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Here Am I, Send Me

We are grateful and delighted to share this occasion with President John Kauwe and Sister Monica Kauwe. I first met President Kauwe in person a couple of months ago, when he was visiting the senior brethren of the Church in Salt Lake City. That was memorable. But now that we have met Monica, we can see it was only a prelude to better things. Sister Kauwe is an amazing woman, independently accomplished and impressive in every way. A mother of five, Sister Kauwe has sacrificed much to raise and nurture her family while supporting her husband in his role.

I want you to know that your president is beloved and highly trusted by President Russell M. Nelson and the senior Brethren of the Church. As the 11th president of BYU–Hawaii, President Kauwe assumes a heavy mantle of responsibility to lead this university in the fulfillment of its unique and prophetic charge. And he is uniquely qualified to lead that charge. He has given his heart to this school, and cares deeply for the welfare and success of every student that comes here to gain an education. You would be wise to look to his example and follow his counsel. He and we know that each of you has the choice—and the potential—to become something more than you have thought possible.

Among all the good things that can be said of President Kauwe, there is one thing more important than them all. He is a disciple of Jesus Christ. President Kauwe has always made himself available to the Lord. Which brings me to my topic.

If you will always make yourself available to the Lord, you will learn again and again that God has a plan for you and will use you for His purposes in the lives of others. If you will always make yourself available to the Lord, He will bless you with courage and your example will be a source of joy and strength to your children and your children’s children for generations to come.

Jesus Christ is the great pattern and example of this principle. I am fascinated by the account of a conversation between God our Father and His two sons—Jesus, the firstborn, who was His Beloved and Chosen from the beginning; [2] and Satan his rebellious and selfish son, who was prominent in that early time, having been given authority in the presence of God. [3] After the Father’s plan of salvation was laid before them, Satan came pridefully before the Father and demanded, saying, “send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, … wherefore give me thine honor.” [4] Note carefully, this was not a humble request; this was a demand to “destroy the agency” [5]of men and women and take God’s glory unto himself, caring only for his own selfish pride and power. [6]

But Jesus, the firstborn of the Father, Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, humbly stepped forward in the power of his unselfish meekness, saying: “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” [7] When God asked, “Whom shall I send?” In humility, Jesus replied: “Here am I, send me.” And Jesus took upon himself the sacred assignment that only He could fulfill, to be the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. [8]

The Savior’s perfect acceptance of His divine assignment gives a pattern for us to emulate. More than twenty years ago, President M. Russell Ballard said to students at BYU in Provo, “Just as the Savior stepped forward to fulfill his divine responsibilities, we have the challenge and responsibility to do likewise.” [9] As we step up to meet this challenge and responsibility, we will get closer to fulfilling the invitation Jesus Christ extended to each of us when He said, “What manner of man ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” [10]

The question I hope to raise in your hearts and minds this morning is whether you will respond when the Spirit calls by saying, “Here am I, send me.” Another way of saying this might be, will you make yourselves available to the Lord?

You have been taught many times in your life that you are a child of God. President Nelson has taught us that the most important ways in which we should identify ourselves is, first, as a child of God; second, as a child of the covenant; and third, as a disciple of Jesus Christ. [11] Each of you has lived in the presence of your Father in Heaven, where you were taught how to be successful in this life and how to return to live in His presence.

We already know how to do this. As part of our “first lessons in the world of spirits,” before we came to earth, we learned what responsibilities we would have in this life and how to fulfill them. [12] Because we exercised faith in pre-mortality we were prepared “to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.” [13] President Spencer W. Kimball explained it this way: “[In] the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, … we are accountable for those things which long ago were expected of us.” [14]

We just need to be willing to make ourselves available to the Lord, be willing to act when the call or prompting comes and be prepared as best we can be. But that takes conscious effort. We should be intentional in our prayers to inform the Lord, day after day, with real intent, that we desire to serve Him, whatever the prompting or assignment may be. We must seek to learn line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little what the Lord would have us do. And if we will hearken to the counsel of the Lord, we shall learn wisdom.”[15] This is how the lessons we received in the world of spirits will be brought to life in mortality.

