRIEND,
IT’S EASY TO BECOME DISCOURAGED BECAUSE
NONE OF US WILL EVER BE PERFECT IN THIS LIFE. EVEN THOUGH OUR SAVIOR
COMMANDED US TO BE PERFECT LIKE HIM AND OUR HEAVENLY
FATHER (3 NEPHI 12: 48), HE HAS NO EXPECTATION THAT
WE’RE GOING TO ACCOMPLISH THAT IN THIS LIFE. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE. REMEMBER,
HE TAUGHT MORONI THAT HE GIVES UNTO US WEAKNESSES
THAT WE CAN BE HUMBLE. AND IF WE HUMBLE OURSELVES,
HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT TO MAKE THESE WEAKNESSES BECOME
STRENGTHS (ETHER 12: 27), BUT NOT PERFECTIONS. KEEP TRYING ANYWAY THE SECOND
LESSON ABOUT BEING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD IS THAT
LIFE REALLY IS HARD SOMETIMES, AND YOU’VE GOT TO KEEP
TRYING ANYWAY. MY SON TANNER TAUGHT ME
THIS ONE DAY WHEN HE WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD. TANNER HAD DECIDED TO SWITCH
FROM SKIING TO SNOWBOARDING THAT YEAR, AND IT WAS HIS
FIRST DAY ON THE SLOPES. NOW THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE
SNOWBOARDED KNOW THAT THE FIRST DAY IS TYPICALLY
HORRIBLE AND PAINFUL. IN FACT, MOST INSTRUCTORS
SAY THAT YOU CAN’T MAKE A DECISION ABOUT WHETHER YOU LIKE
SNOWBOARDING UNLESS YOU’VE TRIED IT THREE DAYS BECAUSE
MOST PEOPLE STILL HATE IT AFTER THE FIRST TWO DAYS. I STILL HAVEN’T TRIED
SNOWBOARDING, AND I’M NOT SURE I EVER WILL. BUT IF I DO,
I WILL HAVE TO RENT ONE OF THOSE GIANT SUMO COSTUMES
WITH ALL THE EXTRA PADDING JUST TO PROTECT MYSELF
FROM ALL THE FALLS! WELL, TANNER’S FIRST DAY ON THE
SNOWBOARD PROVED TO BE LIKE MOST FIRST DAYS; VERY PAINFUL
AND FRUSTRATING. INITIALLY, HE STARTED
DOWN THE MOUNTAIN WITH HIS OLDER BROTHER WHO
KNEW HOW TO SNOWBOARD. BUT EVERY TWO OR THREE FEET,
TANNER WOULD FALL DOWN, CATCHING A TOE AND LANDING ON
HIS STOMACH OR SLIDING HIS HEELS TOO FAR AND LANDING ON
HIS REAR END. HE WAS CRYING AND YELLING THE
ENTIRE WAY DOWN THE MOUNTAIN! HE GOT TO THE POINT WHERE HE
DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO TRY STANDING UP ANYMORE;
INSTEAD HE JUST SLID DOWN THE MOUNTAIN ON HIS BUM. AND AFTER WHAT SEEMED
LIKE TWO HOURS, HE FINALLY REACHED THE
BOTTOM OF THE HILL. HE WAS EXHAUSTED PHYSICALLY
AND MENTALLY. HE WAS IN PAIN,
AND I WAS VERY TIRED OF DEALING WITH MY CRANKY SON. FORTUNATELY,
WE WERE STAYING IN A LODGE AT THE BASE OF THE RESORT,
SO WE DECIDED TO TAKE BREAK. I FIGURED TANNER WAS DONE FOR
THE DAY ANYWAY. SO AFTER A GOOD LUNCH AND
SITTING AROUND A BIT, I WAS SURPRISED WHEN TANNER
SAID HE WANTED TO GO OUT AGAIN. I ASKED HIM WHETHER HE
REMEMBERED WHAT THE MORNING HAD BEEN LIKE. BUT HE SAID HE WANTED TO TRY
