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The Light in Our Lives

Andrew Gibbons
June 04, 2024 11:15 AM

"Thankfully, blessedly, when we make mistakes, we can invite light back into our lives through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What a beautiful gift that is. Repentance helps us shed darkness and oppression from our lives, it can be likened to the dawn of a beautiful new day!<br/><br/>"
It is wonderful to be here today, surrounded by friends and colleagues all. About four months ago, I had a special experience as my wife and I walked into the Celestial room of the Payson, Utah temple. As I walked into that beautiful space I looked up at the beautiful chandeliers that were filling that room with light. And I was immediately transfixed by the beauty of the space. At that moment the Spirit spoke to me and touched my heart, and I knew not only that I would be speaking at an Ensign College devotional, but I also knew what I was supposed to be speaking about… Light!

When we learn about the creation, we are taught that on the very first day of that marvelous event, God said, “Let there be light; and there was light” (Genesis 1:3, Moses 2:3). But what light was He talking about? Because it was not until the fourth day of creation that He said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night… to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15). “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Genesis 1:17).

Now, why would he say that? Why would he say, “Let there be light,” and then not make the sun until later? Isn’t that where light comes from? So, what other light are we aware of? If the Lord was not talking about the light that comes from the sun, then to what was he referring? How about the light that comes from the son… S-O-N. The Son of God.

If we were to walk outside on a bright day and close our eyes and turn our face up to the sky, we would feel the radiating warmth of the sun coming down on us. That light has so many amazing properties. It chases away darkness. It reveals the beauty around us. It heats the earth and makes the weather we enjoy. It enables photosynthesis that helps plants to grow, which in turn creates oxygen so that other living things can breathe. It even helps our bodies produce essential vitamins that are needed for our health and happiness. Light is energy. Light has power! And without the light from the sun, there would actually be no life on the earth. But that’s just physical light.

Our Lord and Savior, the master teacher, used parables and analogies to teach us eternal truths. He taught many spiritual lessons by linking them to the physical world around us. He taught about sheep and a shepherd, of sandy and firm foundations, and even about candles and oil lamps. However, in these lessons, the Lord was making a clear distinction between the temporal and spiritual. He was not ultimately talking about raising livestock, nor good construction techniques, nor even about keeping the correct oil in our lamps. He was speaking about significant, eternal truths.

Now that moment I walked into the Celestial room was one in which my heart and mind were filled with light. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. I could see the beautiful light that flooded the room, but I also recognized that the light I was feeling was being imparted to me in a different way—through the Spirit. That type of light is understanding and is so much more than just knowing something.

 So, let’s consider a little more about what light does… And as we do so, watch for how the characteristics of physical and spiritual light parallel one another. It’s amazing how much they line up in what they do.

So, do you realize that darkness and light cannot exist in the same space? As a matter of fact, darkness is simply the absence of light. It does not exist. If there was no light we would be surrounded by darkness. But that’s not because darkness is there. It’s because of what’s not there. Because there is no light. Darkness is simply a void. Light is the thing of power, the thing that exists, the thing that matters.

When we step into a completely dark room—now do something—close your eyes, please, and imagine yourself in a completely dark space. What do you see? Nothing. You may be able to hear sounds, but we see nothing. If we try to walk through that space, you might step on something, like Legos that the kids left on the floor, or you may stub your toe on a piece of furniture, or bump into it. Now picture yourself in a forest, completely dark, and you’re trying to walk through it. What might happen? You might trip on a log, you might stumble into some water, or even fall off a cliff. It could be very dangerous. Now just add a little bit of light. What happens? When we add light, suddenly the dark is chased away, and the unknown becomes known. Okay, you can open your eyes now.

 By the way, this is a test. If you don’t open your eyes, I know that you’re asleep.

 The light highlights potential dangers for us. It reveals a safe path forward for us. Light shows us the reality of what’s before us and we can’t navigate safely without light in our lives – both physical and spiritual.

So, let’s pause. What are the benefits of light that we have mentioned so far? Now, please, if you haven’t, write some of these down as they touch your heart…what are the characteristics of light?

· Light chases away darkness – both physical and spiritual.

· It reveals the beauty around us.

· It heats the earth and facilitates weather.

· It enables photosynthesis so plants can grow,

· Helps our bodies produce essential vitamins.

· Truly, life could not exist on the earth without light.

Okay, but what else?

· It brings inspiration and understanding to our hearts and our minds.

· It makes the unknown – known.

· It highlights potential dangers.

· Reveals safe paths.

· Light shows us the reality of what is before us.

· And in fact, we cannot navigate safely without it in our lives –physical or spiritual.

