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He Will Show You the Path

I am so grateful for each of you and the efforts you’ve made to persevere through the challenges of this last year and a half. Not only have you continued to work toward your educational goals, but you have had experiences that prepared you to be strong in the future spiritually, personally, and professionally.

Your achievements set a foundation that prepares you for great success in the future. The way you exercise your agency and accept accountability for the choices you have made will determine your future.

As faith-filled members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have access to significant knowledge about the eternal consequences of our choices. We also know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can overcome some of these consequences because Jesus Christ has offered to take them upon himself if we repent and chose to follow Him.

This is a wonderful blessing and certainly gives us some perspective that if we align ourselves with His will, or in the words of President Russell M. Nelson, if we “let God prevail” in our lives, then we will be pleased with the eternal consequences of our actions.

It is this concept of letting the Lord prevail in our lives that I want to talk about today.

Our Savior Jesus Christ is the perfect example of submitting His will to His Father’s. From the very beginning in the premortal life, he set his course when he said to His Father, “Thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). Through His life, he went “about {His} Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). And in Gethsemane, His commitment culminated in Him saying, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

We can follow Christ’s example and let God prevail when we “let God be the most powerful influence in our lives…” Simple acts of kindness, compassion, and humility allow us to draw closer to the Savior and to Our Heavenly Father. Honoring the covenants we have made and keeping the commandments can remind us daily that we are letting God prevail. When we turn to Him in prayer for guidance, when we focus more on spiritual things over worldly concerns, we are allowing God to prevail in our lives. The early Saints who chose to walk by faith and patience were promised that:

“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory (Doctrine and Covenants 21:6).

In our day, President Nelson has promised “…as you choose to let God prevail in your lives, you will experience for yourselves that our God is “a God of miracles.” (Let God Prevail, October 2020.)

Many of you have been very far from home as you have attended BYU–Hawaii. You’ve made many friends. Some of you have gotten married, started a family, and even had children. Now, as you complete your education, you have big decisions in front of you. You have to consider your plans for employment or further education. You have to consider your responsibilities to those who may depend on you now, as well as those who may depend on you in the future.

You may also be considering your responsibilities to friends and family, a community that may be very far away and in very different circumstances than where you currently live. You will be letting the Lord prevail in your life if you take time to prayerfully understand how you can fulfill all of those responsibilities in a way that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father by aligning yourself with his will for you and the things that you can accomplish in your life.

I have found that at times letting God prevail requires sacrifice. In my own life, I have made decisions that, on the surface, were not the logical choice by the world’s standards but, in hindsight, made all the difference.

One such decision came around the time of one of my own graduation days. I completed my Ph.D. at Washington University in St. Louis. I had an incredible experience there and was taught and mentored by great scientists and good and kind human beings. I was fortunate, and my research work had progressed well, leading to significant scientific outcomes and momentum, including grant money that would fund our research for several years to come. At that same time, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, asked me to apply for a position opening in the Biology Department. BYU in Provo is a great school but has nothing even approaching the research capacity reputation and resources of Washington University. I applied anyway, and the process progressed.

When my colleagues at Washington University heard that I had applied to BYU in Provo, they immediately made arrangements for me to begin as a professor at Washington University. They graciously informed me of their confidence that I would be an excellent faculty member there and outlined how they would support my efforts. They were exactly right in telling me that Washington University was the best and most logical place for me to pursue my career as a faculty member, teacher, mentor, and research scientist. There would be no question that I would have the best resources, colleagues, and students in the world.

BYU in Provo also decided to offer me a job. Sister Kauwe and I both felt that it was a position we needed to prayerfully consider along with our other offers.

In addition to the research opportunities, Washington University seemed like the obvious choice for other reasons as well. On a personal level, we had lived in St. Louis for six years and truly enjoyed it. We had dear friends that we loved and many young people we had mentored and become close to. We had great colleagues and a great environment that had already led to significant professional success.

From a spiritual and church service perspective, we had been involved very closely with our ward and stake. We had had incredible missionary experiences and opportunities in our personal lives and as part of organized church efforts. We had worked in the temple, both cleaning and supporting temple work. We knew that there were great service opportunities if we stayed in St. Louis to build the kingdom of God.

On the other hand, BYU in Provo had much to offer. I had been a student there, where I had incredible experiences. I knew the influence that a professor there could have on their students and was grateful for it. In addition, much of our family lived in that area, and it would be nice to be close to them. But we were concerned about the difference in missionary opportunities, and while BYU in Provo would be a great and stable choice professionally, the university would not provide the same thriving research environment for me to use my skills and continue my efforts to try to cure Alzheimer’s disease. It could be done, but it would likely be an uphill battle and require the development of many resources and collaborative relationships.

We were very fortunate that our hard work and the many blessings we had received had put us in a position to choose between two great options. As Sister Kauwe and I began to consider our options, we thought Washington University would be our choice because of the professional, personal, and spiritual opportunities available to us.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, as we made an effort to prayerfully and carefully consider our path, it became clear that we should decline the offer from Washington University and begin in the Biology Department at BYU in Provo. We followed the spiritual direction we received, made that choice, and proceeded.

At the time, I hoped but did not know whether I would be able to develop a robust research program and continue to make meaningful contributions to Alzheimer’s disease research. My mentors at Washington University had concerns about that as well. Now, with the perspective of years, the blessings and opportunities that have come as a result of that decision, including being here at BYU–Hawaii, have been plentiful. Most of them could not have been predicted. Sister Kauwe and I are incredibly grateful that we were able to hear and follow the promptings of the Spirit and align our decisions with the will of the Lord for our lives.

Each of you, our newest graduates, is embarking on what may be your first truly unknown paths. There are many sources of information and influence for your life. I can assure you that your Heavenly Father desires that you carefully listen to and consider the knowledge and influence of people you know love you and wish the best for you. He desires that you take those things under consideration carefully and then seek guidance through the promptings of the Holy Ghost to know His will for you. I assure you that He will share that will with you. I assure you that when you let His will prevail in your life, He will place you where you need to be at the time that you need to be there. He will bless you with opportunities to succeed personally and professionally. He will bless you with the strength to overcome the challenges that are an inevitable part of this life. He will bless you to know how you can best use your talents and capacities to serve your families, your communities, and the building of the Kingdom of God.

I can assure you of this because I have felt it over and over in my life. And I have seen it over and over in my life. The paths that He will ask you to follow may not always be the most logical. They may not always lead to the most fame or money or recognition. But they will lead to the spiritual progression necessary for your eternal salvation. And you will be led on paths that will allow you to serve God’s children in the places and ways that are most needed.

As you graduate and move forward with this increased capacity to serve and benefit the people around you, I encourage you never to forget or find ways to let the Lord‘s will prevail in your life. He will speak to you. And when you listen, you will be set on paths that bring you incredible joy and the type of success that can only be achieved through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.