Elder L. Whitney Clayton and his wife Kathy spoke to the Young Adult members of the church Sunday, Sept. 13 emphasizing importance of recognizing eternal self-worth.
The live broadcast was held at the Lincoln Square Chapel in New York City with musical performances by the New York, New York Young Adult choir and a quick address from Kathy Clayton.
Sister Clayton focused her remarks on remembering the “regal identity”, which resides in all of God’s children. To emphasize her message, she recalled the experience of petting unusually tame lions on a trip to the Lujan Zoo, while living in Argentina on an assignment for the church.
“Following the trainer, they made their way into the enclosure, prepared for the large and very intimidating lions and proceeded to pet them,” said Sister Clayton about her family.
Later, when Sister Clayton inquired about the lions’ calm nature after, learned that these lions were raised amongst dogs when they were only cubs. The dogs, who believed they were in charge would chase the lion cubs, causing the regal animals to fear the tiny dogs into adulthood.
“The lions didn’t see themselves as they really were,” said Sister Clayton, who continued by counseling young members to not let a lack of confidence, knowledge and carelessness, “compromise the certainty and truthfulness of the church, our blessed relationship with Him, and His powerful and unfailing love for all.”
Sister Clayton concluded with an invitation for youth and young adults to make changes so they may behave as regal children of God.
Following her remarks, Elder L. Clayton concluded the meeting with a message entitled, “Like a watered garden.”
He introduced the topic with a story from the New Testament, about the final moments of the Savior’s ministry.
Elder Clayton noted that in the midst of much physical pain and evil, “It was not His appearance that anyone should remember foremost. There was no apparent beauty that man should desire. It was what he was inside that afflicted physical tabernacle that meant absolutely everything for all of us. What He was made possible what He did.”
Elder Clayton then taught the young adults, that they can face their trials and live in triumph when they chose to behold Him and apply the Gospel to their lives.
He explained two plant-based analogies that can help all members of the church triumph over trials.
Elder Clayton used the analogy of a scrub oak tree and their little seedlings, which started to grow, unwanted, in flowerpots outside his home.
To his surprise, as he pulled the seedlings out one by one, “The roots were three or four times longer than the visible part of the seedlings above the surface. Nature had designed the scrub oak seeds to expend almost all of their energy putting down roots.”
He explained that the scrub tree roots itself deep into the ground as a defense against the hard winters and the storms in coming seasons.
Like the scrub oak, “We should set down our roots as deeply as we can into the only true source of nourishment, the Lord Jesus Christ. He wants our lives to be abundant, He invites us to come unto Him,” said Elder Clayton.
In a second example, he told the story of the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, Canada.
In 1904 the garden used to be a limestone quarry.
“Overtime, the limestone deposits and portions of the quarry were exhausted. Soon the quarry was no longer in use and all that remained was a large unsightly hole in the ground with broken, jagged pieces of rock,” said Elder Clayton.
Jenny Butchart, wife of the quarry owner Robert Butchart, decided to make use of the vacant land a turn it into a garden. She brought imported a variety of flowers from many nations, creating what is now know as the “Sunken Gardens”, a National Historic site in Canada.
“They are the delightful product of years of thoughtful work. Likewise, they are a testimony of what can be done when someone has the vision to see how beauty can be created from an eyesore,” Elder Clayton said.
“There is a little bit of a limestone quarry inside all of us. We come from the premortal word trailing clouds of glory and grandeur. We come with spiritual strengths and capacities, but we also come dragging along some weaknesses.”
Those weaknesses include the imperfections of being born into a natural and fallen state, according to Elder Clayton.
Elder Clayton concluded, by saying that becoming like Christ is the spiritual equivalent of adding and nurturing plants in a garden.
“If we continue to plant and nurture in faith, then gradually overtime, the garden of our soul grows in beauty. Our lives begin to be abundant in every righteous sense.”