AGAIN ANYWAY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED,
BUT THAT AFTERNOON, HIS ATTITUDE WAS
COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. HE KEPT GETTING UP
EVERY TIME HE FELL, AND BY THE END OF THE DAY,
HE COULD BUTTER DOWN THE HILL PRETTY WELL. AND TODAY HE CAN CARVE A LINE
DOWN ANY HILL HIS OLDER BROTHERS CAN RIDE. LIFE SOMETIMES
REALLY IS HARD. AND ALL WE CAN DO IS GET BACK
UP ON THE SNOWBOARD, EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW PERFECTLY
WELL HOW EASILY THAT SNOWBOARD CAN SLIDE OUT
FROM UNDER US. SOME OF YOU KNOW WHAT
IT’S LIKE TO STRUGGLE WITH ADDICTIONS,
AND GETTING BACK UP AFTER FALLING OFF THOSE PARTICULAR
SNOWBOARDS CAN BE VERY FRUSTRATING. YOU MAY WONDER IF YOU WILL
EVER BE ABLE TO OVERCOME THAT ADDICTION. WHEN YOU FEEL THIS
FRUSTRATION, THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL
ANGUISH FROM TRYING AND FAILING AND TRYING AGAIN,
PLEASE REMEMBER THIS WONDERFUL COUNSEL RECORDED
IN DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 123. THEREFORE,
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN, LET US CHEERFULLY DO ALL
THINGS THAT LIE IN OUR POWER; AND THEN MAY WE STAND STILL,
WITH THE UTMOST ASSURANCE, TO SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD,
AND FOR HIS ARM TO BE REVEALED (DOCTRINE AND
COVENANTS 123: 17). WHEN YOU’RE SITTING THERE,
WONDERING WHETHER YOU CAN STAND BACK UP ONE MORE TIME,
REMEMBER THAT SOMETIMES THE TEST ISN’T ABOUT OVERCOMING,
BUT ABOUT WHETHER WE WILL KEEP TRYING NO MATTER HOW
HARD THINGS SEEM TO BE. NEVER GIVE UP. DO ALL THINGS CHEERFULLY
THAT LIE IN YOUR POWER, AND THEN STAND STILL WITH
THE ASSURANCE THAT GOD WILL HELP YOU. THE THIRD LESSON ABOUT
BEING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD IS TO KEEP YOUR EYES
FOCUSED ON HEAVENLY FATHER. WHEN MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER
MALEAH WAS NEARLY TWO YEARS OLD,
SHE WAS PLAYING IN THE CULTURAL HALL OF OUR
CHURCH IN NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT. YOU KNOW THOSE DOORS THAT
OPEN UP UNDER THE STAGE WHERE WE STORE CHAIRS AND TABLES? MALEAH WAS PLAYING WITH THOSE
DOORS AND ACCIDENTALLY CLOSED BOTH DOORS AT THE SAME TIME
REALLY HARD WITH HER THUMB IN BETWEEN THEM. SHE JUST CRIED AND CRIED,
OUR SWEET LITTLE GIRL. WHEN SHE FINALLY
SETTLED DOWN, WE NOTICED THAT HER THUMB
SEEMED TO BE STUCK IN A BENT POSITION. AFTER VISITING THE EMERGENCY
ROOM AND THEN A HAND SPECIALIST A WEEK LATER,
WE LEARNED THAT MALEAH HAD WHAT IS CALLED CONGENITAL
TRIGGER THUMB, WHERE THE TENDON THAT FLEXES
