Ensign College Devotional
She married Stephen E. Dalton and they are the parents of five sons and one daughter and have 22 grandchildren.
Mrs. Dalton served as the Young Women General president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2008 until 2013.
Elaine served as the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Utah Valley University, and is currently a trustee on that board. She is also a member of the Utah Community Builders board, and is the president of the Stella Oaks Foundation.
She is the author of three books for women and young women and speaks to groups of young women and women about their identity, potential, and purpose.
An Ensign to the World
I feel as if I have stepped out of the world and into the Kingdom and it’s such a privilege for me to be here today. My husband leaned over and said, “Doesn’t it feel good to be amongst these saints.
I wish to begin today by expressing to you that I am a believer! I testify of our Savior Jesus Christ and of His Infinite Atonement. He has set the perfect example for you and me to follow and I strive to do so each day. I am indebted to Him for His mercy, His grace and for His loving kindness. I testify that He lives and I know that He really does go before our face and is on our right hand and our left and that He really does send angels to be round about us and to bare us up. I bear you my testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is our Savior and He is our Redeemer. He lives and He loves us and He knows each of us individually by our names. I love Him and I know each of you do too.
Just as Moroni, the chief commander of the Nephite armies in the Book of Mormon, raised a banner to inspire the Nephite people to defend their religion, freedom, peace and families, today as I stand here in this beautiful building and I look into your eyes and your faces it is clear to me, that you are the banner that the Lord has raised up! —You are the banner that will wave to all the world. And your preparation now, your dedication, your sacrifice and your light will set you apart as leaders. For the Lord will use you to accomplish His purposes and to change the world in preparation for the Savior to come again.
It’s also a privilege for me to participate today with my husband, my best friend, the father of our children, and my eternal companion. He is the best decision I have ever made! We met at BYU and to this day, he still thinks he saw me first but the fact is that I spotted him on campus, went to the administration building and found out his schedule and just happened to be near some of his classes occasionally. I believe you might call that stalking today! But I called it flirting then!
I remember clearly sitting in a devotional similar to this having prayed about making the decision to marry or not marry this man. The speaker spoke about how to make decisions. I can still recall vividly feeling that I was the only one in the entire devotional that morning, and that the devotional had been planned specifically for me. And I left that devotional that day with the formula for how to receive personal revelation. It is one that all of you are familiar with, but I wasn’t at the time. It’s found in the Doctrine and Covenants section 8 and 9. And as you can see, I applied the formula and the rest is history! I’m so grateful for my husband.
My prayer today is that the Lord’s Spirit will be poured out upon each of you and that together we will be individually and specifically instructed in the decisions that we have before us, the decisions that we are contemplating, in the things we can do to change, to rise, to be a little better and to stand a little taller. Even better so that we can accept the Lord’s call to each of us to “arise and shine forth that thy light may become a standard for the nations.”
You and I live in a very pivotal time on the earth. I needn’t have to tell you that. It is a time when the opposition, but also the opportunities are the greatest. In these latter days the Lord has said, “Arise, and shine forth that thy light may be a standard to the nations.” And Moroni said it another way to us: “Awake and arise from the dust…” And so, my message is a simple one—Arise and shine! This is your moment. Remember who you are. Remain steadfast and immovable. And go forth in the strength of the Lord with confidence.
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE
You are not ordinary young men or young women. You are extraordinary. You are the Lord’s reserves! You have been reserved to be on the earth now in this the dispensation of the fullness of times and you have been uniquely prepared to be on the earth at this time. You were prepared long before you arrived here. In the pre-mortal realms, you were part of the noble and great ones who fought a war and you won. This was a war that used some of the most powerful weaponry ever known. Your weapon was your faith and your testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and His faithfulness and His ability to keep His covenants. You had faith in the Plan which God proposed which included His beloved Son and you knew that having agency and a mortal body and the gift of time was the only way to grow and gain experience and progress. You also knew that you would have a Savior who would atone for each of us and take upon Him our weakness’s, our sins, and infirmities and even our sorrows. He would do that for you and me because He loved us and because He loved the Father. Your witness was so strong and sure that through the power of your faith and your words—your testimony---we won that war. The prophet Alma reminds us in the Book of Mormon that you were observed in the pre-mortal world to be some of those who exhibited exceeding faith, not just faith, but exceeding faith and good works. Your faith was in our Savior and your good works were in defending the Plan of Happiness. You knew the plan would succeed because you knew the Savior would succeed in fulfilling His earthly mission. You knew that He would do what He said He would do because you knew Him!
