By Daniel K. Judd
Passing through the western entrance to Brigham Young University, one can observe the inscription, “ENTER TO LEARN, GO FORTH TO SERVE.”1 While this statement has been the object of some good-natured banter over the years, most of those associated with BYU would acknowledge that these words represent the heartfelt desires we have to learn and to serve. This motto also represents the fact that a central part of the unique mission of BYU is to prepare all who are a part of the campus community to “use their knowledge and skills not only to enrich their own lives but also to bless their families, their communities, the Church, and the larger society.”2
I can remember the anticipation I felt upon first entering BYU as a graduate student in family sciences. Having received my undergraduate degree from another institution, I was excited about the opportunity of being able to study family relationships in the light of the restored gospel. I soon found myself associating with and learning from many fine professors and fellow students, with whom I would develop many lasting friendships. Not only did I feel I was receiving a first-rate education, but I was especially grateful that several of my professors were willing to share their thoughts and feelings concerning the influence of the gospel in their personal and professional lives.
In addition to my graduate studies in family sciences and counseling psychology, I also had the privilege of teaching courses on the Book of Mormon and the New Testament as an instructor in the Department of Ancient Scripture. It wasn’t uncommon for me to study the writings of Freud, Adler, and Skinner one hour and teach the “doctrine of Christ” (2 Ne. 31:2) the next. Only at BYU could I have had this unique privilege of studying, in Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s words, the “link and bridge between revealed truth and the world of scholarship.”3
After completing my master’s and doctoral degrees, I left BYU and moved with my family to Michigan. After a few months of getting settled, I was blessed with an opportunity for service that would be a profound test of how well I had learned my lessons–I was called to serve as the bishop of the Holt Ward of the Lansing Michigan Stake. While I was requisitely humbled by the calling, I felt as prepared as any young bishop could. I had professional training as a psychologist, I had taught in the Church Educational System for a number of years, I had fulfilled a mission, and I had served in a bishopric and in numerous other church callings. I was confident and enthused about this new opportunity to serve. Little did I realize that the most strenuous, poignant, and meaningful part of my education lie ahead.
It only took a few weeks to learn that serving as a bishop was much more difficult than I had envisioned; I wasn’t nearly as well prepared as I had naively believed. Like Moses, I learned that “man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). I was overwhelmed by the many difficult and sobering situations with which I was regularly confronted. In addition to the constant administrative details, I found the wide variety of my ward members’ personal, marital, and family problems especially challenging. As I look back upon this period of my life, I realize that nothing could have completely prepared me for what I was facing, except for the experiences themselves.
The Great Plan of the Eternal God
One evening, a ward member called on the telephone and informed me that he and his wife had decided to file for divorce. Even though I had previously spent many hours with them, I asked if I could meet with them once again before they carried out their decision. They were hesitant, but reluctantly agreed to an appointment. As I then began to wonder how I would approach this discussion, I had the feeling that while I had given this couple competent counsel, mostly based on my professional training, I hadn’t represented the Lord as I felt a faithful bishop should.
In the period between the Carters’ [The “Carters” (not their real name) have graciously granted me permission to relate our story.] call announcing their plan to divorce and the time I was to meet with them, I began to study and pray as I rarely had before. A few days later, as I was preparing to teach an institute of religion class, I read a conference address by President Ezra Taft Benson that I found to be instructive and enlightening. President Benson stated:
We need to use the everlasting word to awaken those in deep sleep so they will awake “unto God” [Alma 5:7]. I am deeply concerned about what we are doing to teach the Saints at all levels the gospel of Jesus Christ as completely and authoritatively as do the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. By this I mean teaching the “great plan of the Eternal God” to use the words of Amulek (Alma 34:9). Are we using the messages and the method of teaching found in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures of the Restoration to teach this great plan of the Eternal God? . . .
