In the Light of His Love
previous next

In the Light of His Love

S&I Annual Training Broadcast for 2019 • June 12, 2019 • Church Office Building Main Floor Auditorium

Brothers and sisters, it is an absolute delight to be with you today.

We have been blessed to hear Brother Chad Webb’s words. It is amazing how much the Lord loves us. This topic of love was impressed upon Brother Webb’s heart and mine also. It is interesting how we are talking about this in tandem. I hope you will take a minute and record some of the impressions you receive today about the topic of love.

I also want to express immense gratitude to Elder Kim B. Clark and Brother Chad Webb for following the promptings of the Spirit in their constant and prayerful pleas to strengthen the youth. When we received the prophetic emphasis on home-centered gospel learning, these faithful brethren asked, “How can the youth be a greater instrument in strengthening the home?” You are aware of what happened next. They worked through eleven different school schedules around the world to align seminary courses with the book of scripture used each year for the Come, Follow Me curriculum. This inspired change is nothing short of miraculous!

I am thrilled when I imagine the youth and young adults bringing gospel truths from their classes into their homes. They will gain confidence in both their own understanding and in their capacity to share the gospel. Hearing their own voices declare the Savior’s truth will continue to be a powerful testimony building experience.

How grateful I am for the restoration of the gospel and for this glorious season of growth.

I would also like to extend my appreciation to the spouses and others who support you amazing teachers—you who listen to lesson ideas, whose personal stories are shared (hopefully, with permission), and whose kitchens and garages are raided in search of object lessons. I hope you never underestimate your influence.

It has been said, “Marriage is probably the most … inescapable of all teaching situations. … When people marry they are, in a sense, agreeing to learn from each other.”1 My husband, Derek, is my trusted support and influence, even though he seldom stands by my side in teaching opportunities. As you counsel and learn together, the young adults, the youth, and their families will be blessed because of your influence. You are an important part of this great, great work.

My message today begins with a line from a familiar Primary song. “Teach me to walk in the light of his love.”2 The two principles, light and love, have been my mental travel companions as I have pondered our time together today. This combination of words also appeared in the first line of a talk by President Henry B. Eyring when he said, “My hope for us today is that we may all feel love and light from God.”3 What a simple yet powerful desire to begin each class. My hope is every student will feel love and light from God. Great eternal promises are in store for them and their families as they learn to feel His light and love.

I asked my son, Dallin, “What stood out to you from seminary?” I expected an answer like Doctrinal Mastery or finishing the Book of Mormon. I was surprised to hear his thoughtful response.

“The teachers.”

“The teachers?” I questioned.

He explained, “There were certain teachers who we could really tell loved us.”

This experience confirmed to me the lasting impact love can have on individual hearts.

You have the joy of teaching these magnificent youth and young adults of the Church and bearing witness of God’s love to them. I love them and I know you love them too. They truly are, as President Russell M. Nelson said, our Heavenly Father’s “most noble spirits … His finest team—[reserved] for this final phase.”4

Several years ago, I spent a short season among your teaching ranks. I have a tender place in my heart for you and a little understanding of your responsibilities. In 2008 I was called to be an early morning seminary teacher in Utah. When the stake president called me, I thought, “Don’t they have people in Utah that teach full time?” Thankfully, I did not voice my thoughts, and I found myself with a set of keys and the responsibility of opening the seminary building every morning at 5:45 a.m. May I just say that Utah winters are cold at 5:45 in the morning.

During my seminary teaching experience, it was confirmed to me just how much the Lord loves each one of His students. I realized how fortunate some youth are to have faithful, loving parents. I also gained a keen awareness of those youth who do not get the love and attention they need and long for so desperately. We find the same yearning for love with our young single adults.

I recognize that one of a teacher’s most vital characteristics is the ability to love—the love spoken of by John: “Let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”5

As teachers, our quest should be to increase our love for God and then convey God’s love for the youth and young adults we are called to teach.

There is tremendous power in God’s love. I would like to consider this love in three distinct aspects: love in our lives, love in our homes, and love in our classrooms.

First, the power of love in our personal lives. It is essential that we believe and trust that God loves us. Our students will not feel the love of the Lord through us unless we first feel the love of the Lord within ourselves. I marvel at this scripture: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”6 Do we ponder and feel the magnitude of this love? I sometimes wonder if we seek to feel that love enough. Do we know who we are and whose we are?7 I invite you to ask Him in humble, sincere prayer for help to feel His divine love for you.

O My Father

Copyright Simon Dewey 2019 Permission Altus Fine Art

Because the world degrades, distracts, and demands, it can become easy to disengage and unknowingly switch to autopilot. It is essential that we actively take His yoke upon us8 and seek to feel His love. As we make this effort, He will pour out His love in great abundance.

Second, God’s love must abide in our homes. Allow me to illustrate this principle with a story. One evening my husband, Derek, and I did not see eye to eye on an issue. We went to bed without a resolution; however, I knew I was right.

That next morning, I knelt to pray, asking for the Spirit in abundance as I prepared to teach my seminary class. I pleaded that the youth would feel the love of the Lord through me. While I got ready for the day, my mind returned many times to the disagreement from the night before. As I got in the car with pride in my heart and knowing I was right, I rationalized that I could still teach and love with the Spirit. I continued to ask for divine guidance while I drove to the seminary building. All the way, with a very prominent and self-assured justification, I continuously attempted to drown out the persistent voice of the Spirit. Yet no matter how rock-solid my rationalizations were, the Spirit whispered, “Go back. Say you are sorry. It does not matter who is right; repent and make it right.”

