We had a chance to speak to one of our heroes in our life a few months back, Elder Gene R. Cook. And one of the things that he said that was so impressive to us is that, when you speak, don’t think that you are the speaker; don’t think that you are the teacher. He said, realize that the Lord is the teacher and then he said how important it was to pray for the Spirit as you speak. So, Michelle and I have been praying for days that the Spirit would be with us and that we would remember in the moment who the speaker is, when we share our testimonies. I want to thank the choir for singing with the Spirit. It’s a wonderful, wonderful way for us to be helped today. I appreciate that so much. I have to say that I know President and Sister Kusch from way back, so I feel so blessed to be with them today. At an early concert that I did in California, they let me stay at their home, so it is really great to renew old friendships today. Awesome.
I want to start with a little bit of a message, and we’re going to throw in a couple of musical numbers as well. I was thinking of some ideas, I have some gathered, and [I’m] feeling to share today something that I’ve learned about myself in my life’s journey, and something that I feel is common to all of us as fallen humans here on this earth—and that is, I’ve learned that I’m “prone to wander” and I feel it, just like the hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing says—prone to wander.
One way that this is manifest is, for me, I start not seeing things the way they really are. [Here] is an example that I saw the other day as I was reading in the reading out of the New Testament. I thought, even the disciples displayed this, after they had that wonderful experience with the feeding of the 5,000 which must have been so impressive. Then Christ came to them on the sea, and in the scriptures, it said, “For they all saw him, and they were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
“And he went up to them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
“For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.”
So they have seen, in a matter of days, two incredible things, two wonderful things, and they had been for weeks seeing wonderful things. And somehow it went over their heads, and somehow they didn’t see. I think one of the things that happens to us in this fallen state that we’re in is—I like to call it suffering from the disease called “the natural man.” It affects our vision. And things that are wonderful become invisible. That is one thing that happens to us.
Another way it manifests is that we miss stuff; stuff goes over our heads. Our beliefs become less accurate. The natural man makes us basically stupid, to paraphrase Sheri Dew. She said sin makes us stupid. So, to me, what does that mean? To me, that gives me a consciousness of a deep need to depend on God, even to just see clearly, to think straight.
This is also manifest in temporal things. There is a thing going around the internet. It’s by a comedian. I want to read it, and you’ll just have to imagine comedic timing and animation as I read it, okay? This is hilarious. It’s called, “Everything is amazing and no one is happy.”
People come back from flights and they tell you …a horror story…. They’re like, “It was the worst day of my life. First off, we didn’t board for twenty minutes. Then we get on the plane, and they made us sit there on the runway….”
Oh, really? And then what happened next? Did you fly through the air, incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight? …You’re flying. It’s amazing. Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going, “Oh my gosh! Wow!” You’re flying! You’re sitting in a chair in the sky!
So we see what things that are amazing become invisible to us. For me, a great example of a spiritual nature is Joseph Smith. When I think all the amazing things that have been said in history, all the amazing nuggets of wisdom, how many of them were said by somebody in their college age, like early twenties? But you think about the Book of Mormon, you can’t keep track of it all. In fact, on my gospel library I’ve created a tab called “What twenty-year-old says this stuff?” That’s the tab. Which is just evidence to me that a twenty-year-old didn’t say this stuff; it was God, our Heavenly Father.
Just an example: Imagine getting a text from one of your college buddies that reads this: “Their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and finisher of their faith.” That had never been written before Joseph Smith.
Here’s one more: “Now whether there is more than one time appointed for men to rise it mattereth not; for all do not die at once, and this mattereth not; all is as one day with God.” Pretty bold for a college kid to just throw that out there.
“And time is only measured unto men,
“Therefore, there is a time appointed unto man that they shall rise from the dead; and there is a space between the time of death and the resurrection. And now, concerning this space of time, what becometh of the souls of men is the thing which I have inquired diligently of the Lord to know; and this is the thing [that] I do know.” And then he explains it all.
We should be reading that and thinking, “Wow!” But we kind of get used to it, don’t we? And wonderful things become invisible, things like Conference. I think, was I bored at Conference? Seriously? That is epic lack of vision, and—to me—shows that I need the Lord.
How can we battle this tendency to not see things the way they are? We want to share three suggestions with you today. Number one: Believe that we have a personal assistant. There is a word in the scriptures called succor. If you look it up in the dictionary, it means to give assistance or support in times of distress. So, Jesus Christ is our personal assistant. So that’s number one—believe in our Personal Assistant.
Number two: Use our Personal Assistant for all our support, even when we feel at our worst and when we are in the throes, in the grip, of sin. That’s when we need our Personal Assistant the most.
Number three: Avoid the classic blunder. Who has seen The Princess Bride? The classic blunder, right? Avoid the classic blunder. Satan tells us in the minute of temptation, he says, “Hide.” That is the classic blunder. How many of us hide from our Personal Assistant when we need Him most, when we are at our very worst? Satan says, “Hide.” That is the classic blunder.
So I just want to—oh, wow, I’m out of time already. We’re done at 12:00, right? I’m just going to speak very, very briefly about number two—use our Personal Assistant for all our support, and then I’ll turn the time over to Michelle for number three.