Brethren and sisters, we all need to take a careful inventory of our performance and also the performance of those over whom we preside to be sure that we are teaching the “great plan of the Eternal God” to the Saints.4
I had read Amulek’s and President Benson’s words before, but this time the words, “the great plan of the Eternal God,” stood out. As I pondered these words, I was intrigued with the idea that while I had spent several years learning the plans, theories, therapies, and philosophies that had been devised by men, perhaps I had not taken as seriously as I could the plan God Himself had established to bless and redeem His children.
As I searched the scriptures, I found that the Lord’s plan has been described in different ways: “the merciful plan of the great Creator” (2 Ne. 9:6), “the plan of our God” (2 Ne. 9:13), “the great and eternal plan of deliverance” (2 Ne. 11:5), “the great plan of redemption” (Jacob 6:8), “the plan of salvation” (Jarom 1:2), “the plan of redemption” (Alma 12:25), “the great plan of the Eternal God” (Alma 34:9), “the great and eternal plan of redemption” (Alma 34:16), “the great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), “the plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), and “the great plan of mercy” (Alma 42:31).
As I continued to study the Book of Mormon, together with the writings of President Benson and others, I learned that the “great plan of the Eternal God” was founded on the doctrines of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Elder Bruce R. McConkie had described these doctrines as the “three pillars of eternity.”5 The more I studied, the more clearly I could see that this plan was more profound than I had ever realized.
As the next few days approached and passed, I also came to realize that I had not been teaching and counseling the Carters in the manner the Lord would have me. Instead of helping them to understand their differences, assisting them to communicate more effectively, and facilitating some sort of compromise, I was responsible and privileged to teach this troubled couple to come unto Christ through the great plan of the Eternal God!
While it wasn’t yet clear to me how I could help the Carters make direct application of the Lord’s plan, I sensed that if I could begin by helping them understand the doctrines of creation, fall, and atonement, these doctrines could become a meaningful part of helping them heal their troubled relationship. As I thought about what I was learning, I began to feel a growing eagerness to meet with them and share what I felt the Lord would have them know.
The time for my appointment with Brother and Sister Carter arrived. After offering a prayer, I asked Brother Carter if he could remember the first time he and his wife met. His response was, “Bishop, why are you asking me to talk about the beginning of our relationship when we have come to talk about the end?” After some persuasion, Brother Carter began to reconstruct the events and describe his feelings about his and his wife’s initial dating, courtship, and early days of marriage. His description startled me; without even realizing it, in recounting the beginning of his relationship with his wife, he was describing the first phase of the Lord’s plan for their relationship–the Creation.
While not agreeing on the specifics of their initial meeting, Brother and Sister Carter acknowledged that their first few months of dating and courtship had been a “Garden of Eden–like” existence. They were secure in one another’s love and had shared a great hope for the future. In a metaphorical sense, their sun was shining, their grass was green, their water clear, and their sky blue.
What this couple had experienced in their few months of marriage is typical of many relationships, not only in marriage but in other aspects of life as well. Many of us can recall the feelings of excitement and hope we experienced as we first made the team; received a mission call or letter of acceptance; made or accepted a marriage proposal; experienced pregnancy and child birth, graduation, promotion, retirement; or anticipated the beginning of any new opportunity. I was going through this same process personally in having moved to a new area, my wife having a new baby, and serving as a new bishop. While the process of creation is important to any new experience or relationship, the real test of life comes in the part of the Lord’s plan that follows–opposition through the Fall.
As Brother Carter continued to describe the first few weeks and months of his and Sister Carter’s relationship, several minutes into his description, to the surprise of us all, he began to cry and then to weep. He later described how devastating it was for him to be confronted with the incongruity of his feelings for his wife, for what had once been so beautiful was turning to ashes. Also to my surprise, as Brother Carter wept, Sister Carter reached over, put her arm around him and said, “It’s going to be okay, honey.” I had previously heard her describe him in a variety of ways, but never “honey.” It appeared as if we were making progress.