“Fine!” At last I begrudgingly relented and turned the car around. Walking into the bedroom, I read 5:20 a.m. on the clock and found my dear Derek sleeping. My heart began to soften as I crept in. “Derek, I am sorry for last night.” Now this is typical of Derek, he said peacefully, “I have already forgiven and forgotten.” My heart enlarged with love, and I felt the immense mercy of the Lord.

There was an abundance of love and Spirit in class that day. Love in our home influences far beyond our walls.

And third, seminary and institute teachers have a special opportunity to share God’s love. Your class is a chance to love the one. I did not teach a class of 34; I taught 34 ones. I think this is the love my son, Dallin, felt—not a blanket of love for the class as a whole, but the sense of being known and loved individually. For that is how Heavenly Father loves. To really love our students, we need to see them as the Savior sees them. What does He love about each one of them? What gifts has He given them? What potential does He see in them? By truly loving them, we will help bring them to the Savior.

Argentina: Early Morning Seminary

When we remember that Christ is the source of all love, we go to Him to feel increased love in our personal lives, love in our homes, and really, love in our classrooms. We cannot create love—it only comes from Him to us and through us. In Moroni, we are taught, “Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he has bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.”9 I pray each of us will accept Moroni’s invitation.

President Eyring’s invitation was to feel both “love and light from God.”10 It is easy to consider love and light together when we remember that not only is He the source of all love, He is light. Jesus Christ Himself testified, “I am the light and the life of the world.”11 As we draw closer to Him, He reveals more light, truth, and love to us.

Now, let us reflect back briefly on the three areas of love we have discussed and consider the impact of love and light:

  • As you have felt God’s love in your own life, what light has come? What vision and insight have you gained personally?

  • What growth has come to your marriage and your family as you feel God’s love and experience an increase in light?

  • In your classroom, when your students feel the love of God through you, what light will come into their lives? How will they grow and change?

  • What darkness will be dispelled as they come to recognize and seek light personally?

    Simon Dewey Composite

    Copyright Simon Dewey 2019 Permission Altus Fine Art

Is it any wonder that our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has invited us to “increase [our] spiritual capacity to receive revelation.”12 When we feel God’s love, we are filled with His light and hope. When we seek God’s light and inspiration, we feel His tremendous love. What a dynamic combination.

My early morning teaching experience was shared with a faithful man named John Lund. This spiritual (and physical) giant taught me some things about the companionship of love and light. Let me just share two examples with you today.

The Cordons

One of our early morning seminary students tended to be a bit of a challenge. My reaction at times was to roll my eyes. John, however, chose love and sought light. As we met to counsel about this particular student, John began by saying, “I was praying about him last night.” This opening, almost causal, statement caused me to pause. John brought this young man’s name into his home, where there was an abundance of love, and asked Heavenly Father how he could better know and understand this student. To love our students, especially to love them as the Lord does, requires seeking and acting on revelation.

I will share the second story in John’s words:

“The Lord is really aware of His students. I remember one young man who was struggling. I had taken his bantering for many months. In truth, he was a pain.

“I had prepared a lesson, and I was really excited about how things had come together. I had even found an object lesson that was going to be epic. As I arrived in the seminary building, the Spirit nudged, saying to me, ‘John you need to teach about prayer.’ Prayer? I really wanted to teach my cool lesson. I did not have a prepared lesson about prayer.

“I stood in front of the class and said, ‘I do not know who needs this today, but I am going to change the lesson. Someone in this room needs all of us to talk about prayer.’ This simple lesson started with a question, ‘Why do we need prayer?’ ”

That night a knock came at John’s door. On his doorstep stood someone who shared the rest of the story. Apparently, the night before, John’s struggling student had received an invitation from his girlfriend—she asked him to pray to know if the Church was true. Her invitation, now coupled with Brother Lund’s unexpected lesson on prayer, led this young man to act. Over time John witnessed a change in his student as he gained a firm testimony of the restored gospel and was eventually sealed to his faithful and encouraging girlfriend in the temple.

Very rarely do we learn why such impressions come, but if we have confidence in the love the Lord has for our students, we can act on powerful revelation and impart His light to His beloved children.

When we seek revelation to love as God does, we are guided to reach and teach each student individually. The result is very, very personal. The Lord demonstrated this personal approach with Nephi when he sought to obtain the plates. Nephi testified, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth.”13

Nephi in Jerusalem

Laban stood between Nephi and the plates. Nephi was instructed of the Lord to kill Laban. With great anguish, he obeyed. That same night Zoram also stood between Nephi and the plates. So why didn’t Nephi apply the same revelation to Zoram that he had received regarding Laban? Why didn’t Nephi unsheathe the sword once more?

The Lord knew Zoram, and Nephi knew the Lord and trusted in the guidance of the Spirit. The Lord knew that Zoram would be a “true friend unto … Nephi.”14 Are we not grateful that in the beginning, Nephi sought individual revelation and was “led by the Spirit”?15

Zoram gives an oath

As a teacher, it may feel daunting to carry the responsibility to feel God’s love for each student and to receive revelation on how to help each individual. It is comforting to think of our calling and responsibility as a partnership with Christ.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has invited us to “labor side by side with the Lord of the vineyard, giving the God and Father of us all a helping hand with His staggering task of answering prayers, providing comfort, drying tears, and strengthening feeble knees. If we will do that, we will be more like the true disciples [and teachers] of Christ we are meant to be.”16

Our youth and young adults need to feel, know, and come to trust the Lord’s love and light. As you allow it, the Savior’s love can come to your students through you. And when your students feel His love, they will come to recognize and receive personal revelation. They will discover what is meant to “walk in the light of his love.”17 I testify that this love and light will help them become like our Heavenly Father and our beloved Savior and help them walk the covenant path back to Them. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.