President Nelson has taught us that we need to let God prevail in our lives. He said: “The word willing is crucial…. We all have our agency. … We can choose to let God prevail in our lives, or not. We can choose to let God be the most powerful influence in our lives, or not.”[16] If you will make the decision to let God prevail in your lives by making yourselves available for His use in performing His great work, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men, [17] He will make great things come to pass in your life. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceed that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind”. [18]

So once again, are you willing to make yourselves available to God? Are you willing to listen for the promptings of the Spirit and say, “Here am I, send me”? This is not a principle which applies only to the specially privileged among us who will one day serve with the leading sisters and brethren of the Church. It is not just for future apostles, prophets, presidents or kings. God expects each one of us who have entered into the covenant path to make ourselves available to the Lord.

How do we make ourselves available? It can be as simple as giving place to the Lord in our lives by being where He has called us to be and opening our lives and our spaces to Him. We might feel unqualified but don’t fear, instead exercise faith. The Lord is concerned less about our ability and much more about our availability. As President Monson was fond of saying, “when faith replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass His purposes. Whom God calls, God qualifies.” [19]

Recall that Jesus called simple fishermen to become powerful fishers of men. As Jesus stood on the shore of the sea of Galilee, He was pressed by the multitudes. [20] He saw two little fishing boats pulled up on the shore. The fishermen who owned them were not in the boats but were tending to the washing of their nets. Choosing one of the little boats, Jesus stepped into it and asked Simon Peter, whose boat it was, to come with Him and thrust out a little into the shallow water close to land. Then, Jesus sat down and taught the people from the ship. When He had finished his sermon, Jesus said to Peter, “launch out into the deep, and let down your nets” to catch fish. [21] Peter was weary and a little pessimistic about the prospects of catching fish in that location because he and his brother had toiled all night long letting and drawing their nets without success. He protested mildly, saying, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net.” [22]

Let’s stop for a moment and consider how this might apply to our lives. While we go about our studies and our work, consumed by the many things that beg for our attention, Jesus is ever teaching, ever beckoning His children to follow him. On occasion, Jesus might step into our lives and give us direction, asking us to change our course perhaps for an hour, perhaps for a lifetime. Will we be near enough that we can hear Him? Will we give place in the boats of our lives that He might join us and use us to care for the multitude? Will we listen? Will we be willing to do His bidding? And what if He asks of us our time and effort when we are weary? Will we thrust into the shallows? Will we launch into the deep? Will we let down our nets and bend our shoulders to the task despite our doubt or fear?

Depending on what is asked of us, we may say, “but I have labored much”; “I don’t think I am qualified”; “I have other important things to do.” [23] Or, will we respond as Peter did: “Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net.”

The story doesn’t end with the letting down of the net. In fact, it was just the beginning for Peter and those who were with him for when he let down the net and drew, they caught a great multitude of fish, so much so that their net broke. They beckoned to their partners, James and John, who were in the second ship, and shared the bounty with them. The catch was so large, it filled both ships such that they became heavy and began to sink. The miracle was so great all were astonished and Peter, seeing it, “fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [24] Peter may have known that his life was about to change. He wanted to be clean before the Lord.

Jesus undoubtedly loved Peter and was quick to forgive, saying, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” When we repent, we are better qualified to serve the Lord. When the fishing party reached land, “they forsook all and followed Him.” [25]

Being available to the Lord in the work of “catching men” is a crucial part of our mortal progression and daily repentance is an important part of being available to the Lord. President Nelson said:

“Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens up our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” [26]

If you are willing to make yourself available to the Lord, you must be willing to repent with full purpose of heart, without hypocrisy, with real intent. [27] When the vessel is clean, it is more fitted to the will and purposes of the Lord. [28]

At times, the Lord in his mercy and wisdom will reach out to call some among us who are willing but need to become prepared. Willingness of heart is more prized by the Lord than an impressive resumé. He has given each of us talent [29] sufficient for every task, and “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” [30] But He expects us to use them in His service. [31]

Our Heavenly Father knows us perfectly and intimately. He knows our capabilities and our personal characteristics. He is aware of the promises we made to Him before coming to earth. On one occasion, Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than sparrows.” [32] If He can number the hairs on our heads, He can certainly weigh with perfect precision the willingness of our hearts.

