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President Larry Richards

Thank you, brothers and sisters, for the music, and from Alan and Brailee—that was wonderful. Did you notice Stephanie’s mom and dad up here, the Jencks? How do you know that they are parents? Because they had their phones out and were filming their daughter. And they’re sitting as close to their daughter as they can sit and not be too conspicuous. But I hope you’re listening. Parents, as close to their daughter as they can be without being conspicuous, smiling at talents that have been developed, gifts that have been given, making a record. All of you who have ears to hear, do you get it? Do you hear me? No, you don’t, do you—yet. Do you get what I’m saying? How many don’t get it? I’ll go slower.

There are Heavenly Parents as close to you as they can be without being conspicuous, smiling at the talents that you have developed and making a record. I testify that that is the case for Stephanie and for you and for me. Heavenly Parents.

I love the music of the Church. I love listening to music of the Church in church and trying to find the silver thread. I’ll tell you what I heard today during the musical number. I heard that if I “go where you want me to go, dear Lord,”[7] and I stay on the path, Father in Heaven will bump me up against “poor, wayfaring”[8] men and women of grief, and in order for me and for you to serve them, “I need [Him] every hour.”[9] Are you with me? Okay.

Now, I’m going to do something a little weird, so just bear with me because it’s your last semester devotional, so I’m entitled to be a little weird. So here’s what we’re going to do. I have a $100 bill. Brother Kusch, our new chief academic officer, is that a $100 bill? Yeah, you’ve always got to watch people in academics; they’re slippery. How many of you are interested in this $100 bill? Thank you. [Paper crumpling sound.] How many of you are interested in this $100 bill? [More sounds.] How many are interested? . . . I’ve got Temple Square dirt. How many are interested in the $100 bill?

Brothers and sisters, there is nothing you could do to yourself that destroys your worth. We all may be asked in this life—as Alan has been asked, who, as Joseph said, “I am wont to swim in deep water.”[10] Alan wishes the water had been a little deeper. But Joseph meant that it was the troubles that he would go through. And every one of us, as we do our best to walk on the chosen path, we’re going to pick up some dirt on us. But near to us are Heavenly Parents as close as they can be without being conspicuous to buoy us up, to strengthen us, to pull us out of deep water, and maybe out of the mud that may be on us, to clean us off. And we’re as good as new.

Just as you saw the value of a $100 bill sitting in dirty Temple Square water, you know what its inherent worth is. The adversary wakes up every morning and tries to make you think that that $100 bill in your soul is damaged beyond repair and can’t be cleaned. It is a lie, and he has lied from the beginning about you, and he will lie until the end. And then the day will come when, as John the Revelator wrote in the 21st chapter of the book of Revelation, all tears will be wiped away from our eyes.[11] No more tears. Or as Isaiah wrote in the 61st chapter of the book of Isaiah, “Beauty for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning.”[12] That’s the promise.

And so, as we heard from Conference—or at least I heard from Conference, and standing here I can’t remember who said it—but they were talking about the Atonement, and the point they were trying to make is that life is unfair, and it’s designed to be unfair because if it were totally fair the Atonement wouldn’t work. Life is to be unfair, and so we are about good things in life—as Alan was about good things in his life, and he decided he ought to take a swim and a bath, and he has a horrible accident. And he prays for relief, and he found out what healing was all about. Right? Right.

Brothers and sisters, the same is available to all of us. So, how many of you are going to graduate in a week? [Audience members raise their hands.] You’re going to leave us. Adrian said that the day will come when we will meet again, and we wish you all the best. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you all today because on graduation day I just get to read off a teleprompter and they don’t let me ad lib because they know I’ll cause trouble. But we wish you well. You represent the 80th verse of the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. You have come here and learned, and learned in the Lord’s way, as the 78th and 79th verses teach us. And now you are ready to be, as the 80th verse says, sent forth again to fulfill the mission for which you have been commissioned. Your life’s mission.

Those of you who are returning, you are still developing the skill set so that Father in Heaven can send you forth again. Why? To meet the “poor, wayfaring Man of Grief” [13] on the chosen road of life and to lift others up. With what? With priesthood, with charity, with your faces and the light that we all see in your faces. You will lift other people with your testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. You will know how to be defenders of the faith and disturbers of the adversary. And you will know better than to Google the “great and spacious building”[14] to find out what you should think.

Now, I’ll just end with this: Sister Richards, my beloved wife—brethren, if you could be so lucky. I should get an honorary sales degree at LDS Business College. It took two years, but I got Sister Richards to say yes. Two very difficult years. And she signed a very short contract. It has five-year renewable clauses in it, you who have taken business law, and the fifth year is coming up. So I have to be extra nice. Brothers and sisters, I hope that you find a spouse in your life that makes you better, that requires you to be better, requires you to step up to what your capabilities are, requires you to honor womanhood or honor priesthood, that you may go forward as husband and wife, joined together, using your unique spiritual DNA in your lives to build the kingdom of God.

And so in closing, I just convey to you an incredible sense of love that you cannot understand. Those of you who have been a bishop know what it is like to love this way, to love 2,179 of you as individuals. Every time I stand in front of you to either speak or conduct, I do not see a congregation. I see ones—beloved sons and daughters of God, with more potential than you can imagine.

When I was growing up, in my teenage years, there was a song by some group—those with grey hair can remember it. It said, “My future’s so bright, I’ve gotta wear shades.”[15] Yours, my beloved friends—your future is so bright, you ought to wear shades.

And so I, with no authority—I have no priesthood authority over you—I just have love that exceeds my priesthood authority over you, but I pray Father in Heaven’s blessings to be upon you, to give you peace, to give you comfort, to give you hope and confidence in the good things in your life to come, that when you end up in deep water with a little dirt on you, you remember that you are more than a $100 bill and that there are Parents in close proximity yet trying not to be too conspicuous, smiling, praying for you, and if necessary, gathering legions of angels to come to your defense, if you will do your part. May the Lord bless you, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] See Judges 7.

[2] See Galatians 5:9.

[3] Ephesians 6:11

[4] “God Be with You Till We Meet Again,” Hymns, no. 152.

[5] Alma 17:2.

[6] See Alma 26:11.

[7] “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” Hymns, no. 270.

[8] “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Hymns, no. 29.

[9] “I Need Thee Every Hour,” Hymns, no. 98.

[10] See D&C 127:2.

[11] See Revelation 21:4.

[12] Isaiah 61:3.

[13] “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief,” Hymns, no. 29.

[14] 1 Nephi 8:26, 31.

[15] Timbuk 3, “The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades).”


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