THE THUMB IS STUCK IN ITS SHEATH,
HOLDING THE THUMB IN A BENT POSITION. WE WAITED A FEW WEEKS AT THE
DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION TO SEE IF IT MIGHT HEAL ITSELF
ON ITS OWN. AND WHEN THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN,
WE SCHEDULED A TIME FOR SURGERY. EARLY THAT MORNING
AT THE HOSPITAL, OUR LITTLE GIRL,
WHO NORMALLY BOUNCES OFF WALLS,
WRESTLES WITH HER OLDER BROTHERS,
AND GENERALLY CAUSES HAVOC WHEREVER SHE GOES,
WAS PRETTY SUBDUED. WE DRESSED HER IN THE CUTEST
YELLOW HOSPITAL CLOTHES THEY HAD AND FOUND SOME FLUFFY RED
SOCKS TO KEEP HER FEET WARM. THEN THE NURSE TOOK US DOWN
TO A CLOSET WHERE MALEAH CHOSE A CUTE PILLOW-SOFT
TEDDY BEAR TO TAKE WITH HER INTO THE SURGERY PREP ROOM. THEN I PUT ON SOME SCRUBS AND
WE SAID GOODBYE TO MELINDA, AND I CARRIED MY SWEET LITTLE
GIRL DOWN THE HALL TO THE PREP ROOM,
WITH HER ARMS TIGHTLY AROUND MY NECK. I WAS SO WORRIED THAT SHE
MIGHT NOT LET GO, THAT SHE WOULD BE SCARED
TO GO INTO SURGERY. BUT WHEN WE ARRIVED
IN THE ROOM, I GAVE HER A BIG HUG AND THEN
GENTLY LAID HER DOWN ON THE TABLE ONTO A NICE
WARM BLANKET. THE NURSE PUT ANOTHER WARM
BLANKET OVER MALEAH WHILE I TALKED WITH HER,
KEPT HER CALM, AND PLACED HER LITTLE TEDDY
BEAR UNDER HER ARM, WHICH SHE SNUGGLED CLOSELY. I LOOKED AT HER RIGHT IN THE
EYES AND SHE LOOKED AT ME WHILE I EXPLAINED THAT THE
DOCTOR WAS GOING TO PUT A MASK OVER HER FACE,
AND THAT SHE WAS GOING TO FALL ASLEEP. WHILE HOLDING MY HAND AND
LOOKING INTO MY EYES, SHE WATCHED THE DOCTOR
PLACE THE MASK OVER HER MOUTH AND NOSE. SHORTLY AFTER,
I WHISPERED TO HER THAT I LOVED HER,
AND I WATCHED HER LITTLE LIPS INSIDE THE MASK
SPEAK THE WORDS, “I LOVE YOU, TOO.” THEN HER LITTLE LIPS
STARTED TO QUIVER AND SHE CLOSED HER EYES TO SLEEP. MY SWEET LITTLE GIRL WHO
BOUNCES OFF WALLS HAD CALMLY GONE INTO SURGERY LISTENING
TO MY VOICE AND LOOKING DEEPLY INTO MY EYES. IT WAS ONE OF THE MOST SACRED
EXPERIENCES OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. FROM THIS AND MANY OTHER
EXPERIENCES AS A FATHER AND A BISHOP,
I HAVE LEARNED HOW DEEPLY HEAVENLY FATHER LOVES
EACH ONE OF US. HE IS ALWAYS THIS NEARBY
WHEN WE ARE GOING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES,
BUT IT’S UP TO US WHETHER WE WILL LOOK INTO HIS EYES
AND LISTEN TO HIS VOICE. WE LOOK INTO HIS EYES AND
WE HEAR HIS VOICE WHEN WE IMMERSE OURSELVES IN THE
SCRIPTURES AND WE CONVERSE WITH HIM IN DAILY,
MEANINGFUL PRAYER. I TESTIFY TO YOU THAT BY
KEEPING OUR FOCUS ON HIM AND LISTENING TO HIS VOICE,
WE WILL SEE THE GOODNESS AND WONDER THAT SURROUNDS US EVEN