No one who submits to the Lord when He prompts us to action or calls us to service is inadequate as a tool in the Lord’s hands. But we need to have faith in God’s power and be willing to let Him act through us. When we make ourselves available to the Lord, we are trusting in his assessment of our willingness and in His power to use us for his wise purposes. As we strive to improve in our efforts and our availability—to give our best, a merciful God knows our efforts perfectly and will lend us his divine grace and the power to accomplish what he has asked us to do.

Let me share an example from the life of my great grandfather, Samuel Bennett. Born in Flintshire Wales in 1853, Samuel was the fifth child of John and Jane Bennett. In 1840, thirteen years before his birth, Samuel’s maternal grandfather (my third great grandfather) had a dream in which he saw two men bringing a new book and a new gospel. Within a year, Brigham Young and his companion arrived in Wales to fulfill the dream. The Bennett family was baptized in 1841. In 1863, when Samuel was 10 years old, they sailed from Liverpool, England to the United States and traveled overland to join the saints in Salt Lake City. Soon after, they were sent by their missionary, who had by that time become the prophet Brigham Young, to settle the small community of Oak City in south central Utah.

In 1874, when Samuel was 21 years old, he and his friend, Dave Turner, laid plans to go to Oregon, seeking work and adventure. They obtained a wagon, saved for supplies, and completed packing their wagon on a Saturday. The next morning, they went to Church on Sunday with plans to leave early Monday morning. However, as they sat in Sacrament meeting, the bishop arose and announced that Samuel Bennett and Dave Turner had been called on a mission to St. George to work on the temple, which was in the early stages of construction. They were to depart immediately. After the meeting Dave said, “Well [Sam], what are you going to do?” Samuel answered, “I’m going to St. George.” After a few moments Dave said, “Well, if you’re going, I’m going too.”

Samuel’s response to this call proved to be a wonderful blessing in his life and for his posterity. He was assigned to be a stonecutter. He was also asked to help transport the baptismal font by oxen to the temple. The font had been forged in Salt Lake City. Our family history records that the Apostle Orson Hyde was at the temple when the font arrived. After he had seen the font securely put into its place, Elder Hyde came out of the temple weeping with joy and thanking God that he had lived to see a baptismal font secure and standing once again in a temple of the Lord. [33] Can you imagine the feelings that filled Samuel’s heart on that occasion?

The spiritual experiences had by Samuel were not the only blessings he received. During Samuel’s mission to work on the St. George temple, he met, courted, and married my great grandmother. They had to travel more than 300 miles by horse drawn wagon to be married in the Endowment House on Temple Square.

Samuel may not have been as intentional as I am inviting you to be, but he was willing when the call came. His willingness is reflected in his sacrifice. It is not hard to imagine the excitement the two friends felt on the eve of their departure for the coasts and sights of Oregon. This was the 1870s equivalent of the ultimate road trip with an indefinite date for their return. Yet, having been called, Samuel sacrificed all those dreams to respond.

In a way, Samuel faced the same question that troubled the mind of the young man who approached the Savior, asking “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” But in his case, when the response of his loving Master came, “go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, … and come, take up the cross, and follow me”, the young man “went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” [34] To the everlasting joy of his posterity, my great grandfather’s response was different—he gave away the supplies and the wagon and the preparations he had made, took up his cross, and followed the Lord.

