Skip to main content

Wonders Among You

Brothers and sisters, graduates, faculty members, family members, and dear friends:

It is a tremendous honor for my wife and me to share this wonderful day with you. To those who are graduating today, we congratulate you most sincerely.

I think I speak for members of the Church everywhere when I say we are proud of you. We’re proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished—and, perhaps more significantly, what you will yet accomplish. We’re proud of Brigham Young University–Hawaii and what it stands for. Just listen to this list of nations represented in today’s graduating class:

  • Australia 
  • Canada 
  • China 
  • Columbia 
  • Fiji 
  • Guatemala 
  • India 
  • Indonesia 
  • Japan 
  • Malaysia 
  • Marshall Islands 
  • Mongolia 
  • New Zealand 
  • Papua New Guinea 
  • Philippines 
  • Samoa 
  • South Korea 
  • Sweden 
  • Tahiti 
  • Taiwan 
  • Thailand 
  • Tonga 
  • United States 
  • Vietnam 

What an amazing diversity of cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives! Before you came to BYU–Hawaii, you may not have known anyone from most of these countries. Now they are your classmates, your fellow graduates, your friends. In the spirit of aloha—which is simply a manifestation of the Spirit of Christ—you have welcomed each other, learned from each other, and lifted each other above man-made boundaries. When people lament the polarization of modern society—the bitterness and racism and tribalism—I wish they could come spend a day at BYU–Hawaii. I wish they could see the miracle that’s taking place here. You are living proof of what happens when we live by the truth that “all human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.” [1] You are a miracle that simply must spread throughout the world.

Something Important Is about to Happen

Do you ever get the feeling that something big and important is about to happen? That’s how I feel right now, standing here, looking at you. When I think about you and your accomplishments that we celebrate today, a scripture comes to mind. In Deuteronomy 4:32, we read the words of Moses to the children of Israel. After recounting the great things the Lord has done for them, Moses said, “Ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?” [2]

When you think about all of the miracles that brought you to this day, all the sacrifices—your own and others’—that were required, you might also feel like there has never “been any such thing as great.” Well, I submit that the only thing greater than what you’ve just done is what you’re about to do.

I don’t know exactly what Heavenly Father has in store for each of you—what mission He wants you to fulfill—but I do know that His prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has said this:

“My dear brothers and sisters, so many wonderful things are ahead. In coming days, we will see the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen. Between now and the time He returns ‘with power and great glory,’ He will bestow countless privileges, blessings, and miracles upon the faithful.” [3]

Have you ever considered the implications of that statement? The greatest manifestations ever? We’re talking about the God of miracles, who parted the Red Sea, made water come out of a rock, caused prison walls to fall, multiplied bread and fish, healed lepers, and raised the dead. But His greatest manifestations of power are yet to come!

Allow me to share another scripture that comes to mind when I think about you. This one is also in the Old Testament, in Joshua chapter 3. Here we find the children of Israel camped on the banks of the Jordan River. They had finally come to the end of their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. On the other side of that river lay Canaan, their promised land. Moses, their dynamic and beloved leader during those 40 years, was now gone, and the Lord had called Joshua to take his place.

The air must have been heavy with anticipation. This was the moment they’d been waiting for their entire lives. The Lord’s promises of rest and prosperity were about to come true. There must have been a buzz of excitement, perhaps something like the excitement you feel today. But there also must have been some trepidation. For one thing, there was that river, the natural and symbolic boundary between the wilderness and the promised land. At that time of year, the river would have deep and swift-moving—even overflowing its banks, the scripture says.

And even if they were somehow able to get all those people across that river, then what? There were many battles and challenges ahead; were these Israelites, the children of slaves, most of them born and raised in the wilderness, ready for these challenges?

In that setting, Joshua went among the people with this message from the Lord, “Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” [4]

You know what happened next. In a miracle that recalled the parting of the Red Sea a generation earlier, the Lord caused the waters of the Jordan River to “stand upon an heap,” and His people walked across “on dry ground.” [5]

It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see you in this story. You are on the brink of a major transition, a step you’ve been hoping for and working toward for years now. Like Joshua, you’ve had to say goodbye to trusted mentors. Like the children of Israel, the Lord is about to do something wonderful with you. That can be simultaneously exciting and frightening.

Since this story of the Israelites entering the promised land feels so relevant today, I’d like to share with you three principles in this account that I believe apply to you. You might think of these as things Joshua would say to you if he were your commencement speaker today.

Principle Number 1: Sanctify Yourselves

First, it’s interesting to me that Joshua told the people to prepare for the wonders the Lord would do by sanctifying themselves. What does that mean?

In ancient Israel, under the law of Moses, ritual washings symbolized spiritual cleansing. We don’t perform those same rituals today, but our lives do need regular cleanup. There’s no shame in that. We all need it—every day. We call it repentance.

I love the way President Nelson talks about repentance. He has said:
“The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of repentance. Because of the Savior’s Atonement, His gospel provides an invitation to keep changing, growing, and becoming more pure. It is a gospel of hope, of healing, and of progress. Thus, the gospel is a message of joy! Our spirits rejoice with every small step forward we take. … I invite you to pray to identify the debris you should remove from your life so you can become more worthy.” [6]

If a friend told you that they need to repent every day, would you be worried about your friend? I wouldn’t. I would be more worried about the person who didn’t think they needed to repent every day.

