Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Presidency of the Seventy emphasized students’ divine potential when they let God prevail in his devotional address on March 14.
He began with a quote by Frank W. Boreham, an English Baptist preacher. The quote concluded, “When a wrong wants righting, or a work wants doing, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world to do it.”
Elder Johnson addressed the students in the Marriott Center audience and said, “You are those beautiful babies who were born not long ago and now are ready to right wrongs, do God’s work, preach the truth and make a difference in the world.”
Moving forward with faith creates the greatest impact, Elder Johnson said, by keeping covenants in order to receive God’s direction, submitting to His will, and letting Him prevail.
Elder Johnson said some in the audience will be leaders in many different fields and disciplines, but most will not be famous or prominent, but will still have the opportunity to make a difference in the world and be a tool in the Lord’s work.
Elder Johnson shared the story of his mother’s parents. He said they were Swiss converts who immigrated to the United States. He said his grandmother always wanted children so that she could raise them to serve missions.
“My grandparents’ focus was on blessing others the way they had been blessed with the gospel,” Elder Johnson said. His grandparents ended up with eight children, including six boys, 55 grandchildren and 190 great-grandchildren, with many of them having served a mission, he said.
Elder Johnson said much of mothers and fathers rearing their children in love and righteousness is not glamorous, but it is vital to the Lord’s work. “It is one of the unsung heroic tasks of earth life,” he said.
Those who have the chance to get married and have children will find that it is challenging, he said.
“I’m confident you will find eternally significant ways to help prepare these babies born into your homes for their important work,” Elder Johnson said. “Many people don’t have the blessing to grow up in a strong gospel-centered home, but you can make sure your children do.”
Elder Johnson said his parents faced challenges being raised during the depression and through the second world war.
“We can choose to walk in faith even in very challenging times when it seems difficult to see how things will work out, especially when things don’t go according to our thoughts, plans, and desires. But it is God’s work, and if we follow Him, we will be able to bless others and receive blessings in our own lives,” Elder Johnson said.
Elder Johnson then told a story of his ancestors, Truman and his young wife Polly, who were baptized in 1833. Truman was a carpenter and worked on the interior of the Kirtland temple. Truman was later ordained a Seventy and began preparing for a mission while remaining busy with construction work, Elder Johnson said.
Truman went out to preach, but the Prophet Joseph Smith told him it was his duty to build a storehouse. According to Elder Johnson’s story, Truman had already felt that it was his duty, and agreed.
“I wonder how things might have been different if this young man had pushed to do what he had planned to do rather than submitting to what the Lord had in store for him,” Elder Johnson said. Truman became the architect for the Church and designed the Salt Lake temple and many other buildings. Elder Johnson said, “As with Truman, if we allow the Lord to guide us, He can lead us in directions where we can be most useful.”
Direction is received when one is aligned with God’s will, Elder Johnson said. The Savior’s most challenging task was doing the will of the father and drinking the better cup the Father gave Him, but this is what made possible all the effects of His atonement, he said.
Elder Johnson repeated part of the quote from the beginning of his devotional by F. W. Boreham. He added an additional line to the quote that said, “When a wrong wants righting, or a work wants doing, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world to do it. That is why, long, long ago, a babe was born at Bethlehem.”
Elder Johnson concluded his devotional by inviting the students to stay close to the Lord so He can help them unlock their full potential, he said. Elder Johnson said because of Him, students can make a difference, have inspiration, bless others and be powerful instruments that the Lord will utilize to shape the future.