And now you are here, reserved to be here in this the dispensation of the fullness of times, to take part in laying the foundation of this great latter-day work. And what are you to do? The same thing that you did there—testify of the Savior, live the Plan you chose, and stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
One of the great marathon runners of our time, Juma Ikanga, said this as he finished and won the New York Marathon. “THE WILL TO WIN MEANS NOTHING WITHOUT THE WILL TO PREPARE.” You are prepared. Now you must win! And how will you go forward to do here what you did there? You will now need to access that same power that got you here. You will need more than ever before to be exceedingly faithful and to be able to hear the voice of the Lord and follow His direction. Each of you have a divine mission to perform--- something unique to you that only you can do.
Winston Churchill once said about the value of preparation:
To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour. Sir Winston Churchill British Statesman, Prime Minister, Author, Nobel Prize Winner
You are being tapped on the shoulder! You have a chance to do something very special. You have the opportunity of a lifetime to arise and shine forth that your light may be a standard for the nations. Or if I reverse that a little, to arise and shine forth that thy standards will be a light to the nations.
STEADFAST AND IMMOVABLE
The call to “arise and shine forth” is a call to each of you to lead the world in a mighty cause—to raise the standard—the Lord’s standards-- just as Captain Moroni did, and to lead this generation in faith, virtue, purity, and temple worthiness. And it is true that if you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world. One needs only to read the Book of Mormon to know that the war chapters are for us. For we are still engaged in a spiritual war for the salvation of the souls of men. No wonder the adversary has become so subtle, so cunning, and so determined. He knows you are here and he too knows who you are. And he will do all in his power to get you distracted, delayed, discouraged, or even disqualified from doing what you have been reserved and sent here to do. Like Helaman’s stripling warriors, you will need to be steadfast and immovable in obeying every commandment with exactness.
You will need to rely on the power of purity and virtue. I believe that there is power in personal purity that can change not only individuals but the world. Virtue has its foundation in purity—moral purity. Virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.”6 It encompasses chastity and sexual purity. Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtuous means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost.
Why is it so important to remain pure? Simply put, because each of you will need the guidance and the constant companionship of a member of the Godhead—the Holy Ghost—and the apostle Paul taught clearly that the spirit does not dwell in unholy temples—which temples you are!
The Lord knew the challenging times we would be living in and so he provided a way that each of us could return to virtue if we have made mistakes. He provided our Savior, His beloved Son, to redeem us from sin if we will repent and be willing to change. He provided covenants to help us stay close to Him. The baptismal covenant we renew each Sunday as we partake of the sacrament will change us. And as we renew our baptismal covenants, we are promised that we will always have His spirit to be with us as we always remember the Savior and we’re also given the privilege to take His name upon us as we keep His commandments.
Each week, we, you and I, have the astounding opportunity to access the power and strength that come when we worthily partake of the ordinance of the sacrament and honor our covenants.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit. The gift of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost will warn you, speak peace to your soul, give you confidence, quicken your intellect, bring all things to your remembrance and tell you all things, all things you should do. He will guide you and comfort you and teach and protect you. It is the Holy Ghost who testifies to each of us of Christ. It is the Holy Ghost that you are feeling today as thoughts and impressions enter your mind. It is a gift of incomparable power! So be careful not to forfeit this great gift available to members of the Church. Don’t compromise, don’t give in and don’t rationalize in even the little things.
Lehonti, as you recall in the Book of Mormon was well positioned on the top of a mountain. He and those he led were “fixed in their minds with a determined resolution” that they would not come down from the mount. It only took the deceitful Amalickiah four tries, each one more bold than the previous, to get Lehonti to “come down off from the mount.”8 And then having embraced Amalickiah’s false promises, Lehonti was “poison[ed] by degrees” until he died. Not just poisoned, but “by degrees.” Could it be that this may be happening today? Could it be that first we tolerate, then accept, and eventually embrace the vice that surrounds us? Could it be that we have been deceived by false role models and persuasive media messages that cause us to forget our divine identity and uniqueness and the reason we are here on the earth? And are we too, perhaps in a way, being poisoned by degrees?
