A Healthy Heart and the Holy Ghost
by President Bruce C. Kusch
Brothers and sisters, I am so very grateful to be here with you on this beautiful, beautiful spring day as we begin this spring semester. I wanted to share an experience as I begin, this morning, that Sister Kusch and I experienced when we spent four whole days in the Missionary Training Center prior to our missionary service in Mexico. Mission presidents and their wives don’t spend very much time there before you actually head to your assigned field of labor. But the night before the night before we left for Mexico, there was a banquet that was organized, and the man that organized the banquet knew that we had become acquainted with Elder and Sister Bednar during our time in Rexburg, Idaho. So, as he did the seating arrangements, he seated us at the same table with Elder and Sister Bednar. Elder Bednar was seated to my right, Sister Bednar to his right, Sister Kusch to my left, and I can’t remember who else was at the table.
As Elder Bednar and I were conversing during dinner, I wanted to ask a question of Elder Bednar, thinking that he would give me a profound answer. And he did, but it was not the answer that I was expecting. The question was this: “Elder Bednar, you have been all over the world, now, in your eight years as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. You have seen members of the Church everywhere. Where is your favorite place? Of all the places you have visited, where is your favorite place?
And his answer came very swiftly, and it taught me a great lesson. His answer was, “The last place where I was, because that’s where the Lord sent me.” I was expecting a different answer from him, but that was a powerful lesson for me, and it was a lesson that—for our three years of service in Mexico—I repeatedly and regularly taught our missionaries when they thought perhaps they were going someplace in the mission that was not the most productive or may have a reputation of a place where nobody wanted to go— “Oh, please, President, don’t send me there. Of all places, don’t send me there.”
But the missionaries who went with the proper attitude to that place had fabulous and wonderful experiences. And so, if Sister Kusch and I were to be asked the question, “Of the places that you’ve lived”—and we haven’t actually lived in that many places together. We lived in Southern California, then Northern California, then Rexburg, then Mexico, then Rexburg, and now in Utah—I would tell them that the favorite place that I have ever lived in my entire life is right here in Salt Lake City, Utah, because this is where the Lord has sent us. So I share that with you today so that you know and can feel that, because you are here, this is a place where the Lord has led you and where He wants you, and where there are great things for you to learn and achieve and accomplish, during the time that you are here, however long or brief it might be.
Many years ago, on a very pleasant summer evening, my wife and I gathered with a group of friends for dinner in Rigby, Idaho. We were with people that we loved. The
home where we met was beautiful. The food was beyond delicious, and we probably all ate a little more than was wise. But we had a great time. All in all, we had a great time.
About four a.m. the next morning, I awoke not feeling very well. I had pain in my chest and tightening in my chest. I had pain in my left arm. I was perspiring—all signs of a heart attack. I got out of bed and I went into my home office, and I did what any man might do, that was experiencing these things. I Googled “Heart Attack Symptoms.” And sure enough, I was having them.
I tried to read for a few minutes, to get my mind off what was going on. I was hoping that the symptoms would stop, and after about twenty or thirty more minutes, they did not stop; they were the same. I decided I had better do something. I went into our bedroom, I woke Sister Kusch up, and I told her what was happening. I said, “I’m just going to drive myself over to the emergency room at the hospital, so that they can check me out.”
She said, “No. No, you’re not going to do that.” So, we got into the car, and off we went for a short drive over to Madison Memorial Hospital. When we arrived, we got out of the car and I walked into the emergency room entrance, and I told the young man there at the front desk what was happening. He called back to the triage nurse, and soon I was in a wheelchair and on my way back to be examined.
Before long, I was in the intensive care unit. I was hooked up to multiple monitors and I was undergoing a whole battery of tests—they took blood, I did a stress test on a treadmill, they took scans of my heart and arteries—and at the end of a very long day, they shared the happy news that they could find nothing wrong with me. I had not had a heart attack. They did not know what was going on. They showed me pictures of my heart and the arteries, and they were clear and everything was good. We concluded that it just may have been a combination of some indigestion and a touch of the flu.
