Sunday, June 1, 2014

Graduation & New Beginnings

This week has been a week of graduation for my extended family and friends from high school and college. Individuals all over are graduating from High School and College and are attending their graduation ceremonies. Two thirds of the student ward that I serve in are graduating and moving from our ward for new careers and to attend graduate schools across the country. Though it is hard to say good-bye to the members of our ward I realize that is what they are supposed to be doing. They come here for a short time and then move on in their lives. Family and friends that are graduating from high school are finally finished with this part of their lives and they will be joining the ranks of the college students somewhere for graduate degrees, other will be looking for a career and becoming active productive members of society; others will be serving missions for the LDS church. An important part of life is graduating and moving on.

The scriptures teach, “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36). Our educational pursuit should never end; we must always strive to learn new things. Part of that education needs to be spiritual knowledge. Elder Craig A. Cardon of the First Quorum of 70 speaking at the 2014 BYU Commencement had this to say about continuing our education:

“As you leave this university and as your education continues, you will come to know more fully, as I have come to know, the essential place of spiritual elements in learning and teaching. Mormon expressed the principle well. Even with all of his preparation in abridging the Book of Mormon, with all of his reading, conferring, and writing, he wanted to be sure that we know what he knows above everything else:
“And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record . . . ; and I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me.42
“As you continue your education, make sure you continue to develop an essential spiritual capacity, as the prophets have done, to see as the Source of all knowledge sees and thereby know and understand as He knows and understands. In these continuing efforts, may the unique Book of Mormon phrase “and thus we see” typify and be a reminder to you of the spiritual capacity you are developing.
“No matter what challenges or uncertainties you face, I pray that you will always faithfully employ this essential spiritual element in your learning. I promise that as you enthusiastically embrace this spiritual element, you and your families will receive everlasting blessings.” (“And Thus We See”, Craig A. Cardon, 2014 BYU Commencement Address)
Victor L. Brown spoke of a graduation ceremony he attended at the Utah State Prison. Some of the inmates there had attended LDS Institute classes and were graduating. He told of two individuals that were hardened criminals and had not learned to live in society without breaking the law and thus they ended up in prison. There they were introduced to the LDS Church and started taking Institute classes. They were able to turn their lives around and after being released were able to live productive lives. Elder Brown said:

‘There are many who find themselves in circumstances similar to those of Jim and Ed-not necessarily confined to a correctional institution, but nevertheless in prison, a prison from which legal authorities cannot release them, a prison of personal habits such as alcohol, drugs, immorality, selfishness, dishonesty, laziness, aimlessness; yes, these can be more confining and damning than any state prison. Yet there is a way to escape to a freedom that surpasses anything designed by man—the kind of freedom Jim and Ed have found.

“This freedom can only be found by accepting the divine plan and keeping the commandments of him who gave his life for each of us that we might find eternal life—even Jesus Christ. For did he not say: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”? (John 8:32.) (“I Was in Prison, and Ye Came Unto Me”, Victor L. Brown, General Conference, October 1971)

We must be wise and have wisdom in learning to use the educational experiences we have to be honest in all our dealings with those we work with, live with and worship with. We must always strive to serve those in need and help others that need our help and support. True freedom comes from using our God given talents to bless others around us.

Elder Dean L. Larsen speaking of graduations and life afterwards said:

‘Young men, remember who you are. Remember the purpose for which you have come to the earth—the service you have been chosen to give.

‘Stay true to the divine trust that our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, have placed upon you. You can contribute as much to the spiritual environment of your homes as any member of your family, and you have an obligation to do so. Study the scriptures and encourage the other members of your family to do so. Say your prayers and do all you can to influence other members of your family to pray. Pay your tithes. Obey the Word of Wisdom. Be chaste. You may have a greater influence than you have thought possible, if you will do your own part.

‘Remember these words of Edward W. Bok: “Once we are convinced  that we are put here for a purpose: that the seed of divine energy has been given us and that it is for us to cultivate it to its fullest bloom, the way will be shown us. It is our part to make the effort and to put the fullest force and integrity into that effort. It is the young man of little faith who says, ‘I am nothing.’ It is the young man of true conception who says, ‘I am everything,’ and then goes out to prove it.”

‘Young men, let us prove by the way we live and serve that we are everything the Lord expects us to be.” (“A Royal Generation”, Dean L. Larsen, General Conference, April 1983)

So whether you are graduation from high school or college; whether you are continuing on to graduate school or going to work in your first careen; please remember that your education is not done. Learning is a life long pursuit and never ends. Remember that your spiritual education must continue as well. Continue the habit of daily scripture study and prayer to understand the things in the scriptures. Use the knowledge you have gained to not only provide for you and your family but to bless the lives of others. Service to others was the Savior’s challenged to us all. When a young man came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to have eternal life. Christ told him the keep the commandments. When the young man said he did that and asked what else he lacked, Jesus said:

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21)

Service is a perfecting principle. It is through service that we learn to give freely of all the Lord has blessed us with and to love the Lord more than material things. The Savior told his disciples:

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

We must be willing to share the knowledge and intelligence we gain with others and help them find the joy and peace that come from following the Savior Jesus Christ.

I hope that all graduates are successful in wherever their lives take them and that they find joy in all they do.

Your questions and comments are welcome.

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