The House of My Heart
Thank you. At the top of the list of College-wide outcomes at LDS Business College is to “confirm personal testimony . . . of Jesus Christ.” My goal today, brothers and sisters, is to do just that. I hope that your testimonies will be strengthened as I attempt to share a pivotal point in my life when my testimony began to blossom.
During my freshman year at BYU, my identical twin brother and I were invited to participate in a pilot project for the Church. It was new, entitled “Our Heavenly Father’s Plan.” Do any of these pictures look familiar or bring back memories? My guess is the vast majority of this audience wasn’t even born when this program was instituted.
In any event, the Church aired a number of television commercials all across the United States that targeted every age, every culture and background. These ads centered on one theme. Can you guess what that theme is? “What is the purpose of life?” Here is an example:
Voice of young woman: The purpose of life? I really couldn’t tell you. I’m just kind of living it to live, I guess. I’m here.
Young man: Everyone is here for a purpose. What that is, I don’t know.
Woman: I think you can pass it up if you don’t know what the purpose is. You just go through life and never even know.
Young man: For me, the purpose of life is to achieve the things that, the gifts that God has given me.
Young woman: I don’t know what the purpose of life is. What do you think?
Man: I really don’t have any real purpose. Working toward retirement is all.
Various voices: What is the purpose of life?
To achieve knowledge.
That’s a toughie. I think the purpose of life is to live a good life and serve God.
I’m not sure there is a purpose to life. I have no idea. You tell me.
[Singing]: The melody’s familiar
Various voices: What’s the purpose of life?
I have no idea. I’m trying to figure it out.
[Singing]: I’ve heard this song before.
Man: What is the purpose of life? Life in general, in abstract? I can’t help but ask these questions. I’m sorry.
[Singing]: I’ve been around ten thousand years, and maybe even more.
Various voices: What do you think the purpose of life is?
I’ve been trying to figure that out all my life.
I’ve got to find out who I am.
I’ve got to find out who I am.
Got to know and got to see what’s making me—me.
I’ve got to find out who I am.
I’ve got to find out who I am.
And when I do, I know I’ll be what I can.
When I find out who I am.
I’ll be all I can, when I find out who I am.
After viewing these ads, these thought-provoking commercials, viewers would call a toll-free number and receive—they would ask for a free video that would answer this critical, crucial, poignant, universal question: “What is the purpose of life?” Well, guess what my job was? To answer those phone calls and to set up appointments for the full-time missionaries. It was the perfect preparation for my mission because six months later, I was on the receiving end of those very referrals and I was able to see firsthand the miracle of the success of this new Church program.
On one occasion while I was involved in this project, I remember my returned missionary supervisor, Cheryl. She shared a spiritual thought that changed my life. She shared a thought every day just before the shift started for the day. We always had a spiritual thought and prayer before we began to answer the phone calls. Just like Joseph Smith, “never did [such a spiritual thought] come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. [Her words] seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on [them] again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God [or to come to know Christ better], I did” (see Joseph Smith—History 1:12).
I hope you will indulge me, my brothers and sisters, as I attempt to share that powerful thought with you today with the same spirit and conviction that my supervisor did in 1987. It’s called “The House of My Heart” (see Robert Boyd Munger, “My Heart Christ’s Home.”)
One day when I really understood what Jesus Christ had done for me, I invited Him to come into the house of my heart. And as soon as I invited Him, He came without any hesitation. And while He was there, He filled my house with joy, and I wanted to run and tell all my neighbors about my guest and how wonderful it was to have Him there. When everything was settled, I said, “I hope you will stay and feel perfectly at home here.” And He said, “I’m sure I will, and now since we are new friends, why don’t you show me around? I would very much like to see the library in the house of your heart.” And so I did.
Now, in my house, the library is very small and has very thick walls and is filled with everything I have read, books, magazines, news articles; everything I have seen, like TV shows, movies, plays; all the Sunday School and seminary lessons I have listened to, the sermons, the lectures—they’re all there in the library. His eyes gazed over the things that were on the shelf, and I was a little embarrassed that there was so much trivia there. I wished that more scriptures and Church books were mine and on the shelf.
I suggested to Him that maybe I could stand a little bit of renovation in this room, and He agreed that maybe we together could add more worthwhile things to the library. You see, the library is a very important room because it’s the control room for the whole house. It affects the lighting, the electricity, and everything else in the house. Would you agree? Have you seen a convert to the Church? Are they glowing? Is there electricity in their life? What are we reading? What are we watching? What are we listening to? What is in our library? Ponder that.