Later in our conversation, I mentioned the hope I had felt when Sister Carter had used such an endearing term as “honey” in her attempt to comfort her husband. She responded by emphatically insisting that she hadn’t, and it was sobering to observe how quickly a conversation can fall from a state of creation to one of opposition. Even though our conversation was at times strained, difficult, and sometimes confrontational, I was at peace with what we were doing, for this time I had confidence we were addressing Brother and Sister Carter’s problems the right way.
As our conversation continued, I learned that this couple’s understanding of the doctrines of the gospel was very limited. Even though they had been members of the Church all of their lives, they had naively believed that if the Lord would have them be together, and if they kept the commandments, life would proceed smoothly without serious challenge. I reviewed with them the doctrine of the Fall as contained in the Book of Mormon. The Prophet Lehi taught his son Jacob that the fall of Adam and Eve, and the opposition each of us faces, was and is both necessary and essential to the Lord’s plan:
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility. (2 Ne. 2:11)
The Carters were surprised to learn that prophets, ancient and modern, had taught that there must be an opposition in all things, even marriage. Referring specifically to the inevitable opposition each of us face in family relationships, President Gordon B. Hinckley has stated:
Of course, all in marriage is not bliss . . . “There seems to be a superstition among many thousands of our young who hold hands and smooch in the drive-ins that marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and ravishing wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear the divorce courts are jammed. . . . Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed” [President Hinckley quoting Jenkins Lloyd Jones, “Big Rock Candy Mountains,” Deseret News, 12 June 1973, p. A4].
Pain is part of the process. Stormy weather occasionally hits every household. Connected inevitably with the whole process is much of pain–physical, mental, and emotional. There is much of stress and struggle, of fear and worry. For most, there is the ever-haunting battle of economics. There seems never to be enough money to cover the needs of a family. Sickness strikes periodically. Accidents happen. The hand of death may reach in with dread stealth to take a precious one. But all of this seems to be part of the processes of family life. Few indeed are those who get along without experiencing some of it. It has been so from the beginning.6
To believe that happiness is dependent on life’s parking spaces never being occupied, traffic lights forever green, and lines at the BYU Bookstore conveniently short is to be misinformed. Joy can only be understood and experienced in relation to sorrow.
While it is true that much of the sorrow and opposition we experience in life we bring upon ourselves through sin, there is also a portion of the opposition we face that comes through no fault of our own. Elder Maxwell has wisely observed that “when we speak of meeting life’s challenges and suffering, it is wise to distinguish between the causes of suffering.” He further explains:
Some things happen to us because of our own mistakes and our own sins. . . . Still other trials and tribulations come to us merely as a part of living, for, as indicated in the scriptures, the Lord “sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45.) We are not immunized against all inconvenience and difficulties nor against aging. . . . There is another dimension of suffering, and other challenges that come to us even though we seem to be innocent. These come to us because an omniscient Lord deliberately chooses to school us: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6); “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.” (Mosiah 23:21)7
The Prophet Moroni taught that the Lord “give[s] unto men weakness that they may be humble” (Ether 12:27). The Apostle Paul wrote that he had asked the Lord to remove his particular affliction three times but had been counseled that he would find strength in adversity:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:7–10)
Much of the doctrinal misunderstanding concerning the essential nature of opposition is a result of the Apostasy. A traditional Christian perspective leads one to believe that it was a damnable sin for Adam and Eve to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Many believe if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the fruit, mankind would still be living in the Garden of Eden, free of the troubles of the fallen world. The Book of Mormon teaches us that without the Fall, Adam and Eve would have remained in the Garden of Eden but would have had no children:
And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. (2 Ne. 2:22–25)