If your heart has been touched and your spirit is willing, be aware that the path ahead may not be easy. Being available to the Lord is the path of discipleship. It requires you to search your heart, consider the cost, and commit yourself irrevocably to follow the Lord by making yourself available to Him, “at all times and in all things, and in all places.” [35] But please be assured, for those who do, the Lord will reciprocate with His covenant love and blessings unnumbered. He will provide protection from the spiritual dangers of life. Listen carefully to the way the Lord describes those who love God and make themselves available in his service:

“Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” [36]

What stands out to me in those verses are the words “digged deep.” Shallow commitment to temple covenants will never provide the safety of a secure tie to the rock of our foundation, which will bind us to Jesus Christ and protect us from spiritual apathy and eventual destruction. I hope you recall President Nelson’s words, as he spoke from the newly strengthened foundations of the Salt Lake Temple:

“[W]henever any kind of upheaval occurs in your life, the safest place to be spiritually is living inside your temple covenants! Please believe me when I say that when your spiritual foundation is built solidly upon Jesus Christ, you have no need to fear. As you are true to your covenants made in the temple, you will be strengthened by His power.” [37]

Remembering your covenants is a significant step in keeping your covenants. I offer the same counsel to you that Helaman gave to his two sons, Nephi and Lehi: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation … which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” [38]

I invite you to “dig deep” in your lives that you may bind yourselves to Jesus Christ. Dig through the loose soil and gravel of today’s world that conceals the true foundation, which lies solid and immoveable beneath the sandy deception upon which many build their lives.
Some questions for you to consider as you assess the depth of your own digging:

  • Do you study the scriptures daily?
  • Do you make daily, fervent prayer an established pattern in your life?
  • Do you repent every day?
  • Do you participate each week in the sacrament with full purpose of heart?
  • Do you make temple worship a priority in your life?
  • Do you reflect often upon your covenants?
  • Do you hear and hearken to the words of our prophet?
  • Do you accept and magnify Church callings?
  • Do you walk the edges of the path or do you “continually hold fast to the rod of iron”? [39]
  • Are you nibbling at the fruit of the tree, or do you fall to your knees and partake fully of the fruit? [36]

President Nelson has taught: “We … increase the Savior’s power in our lives when we make sacred covenants and keep those covenants with precision. Our covenants bind us to Him and give us godly power.” [37]

Do you remember your temple covenants? Let us review them:
The law of obedience—which is the first law of heaven;
the law of sacrifice—which is the broken heart and contrite spirit of one who is willing to give all;
the law of the gospel—which is built on the doctrine of Christ;
the law of chastity—which, if followed, preserves your virtue and gives you confidence in the presence of God;
and the law of consecration—by which you covenant to make yourselves and your possessions always available to the Lord for the building of his kingdom. [42]

In the early days of this dispensation, the Lord commanded the apostles to organize a “school of the prophets.” [43] When they were gathered, they greeted one another in the name of Jesus Christ and “in token or remembrance of the everlasting covenant … in a determination that is fixed, immoveable, and unchangeable.” [44] This fixed determination reminds me of the attitude and resolve of Jesus Christ as He inexorably prepared Himself for His ultimate sacrifice. Luke said of Him, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” [45] Surely, Jesus had in mind his earliest commitment to His Father, “Here am I, send me.”

President Nelson has invited us, in our lives, to make a similar commitment to our covenants, saying, “Once we make a covenant with God, we leave neutral ground forever.” [46]

Remember my great-grandfather, Samuel Bennett? His call to abandon other plans and serve a mission working on the St. George Temple was not the only time he was available to sacrifice at the call of the Lord. In 1902, when Samuel was 49 years old, married with 11 children, the youngest of whom was 4 years old, he was surprised to receive a letter from the President of the Church calling him to serve another mission. Without any advance warning, Samuel was asked to leave his farm and family and serve as a missionary for two years in Great Britain. Can you imagine? The letter calling Samuel to serve has not survived, but we do have Samuel’s letter of response. I think you will find it interesting and a little amusing. Here it is in full:

Holden City Utah
June 23, 1902
Dear Br[ethre]n,

In your letter Dated June 20, Inquiring as to my feelings in regard to being called on a mission to Great Britain to preach the Gospel, I feel to try and comply with any and every call under the direction of the Holy Priesthood.

I have no money on hand at Present. But with the Blessings of the Lord, I believe I will be able to raise the necessary amount that it will require. I would rather my Brethren Set the date and I will try to work to that end or to that Date.

My Health at Present is Pretty fare. And I believe as my Day my Strength Shall be.