IN THE MOST DIFFICULT OF CIRCUMSTANCES. THE FOURTH LESSON
ABOUT BEING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD IS THAT
HEAVENLY FATHER’S APPROVAL IS THE ONLY APPROVAL THAT
MATTERS. I WAS REMINDED OF THIS LESSON
THIS PAST SPRING WHEN I TOOK MY BOYS TO A PLACE CALLED
SNOGRESSION; IT’S AN INDOOR PRACTICE FACILITY FOR SKIERS
AND SNOWBOARDERS IN SALT LAKE CITY. IT HAS TRAMPOLINES EVERYWHERE
AND A MASSIVE FOAM PIT SO SKIERS AND SNOWBOARDERS CAN
PRACTICE THEIR TRICKS WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT LANDING
THEM PERFECTLY. THE COOLEST FEATURE OF THIS
FACILITY IS ITS PRACTICE RAMP. A PERSON STANDS UP AT THE TOP
OF THE RAMP AND HOLDS ON TO A BAR THAT WILL PULL
THEM DOWN THE RAMP, ACCELERATING THEM
INTO THE JUMP. AT THE END OF THE RAMP IS A
FOAM PIT SITTING ATOP A LARGE TRAMPOLINE BASE THAT PROBABLY
MEASURES 50′ BY 50′ IN SIZE. IT’S HUGE! DALLIN,
MY 13 YEAR OLD SON, WAS THE MOST EXCITED TO
GO TO THIS FACILITY. HE WANTS TO BE A PROFESSIONAL
FREE SKIER SOMEDAY, AND HE COULD PROBABLY SPEND
EVERY DAY AT SNOGRESSION AND NEVER GET BORED. BUT ON THIS FIRST DAY,
HE WAS A LITTLE BIT TIMID. HE’D PROBABLY BE THE FIRST TO
TELL YOU THAT HE WAS WORRIED ABOUT LOOKING FOOLISH TO ALL
THE OTHER COOL KIDS THAT WERE THERE. THEIR APPROVAL MATTERED
A TON TO HIM. AS A RESULT,
HE HADN’T TRIED ANYTHING REALLY HARD DURING
THE WHOLE SESSION. THEN, ON HIS LAST
CHANCE OF THE DAY, I YELLED UP TO HIM FROM THE
FOAM PIT (WHERE I WAS FILMING) THAT HE SHOULD
TRY A BACK FLIP. I KNEW HE COULD DO IT BECAUSE
I’D SEEN HIM DO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT TRICKS ON OUR
TRAMPOLINE, BUT I WASN’T SURE HE’D HAVE
ENOUGH COURAGE TO TRY WITH SO MANY OTHERS WATCHING HIM. WELL, WATCH AND LISTEN
CAREFULLY TO THIS VIDEO CLIP TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT. WHAT YOU SEE HERE IS DALLIN
JUMPING UP AND DOWN, TRYING HIS BEST TO RELAX
AND LOOSEN UP. THEN, HE GRABBED THE BAR,
AND HIT THE BUTTON. I COULDN’T BELIEVE MY EYES. EVERYONE THERE WAS
CHEERING WITH EXCITEMENT, AND NO ONE LOUDER THAN ME. DALLIN JUST FLOATED AROUND
ON CLOUD NINE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY. WHY DO WE CARE SO MUCH ABOUT
THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS? WHY DO WE ASPIRE TO THE
HONORS OF MEN (DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS 121: 35) AND FORGET
THAT HEAVENLY FATHER’S APPROVAL IS ALL THAT MATTERS
IN THE END? WHEN WE ALLOW OUR DECISIONS
TO BE INFLUENCED BY THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS,
WE PUT OURSELVES AT THE MERCY OF FICKLE MOBS,