Some of us blame Adam for our woes, others Eve. Still others blame our mothers and/or fathers; some women blame Mars and some men Venus. Many of us are convinced that our problems are caused by our spouses, our children, the boss, or secret combinations; and some of us even eclipse the truth by blaming ourselves. The only thing blame brings is bitterness, and it serves as a self-deceptive logic for not moving forward. To place blame on anyone or anything is to wrongly recast the characters and rewrite the script for the initial drama of life that began in the Garden of Eden. To blame another is a legitimized doctrine of the devil, whether our resentment is focused on Adam and Eve, Mom and Dad, or even the devil himself. Elder James E. Talmage wrote:
It has become a common practice with mankind to heap reproaches upon the progenitors of the family, and to picture the supposedly blessed state in which we would be living but for the fall; whereas our first parents are entitled to our deepest gratitude for their legacy to posterity–the means of winning title to glory, exaltation, and eternal lives. But for the opportunity thus given, the spirits of God’s offspring would have remained forever in a state of innocent childhood, sinless through no effort of their own; negatively saved, not from sin, but from the opportunity of meeting sin; incapable of winning the honors of victory because [they were] prevented from taking part in the conflict. As it is, they are heirs to the birthright of Adam’s descendants–mortality, with its immeasurable possibilities and its God-given freedom of action. From Father Adam we have inherited all the ills to which flesh is heir; but such are necessarily incident to a knowledge of good and evil, by the proper use of which knowledge man may become even as the Gods.8
Beginning with a distorted understanding of the fall of Adam and Eve, many people have come to believe and teach that we would be in a state of peace and prosperity if our parents hadn’t been alcoholic, abusive, emotionally distant, or enmeshed. Influenced by these ideas, many of us have grown up with the idea that our problems are the result of our environment. In other words, our problems are always someone else’s or something else’s fault. We deny individual responsibility and accountability for our problems and solutions. Sadly, by blaming our circumstances for our problems, we also give up any real hope for peace. For in thinking this way, our happiness is dependent upon circumstances which may be largely, or even completely, out of our control. This isn’t to say that the fall of Adam and Eve, the sins of our parents, or other difficult circumstances of life don’t influence us and bring us pain. They have, they do, and they will. But these circumstances need not make us evil nor ruin our lives. The Fall of Adam and Eve–which resulted in the fall of all mankind–has significant meaning to each of us, as it brought opposition which is an essential part of the very purpose of our earthly existence. Mortality, with its accompanying challenges and our own personal weaknesses, provides opportunities for growth that we couldn’t experience any other way.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
While there is much we can do (and not do) to achieve peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come, we, in one sense or another, remain in a fallen condition and are under the bondage of sin. No matter what our personal possessions of power, prominence, prestige, intellect, academic rank, wealth, or righteousness, we cannot save ourselves. President Howard W. Hunter once counseled:
Please remember this one thing. If our lives and our faith are centered upon Jesus Christ and his restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. On the other hand, if our lives are not centered on the Savior and his teachings, no other success can ever be permanently right.9
The Prophet Lehi taught that each one of us is in vital need of the merits, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ:
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. (2 Ne. 2:8, emphasis added)
The Carters, whose troubled marriage I have been describing throughout this article, weren’t so much rejecting the Savior as they were ignorant of the truths He taught. Like many of us, they knew of Christ and wanted to have faith in Him, but didn’t really understand how. After our initial session, discussing the creation and fall of their relationship, we spent the next several appointments discussing the meaning and healing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was meaningful for them, and for me, to realize that the central purpose of the Atonement is reconciliation. Just as each of us may be reconciled with our Father in Heaven through the sacrifice of His Son, so also may we be reconciled one to another. The apostle Paul taught, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Not only does the suffering and death of Jesus Christ enable us to be cleansed from sin and strengthened through adversity (see Alma 7:11–12), the Savior’s life and teachings serves as the perfect example for each of us to follow.
It was miraculous to watch this couple’s hope for their marriage grow as their faith in Christ increased. The Savior taught, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moro. 7:33). The Prophet Moroni added, “Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope” (Moro. 7:42). We must begin by having faith in Christ, if there is to be any hope of experiencing the joy that endures longer than a season (see 3 Ne. 27:11).
