BYU Devotional: Four steps on the stairway to heaven

Motivational speaker Dan Clark speaks about the “four steps on the stairway to heaven” at the University Devotional on Sept. 30. (Ari Davis)

Motivational speaker and BYU adjunct professor Dan Clark spoke to students at the University Devotional on Tuesday, Sept. 30, about “the four steps on the stairway to heaven.”

Each step came from a verse in the Book of Mormon: “For behold, this life is the time for us to prepare to meet God; yea, behold, the day of this life is the day for us to perform our labors” (Alma 34:32).

Clark explained how listeners could simplify their lives and create the happiness they dream of by attracting positive relationships, accepting their humanness and appreciating the Atonement in a new light.

He related attracting positive relationships to a hard-to-catch horse sharing the same pasture with an easy-to-catch horse. Usually both horses become hard-to-catch.

“To be disciplined, healthy and significant, you need to hang around with the disciplined, healthy and significant who actually share your same values and actually subscribe to the same personal and institutional honor code,” Clark said.

He spoke on the frailties of human nature and advised listeners to understand they’ll fail every once in a while. He quoted Romans 3:23, saying, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” He asked, “So what are you going to do about it?”

Clark suggested to have patience with a purpose, to persevere.

He said the first law of heaven is to be obedient, but because everyone is human they fall to temptation. Clark said Heavenly Father knew this would happen with free agency as part of the plan. “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is continuous and real, which means, pain is a signal to grow, not to suffer,” Clark said. “And once we learn the lesson the pain teaches us, the pain goes away.”

Clark explained how there are only two times in life: “now and too late.” He reminded listeners that situations happen outside of their control, but they can control their next move. He encouraged them to believe that at any moment in time, they can change permanently.

He quoted Mark Twain, who said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”

Clark shared a story from his life to illustrate that things happen for a reason. He played football for 13 years, and one day in practice during a tackle drill his right side became paralyzed. Sixteen different doctors told him movement would never come back. He asked God for 14 months, “How could you let this happen to me?” instead of, “Why did this happen?” Once he started asking himself “Why should I get better?” he came to understand. He is the man he is today because of that “heartbreaking, dream-shattering ordeal.”

Clark spoke about the power of the Savior to help in such experiences. “If you remember nothing else I say today, always remember that you are never all alone at any time, or for any reason, because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is always there and always understands everything you are going through and will help you help yourself through it,” he said.

He invited every young man and woman within the sound of his voice to prepare to meet God by serving a mission.

Clark told of an elderly couple in his ward who joined the Church shortly before he left on his mission. The brother stood in a fast and testimony meeting and read from his patriarchal blessing how he and his wife would have joined the Church years ago if only the missionary who was supposed to contact them decided to serve.

He also encouraged listeners to prepare to meet God by judging less and accepting others more fully. Clark mentioned a woman he met on his mission who was driven inactive by her smoking habit and the guilt she felt from other members when they could smell smoke on her at meetings. She told Clark she wished everyone’s sins smelled.

Clark urged listeners to perform to the best of their abilities by raising their personal bar and supporting others in their righteous desires. “Everybody with whom you play, study, worship and work knows how high your bar is, because they see it every day,” Clark said. “But only you know how high it should be.”

He related a story about a mother reminding her daughter to hurry home after school. Her daughter came home thirty minutes late, and her mother reprimanded her. The girl explained how she was walking her friend home when her friend’s doll fell and broke. Her mother asked her if she stayed to help her friend put her doll back together. The daughter replied she didn’t, but she stayed to help her cry.

Clark pleaded with listeners to leave the Devotional more committed than ever.

“Be there for each other, not just in sharing tears of sadness, but in sharing tears of joy as you support one another in your climb up the four steps on the stairway to heaven.”

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