A similar thing happened to Nehemiah when he was rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. His enemies were intent on stopping or disrupting the important work he was doing. He tells us in his own words that they “…sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Yet they sent unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.” (Nehemiah 6: 2-4)
Rationalization is a very cunning strategy of the adversary. So, my plea to each of you today is:
Don’t come down. Stay high on the mountain! Remain steadfast and immovable in living the standards and keeping the commandments of the Lord. Remain steadfast and immovable in keeping the covenants that you have made. And remember that there is power in purity!!! And there is power in making and keeping sacred covenants.
You will then have the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead--the Holy Ghost--who will tell you all things you that you should do! In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord tells us: “…I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten our mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; and then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me, that you shall receive.”
Again, these are powers that the world knows nothing of or does not comprehend.
Joseph Smith rightly taught:
“Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 255)
And I would add “and making and keeping sacred covenants.”
STRENGTH OF THE LORD
As you remain virtuous and keep your covenants you will go forth in the world in the strength of the Lord. You will never be alone and knowing what is right and wrong will always be possible. You will be able to say as Sir Galahad did in Tennyson’s poem by the same title, “My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.” (Sir Galahad, Alfred Lord Tennyson)
You will be worthy to enter the Lord’s holy temples and there be “endowed with power from on high.” (D&C 37:3) You will come to understand that His holy temples are truly a strength and a refuge to you from the storms of life.
Being worthy to enter the temple will protect not only you but your families because you are promised that the Lord will fight for you and that no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper because you will come out of the temple “armed with power and angels will have charge over you.” (D&C 109: 22.) Why? So that you might rise up in the midst of this generation and do what you’ve been sent here to do, to stand as witnesses. (D&C 109: 33)
In the book by David McCullough entitled The Wright Brothers the author writes of two ordinary young men--Orville and Wilbur Wright--who literally rose up and made history by being the first people to fly on an engine powered flying machine. The year was 1903.
The thing that struck me so much in this account was their curiosity, determination, innovation and true entrepreneurial spirit. They were self-made, self-funded by their bicycle shop, persistent in their belief and they worked hard. They represent to all of us what it looks like to dream big and never give up.
When the Wright brothers saw something wasn’t working, they tried something else. Like you, they would not give up on their dream. They crashed, they got sick, they were ridiculed, they had every single thing you could imagine go wrong on their way to achieve their goal, but they would not quit. They did not quit.
There’s a quote from Wilbur’s notes observing the birds at Kitty Hawk. He would sit there on the beach and watch how the birds flew. It reads: “No bird soars in the calm. If you want to take off, you have to take off into the wind. You need the wind. The wind will make you.” Always remember that they soar going against the wind. They soar because of adversity. You can use opposition to make you stronger. You can use it to your advantage. Ease is not the way to fulfillment of a worthy goal.
At the ripe old age of 82, the Wright brothers’ father finally dared, because he had watched all their failures, he finally dared fly with his internationally acclaimed son Orville. He is reported as yelling to his son as the plane took off, “Higher, Orville, higher!” And that is what I would like to say to each of you. Higher! Higher!
In all your doings, remember you are never alone. You can arise higher than you ever have dreamed to this point because you have access to the Lord’s strength and power—the power of purity, the power of the Holy Ghost, the power of your covenants, and the power of angels. And you will have the strength of the Lord to accompany you as you remain close to Him, as you become familiar with His voice, as you read the Book of Mormon daily and as you follow His living prophets today.
Like the Wright brother, like Nehemiah, and so many others, you will not only shape the coming decades, but you will lead them and change the world. And you have heard me say and I will say it again because I know it is true, “I believe that one virtuous young woman or young man, led by the Spirit can change the world.”
Today as I stand here and look into your eyes, I am reminded of the words of Isiah for it seems that he was speaking directly to each of you when he said:
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary. . .
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
31 [For] they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
I pray that each one of you will be individually blessed. Remember who you are. You are not ordinary. Remain Steadfast and immovable and know that you can go forth in the strength of the Lord because you are never alone. I testify to you that these things are true and I say this humbly in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ…Amen.