While the invitation to exercise faith in the Savior has personal implications for each of us individually, the Prophet Joseph Smith has given specific counsel that is applicable to all:
Three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. First, the idea that he actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.10
I have always found it interesting that the Prophet Joseph emphasized the word correct in this statement. Having a correct understanding of the personality of God is essential because not only does “know[ing] thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3) provide us the only perfect role models, but it also connects us with our divine parentage and potential. The Prophet Joseph taught, “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”11 Coming to understand the character of God and becoming like Him is a part of what it means to be at one with Him. Furthermore, God’s commandments are not only statements of divine truth, they are expressions of who He is. Both the Father and the Son are perfect embodiments of all that is true.
The attributes of God such as faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, kindness, godliness, charity, humility, and diligence, to name a few, serve as invitations for us to be like Him. Other attributes such as jealousy, anger, and sorrow also invite our study, for they too are characteristics of God (see Ex. 20:5, Deut. 4:21, and Moses 7:28). We must, however, exercise caution as we study the characteristics of God, for the adversary is ever anxious to deceive us into using a distorted understanding of them as rationalizations for our own sins. The scriptures teach that God is a God of jealousy, anger, and sorrow; but His expressions are perfectly selfless while yours and mine are most often selfish. God’s love can be distorted into indulgence, His justice twisted into a mean-spirited punishment, and His meekness counterfeited into cowardice and self-degradation. A part of what it means to exercise faith in God is to strive to live as He lives and love as He loves; thus it is essential to come to a correct idea of His nature.
After several weeks of discussing the importance of exercising faith in Christ by following His example and keeping His commandments, the Carters shared with me their concern that for the most part they knew how they should be treating each other, they just didn’t seem to be able to consistently do it. C. S. Lewis addressed this concern when he wrote:
When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself . . . surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. . . . Now that cellar is out of reach of my conscious will. I can to some extent control my acts: I have no direct control over my temperament. And if (as I said before) what we are matters even more than what we do–if indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are–then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. And this applies to my good actions too. How many of them were done for the right motive? . . . But I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.12
C. S. Lewis points out that the root of our problems has more to do with who we are than what we do. He also reminds us that we cannot save ourselves–no matter how many casseroles we bake, home teaching visits we make, or temple excursions we take. This is what Paul was addressing when he wrote, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9, emphasis added).
As a missionary, I was offended by those of other faiths who wanted to assert the preeminence of the doctrine of grace. My companions and I even had a name for them–“gracers.” Though many of these people had a distorted view of the doctrine of grace and believed that they could be saved in their sins (see Alma 11:37), I have come to be ashamed of my attitudes toward them for several reasons: 1) For the most part, I treated these people with self-righteous arrogance, 2) I didn’t teach them the correct doctrine of the Atonement, and 3) I personally rejected the Savior’s grace by being ignorantly obsessed with the importance of good works.
The scriptures teach that through sin and ignorance and by acting upon the false traditions of our fathers, each of us loses the innocence we possessed at birth (see D&C 93:38–39) . Our very natures become “carnal, sensual, and devilish” (Alma 42:10), and we become “bound down by the chains of hell” (Alma 13:30). Every mortal man, with the exception of the Savior, becomes the “natural man . . . an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19) spoken of by King Benjamin. While most negative feelings such as anger, despair, rebelliousness, etc., are certainly “natural,” they are not godly and need to be put off. While one can learn to control these natural feelings, we can only be free of them through Christ.
