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Alan L. Young

Alan L. Young
Alan Young joined Ensign College at the same time as the announcement of Ensign College in early 2020.

Young has been involved in various aspects of online learning throughout his career, including online curriculum development, online faculty development and online administration – the last 20 years at Brigham Young University-Idaho and BYU-Pathway Worldwide. He enjoys studying how people learn and how to improve the process of helping them learn.

Young received undergraduate degrees from Ricks College and Brigham Young University, a Master of Science degree in Instructional Technology from Utah State University and did graduate studies in Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia.

Young is a returned missionary from the North Carolina, Charlotte Mission. He currently serves as the Sunday School President in his home ward.

Young and his wife Konnie are the parents of four children.




Led by the Light

When you think about heaven, what images and feelings come to your mind and heart?

Let me describe a recent glimpse of heavenly light that I had: our oldest daughter graduated from high school earlier this year and is now serving as a full-time missionary in New Jersey. Part of her missionary preparation included receiving sacred ordinances and covenants in the holy temple.

This was all new to her, and I could tell that it filled her heart with joy. As her parents, we especially appreciated this heavenly gift because the pandemic had limited our access to the temple.

It had been many months since we had stepped inside the temple. The combination of being with our daughter and being back at the temple prepared our hearts to have a little glimpse of the light of heaven.

As we came out of the temple that night the temple lights were a beacon in the dark sky. It was a symbol of the light we felt in that heavenly experience with our daughter.

I know that heaven is a place of light, and Heavenly Father gives us glimpses of that heavenly light while we are here in our mortal experience.

I also feel like the man in the scripture that approached the Savior looking for light and healing. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord I believe;” then I imagine there was a pause as the Savior looked into his eyes and into his heart, and this good man added “help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).

My qualification to share this message today is that I am a son of God who believes, and I look to the Savior Jesus Christ to help my unbelief. I desire to live a heavenly lifestyle. I will share a simple pattern from the scriptures that has helped me in that process.

This is the pattern: capable and trusted disciples find light, they follow light and they forward the light of Jesus Christ.

We see an example of this pattern in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. Lehi said:

"I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste."

"And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies."

"After I had prayed unto the Lord …

I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy…. And … I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen."

"And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy;

wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”

"And …

I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree" (1 Nephi 8:7-12, 24).

Let’s explore this pattern more closely:

1. Find Light 

2 Follow Light 

3. Forward Light  

Section 1: Find Light
First, find light.

Have you ever had days when you felt like Lehi, stumbling around in the dark, trying to find the way? Or, days when you feel near the rod of iron but in the mist of darkness? How do you find light in your life?

I lived in a home that had a basement room with no windows. It was my bedroom. When the light was off, I could not see my hand when it was an inch away from my face. I could sleep well there because it was so dark. However, I could not move around without tripping over things. I could not tell direction because there was no reference point. In a past generation, all of the world was like my dark bedroom. We refer to it as the period of the dark ages, not because of a lack of sunlight but a lack of eternal light and knowledge.

In the Spring of 1820 a pillar of light shattered those long years of darkness, as the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith. The day of restoration, the day of light, had started.

As our hymn describes: “The morning breaks, the shadows flee; Lo, Zion’s standard is unfurled! The dawning of a brighter day. Majestic rises on the world” (Hymn 1).

We now live in the days of the brilliant light of the restoration. If we desire to find light, we don’t have to look far. On days when it feels like we are stumbling in the dark, we can turn to Jesus Christ for light and direction. Jesus Christ is the source of light and life. King Lamoni’s experience can be our experience, described by Ammon: “he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul” (Alma 19:6).

The miracle is that the discovery of light is not a one-time event. As we walk in light, Jesus Christ invites us to find additional light.

This is a picture of our family flag. The text at the bottom is latin for a phrase from the scriptures. In English, the full scripture says:

“That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

Later in the Doctrine and Covenants it says, “The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth” (D&C 93:36). As covenant Israel, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we have access to all light and truth. As we grow in that light, we are in a position to receive more light. What seems like a brilliant light in our lives today will pale in comparison to the light we can experience in the future.

“What power shall stay the heavens?” the Lord said to Joseph Smith. “As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints” (D&C 121:33).

Light usually comes to us gradually. Elder David A. Bednar taught that it is possible for light and revelation to come quickly, like a light switch turning on, but this is rare. He said that it is more typical for light to come into our lives in slow, steady ways, like the light that emerges during the sunrise. (David A. Bednar, Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation. .

As we consistently seek the Savior and His ways, this light grows brighter and brighter in our lives. We do not need to wander around in darkness like previous generations did. We can follow Lehi’s example and pray to Heavenly Father to receive mercy and to receive light in our lives.

In his first General Conference as President of the Church, President Nelson said, “One of the things the Spirit has repeatedly impressed upon my mind since my new calling as President of the Church is how willing the Lord is to reveal His mind and will” (Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives. General Conference, April 2018).