EVER CHANGING FASHIONS, AND THE DEVIL’S WHIRLWINDS
(HELAMAN 5:12). IF INSTEAD WE SEEK OUR
HEAVENLY FATHER’S APPROVAL ONLY,
WE BUILD OUR FOUNDATION UPON A ROCK THAT CANNOT BE MOVED
(HELAMAN 5:12). AND I CAN THINK OF NOTHING
THAT WILL BRING US MORE STABILITY AND OPTIMISM THAN
BUILDING OUR FOUNDATION UPON THE ROCK OF OUR REDEEMER. WHEN WE GOT HOME FROM OUR
TRIP TO SNOGRESSION, WE TOOK OUT THE VIDEO CAMERA
AND WATCHED DALLIN’S FLIP FORWARD AND BACKWARD,
IN FAST AND SLOW MOTION. AND WE LISTENED AS WELL. IT WAS THEN THAT I REALIZED
WHAT I NUT I HAD BEEN WHEN DALLIN THREW THAT TRICK. I WAS A LITTLE EMBARRASSED
AT FIRST, BUT LATER I THOUGHT TO MYSELF,
THIS HAS TO BE HOW HEAVENLY FATHER FEELS WHEN WE STOP
WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK OF US,
AND TRY TO USE THE TALENTS HE HAS GIVEN US. I THINK HE IS JUST AS EXCITED
IN CELEBRATING OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS I WAS
WITH DALLIN’S JUMP. I TESTIFY TO YOU THAT
HEAVENLY FATHER AND JESUS CHRIST ARE OUR GREATEST
CHEERLEADERS AND FAN SECTION. AND WE WILL FEEL MORE JOY AND
HOPE IN THIS WORLD WHEN WE DO OUR BEST TO SEEK AND
OBTAIN THEIR APPROVAL. THE LAST LESSON
ABOUT BEING POSITIVE IN A NEGATIVE WORLD IS
THAT WE MUST LOOK FOR (AND REMEMBER) THE JOY
IN OUR LIVES. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME
YOU FELT TRUE JOY? HOW LONG AGO WAS IT? DO YOU REMEMBER THE DETAILS
OF THAT MOMENT, AND DO YOU THINK OF IT OFTEN? AS MY FINAL STORY TODAY,
I WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT A TIME THIS SUMMER WHEN
I FELT TRUE JOY, BRIMMING OVER,
IMPOSSIBLE TO CONTAIN. MY SON TATE IS 15 YEARS OLD,
AND HE PRACTICES PIANO ABOUT 3-4 HOURS PER DAY ON SCHOOL
DAYS AND CLOSER TO 6 HOURS PER DAY DURING THE SUMMER. THIS PAST SPRING,
HE SET A GOAL TO PLAY WITH THE UTAH SYMPHONY IN THEIR
SALUTE TO YOUTH CONCERT, WHICH IS HELD EACH FALL. IT IS A STATEWIDE COMPETITION
THAT DRAWS SOME OF THE BEST YOUNG PIANISTS EACH YEAR. HE SPENT COUNTLESS HOURS
PRACTICING AND REFINING A FIFTEEN MINUTE CHOPIN
CONCERTO AND EVENTUALLY SUBMITTED HIS BEST RECORDING
TO THE JUDGES IN LATE JUNE, IN HOPES THAT HE WOULD BE
SELECTED TO PLAY IN THE FINAL ROUND OF THE COMPETITION
LATER THAT SUMMER. THE FINALISTS WERE TO BE
ANNOUNCED THE MORNING OF JULY 20TH,
WHICH JUST HAPPENED TO BE THE DAY THAT OUR YOUTH WOULD BE
PULLING HANDCARTS UP ROCKY RIDGE IN WYOMING. TIME WENT BY SLOWLY,
AND WE PRAYED AS A FAMILY EVERY DAY THAT TATE WOULD
MAKE IT TO THE FINAL ROUND OF THE COMPETITION. EVENTUALLY,
THE YOUTH TREK BEGAN, AND TATE SEEMED TO FORGET THE
IMPENDING ANNOUNCEMENT AMIDST THE EXCITEMENT OF PULLING