Let’s each examine our lives, every day, and remove anything that shouldn’t be there—thoughts, attitudes, habits, influences, anything that might limit the wonders the Lord can do in our lives. I testify that Jesus Christ, by virtue of His atoning sacrifice, has the power to cleanse and sanctify you.

Principle Number 2: Be Led by Your Covenants

Second, I love the fact that when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, the ark of the covenant went first. The ark symbolized both the presence of God and their covenant relationship with Him, and it led the way in their journeyings, “When ye see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God,” the Israelites were told, “… then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it”—even if it led them, as it did in this case, to the edge of the raging river. [7]

Just as the children of Israel always had the ark of the covenant at the front of their camp, we should keep our covenants with Jesus Christ at the front of our lives. What does that mean? It means to let those covenants lead us in the choices we make.

For example, when we partake of the sacrament on Sunday, we covenant to always remember Jesus Christ and take His name upon ourselves. With that covenant leading the way, what will we do when we face temptation or discouragement? What will we do when an opportunity arises to testify of Him?

In the temple, we covenant to live the laws of sacrifice and consecration. With those covenants leading the way, what will we do when we learn that a friend or neighbor is struggling with a heavy burden? What will we do when money is tight and paying both our bills and our tithing seems impossible? What will we do when a servant of the Lord extends a calling that will stretch us?

My dear friends, our covenants connect us to Jesus Christ. They bring His power and influence into our lives. In all you do, let your covenants lead you.

Principle Number 3: Take a Step of Faith

A third principle that I love in the account of crossing the Jordan River is the fact that the water didn’t stop flowing until “the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water.” [8] They had to show that they were committed to crossing that river, even if the water didn’t part. And then the miracle happened—only after they had taken a step of faith.

To experience the wonders that the Lord wants to do in your life, you too will need to take a step of faith. The miracles won’t happen while you’re standing on the riverbank, waiting for the water to stop. They’ll happen when your feet are wet because you showed that you are committed to moving forward and that you trust the Lord to open the way.

Sometimes I think we linger on that riverbank because we’ve mistaken faith for perfect knowledge. We think our faith is too weak because we don’t know perfectly. Remember that Alma taught, “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things.” Rather, it is to “hope for things which are not seen.” [9] Sometimes we want to know for certain how things will turn out before we act. We want to have all of our questions answered before we commit. “Now I ask,” Alma said, “is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.” [10]

The fact is that there is much we don’t know. But rather than waiting for a perfect knowledge, we take a step of faith into the river. We take a chance—not because we know what will happen, but because we trust the Lord.

“Hereby ye shall know,” Joshua said, “that the living God is among you.” [11] In the future, when the Lord’s people faced bigger challenges than crossing a river, they could remember this day when they trusted Him, and He delivered them. The same goes for you. The steps of faith that brought you here have built a trusting relationship with your Heavenly Father. Step by faithful step, your trust in Him will increase, and you will be prepared for even greater acts of faith in the future.

Tomorrow Is Today

Brothers and sisters, I testify that “to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” [12] But don’t wait until tomorrow. Start taking steps of faith today, so that tomorrow’s steps will be even more confident and courageous.

Elder Craig C. Christensen once told of a family who lived close to a large amusement park. Each time they drove past it, their young son would ask, “Daddy, can we go there?”

“Maybe tomorrow,” he would answer. Some of you might recognize this as an old dad trick to postpone making a decision that your child won’t like. But one time it backfired. Early the next morning, this little boy burst into his parents’ room, jumped on the bed, and shouted, “Daddy, tomorrow is today!” [13]

In a sense, that boy was right. Tomorrow is today. The future is the product of the present. Our choices now influence what comes next. What happens tomorrow is shaped by what we do today.

I can’t wait to see what wonders the Lord will do among you—“the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen.” As impressive as it is to stop the waters of the rushing Jordan River or topple the walls of Jericho or multiply bread or heal a leper, these aren’t the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power. Much more eternally significant is His power to stop the flow of bitterness and hate; to bring down walls of prejudice that divide God’s children; to multiply our small, humble offerings of goodness and spread their influence to multitudes; to heal relationships, broken hearts, and spiritual wounds. The greatest of these manifestations of the power of Jesus Christ are still ahead of us. And He will do these wonders among you as you sanctify yourselves, let your covenants lead you, and take courageous steps of faith.

I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Gospel Library.
[2] Deuteronomy 4:32
[3] Russell M. Nelson, “Overcome the World and Find Rest,” Liahona, Nov. 2022, 95.
[4] Joshua 3:5
[5] Joshua 3:13, 17.
[6] Russell M. Nelson, “Welcome Message,” Liahona, May 2021, 7.
[7] Numbers 10:33
[8] Joshua 3:15
[9] Alma 32:21
[10] Alma 32:18
[11] Joshua 3:10
[12] Joshua 3:5 emphasis added.
[13] Craig C. Christensen, “Tomorrow Is Today,” Aug. 11, 2011, 2.