The grace of God is sufficient to overcome sins and weaknesses of every kind, except having a hard heart and a proud spirit. The Lord has said, “Wherefore redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; . . . Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin . . . unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” (2 Ne. 2:6–7). In other words, “True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of behavior. . . . Part of this mighty change of heart is to feel godly sorrow for our sins.”13
Sister Carter had to come to an understanding that she could no longer use her husband’s more serious sins as justification for her own. Brother Carter could no longer use his status as “head of the family” as justification for exercising unrighteous dominion. By continuing to have hearts that were hard, they were not being true to the covenants they had entered into at baptism, and they had disqualified themselves from having the grace of Christ through the sanctifying and enlightening influence of the Holy Spirit. Nephi taught us:
For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Ne. 25:23)
Moroni has summarized for the Carters, and for all of us, what we must do to invoke the grace of Christ:
Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ. . . . And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moro. 10:32–33)
To deny ourselves of all ungodliness is to come to understand who God is and to strive to follow His example. Our resistance to the Savior’s invitation to “come unto me” (Matt. 11:28) isn’t simply refusing to do what we know we should, but it is not being who we know we should be. Sometimes our hypocrisy is made manifest not just in what we do, but in what we are.
For most of us, this “mighty change” takes time–for most of us a lifetime. President Benson instructed us not to become discouraged:
We must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible.14
In addition to providing the healing and redemptive power of the atonement of Christ, our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and is aware of our every need. Not a sparrow falls from the heavens nor a hair from our heads of which our Heavenly Father is not aware and concerned (see Matt. 10:29–31). Each of us has been blessed with family or friends to assist us. We have bishops, stake presidents, and other Church leaders who hold sacred keys which they are privileged to exercise in our behalf. Also, we needn’t be ashamed if we determine the need to seek the support and competent counsel of those who have professional training in the medical and social sciences. But in our pursuit of knowledge and support, we must never become so sophisticated or dependent that we look beyond the mark (see Jacob 4:14) nor fail to ask the simple question, “What would Jesus do?” We must remember that many of the Israelites of old were lost “because of the simpleness of the way” (1 Ne. 17:41).
The phrase, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve,” is an apt description of the Lord’s invitation to any of life’s experiences, whether it be an education, a mission, a marriage, a ministry, or an eternity. Brother and Sister Carter’s faith and hope in one another and in their marriage strengthened as they came to understand and exercise faith in Christ. Their story is our story; each of us lives the doctrines of creation, fall and atonement every day of our lives. Each new day brings with it opportunities for learning and service, and with these opportunities come adversity and trial; such is the plan of God. Opposition is as much a part of the Lord’s plan as deliverance. At times we will labor and be heavy laden, but we have the promise that if we will “come unto Christ,” we can “partake of the goodness of God” and “enter into his rest” (Jacob 1:7). We can have hope, for we have a plan, even “the great plan of the Eternal God” (Alma 34:9).
1. The statements, “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve” and “The World Is Our Campus,” have their origin in the administration of Ernest L. Wilkinson. In a memo dated June 3, 1966, from President Wilkinson to Stewart L. Grow, a member of the Political Science Department faculty, President Wilkinson wrote, “Once again may I thank you for the slogan, ‘Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.’ This is going to be all the more impressive as the years go by.” Apparently, President Wilkinson had asked for suggestions for slogans that would be appropriate at the new entrance to BYU. The other slogan, “The World is Our Campus,” was made up by President Wilkinson himself.
2. The Mission of Brigham Young University and the Aims of a BYU Education (Booklet, Provo, 1995), p. 13.
3. Neal A. Maxwell, BYU Studies, Vol. 16, No. 4, p. 589.
4. Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1987, p. 84 (emphasis added).
5. Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), p. 81.
6. Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1991, p. 72.
7. Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980), p. 29.
8. James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 51st ed., 1973), p. 70.
9. Howard W. Hunter, BYU Devotional Speeches of the Year (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1989), p. 112.
10. Joseph Smith, Jr., Lectures on Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book 1985), p. 38.
11. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1938), p. 343.
12. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Macmillan, 1976), pp. 164–65.
13. Ezra Taft Benson, Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988), p. 71.
14. ibid, p. 72.
Daniel K Judd is an assistant professor of ancient scriptures at BYU. He is the coauthor, with Douglas E. Brinley, of two books, Eternal Companions and Eternal Families. His latest book, The Simpleness of the Way, will be published by Bookcraft this spring.