The most painful part of the entire experience, however, actually occurred when I first arrived at the emergency room, which had actually nothing to do with my symptoms. As I mentioned, I walked in and there was a young man at the front desk. I told him what was going on. But I did not tell you what he told the triage nurse. He said, “There’s an older gentleman here at the front desk,” and proceeded to describe my symptoms. Now, this was long enough ago that I had not yet accepted my status as an “older gentleman.” But to him, I was. But I was grateful to know that I had a healthy heart.
For each and every one of us, a healthy heart is vital to a full and productive life. Organizations and institutions have hearts also, and I have been pondering the question: What is the very heart of LDS Business College? What makes us alive and vibrant and productive as an institution? I want to share with you my conclusion.
My conclusion is this: The heart and soul of LDS Business College, the spirit of LDS Business College, is the ministry of the Holy Ghost and its attendant spiritual gifts, and
the enabling power of the Atonement [of Jesus Christ] working in and being made manifest in the lives of faculty and staff and students.
Let me explain what I mean by those things. Over the past couple of years that I have been here, I have spoken to many students, and I love learning about you and where you are from and what you are studying. But I have also asked many students the question: What helped you make the decision to come to LDS Business College? And many students have said something like this: “I am here because I felt the promptings of the Holy Ghost leading me and guiding me here.” I have heard that over and over again. I heard it just last Friday in a conversation with a young man at New Student Orientation. “I’m here because I felt the Spirit was prompting me to be here.”
It was just like Nephi, when he said, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth” (1 Nephi 4:6-7). So perhaps this young man may not be here forever, certainly, and for a long time. But my counsel to him, and my counsel to you, if you have had a similar experience, is stay here long enough to figure out why the Lord prompted you to be here. Don’t be in a hurry to leave.
This feeling of being led to LDS Business College is not just for students. It happens in the lives of faculty and staff as well. The Lord has a way of educating our desires, and preparing us for things to come, when we are striving with a sincere heart.
President Joseph F. Smith taught that “the education … of our desires is one of far-reaching importance to our happiness in life” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. 1939). It is a story too long to tell this morning, but I would tell you that, for Sister Kusch and me, coming here was much like Nephi’s experience. We were led here by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which we should do. Nevertheless we went forth, and we came, and we will be forever grateful for the unique and singular blessing it is to be here at this time and at this place.
Let me also share some thoughts with regards to the enabling power of the Atonement working in our lives. I want you to think about your own experiences that you have had here. Students—many—have said, “I came to LDS Business College, and I learned that I could do more and achieve more than I ever thought possible.” Somehow, students come here and they are magnified. They discover their true potential as sons and daughters of God. They come to understand that acting as agents, and not being acted upon, you can accomplish great things. You learn to rely on the Lord and the influence of the Holy Ghost.
How does this happen, and why does this happen, and what is going on when this happens? Brothers and sisters, it is the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and His mercy, and His grace. We often think of the Atonement only when we are thinking of overcoming sin and repentance, and the redemptive power of the Atonement. But the power of Christ’s Atonement is not only to help us when we have done bad things. It is also to help us accomplish good things, and even great things. It
is—the gospel of Jesus Christ is essentially about becoming good. The Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad, but also to become and do good. Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality, going from bad to good, and to better, and to change our very natures.
The Savior’s grace is available to each and every one of us. It is the enabling power of the Atonement, working in our lives. So as we leave this devotional today, I hope you will think about your own journey to LDS Business College, and the spiritual promptings that have led you here, and the spiritual promptings you have had since being here—just in this last day and a half of this new semester. Those that have been here for a while have experienced, undoubtedly, this enabling power of the Atonement working in your lives. If you have not yet experienced that, I promise you that you will, as you strive to live worthy, as you strive to be obedient, as you strive to do the things that you know that are right.
