My dear brothers and sisters, I am grateful to be with you on this very special, and very happy day. You are about to graduate from BYU-Hawaii at a wonderful time. It is true that this is a time of increasing darkness when the world is in commotion. And yet, it is a time of marvelous light, when the Lord is working in great power all across the earth to prepare His Kingdom for His return.
The Lord is raising you up to be His trusted servants. You will be strong in the Lord. You will create eternal families, gather scattered Israel, build up the Kingdom of God and establish Zion, wherever you go. This is your time.
I give you today three invitations and this promise: if you will accept and act on these invitations, the Lord will bless you with His love, His grace and His power. You will go forward in the strength of the Lord.
The invitations I give you today are drawn from the experience of the people in Lehi’s dream who held fast to the iron rod, partook of the fruit of the tree of life, and never fell away.[i] They enjoyed the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and they remained true to their covenants.[ii] I call them the covenant people of the Lord.
Invitation #1: Continually hold fast to the iron rod
The iron rod is the word of God.[iii] When we continually hold fast to the rod, our grip is tight and secure, and ever present. This means that we read, study and ponder the Book of Mormon every day.[iv] We are in the scriptures, study the words of the prophets, and seek the Holy Ghost to teach us and guide us. We hold fast to the iron rod, and divine light and power flow into our minds and hearts. We live by the word of God every day. The iron rod is a sure guide to light and life, and a sure protection from evil.
I invite you to continually hold fast to the iron rod. Read, study and ponder the Book of Mormon every day.
Invitation #2: Humble Yourself Before the Lord
When the covenant people of the Lord made it to the tree of life, the scripture says that “…they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.”[v] Why did they fall down before they partook of the fruit? I believe they fell to their knees and humbled themselves before the Lord. They prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, with expressions of gratitude and repentance. When we humble ourselves before the Lord with a broken heart and contrite spirit, we open our hearts and souls to His redeeming and strengthening power.[vi] He blesses us with forgiveness, cleanses us from sin, changes our hearts and strengthens us in our mortal journey on the strait and narrow path.
I invite you to humble yourselves before the Lord. Fall to your knees and pray to the Father in the name of the Son, every a day.
Invitation #3: Give no Heed to the Great and Spacious Building
Everyone who got to the tree of life was subject to the scorn and ridicule of the people in the great and spacious building. As Lehi said,
…great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.[vii]
Everyone who payed heed to the pride and wisdom of the world fell away and was lost.[viii] The covenant people, however, partook of the fruit and gave no heed to the great and spacious building. They rejected the lure of the world and focused their desires and their commitments on the Lord. When we turn away from the world, and put our trust in the Lord, He blesses us with His Spirit.
I invite you to give no heed to the great and spacious building. Keep the world out your heart, and the Spirit of the Lord in it.
Brothers and sisters, I know the promises of the Lord are true: if you act on these invitations, you will be the Lord’s trusted servants; you will create eternal families, and you will build Zion wherever you go. You will be a living witness of the love of God, manifest in the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I so testify, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
[i] 1 Nephi 8:19-33
[ii] Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 88-90.
[iii] 1 Nephi 11:25
[iv] Thomas S. Monson, “The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, May 2017, 86.
[v] 1 Nephi 8:30
[vi] 3 Nephi 9:20
[vii] 1 Nephi 8:33