I do not keep the word of wisdom in every Particular. But believe I can live nearer to that principle from time to time.

I am unacquainted with any other Language. I hope that this letter will meet the approval of my Brethren.

I am your Bro[ther] in the Gospel.
Samuel Bennett

My heart swells with joy when I read this letter. My gratitude for my grgreat-grandfatherills the cup of my heart and runs over. As you heard, Samuel developed a little problem with the Word of Wisdom, which he resolved through repentance. But the overriding truth of Samuel’s life is that he was available to the Lord.

Samuel served for two years. This caused great hardship to his wife and family, but never did they falter and never did their faith fail. On one occasion, a well-meaning bishop, recognizing the financial hardship which had come to the family as a result of Samuel’s service, offered to relieve her temporarily of the obligation to pay tithing. “Aunt Martha,” he said, I don’t believe the Lord expects you to pay tithing while Sam is in the mission field.” In response, she was a bit indignant in refusing the bishop’s offer. She said, “Bishop, nobody must keep me from receiving that blessing.” Like the widow woman of Zarephath, who in faith gave her last morsel of bread to the prophet Elijah, the Lord kept the promise of His prophet that the “barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail.” [47]

Such are the eternal blessings that come to those who make themselves available to the Lord, who say when the Spirit calls, “Here am I, send me.”

I began this morning by speaking of the unlimited potential within each of you. Imagine how your Heavenly Father and His Son can magnify that potential within you “if” you place yourselves in Their hands and say, “Here am I, send me.”

A primary responsibility of this university is to develop God’s daughters and sons to go forth from this place and sprinkle the nations with disciples of Christ. Men and women who are willing to stand wherever they are found and lift where they stand. Brothers and sisters, we need you, the Lord needs you, and your posterity needs you.

Please be ready always to respond, “Here am I, send me.” May God bless you.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 88:33
[2] Moses 4:2
[3] Doctrine and Covenants 76:25
[4] Moses 4:1
[5] Moses 4:3
[6] Doctrine and Covenants 29:36
[7] Moses 4:2
[8] Abraham 3:27 (see 22-27)
[9] M. Russell Ballard, Here Am I, Send Me, 13 March 2001,
[10] 3 Nephi 27:27
[11] Russell M. Nelson, Choices for Eternity, Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, May 15, 2022
[12] Doctrine and Covenants 138:56
[13] Doctrine and Covenants 138:56
[14] Spencer W. Kimball, My Beloved Sisters, Deseret Book, 1979, 37; (quoted in) M. Russell Ballard, Here Am I, Send Me, 13 March 2001,
[15] 2 Nephi 28:30
[16] Russell M. Nelson, Let God Prevail, October 2020.
[17] Moses 1:39
[18] Doctrine and Covenants 64:33-34
[19] Thomas S. Monson, Our Sacred Priesthood Trust, April 2006
[20] Luke 5:1
[21] Luke 5:2-4
[22] Luke 5:5
[23] Matthew 8:21-22 (“And another of his disciples said unto him, Lor, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.”)
[24] Luke 5:6-8
[25] Luke 5:9-11
[26] Russell M. Nelson, We Can Do Better and Be Better, April 2019
[27] 2 Nephi 31:13
[28] Doctrine and Covenants 133:5
[29] Matthew 25:14-30
[30] Ephesians 1:3
[31] Mosiah 2:17, 21
[32] Luke 12:6-7
[33] There was no baptismal font in the Kirtland Temple; however, a font was erected in the Nauvoo Temple for the salvation of the dead.
[34] Mark 10:21-22 (17-22)
[35] Mosiah 18:9
[36] Luke 6:47-48
[37] Russell M. Nelson, The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation, October 2021
[38] Helaman 5:12
[39] 1 Nephi 8:30
[40] 1 Nephi 8:30
[41] Russell M. Nelson, Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives, April 2017
[42] General Handbook, Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 27.2
[43] Doctrine and Covenants 88:127
[44] Doctrine and Covenants 88:133
[45] Luke 9:51
[46] Russell M. Nelson, The Everlasting Covenant, Liahona October 2022
[47] 1 Kings 17:14