I would invite you to pray for the gift of seeing the power of the Atonement in your lives. Pray for your needs. Pray for the needs of your fellow students. Pray for your teachers. And for us that work here, pray for your co-workers, that together we might feel that, and that our collective worthiness might qualify us for a rich, rich outpouring of the Holy Ghost in our lives, in our work, in our study.
Education, brothers and sisters, is inherently a spiritual experience. We are here to be taught by the Holy Ghost, who testifies of Christ and of our Heavenly Father, but will also help us figure out accounting or social media or anatomy and physiology or medical coding or paralegal, or whatever it may be that you are studying. “The Spirit knoweth all things” (Alma 7:13). As we do our part, I testify that God will do His, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The Parable of the Carpet Layer
by Sister Alynda Kusch
It is wonderful to be here with you this morning, and to be able to share my testimony and just some thoughts.
Several years ago we had a spot in our carpet in our family room, where the carpet started to warped and it was kind of wavy, so we knew that we needed to have it repaired so that our carpet was not damaged. We hired a repairman who had been suggested to us by one of our neighbors, very nice man and he did a very nice work.
The summer afternoon he was there in our home the last project he had was fixing a little place in the family room so he was busy on an area that was near the kitchen using his very sharp carpet knife and his stretching tool and I standing on the other side of the counter in the kitchen and we were exchanging some pleasantries.
When suddenly, he screamed, “no!” He stood up and he was holding his hand and he said, “I’ve cut my finger. Do you have a band aid?”
And I said, “of course.”
So I went to the first aid kit to retrieve the band aid, and when I came back into the family room, he was not there instead, he was standing by the front door. And he saw me he said, “the cut is too deep and too long. A band aid is not going to be enough. But I have something in the truck that will work better.”
And with that he left and went outside, in my mind I was thinking he will search through his industrial first aid kit and find something that will cover his finger better, thinking maybe he will return with some gauze and a bigger band aid or something like that. So imagine my surprise when instead, when he came back into the family room to finish the work, he had the finger he had cut and the ones in either side as well the palm of his hand completely encased in silver duct tape.
Now I know there are lots of really good reasons to use silver duct tape, but this one I had not thought of before.
He went back to work and after a few minutes he said “do you have some paper towels?” I thought “this cannot be good,” I said “I do, why?”
He said “well, the duct tape didn’t work quite as well as I thought it would and I’ve got blood in your white wall. So if you give me some paper towels, then I can clean off the wall.”
I gave him the paper towels and he sent his little apprentice out to the truck to get something he said it was going to be “better” that would cover his hands so he could finish the work.
So the young man came back with a very large black, kind of plastic-looking glove that completely cover his whole hand and came down part of his arm.
He finished the work and when it was all finished I remarked to him I said “I’m really sorry that you hurt yourself in my house today.
And he said “oh, it’s my own fault. I was busy talking to you and I wasn’t paying any attention to what I was doing.”
So I said to him, “surely you are you going to go to the hospital to have it cleaned and get stitches put in?”
And he said “no, that would take too long and I don’t have that much time, and besides that it would cost too much.”
And with that he got in his truck, and drove away.
And I stood there for a minute and thought “what, what did I just see?” I’ve thought about him since that time and hoped his finger healed without being infected, but then I realized that he would go through the rest of his life with a really ugly scar on his finger, reminding him of his carelessness that day in my house.
Well after he left, it was really interesting because my mind was immediately felt with three important gospel principles as I saw him drive away. So I wanna share those with you today, I kind of refer to him as my parable of the carpet layer.
So one of the lessons that came into my mind was this:
1. As we journey through life, even if we are trying really hard to be obedient, if we are not vigilant and dedicated to that desire, it’s really easy to become spiritually distracted. We focus on things that have little real value. When this happens then our spiritual vision becomes cloudy and kind of distorted and we are not able to see clearly.