I’m so thankful, with the Piano Guys, that we are four priesthood brethren who have consecrated what we do to the Lord, and we feel His help. Just like Minerva Teichert— one of the most famous painters in the Church—never picked up a paintbrush without first saying a prayer, and whenever she came to a problem in her painting she would pray, we took a page out of her book. Before we would write, or when we would come to a problem in our writing, we pray.
I want to testify of another great quote from the Book of Mormon: “Cry unto God for all thy support.” Aren’t we all painters? I just want to leave that message with you today, to cry unto God for all your support. You can involve Him in everything that you do. Michelle will go into greater detail on this, and I will turn the time over to my wife.
I get to share an example of being and making the classic blunder. When I was in College, I went to the [University of Utah]. I lived in Sandy, and I drove every day to school, back and forth. When I first got there, I thought, I don’t know how to meet people. It’s a commuter school. I found out that there were parties that would go on on the weekends, so I thought, Okay, this is how it works, how you meet people.
I went to one of these parties, and it was not a good party. It was the first time I had been to a party like this, and the Spirit was just like, “Oh, this is not good.” And I felt it really strong. As I left that party, I thought, Oh, that felt awful. But then I thought, this is how you meet people. I don’t know how else to meet people. And this is how it’s done here at this school, so I’ve got to go to these parties.
The next time I went to a party, it didn’t feel good, but it wasn’t as bad as the first time. And then the next time I went, I didn’t love it, but it wasn’t awful. And then the next time I went it didn’t really bother me that much. And pretty soon, it had gotten so I could ignore that feeling from the Spirit that was telling me this was not a good place to be. And the reason why I did that is that I didn’t trust. I didn’t have enough trust in Heavenly Father and in Jesus Christ. They had a better way.
Some times we think, They don’t get it. They don’t get it; this is how it works. And how crazy, really, that we think They don’t get it. Because They get everything. They get how to meet people. They get anything that we can possibly desire and yearn for in our lives. They get it.
There’s a text that one of our boys sent us that just nailed this idea that I want to share with you. He said, “My best friend is one I feel comfortable inviting to all aspects of my life. They know just about everything, and I talk about and enjoy just about all aspects of my life with them. What makes us usually feel comfortable letting them into all aspects of our life? It is because they get us. They often have the same sense of humor, similar views of the world, life goals, etc. We tell them about the spiritual stuff and the bad stuff. We feel safe and comfortable with them because they understand us. They are loyal to us. They don’t judge us. They are there for us. With them we feel like we are home and we are safe.
When I open up to a friend with something bad or embarrassing, so hard, that I am struggling with, the key to overcoming that thing is having a friend that can do for me what I cannot do for myself, a friend that has the power that—when I open up to Him and invite Him into my embarrassing temptations, I can actually give it to Him to bear it for me.
One of the many reasons Jesus came to earth and was born of a woman, was so that He could relate with us, so He could know exactly what it was like to be a human and to suffer all physical ailments and to suffer spiritual temptations. Being tempted is not a sin. Jesus Christ was tempted in all things, yet he sinned not.
It’s like Undercover Boss on steroids—a God coming down to earth and understanding completely and fully what it feels like to be human. Not only did He understand what it felt like to be human, but He had descended to an entirely new echelon of empathy by literally feeling, knowing perfectly, our physical, mental, and emotional pain. Jesus is His human name. Jesus is the man that understands me, the man who knows me better than I know myself, the man who knows what it’s like to be too tired to read my scriptures. He knows. He will help us. We can bring Him into that moment.
[He is] the man who knows what it is like to have a lazy and bad attitude at church, the man who knows what it is like to want to be lazy, crude, mean, or gossipy, the man who knows the intense power of sexual temptation in all of its forms, the man who knows the devastating loss and anguish of heartbreak or death of a loved one, the man who knows the suffering of injury, the man who knows shame and embarrassment. This man’s name is Jesus, and He gets me.”
Since that time, when I made the classic blunder, I have learned that this is true, that Jesus Christ is the sin bearer. He is given the responsibility, the stewardship, to carry our sins, and if we turn to Him in that moment—the moment of temptation—and bring Him into it with us, instead of hiding from Him, instead of separating ourselves—because when we are tempted, we actually, there is a part of us, the natural man, that actually wants to sin—if we bring Him in, in that moment, we can give it to Him, and He will bear it. And we get to go free.
I am so grateful for His calling. I am so grateful that He can do it. Sometimes we think, I don’t want to burden Him. That again is a classic blunder. That is a lie. Because that is His calling, to be in our lives, to carry us, and to take away our sins.
Both of these things create bonding experiences. Isn’t it a great thing when you have bonding experiences? Isn’t it a great thing when you have a bonding experience with someone and you just feel so close? Imagine if you went in to the bishop’s office as a young teenager, and you’re so embarrassed to talk to him, and the bishop said, “You know what? I totally understand what you are going through. I totally get it. I’ve experienced the same temptation.”
How safe would you feel? How much of a bonding experience would that be? We can have that with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Every temptation can become a bonding moment if we don’t fall for the classic blunder. And every problem can become a bonding moment if we turn to Him and cry unto Him for all our support.
Alma talked about planting the seed, and then Amulek told how to plant the seed. Basically, what he said was, “Pray about everything." Pray over your fields, pray over your flocks, and when your heart is not praying, let it be continually drawn out in prayer. And that is a bonding experience, and then you will feel like you have a Personal Assistant in all things. I testify that that is true, and I share that testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.