I’ll Go, I’ll Do, I’ll Be: Three Steps Toward A Monumental Life | Russell M. Nelson | 1986 – powered by Happy Scribe
My dear fellow students, I’m thrilled to be with you on this memorable occasion and to share it with my sweet companion Annion Dancel, my father, Mary and C. Nelson, and other members of our family. And I’m honored to be in the presence of present Sister Holland. I’m always a better man when I’m in their presence. I should like to pay tribute to you and to those unseen who are similarly sacrificing that you might be here.
All are here to learn, and some may be happy for a temporary escape from diapers and dishes as well. But batteries do need to be recharged, and such regeneration comes from all that goes on in such a marvelous week as you have before you. Last month, a major focus of attention was the Statue of Liberty on her 100th anniversary and the celebration of her facelifting I mean her remodeling. While most monuments are erected to people or specific events, this one is indeed unique. Lady Liberty commemorates and ideal, but this and other monuments can teach us very important lessons about life.
Those lessons are linked to your theme of the week, the Process of becoming. They are also embraced in the words of the song we have sung I’ll go where you want me to go. Within its text are several powerful commitments to action, including I’ll go where you want me to go. I’ll do thy will with a heart sincere and I’ll be what you want me to be. By applying these concepts to personal development, each one of us here today can help build a monumental life through the process of becoming.
You may go, do and be a living monument. A monument requires a base to support the vertical shaft of its statement. The Statue of Liberty, for example, has a splendid 89 foot pedestal erected on a 65 foot star shaped base. A monumental life also begins with a broad base of understanding. This is one reason you’re here today to learn to acquire information and inspiration that will strengthen your pedestal of preparation.
But you know that knowledge itself is rarely monumental. Justice Pancake batter cannot make pancakes until exposed to heat. More than knowledge is required to mold a monumental life. Three steps in the process of forging a monumental life from its base are neatly tucked in the verses of our song I’ll Go, I’ll Do, I’ll Be. These three statements comprise the outline of my message.
Step one is I’ll go. But before we go anywhere, it’s well to consider where we’ve been. Life’s journey did not start with our first mortal breath. Prior to our birth, we were with God as his spirit children. We talked with Him, we walked with Him, and we knew Him.
We shouted for joy with the prospects of a journey to planet Earth, to gain a physical body and to experience unique challenges here. I suspect we were terrified at first when we were told that we would forget Father. Friends and facts that we formerly knew so well. I can believe we were calmed when informed that our Father in heaven would provide prophets and scriptures to guide us and would provide a means whereby we could communicate with him through prayer and the spirit of revelation. But still, we may have been a little insecure when we learned that faith faith to believe the intangible was the key to success in our journey.
Faith was to be the critical component of our safe return to our father in heaven. Few have had better insight into this concept than did Abraham, who recorded and now the lord has shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was. And among all these there were many of the noble and great ones. And God saw these souls and that they were good. And he stood in the midst of them, and he said, these I will make.
My rulers. For he stood among those that were great and good. And he said unto me, abraham, thou art one of them. Thou wast chosen before thou wast born. And there stood one among them that was like unto.
God. And he said unto those who are with him, we will go down, for there is space there. And we will take of these materials and we will make an earth where on these may dwell. And we will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever. The Lord, their gods, shall command them.
That’s the end of the quotation, which you recognize came from Abraham 322 through 25. Now, once here the journey through. Life for each of us may include other travels in order to meet one’s personal rendezvous at Destiny. Father Lehi and Mother Soraya departed from the wealth and security of Jerusalem to trek for many days across hot desert sands. To the eastern shores of the Red Sea.
Then Lehigh asked his sons to return to Jerusalem to get the brass plates of leben. What did that assignment entail? If we were to compare that to our own area, we would have walked a distance nigh equivalent to that from Provo to St. George across scorching sand with no freeways, no air conditioning and no cold drinks.