So, if light is so important, what can we do to ensure that we always have it with us? In D&C 84:49 the Lord is teaching some of the early leaders of the church when he says. “…the whole world… groaneth under darkness and under the bondage of sin.” Those are interesting words that the Lord used…we “groaneth under darkness.” A little later he says, “your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received.”

Do we ever treat lightly the things that we have received? Perhaps we are ignoring counsel from the prophet or another priesthood leader. Maybe we are holding the prompting from the Spirit at arms-length. Maybe we are choosing an incorrect path, perhaps even breaking our covenants. Do we at times find ourselves in the bondage of sin? Do we groaneth in darkness when we can’t see, and stumble about? Do we become frustrated and confused as we bump into obstacles in spiritual darkness? In D&C 93 we learn, “(39) …that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men.” What does Satan do when we are disobedient? Takes away light and truth.

Now it’s interesting to think about—Where does Satan (and his followers) eventually wind up? Where are they going to be sent? To Outer Darkness. Why do we call it that? Because it is a place of no light. No revelation, no understanding, no glory. There is no light.

Thankfully, blessedly, when we make mistakes, we can invite light back into our lives through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What a beautiful gift that is. Repentance helps us shed darkness and oppression from our lives, it can be likened to the dawn of a beautiful new day!

The Lord himself said, “I am the light and the life of the world” (3 Nephi 9:18). But how do we access that light? In D&C 84 we read, “(45) For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (46) And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.”

So, when we accept the word of the Lord, we are receiving truth. When we find truth the light of Jesus Christ can testify of it which brings enlightenment to our lives. The Spirit, testifying of truth, and giving us understanding, drives away darkness! In other words, when we are doing what we know to be right, the shackles of bondage drop away, and the darkness flees.

Now, isn’t that a beautiful promise? One of the responsibilities of the Spirit is to confirm the truth of all things. That truth brings light into our lives. Keeping our covenants, living our lives as we know we should, brings the blessing of the companionship of that Spirit. So, what does that look like in our lives? Let’s consider at a few examples…

Now, in the book of Alma, we read that Ammon taught the gospel and the Plan of Salvation to King Lamoni. In chapter 18, starting in verse 40 we read, "(40) And it came to pass that after he had said all these things, and expounded them to the king, that the king believed all his words. (41) And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy on my soul; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and upon my people. (42) And now, when he had said this, he fell unto the earth, as if he were dead."

Now listen to the words of what was happening when King Lamoni was unconscious… specifically, listen for anything related to light… it won’t be hard. In chapter 19 we read, Ammon, “…knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from [the king’s] 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 in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God." Now, I can’t think of another scripture that says “light” more times than that. But it’s interesting—the change that was happening, that healing that was taking place in King Lamoni was powered by the light of Jesus Christ.

Let’s take another look at a different place. Let’s consider the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25.

“(1) Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. (2) And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (3) They that were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them: (4) But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. (6) And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; (You realize we’re going to have a time like that in our lives) go ye out to meet him. (7) Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. (8) And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.”

Now let’s pause there for a second… because of their choices, the five wise virgins had oil in their lamps. They had provided for themselves so that they could have light and the opportunity to move forward in the darkness. The chance to attend the wedding feast was available to them because they had considered light to be important to them, and they prepared accordingly. The five foolish virgins did not have the opportunity to take part in that special event because they did not value light enough to prepare. So what might that look like in our lives? If we are not seeking the light of the Spirit, what might we miss out on? It’s an opportunity. It’s ours to keep or ours to lose. Okay. Might we be prompted to help a friend or a neighbor in real need? Might we ignore a nudge to do something that would lead to a good job or professional opportunity? Perhaps even a chance to meet your eternal companion.

Let me share a personal experience. When I was a young return missionary, I very much looked forward to finding a kind, wise, beautiful young woman, to take to the temple and there, with her, start an eternal family. Accordingly, I was on the lookout for prospects… not unlike many of you, I suppose! I was very socially active, I dated, I prayed… I was doing my part, but no luck. I just wasn’t finding the right young lady. But I always invited the Lord to help me – I was seeking for light, and I was acting in faith.

Then one late Friday afternoon I was leaving my place of work, and I was beat. I was so tired. I had been working since 6:00 that morning. And I was looking forward to a very relaxing weekend. Now, there was a campout planned for a school committee that I was a part of. But I decided that an uncomfortable night’s sleep in a tent was just not something that was going to bring me happiness, so I had decided not to go.

However, as I walked towards the exit door, I vividly heard the words in my mind, “You should go to the campout.” Okay, now pause… that sounded like the worst idea in the world to me. I was tired. I wanted to do something else. I needed rest, okay? But, go back to that prompting—the moment I heard those words—I had heard direction like that before. I had received it in my life. I knew where that message was coming from, and I trusted it. So, the next words out of my thought was the reply, “OK, I’ll go!” Now brothers and sisters, that was one of the smartest things I have ever said!