My invitation for each of us it to find ways to seek for light every day. As the prophet Mormon said, “I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ” (Moroni 7:19).

We live in the days of light, in the fullness of the restoration. The light is all around us, but it does not force itself upon us.

Section 2: Follow Light
Finding light is only useful if it also includes part 2 of the pattern – follow light.

The light and truth we receive from heaven becomes part of us and grows as we put it into practice. As we follow light, knowledge turns into wisdom and true concepts turn into our personal, on-going conversion.

Other common phrases we use as synonyms for “follow light” are discipleship, obedience and repentance.

When I was young, our family had a small paperback book in our home library called “The Little Prince.” The cover of this book scared me. Right under the title, it said “this book will change your life.” I wouldn’t open the book. I liked how things were in my life, and I did not want them to change. There was clearly a flaw in my thinking. Many years later I did read the book, and it did include some true principles that I wanted to include in my life.

As we find light, our vision clears and we see opportunities to change in productive ways. We see ways to become more like the Savior Jesus Christ. Following the light is putting true principles into action. As we follow the light we feel confidence that we are on a good path forward. In that light, we see the opportunity to change as a heaven-sent blessing, not a burden.

The author C.S. Lewis said, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1996), pp. 175–176).

In my recent scripture study, I have been looking for patterns in the way Heavenly Father blesses His covenant people – those who choose to follow the light. There are hundreds, but consider just a few:

  • “His soul shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled” (3 Nephi 20:8). 
  • “If ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7). 
  • “They shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of sins” (3 Nephi 12:2). 
  • “The gates of hell shall not prevail against them” (3 Nephi 11:39). 
  • “The power of heaven shall come down among them; and I also will be in the midst” (3 Nephi 21:25). 

Let’s go back to the example of the tree of life.

Lehi said, “I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree” (1 Nephi 8:24).

My invitation for each of us is to step in the direction of the light every day, even if it is in small ways, then observe what happens when we take those steps in the light.

As we follow the light, our vision becomes clearer and our hearts become closer to the Savior Jesus Christ. We glory in the glimpses of heaven and have a better view of our divine potential. With that vision, we desire to change.

Section 3: Forward Light
Finally, part 3 of the pattern.

As we find light and knowledge we feel motivated to act on what we learn. Any time we act on light and truth, or follow the light, our lives are changed and we come closer to the Savior. We also feel a desire to forward that light to others, to share what we have experienced.

As soon as Lehi tasted the fruit he immediately looked around for those he loved so they could experience it too. When we find light in our lives we naturally feel a desire for other people to see it and have the joy we are experiencing.

Think back on your own experience: how have you felt as you have shared light and truth with others? Why do we feel such a strong desire to share?

When we forward the light we have received it brings other people closer to Jesus Christ, and it makes the light we have received grow brighter within us.

Forwarding the light comes naturally because we want the people we love to experience the light that we experience. Consider this invitation from the Savior in the sermon on the mount, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Isaiah also saw this day where we would share light in a dark world. He said “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

I mentioned my daughter currently serving as a full-time missionary. Each day she is forwarding the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to other people. If you have served as a missionary, you will remember that wonderful feeling of sharing the light of the Lord. In a recent letter, my daughter said, “I'm super excited to have a full year dedicated to sharing the gospel and the light of Christ!!” She said, “Some people are amazingly prepared!! We met one of those people yesterday. We met with her to teach her English, and [she] told us we were an answer to prayer. We invited her to church through Zoom and she watched with her family!! I feel amazingly blessed that we get to teach her!!”

In the hymn “Hark All Ye Nations” it says, “Searching in darkness, nations have wept; Watching for dawn, their vigil they’ve kept. All now rejoice; the long night is o’er. Truth is on earth once more! Oh, how glorious from the throne above Shines the gospel light of truth and love! Bright as the sun, this heavenly ray Lights ev’ry land today” (Hymn 264).

Forwarding the light is what we were sent here to earth to do. In October, President Nelson helped us understand how the gospel light is spreading as Israel is gathered. He said, “The Lord is gathering those who are willing to let God prevail in their lives. The Lord is gathering those who will choose to let God be the most important influence in their lives. For centuries, prophets have foretold this gathering, and it is happening right now! As an essential prelude to the Second Coming of the Lord, it is the most important work in the world!” (Let God Prevail. General Conference, October 2020).

One of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant is that all of the nations of the world would be blessed through his seed. You are of his seed, blessing the nations of the earth as you forward the light you have received.

My invitation to each of us is to follow our natural instinct to forward the light we receive and help gather Israel.

As we do this, we feel the light within us grow, we see the joy grow in others, and we see the blessings of the gathering of Israel promised by the Savior and His prophet.

We started today by talking about the glimpses of heavenly light Heavenly Father gives us. I know that Heavenly Father is near. I know that His son Jesus Christ is the source of light and our source of life.

Each day, as we find light, follow light and forward light we grow as capable and trusted disciples. We grow into the divine potential Heavenly Father has given each of us.

I testify that this is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


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