Then how would you like to be asked to walk all the way back to Provo, tackle a tough assignment, and then walk back to St. George? No wonder Layman and Lemuel murmured that was the setting for this matchless. Statement of nephi. I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.
For I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save ye shall prepare away for them, that they may accomplish the thing he commandeth them. You know the story. They eventually returned with the brass plates but even Mother Soraya had complained when her sons were required to make this long, hazardous journey. Shortly thereafter, they were told by their father to return once again to Jerusalem. This time to get Ishmael and his family.
Now, perhaps each young man felt a bit better about it this time, knowing there might be a possibility of being rewarded with one of the daughters of Ishmael to become his wife. But this rugged discipline was but prologue to their going subsequently, all the way across what we now know as the Saudi Arabian Peninsula to its southeastern shore, where ships were to be built. And this challenge was but prelude to their ultimate destiny to go across ocean waters to the Promised Land. In fact, much of Scriptural history reports requirements of the Lord’s prophets and his people to go to their particular proving grounds. For David, his destiny with Goliath required him to go to the valley of Elah.
Moses had to go to the heights of Sinai, into the depths of the Red Sea, whose waters had been parted by the power of the priesthood he bore. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and our early pioneer predecessors had to go from the eastern extremity of the United States to Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, and then across a hostile environment where they established the mountain of the Lord’s house in the top of the mountains at a place we now know as the world headquarters of his church. All eight of my great grandparents, individually converted to the church in populous nations of Europe, had to go from their family and the comforts of home to this new land and across its challenging terrain, eventually to settle in the little town of E from Utah. All eight of them. Now, each one of us will have to go to unique testing grounds of faith.
For some, it may be abroad or on missions for preparation or assignment, far beyond comforts of home, family and friends. For others, particularly you busy young mothers or fathers, your appointment with destiny is within the walls of home. Your enemy is neither hot sands of the desert nor smoking guns of foes in pursuit, but heated efforts of the adversary to undermine your marriage and or the sanctity of your family unit. For the monument of your life to rise from its pedestal of preparation to your appointed sight of destiny, you must go where the Lord wants you to go, wherever it is, go. Go with the same faith that allowed you to leave your heavenly home in the first place.
Step two. I’ll do. These words remind me of the development of our favorite primary song, I Am a Child of God. It’s not a primary song, really. It’s worldwide for all ages.
But when lyricist neoma W. Randall first composed the words to this hymn, they read teach me all that I must know to live with him one day before he became president, the church president, Spencer W. Kimble, suggested that the word no be changed to do. President Kimball, explaining why he wanted the change said, to know isn’t enough. The devils know and tremble the devils know everything.
We have to do something. As President Kimball implied, some foes of righteousness may actually know more than many of us here. To know isn’t enough. Even today, a few very knowledgeable physicians still smoke cigarettes. They know better.
Some Latterday Saints know about such divine laws as chastity, tithing, honesty, but experience difficulty in doing what the law requires. Now, there are more things to do in life than time available in which to do them. That means choices need to be made. Choices are often facilitated by asking wellfocused questions, and some may be thoughtfully tendered in prayer. Joseph Smith recorded his question my object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all a sex was right, that I might know which to join.
The unexpected answer join none of them. Such a question, asked with determination beforehand to do whatever is learned, will bring heavenly direction. For example, near the end of the Book of Mormon, is this challenge if you shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, meaning you intend to do, he will manifest the truth of it unto you. Intent is an important part of the formula that preceded testimony which brought many of us into the church. How did we get the word of wisdom?
Joseph first asked an important question in answer to fervent prayer with intent to do the revealed will of the Lord. The 89th section of the Doctrine Covenants was received by Revelation. Hack preceded the vision of the redemption of the dead. President Joseph F. Smith pondered not just read the writings of Peter.
Pondering the Scriptures is done with an inquiring mind.