A HANDCART IN THE 95 DEGREE WYOMING SUN, CROSSING
RIVERS, SQUARE DANCING, AND SINGING SONGS WITH HIS
HANDCART BROTHERS AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS. ON THAT FRIDAY MORNING,
SOON AFTER WE SENT OUR HANDCART COMPANY OFF
TOWARD ROCKY RIDGE, I RECEIVED AN UNEXPECTED TEXT
MESSAGE FROM MY WIFE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
IN WYOMING. TATE HAD BEEN SELECTED
FOR THE FINAL ROUND OF THE COMPETITION. I COULDN’T WIPE THE SMILE
FROM MY FACE OR PREVENT THE TEARS OF JOY THAT FOLLOWED. I STILL REMEMBER THE
SWEETNESS OF THAT MOMENT, AND HOW I COULDN’T WAIT UNTIL
NOON WHEN I WOULD GET THE CHANCE TO TELL TATE
PERSONALLY. HERE’S WHAT I RECORDED IN MY
PIONEER JOURNAL THAT EVENING ABOUT THE EVENTS OF THAT DAY:
BECAUSE I WAS TAKING LUNCHES TO THE TREKKERS TODAY,
I GOT TO CATCH UP TO TATE AFTER HE HIKED ROCKY RIDGE. HE LOOKED SO GOOD COMING
INTO THE BREAK AREA, SO STRONG AND PURE. AFTER HE HAD EATEN LUNCH,
I ASKED HIM TO COME TALK WITH ME. I WALKED WITH HIM JUST A LITTLE
WAYS OFF FROM EVERYONE, AND I ASKED HIM IF HE WAS
READY TO HEAR THE DECISION. HE LOOKED [VERY] CONCERNED,
AND HE SAID HE WASN’T SURE HE WANTED TO KNOW BECAUSE HE
DIDN’T WANT TO RUIN THE REST OF HIS TREK. I JUST LOOKED AT HIM IN
THE EYE, AND I SAID, “YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED.” HIS LOOK REGISTERED COMPLETE
DISBELIEF AT WHAT HE JUST HEARD. SO I CLARIFIED,
“YOU GET TO PLAY IN THE FINAL ROUND ON AUG. 6TH.” HIS FACE WAS AN
EXPRESSION OF PURE JOY, AND HE COULDN’T CONTAIN IT. HE REACHED OUT TO ME AND
HUGGED ME LIKE HE HAS NEVER HUGGED ME BEFORE. HE WAS IN TEARS WITH JOY. HE EVEN PICKED ME UP
AND SWUNG ME AROUND, HE WAS SO EXCITED. HE WALKED A LITTLE WAYS OFF
AND JUST LOOKED OUT OVER THE PLAINS. HE COULDN’T CONTAIN
ALL THAT JOY. HE WAS SO ADORABLE TO
WATCH WITH HIS FRIENDS AS THEY FOUND OUT. TATE JUST KEPT SMILING
AND CRYING. I EXPERIENCED TRUE JOY FOR
THOSE PRECIOUS MINUTES. ALL OF THE STORIES I HAVE
SHARED WITH YOU TODAY CAME FROM MY PERSONAL JOURNAL. I HAVE LEARNED BY MY OWN
EXPERIENCE THAT I FEEL GREATER JOY AND OPTIMISM IN
MY LIFE WHEN I AM KEEPING A DAILY JOURNAL. NOW I KNOW THAT KEEPING A
JOURNAL IS AN OVERWHELMING CHALLENGE FOR MOST PEOPLE. AS ONE OF MY FRIENDS TOLD ME,
HE DOESN’T LIKE KEEPING A JOURNAL BECAUSE HE FEELS
LIKE HE TRIES TO WRITE TOO MUCH ABOUT EACH DAY,
AND THAT ENDS UP TAKING TOO LONG,
AND EVENTUALLY HE JUST STOPS WRITING AGAIN. SO,
I HAVE A RECOMMENDATION FOR YOU TO HELP YOU WITH
THIS FINAL LESSON. IN OCTOBER 2007,
PRES. HENRY B. EYRING TOLD OF HOW HE KEPT A
JOURNAL FOR YEARS BY ASKING HIMSELF A SINGLE
