David Dollahite, a BYU family life professor, gave the devotional on Tuesday, Sept. 27. He spoke about the importance of receiving the eternal in our lives and resisting the ephemeral.
He began by talking about the significance of the tree of life. There were a number of temporary items that deterred people from staying on the straight and narrow towards eternal salvation, Dollahite said.
Dollahite was born and raised in Marin County, California, and said he was constantly surrounded by people who lived a luxurious lifestyle.
“My goals were to play professional tennis and teach at a fancy tennis club,” Dollahite said. “In other words, I wanted to live in the great and spacious building.”
Dollahite’s eyes were drawn to a copy of the Book of Mormon that his mother’s co-worker gave them when he was a college freshman. He began to read it and said even the first verse gave him shivers up and down his spine.
Dollahite continued to have strong feelings that inspired him to read the Book of Mormon from then on. He came across underlined and highlighted verses near the end, with a sentence written in the margins that read, “VERY IMPORTANT VERSES. READ THESE CAREFULLY.”
The scripture was Moroni 10:3-5, and it said to ask God if “these things” were true. This led Dollahite to kneel by his bed and ask God sincerely about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
“It was as if a river of pure water rushed through me, washing away all my sins,” Dollahite said. “It was also like a raging fire purging away my old self. I felt completely clean and like an entirely new person.”
This experience led to a lot of realizations and thoughts that kept him awake that night, filling him with enthusiasm about the LDS Church. Dollahite talked about how unfortunate it is that many people have to go through a full range of troubles and sorrows without having the blessings and protections that come with the gospel.
“If you, or someone you know, thinks it’s hard to be a Mormon, imagine life without the power of Christ’s gospel,” Dollahite said.
Dollahite went to church for the first time with his mother’s coworker, Mrs. Leininger. It was different from what he expected, and he often caught himself thinking, “This is a great church!” After meeting with the elders, Dollahite agreed to get baptized and was eager to go on a mission. His parents weren’t thrilled, he said, but their opposition and his gospel study only strengthened his testimony.
“I went to BYU, served a mission, returned, and married my eternal companion, and together we have shared 33 years of marriage, seven great kids and three grandchildren so far,” Dollahite said. “Talk about eternal bliss!”
Dollahite said this experience, along with many others, helped him witness God’s love and tender mercies. He emphasized how important it is that students don’t let “mists of mortal temptations” and other worldly desires separate them from receiving the eternal.
He then finished by going back to Lehi’s dream.
“I invite us all to join with those in Lehi’s dream who ‘pressed forward’ to the tree of life by ‘continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.'”