What predated the revelation on the priesthood received by President Spencer W. Kimball in 178 extended meditation and intelligent inquiry prayerfully posed in the Holy Temple. Now, I notice your Campus Education Week program lists over 1100 offerings. Before you can start to do, you must ask, what do I want to do? Then you may properly select those classes that will help you do those things that are uniquely yours to do.
That question involves your purpose and your destiny. Question can you summarize the goal of your life and state it in a simple sentence? As did the savior. He said, my work and my glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. End quote.
Counsel from President Joseph F. Smith was concisely stated. He said, the important consideration is how well we can discharge our duties and obligations to God and to one another. Now, should that concept not be part of your greatest goal? If you truly believe in God and believe that you are one of his children preparing to return to Him, and if it truly is your objective, can there be any action appropriate for you to do other than to keep his commandments?
This was the plea of the Savior who reported not everyone that saith unto me, lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Another writer so recorded this inquiry. Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say Jesus admonished? Be ye doers of the word, not hearers only King Benjamin also confirmed this concept. He said, if you believe all these things, see that you do them well.
Now, one of life’s interesting challenges is that while you’re doing one thing, you’re not doing other things. So while you’re here at Campus Education Week, you’re not elsewhere, thereby assuming some risks. Partners, children, other interests are among those at risk. Sister Nelson and I have occasionally taken leave from an appointment, saying it’s time for us to go home now and see what our children are doing and tell them to stop.
There’s also a risk of discouragement when you return to your usual routines during this Meet Week, you’ll meet many wonderful people who are all on their best behavior. You’ll meet skilled teachers who prepared well for countless hours and who successfully make it seem as though their lesson simply rolls out with such a paradise. But don’t forget, their life’s efforts are represented in that service. Now, when you return home to cobwebs and dust and your own pile of problems that haven’t gone away during your absence, do not be dejected because you are not sufficiently braced for the reality of your reentry.
Remember, educational opportunity is not confined to time or place. There’s nothing magic about an institution. Be at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, BYU or any other personal motivation is more essential to education than campus setting. Fortunately, those of you here this week have both, and I admire you. But exciting, entertaining, charismatic teachers are not nearly as fundamental to the attainment of your goals as are your desire and your determination.
If the most important things in life are to know God and to keep his commandments, then to heed his prophets and abide their teachings should be among our most important educational objectives. In a way, the very repetition of the teachings of prophets may have sounded monotonous through the years. The pleadings of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob, Moses and Benidai have not differed significantly from those of President Lee, President Kimball or President Benson. Shortly.
When measured by eternal standards, teachings of the prophets are more important and enduring than the latest findings of competent researchers. Even if these findings were both discovered and taught by use of modern technology and teaching AIDS. Success at the end of this week will be largely determined by individual desire to learn. When you crave learning as much as you want to satisfy pangs of hunger, you will achieve your desired objective when you return home. You’ll want to continue to satisfy your hunger and thirst for righteousness and the Word of God on your own.
I was with Elder Mark E. Peterson in the Holy Land in October 1983 during his last mortal journey. Elder Peterson was not well evidences of his consuming malignancy were so painfully real to him, yet he derived strength from the Savior he served. Following a night of intense suffering, aggravated by pangs of his progressive inability to eat or to drink, elder Peterson addressed throngs assembled at the Mount of the Attitudes to hear his discourse on the Mormon on the Mount, after he recited blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness. He departed from the biblical text and pleaded this question do you know what it is to be really hungry?
Do you know what it is really to be thirsty? Do you desire righteousness as you would desire food under extreme conditions and drink under extreme conditions? The Savior expects us literally to hunger and thirst after righteousness and seek it with all our hearts.
I was one of the few present on that occasion who knew how hungry and thirsty Elder Peterson really was. His encroaching cancer had deprived him of relief from physical hunger and thirst, so he understood this doctrine. He withstood the trial, he thanked the Lord who led him power to preach his last major sermon at the sacred site. Whereas Lord Jesus had preached, council was given by another prophet who said, feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted. Nephi added, if hee shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, ye shall have eternal life.