Next, He said He would like to see the dining room. Now in my house, this is a very large room—kind of the opposite of the library, which is very small, right? This is a very large room because this is the room of appetites and desires, and it was stacked with all kinds of boxes and things. I told Him I was always hungry but that I never seemed to be satisfied. He said, “It’s because you are eating the wrong things.” He said, “If you would diet as I do, you would never feel hunger, for I live on the word of the Lord, the Father.” Then He offered me a taste of it, and it was delicious—and oh, the flavor of it.
What did Lehi see? That precious fruit, most desirable above all. And what did Lehi want to do with that fruit? Share it, right? He wanted everybody else to partake of the fruit. (See 1 Nephi 8.)
I agreed with Him that this alone satisfied me, and I knew that I would spend less time in the dining room now that He was a guest in my house.
Next, He said He would like to see my workshop. Now I had a workshop; it was down in the basement. And we went down and looked at all the talents and skills—we looked at the workbench. But I hadn’t really used those talents and skills to produce much. Oh, there were a few gadgets and trinkets and half-finished projects, but nothing really of great value. So I said, “Well, if I wasn’t quite so busy I could do better. I know all the tools are there, but I’m awkward and clumsy and I don’t know how to use them.”
So He said, “Would you like to be able to use the tools in your workshop?”
And I said, “Oh yes, would you help me?” And He said, “I was wondering if you were ever going to ask me.” So He stood behind me, and He put His great powerful hands over mine and guided them, and He showed me how to use the tools in my workshop. And with His hands directing mine, I marveled at the work of art that came out.
And I said, “Now that you have helped me, I am going to come into this room often. This will be a fun room to come to. Will you always help me?”
And He said, “Yes, if you invite me to, but I never come unless I am invited.”
Brothers and sisters, are we using the tools–those skills, talents, strengths—that the Lord has blessed us with? Are we putting them to use? Are we furthering His purposes?
We left the workshop, and the next room we went into was the drawing room. Now this was a small, quiet, peaceful place in my heart for deep thoughts and meditation, and He seemed pleased with it and comfortable there. So He said, “Let’s meet here together often, at least twice a day, and you can tell me about all your activities, all of your ambitions and goals, all of your problems and challenges. We’ll talk it over together every day.”
I thought that sounded wonderful, so I made an appointment with Him that I would do that. And I did at first, faithfully. But then I got too busy, and sometimes I would forget to come in the morning, and sometimes I would forget to come at night, and sometimes days would go by and we never even had a chat at all. Now, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to Him, it was just that I was so busy and had so much to do.
Then one day as I went to leave, I noticed Him standing in the doorway of the drawing room. And I said, “Have you been waiting there every morning for me?”
“Yes, he replied.”
I said, “You’re a guest in my house, and I have neglected you, and I’m so sorry.” I had called on Him when I was in need to come and help me, but that was the way I used Him. When things were going well, I didn’t really think we needed our chat as much as when things were bad. So I decided that it had been a very one-sided relationship, and I also realized that He missed me. So I said, “Maybe there’s something I could do for you?”
He said, “I was wondering when you were going to ask.” Summer of service, right? What are we focusing on this summer? Service. “I have so many projects and so many things that need to be done. I could use a good friend,” like every one of you. “For one thing, I have no money in the world at all. Can I use some of yours? And there are people I cannot see. I could send you and commission you to go and represent me. Would you do that?”
“I’d love to go!” So I went, and I experienced great joy in this—as all of you returned missionaries can attest to, right? There is great joy in that work. But then I got rebellious, and I said, “You demand too much of me. Can’t I have anything to myself? After all, I have things I want to do, things I want to spend my money on, and you’re always there needing something.” Now that wasn’t a very nice way to treat a guest.
And then He said, “Look at the nature of my projects and who benefits from them.” And then I really was ashamed because everything I did benefited me as well as others, and not Him personally. So I continued His work.
But then one day He said, “There is a peculiar odor in this house, and it’s coming from that locked closet. And although you’ve let me into every room in your house, that one door has always remained locked, and you’ve never let me in.”
Now that made me mad! I had let Him into every room in my house; I ran and did His errands for Him; I even let Him use my money. And now He wanted to look in my secret closet. So I said, “No! I hold the key, and I will not let you in. It’s small, only about 2 feet by 4 feet. The rest of my house is large enough and perfectly presentable, so it shouldn’t make any difference.”
And He said, “I cannot stay in this house if you do not give me the key to the closet.” So He left.