Two hours later up at the campground, I stepped out of my car, and looking around at the beautiful surroundings, I saw my wife for the first time ever. She was super cute, and my first thought was, “Wow! I need to talk to her!” That beautiful young lady is the woman that you see sitting behind me here today. And she is truly the love of my life.

But the story gets better! Not only did I come to realize that that was a good idea to go to the campout, but it was purposely orchestrated by the Lord to help my wife and I meet. At that time, my wife was attending a new student ward. She had only been in Utah for a few weeks. Our two groups were leaving for different campouts from the same location—up different ends of the mountain—Mount Timpanogas. One group was going up Provo Canyon, and the other group was going up American Fork Canyon. My wife got into the wrong car!

So, certainly she was panicked a bit when she realized she was heading in the wrong direction, and eventually showed up at the wrong campout where she didn’t know a soul. However, in retrospect, we realize that that was actually exactly the right car, and the right campout.

Now, you might think that I would be a knight in shining armor and swoop in to save her. Unfortunately, no. She was adopted, like a lost lamb, by all the other girls at the campout, and I only got to talk with her later in the night around the campfire. But the next day we hiked up mount Timpanogos together, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Brothers and sisters, my listening to that prompting to go to the campout—that simple beam of light that was shared with me, the decision to listen to it, was the best… decision… ever!

Now that is a fun story and one that I cherish very much, but how different would it have been if I had not listened to the prompting of the Spirit? What if I had argued or rationalized that I would rather have done something else, or be somewhere else? I fully believe that my chances of meeting her would have been limited or non-existent. After that summer she was going to be going to a school that had thirty thousand students. What were the odds that I would even meet her? If I had not listened, I would perhaps have missed one of the greatest blessings of my life. And it was made possible because I accepted the light that was shared with me – because I valued the light that comes from God, my path was made clear.

So, what should we do to foster that Light in our lives? Now first of all, we need to remember that light and action have a connection. We have all heard the term, “acting in faith.” When we are at a point in our lives that we feel we have come to the edge of the light, what can we do? When we see no path before us, what should we do? Here are some inspiring thoughts by some of our leaders:

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We reach toward the unknown, but faith lights the way. If we cultivate that faith, we shall never walk in darkness.” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, We Walk by Faith, April 2002, General Conference).

 Now, how do we get there? We reach toward the unknown, and we cultivate the faith. Those are both action words—things that we need to do.

“President Harold B. Lee gave some marvelous advice for modern pioneers: ‘Walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you’” (Bonnie D. Parkin, Finding Faith in Every Footstep, April 1997, General Conference).

We talk about stepping into the darkness. This is an act of faith. When we do so we are blessed with further light and truth.

Elder Robert D. Hales counseled, “Beloved young men and young women of the Church, we are engaged in a battle between the forces of light and darkness.” (Odd—the forces of good and bad? Righteousness and evil? No-- between light and darkness) “If it were not for the Light of Jesus Christ and His gospel, we would be doomed to the destruction of darkness. But the Savior said, ‘I am come a light into the world.’” (Here’s the action) “‘He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.’” (Elder Robert D. Hales, Out of Darkness into His Marvelous Light, April 2002, General Conference)

Following Jesus Christ is an act of faith. And our actively living our lives the way that we should, will indeed invite the Spirit to be our companion. And the Spirit will ignite the light of Christ within each of us. The Lord said, “(67) And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. (68) Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God” (D&C 88:67-68). We each have the opportunity to turn on the light of Christ in our lives.

Now, once we have partaken of that great blessing, we are commanded to, “Let your light so shine!” We are asked to share it with others. In 3 Nephi we read, “(14) Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. (15) Behold, do men light a candle and put it under a bushel? Nay, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house;(16) Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (3 Nephi 12:14-16).

What does that do? The light of Christ reveals truth—to us and others. It also lightens the heart and brightens the soul—for us and others. Light given to us can comfort, cheer, and encourage us. And it can bring assurance and peace in times of doubt.

One thing that has always amazed me is that when traveling, the weather on the ground could be terrible; It could be foggy. There could be forbidding storm clouds pouring down rain, there could be a blizzard blowing snow so thick that it’s hard to see through it, but once the plane takes off, and we rise above the clouds, the sun is always shining! I think there’s a lesson in there for us. When we rise above the cares of the world it is always sunny and bright.

Brothers and Sisters, I hope that we can each take the time that we need to in our lives to evaluate our relationship with light. Truth, cheer, brightness, understanding, and hope come through the Light of Christ. If we will do this, Brothers and Sisters, I know that the Spirit will talk to us. The Spirit will teach us, will strengthen us, buoy us up during times of hardship and help make our times of joy ever more beautiful. And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
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