Even though Elder Peterson was deprived of full physical feeding, he continued to feast on the words of his Savior. He endured to the end, and I know he earned that promised reward. To facilitate your feast, may I share a pattern of personal Scripture study that may also be helpful to you? I have marked my new LDS edition of the King James version of the Bible to highlight enrichment material from three alternate translations. I have colored those little letters above the biblical text that draw attention to corresponding footnotes, below which I have colored with little round dots those citations from Hebrew.
I have marked with blue circles over both the cross reference SuperScript letter and the corresponding footnote below. The Old Testament comes to us primarily from the Hebrew language or those languages closely associated with Hebrew. Now, the New Testament comes to us primarily from the Greek language. Thus frequently the alternate translation from the Greek adds significantly to a better understanding of the New Testament. These little SuperScript letters and corresponding footnotes from Greek I have marked with green circular dots for those passages clarified by excerpts from the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible I have marked with little SuperScript letters and the corresponding footnote citations below with little red circular dots.
Now, whenever I turn to a page of Scripture, I can immediately spot those special insights provided by this enrichment material. Importance of these enhancements was taught by the prophet Joseph Smith, who made this interesting statement our latitude and our longitude can be determined in the original Hebrew with far greater accuracy than in the English version. We’ll more about that later when we get to the third step of our discussion. I note from the program that many course offerings are classified under parenting, which, of course, includes grandparenting. I think it’s time to tell a story about grandchildren.
I should like to honor all who are grandparents here today and ask them to be stand and be recognized. Would all grandparents please arise?
What a marvelous sight. Now, don’t sit down while you continue to stand, while those who are not yet grandparents stand as well as I think you all need a little rest.
You can stand while I tell you a true story, a one on one encounter between one of our grandchildren whose mother and father are here today, and her grandmother. It occurred during one of those special moments when they were alone. Grandmother asked our sevenyearold granddaughter, do you think I look younger with my glasses on or with them off? And the granddaughter replied, well, try them on, and now try them off. Her grandmother complied.
Our granddaughter then said, do it again. Grandmother, first put them on and then take them off. So our grandmother again demonstrated. Finally, the granddaughter, after asking her grandmother to repeat the exercise a third time, said conclusively, Grandmother, it’s older either way.
Sensing that her candor may have exceeded her diplomacy, our granddaughter then added, grandmother, have you tried Oil of Olay?
I noticed that there are eight courses offered under the classification of aging. Each time I go to the barber shop, I see the sheet that’s been swirled about me has collected clippings that are grayer and scantier than usual, than even the time before. But seriously, I give thanks for the aging process. Yes, I’m grateful to be Oliver to participate in it. Our bodies are such magnificent creations.
The healing power in each one of us causes broken bones to heal, cuts and bruises to repair themselves. Contemplate, what would happen if you could create a chair that would repair its own broken leg? Or if you could make stockings that would mend their own runs?
If you could do that literally, you could create dynamic life that would perpetuate itself infinitely. Now, our bodies, capable of selfrepair, would do the same thing. Were it not for aging. Life on this earth would be without end and without hope of eternal life with our father, mother, and loved ones. If the healing process responded in this marvelous way to all injuries and illnesses.
That hope we had in the beginning to return to our Father in heaven would be but a baseless dream were it not for the assurance provided by the aging process. Alamosau taught his son Coriander. It was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness. Be grateful for the privilege of aging and all that it provides. These marvelous bodies deserve our best daily care.
So as you consider optional courses on fitness and sports, health and selfimprovement, may you remember that no code of health can compare with the 89th section of the Doctrine of Covenants for brevity, Content and Efficacy. Things do go wrong with these bodies from time to time. Lady Liberty and those of us eager to prolong useful life can appreciate help provided by necessary and timely repairs. But we should remember the remarkable principle revealed from our Creator to the prophet Joseph Smith. For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining of these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the Magnifying?