I was sad. Despair, gloom, and depression came over me. Because you see, once having had Christ as a guest in my house, life was unbearable without Him. And so I went and tearfully pleaded with Him. I begged Him, “Come back, and I will give you the key to the closet! I will withhold nothing from you–I cannot stand to live without you!” And so I gave Him the key, and He opened it. And then quickly and efficiently, He cleaned out all those things that were dead and rotten that I wanted to pretend were not there and just wanted to ignore. He cleaned the whole closet out! He fumigated it, painted it, and made it perfectly acceptable. Afterwards, I said, “I’m so ashamed that you know what was in my closet.”
He replied, “Why, I see only a house that is totally acceptable to me.” And then I knew why I loved Him so, and why of all my biggest brothers only this one could love me enough to clean out my closet. And then He said, “You know, it’s a strange thing. I’ve cleaned out so many closets, but it really is a strange thing because I can never remember afterwards what was in them.”
After a few moments, I said, “I get so tired of cleaning up all the time. I go from one room to the other trying to keep up in the drawing room, the dining room, the workshop, the library. I’m always behind. I was wondering, could you be the owner and I be the guest? We would just switch positions. Instead of me calling on you to help me, you could call on me to help you. Is that possible?”
“Why yes, that’s why I came the first time you invited me.” So I ran and got the deed to my house, I signed it over to Him, and I said, “I’m yours! It belongs to you, and I withhold nothing from you. I cannot stand to live without you.”
After I gave Him the deed, He immediately started remodeling the house. He was not content to own a cottage. He was the master, the architect, the planner, the builder. He told me that eventually we would end up with a magnificent castle. It would take a while to build, but we would build it together. So He started the remodeling. He was the master of the house, and I was His servant, and I did whatever He bid. And there were times when clouds of war, hate, and sin came and gathered around the house. And they beat and demanded entry into the house. But because He was the Lord of the house, it had a firm foundation and none of these things were allowed to enter. Inside the house was warmth, peace, and tranquility regardless of what was outside.
He told me that as time went on that He would move my house to another city. He would take care of all the arrangements, and I wouldn’t even have to know the day it took place or when. He said I would be in a city where He had the deed to all the houses and there would be no storms, no darkness, no temptations, and I would like the neighbors better.
It sounded wonderful, and I looked forward to it with eagerness. And, I looked back so long ago when I first invited Christ to come into the house of my heart, and I wondered why I had been so stingy and reluctant to want to turn myself over to Him. Because He showered me with gifts. He took care of all the remodeling, and I was always the debtor.
Brothers and sisters, may we continue to invite Christ into the house of our heart—often, at least weekly. And if we get the courage, let’s give Him the deed to our houses; let’s submit our will to His, and see what happens. Look at what He will do with you and me when we turn ourselves over to Him. I promise that you’ll be impressed with the results. I leave this with you humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Introduction: President J. Lawrence Richards
Let me introduce to you Brother Darren Butterfield. Brother Butterfield was born in Bountiful, Utah, about nine minutes after his identical twin brother, David. Some of us have had a chance to meet his brother David. They are more than identical. It’s a little spooky—I’ll be honest. He grew up in West Jordan, Utah, with four brothers and a sister. And after serving a Spanish-speaking mission in Ventura, California, he attended BYU—Provo where he taught Spanish at the Mission Training Center for three years and then seminary for one year. After finishing his formal education, Brother Butterfield began a career at the Covey Leadership Center, where he coordinated public programs, and leadership development training for Fortune 500 companies. Two colleges invited him to teach business and communication courses, and soon thereafter, Brother Butterfield’s two classes turned into nine, and before long his career changed from human resources to higher education.
Darren has served in various callings in the Church, including in elders quorum presidencies, Young Men’s presidencies, early morning seminary, in a bishopric, and as a gospel doctrine instructor, gospel principles instructor, and is currently serving his third term as ward mission leader. When he speaks, you will understand why a wise bishop would call him to three terms as a ward mission leader.
In July 2012, he was prompted by the Spirit to return to Salt Lake to continue his career in education with LDS Business College. He has been teaching business courses and computer courses and general education courses ever since then. Recently, he accepted a full-time position with the College to be our learning management systems director—for all of you, that’s over BrainHoney and, at some time, its replacement.
Darren is married to the former Jerilyn Johnson. They have five children; we introduced them earlier. He calls them his dream basketball team. Brother Butterfield’s hobbies include basketball, tennis, water-skiing, snow skiing, golf, and he includes as a hobby family vacations. Very wise.
Brothers and sisters, you are in for a treat today. I have never had a conversation with Darren that I haven’t walked away uplifted by his enthusiasm, and his love for life, and his love for the gospel, and his love for the mission of the College. I’m not sure what he has for breakfast, Sister Butterfield, but I would like some because it sets him right for the entire day.