QUESTION EVERY DAY. HE SAID: I WROTE DOWN A FEW
LINES EVERY DAY FOR YEARS. I NEVER MISSED A DAY NO
MATTER HOW TIRED I WAS OR HOW EARLY I WOULD HAVE
TO START THE NEXT DAY. BEFORE I WOULD WRITE,
I WOULD PONDER THIS QUESTION: “HAVE I SEEN THE HAND OF GOD
REACHING OUT TO TOUCH US OR OUR CHILDREN OR OUR FAMILY
TODAY?” AS I KEPT AT IT, SOMETHING BEGAN TO HAPPEN. AS I WOULD CAST MY MIND
OVER THE DAY, I WOULD SEE EVIDENCE OF WHAT
GOD HAD DONE FOR ONE OF US THAT I HAD NOT RECOGNIZED IN
THE BUSY MOMENTS OF THE DAY. AS THAT HAPPENED,
AND IT HAPPENED OFTEN, I REALIZED THAT TRYING TO
REMEMBER HAD ALLOWED GOD TO SHOW ME WHAT HE HAD
DONE (OCTOBER 2007 GENERAL CONFERENCE). THIS FINAL LESSON IS PERHAPS
THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF THEM ALL. TO LOOK FOR THE JOY
IN OUR LIVES, WE NEED ONLY LOOK FOR THE WAY
IN WHICH GOD’S HAND HAS TOUCHED US OR OUR FAMILY OR
OUR FRIENDS THAT DAY. SOMETIMES HE TOUCHES US
THROUGH TENDER MERCIES. OTHER TIMES,
HE TOUCHES US WITH WONDERFUL HUMOR. AND FREQUENTLY,
WE WILL SEE HIS HAND IN OUR LIVES BY THE WAY IN WHICH
HE PROMPTS US TO SERVE SOMEONE THAT DAY,
TO LIFT SOMEONE ELSE WHO IS STRUGGLING. WE DON’T HAVE TO WRITE
LENGTHY MUNDANE JOURNAL ENTRIES ABOUT OUR DAYS. INSTEAD, WE CAN SIMPLY
WRITE ONE OR TWO LINES IN WHICH WE IDENTIFY THE HAND
OF GOD IN OUR LIVES THAT DAY. AS WE DO THIS,
WE WILL SEE MORE CLEARLY HOW BLESSED OUR LIVES REALLY ARE. WE WILL BE FILLED WITH
GRATITUDE AND OPTIMISM. WE WILL SEE THE WORLD MORE
LIKE OUR HEAVENLY FATHER SEES THE WORLD. WE WILL SEE THE WORLD
AS IT REALLY IS, AND BE FILLED WITH
JOY AND HOPE. I TESTIFY TO YOU THAT THIS
WORLD IS A GOOD WORLD, AND THAT HEAVENLY FATHER
SEES IT THAT WAY. HE IS A GOD OF HOPE, JOY,
AND OPTIMISM. WITH ALL THE NEGATIVISM
IN THE WORLD, WE CAN SORT IT OUT AND SEE
THE WORLD AS HEAVENLY FATHER SEES IT. LET US NOT CONFUSE
RIGHTEOUSNESS WITH PERFECTION. LET US GET BACK UP
EVERY TIME WE FALL. LET US KEEP OUR FOCUS ON
HEAVENLY FATHER AND LISTEN TO HIS VOICE. LET US SEEK HIS APPROVAL,
AND NOT THE APPROVAL OF THE WORLD. AND LET US LOOK FOR AND
REMEMBER THE JOY AND THE TOUCH OF GOD’S HAND IN OUR
LIVES EVERY DAY. AFTER ALL, THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS. THE SAVIOR HAS OVERCOME
THE WORLD, AND HE HAS PREPARED THE
WAY FOR US TO DO THE SAME. MAY WE FEEL THE OPTIMISM AND
JOY OF HIS GOSPEL EVERY DAY OF OUR LIVES IS MY PRAYER IN
THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST, AMEN.>>THIS BYU DEVOTIONAL ADDRESS
WITH JEFF WILKS WAS GIVEN ON

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