Their calling are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. Now, those choosing courses on family, human relations, marriage, parenting, time management, keenly aware of pressures of priority at home, at work and in the Church would do well to remember this revelation thy duty is unto the Church forever, and this because of thy family. Thus, servicing the Church is not competitive, but is essential to anneal our families. As we review these things to do, we see they eventually lead us to that third step of our discussion. Today I’ll be to be involves the process of becoming that’s the theme of your campus education week.
The word becoming appears in the standard works in only nine verses of Scripture. Two of these references pertain to the Lord’s becoming who he was. A third verse pertains to the mortal body, and it’s becoming spiritual and immortal at the time of the Resurrection. All six remaining verses employing this word refer to the ongoing battle of the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit. We feel this every day as carnal temptations of the flesh contend with our deeper desire for spiritual supremacy.
In this world of carnal competition for our fidelity, the process of becoming necessarily involves selfmastery supremacy of the Spirit. Over appetites of the flesh. We sang I’ll be what you want me to be question what does the Lord really want you and me to be? He has given us the answer definitely and repeatedly. In the Sermon on the Mount, he taught his disciples, be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
My little red circular dot f Matthew five and 48 calls attention to a footnote where I find even a stronger statement from the Joseph Smith translation. Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect. To his disciples on the American hemisphere, the resurrected Lord so proclaimed this divine injunction I would that ye should be perfect, even as I or your Father in heaven is perfect. Now, how do we explain these similar, but significantly different statements? Between the time of His Sermon on the Mount and His Sermon to the Nephi, the sinless Savior had become perfected by his atonement.
Perfect in Matthew five and 48 comes from the greek word TeLEOS, meaning complete. And it is derived from the Greek word telos, which means to set out for a definite point or go.
Thus this Scripture conveys the concept of conclusion of an act. Therefore perfect in this Scripture also means finished, completed, consummated, or fully developed, and refers to the glorious resurrection and the reality of it, of our Master before his crucifixion Jesus so taught, he said, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow and the third day I shall be perfected. His atonement provides that the body once corruptible, now may become incorruptible. Our physical frame, once capable of death and decay, may now become immortal and beyond crumbling deterioration. That body presently sustained by the blood of life and everchanging, may 1 day be sustained by spirit changeless and incapable of death anymore.
So the admonition to be perfect should not cause depression among us. To the contrary, it should bring us great joy and jubilation. The Lord knew that the procedure would be long and challenging, so he added this word of encouragement. He said, for verily I say unto you, the best gifts are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments and seek so to do, that all may be benefited. Those who are really seeking to do his will are recipients of his blessings, for he knows the intent of our hearts.
As he concluded his ministry among the Nephi, jesus issued this powerful challenge what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily, I say unto you, even as I am. I know from long experience as a teacher that the surest way to lose students is to use long or numerous quotations. Attention is easier to maintain through amusing stories. But I have not been called as an apostle to entertain, but to teach the word of the Lord.
And you two are disciples as well as teachers and students. I know you can stay with me as we climb the hill of Enlightenment from direct study from the Scriptures. If you’ll fasten your metal seatbelts, let’s see how much we can learn about these two little words. I am. Are you with me?
These two words I am the simplest words in all Scripture are written in the Greek language as agoymi. And in the original text of the Old Testament, I am is read in Hebrew as Hayaam. Now let our jargonal journey begin with John eight and 58.
Inquisitors once asked Jesus if he had seen Abraham, jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was I am. Now, in the Greek text, these two special words are aiming my green dotted mark at the SuperScript b at John eight and 58 draws me down to this green dotted footnote, which says the term I am used here in Greek is identical with the Septuagent usage in Exodus three and 14, which identifies Jehovah. Well, what does that mean? Let’s turn to Exodus three to get the frame of reference for verse 14. Let’s start at verse eleven.