Our distractions are really anything that keep us from focusing on godly things, in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. They can be good things, but if we are engaging in them to the point that we don’t remember what our ultimate goal is, then we have become spiritually distracted.
Several years ago I was driving from Rexburg, Idaho to Idaho Falls, which a difference of about 30 miles along a freeway that is two lanes going in both directions separated by a large grassy median. At the time that I was making this slow journey to Idaho Falls, it was before they had built overpasses, there were no overpasses or ramps, you had actually to come to the end of the freeway and stop and look both ways before you crossed, cross the median and then got into the road on the direction you were going.
As I was driving along that morning I noticed that the cars coming in the opposite direction were flashing their lights at me – all of them were flashing the lights on me. So I realized that there was some kind of hazard that I was coming upon that I couldn’t see and they were warning me of that. So I pulled into the right-hand lane and slowed down and I was trying to look ahead of what was coming, and then I saw what was coming.
There was a car that it driving north bound in my south bound lane directly towards me. So when I saw her I pulled onto the side of the road and I stopped and as she drove passed I flashed my lights at her, hoping that she would realize that she was going in the wrong direction and in doing that she was putting herself and other people in the road – including me, in a great danger.
The principle of the carpet layer applies to this woman.
Even if she got in the car and put on her seatbelt, and she drove only the speed limit and she came to a complete stop before she started to cross the freeway, the one important decision that would keep her safe in making that she became distracted and confused to the point where she didn’t even notice that there were warnings and danger signs telling her “don’t turn that way” but she did it anyway.
So she had done a lot of things right, but that important decision that would keep her safe is the one where she became distracted and confused.
So like the carpet layer, we can be doing good and wonderful things, but if we take our eyes off our spiritual goal we can find ourselves muttering the same words that he did that afternoon, “oh, it’s my fault. I was not paying attention to what I was doing.”
So let’s keep our spiritual eyes open and focused on the things that really matter.
The second thing that occur to me is that:
2. If we attempt to cover up our sins and mistakes in the same way that the carpet layer did with duct tape and his big black glove, thinking that the remedy to correct those mistakes and sins would be too costly or too time consuming, they don’t go away and we will be left spiritually gnarled and scared.
So the answer to this question is – can we hide our mistakes and sins from the Lord? It’s no. But in our effort to try and do that very thing, we will continue to reap the consequences of our actions and be plagued with guilt and remorse.
President Harold B. Lee said this in 1973: “If I were to ask you what is the heaviest burden one may have to bear in this life, what would you answer? The heaviest burden that one has to bear in this life is the burden of sin” (“Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Conference Report, Apr. 1973; or Ensign, July 1973).
That is a terrible way to live, but it need not be so. Which led me to the third lesson that occur to me as the carpet layer drove away:
3. If we are willing to humble ourselves, to do whatever is necessary to mend our spiritual wounds, to repent completely and often, and to turn back to the Lord, then we can become whole and clean.
Even if it takes some time and perhaps hurts a little more than what we would like for it to, it is the only way to promised forgiveness.
The carpet layer was willing to go through his entire life with a painful and ugly reminder of the mistake he made one summer afternoon at my home. We needn’t fall victim to that fate.
The Savior paid the price for my peace of mind and clean life; a much greater price than I can fathom, but one for which I am forever grateful.
When we do all that we can to make things right with our Heavenly Father, even though it may require some time, great effort, and maybe even a little discomfort, then we can trust in His words, this is what he said: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (Doctrine and Covenants 58:42).
So let’s learn from the carpet layer –
Pay attention - Keep your eyes opened and focused on the things that really matter.
Don’t let past mistakes and sins continue to be a burden to you.
And remember that the Savior himself paid the price so that we can have clean lives and peace of mind.
I am grateful for Him, I am grateful for the lessons that I learned as I watched that carpet layer drive away from our home. I am thankful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ who allows us, it allows us to be able to be happy and have happy lives and feel clean and pure and be free from spiritual wounds. And this I testify of in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.