BYU-Idaho students showed palpable excitement at the announcement that President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, would be speaking at the Tuesday devotional. He and his wife Kristen Oaks demonstrated their love for the students and delivered a unified message of faith and patience. Within his talk, President Oaks posed a powerful, rhetorical question to all in attendance.
“The faith of the Mormon pioneers gives us a great heritage of faith,” he said. “Are we measuring up to that heritage?... If we think we have faith, we should ask, faith in whom or faith in what? For some, faith is nothing more than faith in themselves…The kind of faith that includes trust in the Lord stands in contrast to many imitations,” he said.
In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, President Oaks answered his own question by saying that many people within and without the Latter-day Saint faith are carrying on the faithful legacy of early Saints. However, there is so much more that can and should be done. He reasoned that the success of the pioneers was founded on a spirit of service, a spirit we must work to reintegrate into our modern society.
“Many in our present day just want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’ It’s been called the me generation, and the me-generation could never have founded the nation that we live in. It could never have founded the societies that we live in,” President Oaks said.
According to his words, developing a proactive culture of outward thinking seems to be the biggest step to living up to the heritage set forth by faithful predecessors. Though doing so is worthwhile and necessary, it is a challenging journey to embark upon. Referencing President M. Russell Ballard’s talk “You Have Nothing to Fear from the Journey,” President Oaks presented the following statement about faith:
“Now it is our privilege and responsibility to be part of the Restoration’s continuing drama, and there are great and heroic stories of faith to be written in our day…We will learn, as did our pioneer ancestors, that it is only in faith—real faith, whole-souled, tested and tried—that we will find safety and confidence as we walk our own perilous pathways through life,” President Oaks said.
While encouraging students to fortify their belief in Jesus Christ, President Oaks also counseled us not to define our futures so obstinately that we give no room for the Lord to lead us and shape us. During the radio interview, he gave additonal insight about this topic.
“I have always felt that it was a mistake to make too firm of plans. You often set yourself up for disappointment because your plans may not be the Lord’s plans,” he said. “And, if you want to follow the Lord’s will, set some goals, set some plans, but always be tentative and ready to change them on the basis of what the Lord inspires you to do at this point.”
In her companion message, Sister Oaks reinforced President Oaks’ counsel to be flexible with our visions for the future by being patient with how God’s plan unfolds in our lives. She emphasized that the Lord is available to us as a guide through the inevitable moments that require our whole-souled faith, tested and tried.
Her faith in God and testimony of patience is ever-present despite her own history of trial and long-suffering. She asserted that who we need to become is relative to God’s plan for each of us however untouchable it feels. In the same interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Sister Oaks spoke wisely from years of experience, waiting upon the Lord to be blessed with an eternal companion.
“I know about patience because I didn’t get married until I was 53 years old, and there were many times I thought the Lord had forgotten me. My husband taught me about timing because I was waiting on the Lord and I had to learn to follow His way and go for His timing,” Sister Oaks said.
Her testimony of God’s timing is characterized by a knowledge that He loves her and is aware of her desires. In the conclusion of his talk, President Oaks outlined the sure things we can do to obtain the eternal blessings we eagerly anticipate.
“Commit yourself to put the Lord first in your life, keep His commandments, and do what the Lord’s servants ask you to do. Then your feet are on the pathway to eternal life,” he said.