The scene is on Mount Sinai. A dialogue is taking place between Jehovah and Moses. I presume Moses was suffering some kind of identity crisis at verse eleven when he said unto God, who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh, that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? Egypt, the most powerful nation in the whole world. And he said, Certainly I will be with thee.
This shall be a token unto thee that I have sent thee. When thou hast brought forth the children out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I am come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, the God of your father says, Send me unto you. And they shall say unto me, what is his name? What do I say to them?
He was having an identity crisis not only with himself, but with the Lord with whom he was conversing. God said unto I am that I am. And he said, Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament. I am comes from the word haya.
Translated into English, it means to be existence and applies as well to the future as it does to the present tense. Indeed, this verse could be translated equally well I will become what I will become. Here to Moses. The premortal Messiah is proclaiming not only one of his names, but choosing a word that could literally imply the redeeming role he was yet destined to fulfill. Two other facts about the word Haya are of interest.
Haya is the Hebrew word from which the word Jehovah is derived. It is closely related to the Hebrew term hava and shares in two of two of its three characters in common. Hava means to be, as does haya, but it also has the connotation to breathe.
Are there hints hidden in the deep meaning of God’s reply recorded in Exodus 314 we know the treasure truths that the Lord God Jehovah, creator of heaven and earth, under the direction of the Father, revealed to Moses one of the Lord’s special names. This word may have innovated his role in the eternal existence of man, including the inception of breath of life into his nostrils to man’s potential immortality. All this was to be made possible through the atoning sacrifice for which he, Jesus the Christ, was to be sent to the earth to effect. Now let us look at selected verses from the New Testament. Let’s open to Mark 1461 and 62.
Again the high priest asked him and said unto him, art thou the Christ, the Son of the blessed? And Jesus said, I am. Next. John 425 and 26.
The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah’s cometh which is called Christ. When he has come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee, am. He. Now, in your Bible, the last word of that verse he is printed in italics, meaning.
The King James translators added that word for clarification of meaning. In the Greek text, the sentence contains these two words agoyme.
Thus the words of Jesus could in this passage be translated I am is speaking to you. Now turn to John eight and 28.
Then said Jesus unto them, when ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself. But as my Father taught me, I speak these things here again. King James translators added the word he after I am, and italicized it to note their honest edition. But the Greek New Testament records when shall then shall ye know that a go AMI I am? Yes.
Before Abraham was Jesus was I am haya in Hebrew and AOE mi in Greek. Under the Father’s plan, jehovah, Creator, God of this world, Savior and Redeemer, was indeed the great I am. Although this phrase, the great I am does not appear in the text of the King James version of the Bible, it is evident that the prophet Joseph Smith understood this concept well. Three times he recorded this wording in the Doctrine of Covenants in verse one of sections 29, 38 and 39. Now I’ll conclude our scriptural, soldiers, by returning to the challenge of Jesus to us.
What manner of man men ought ye to be? Even as I am? So, my brothers and sisters, be inspired by such an example and by great monuments, and consider your living a monumental life. During this education, we can enlarge the pedestal of preparation and then ultimately build on these three fundamental steps. I’ll go with faith to the arena of life’s.
Challenge two I’ll do. Do whatever you can to erect a shaft of righteous endeavor that will remain even beyond your days. Three I’ll be, and be not weary and welldoing, but let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him, and welldoing as unto a faithful Creator. Be not discouraged when imperfections of yours and of your loved ones seem more than you can bear. And please continue in patience until you are perfected.
Then you may be even as the Lord pleaded, even as I am. You will be numbered among his elect and will be known of him at the glorious advent of his second coming. For there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and light of the world. He is the word of truth and righteousness.
By so learning and living your life will become monumental, not only as a tribute to your own accomplishment, but as an everlasting credit to him who created you. God bless you to go where he wants you to go, to do his will with a heart, sincere and to be what he wants you to be. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.