BYU public health professor invites students to take hold of Christ

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Ali Crandall, an associate professor of public health in the BYU College of Life Sciences, gave a devotional on Tuesday, June 4 in the Marriott Center. She spoke on taking hold of Christ by keeping covenants.

Crandall studied community health education at BYU, earned her Master of Public Health from Loma Linda University and received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.

Crandall’s discourse was rooted in Isaiah 4:1, a verse full of symbolism. She recounted her initial confusion with the scripture but found clarity through “The Lost Language of Symbolism” by Alanso Gaskill. 

It led to a new interpretation that has now made the verses one of her favorites. She reworded to verse to read as follows: 

“And in that day the entire church shall take hold of Christ saying we will make and keep sacred covenants only let us take upon ourselves thy name so that we can be whole and complete,” she said. 

With this verse as her focus, Crandall shared six ways to better take hold of Christ:

1. Fear not.

Crandall began by recalling the story of Jesus and his disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee during a storm, when Jesus told them not to fear.

Drawing from her personal journey, Crandall explained, “If we are truly to take hold of Christ, then fearing not is exactly what we will strive to do.” 

She recounted a moment of personal uncertainty during her college years, where she felt adrift and alone after the passing of her mother. Despite the challenges, she found solace in trusting in divine guidance and recognizing the small ways in which the Lord provided support and direction.

She urged listeners to shift their focus from worldly anxieties to spiritual priorities, trusting in divine guidance amidst uncertainty.

2. Cherish meaningful connections.

Emphasizing the importance of relationships, Crandall echoed Christ’s example of prioritizing human connection over worldly pursuits. 

“When there is so much to do in life and we face so many pressures… we need to pause along the way to make sure we are building relationships,” Crandall said.

Crandall encouraged students to not only focus on their studies while in school but the journey and the connections made along the way.

3. Listen to others, especially those who see things differently than we do.  

According to Crandall, community and love come through interacting kindly and productively with people with differing opinions, regardless of their political, cultural, religious or economic beliefs.

“Maybe it’s not that one side or the other is going to ruin the world, maybe it’s our inability to listen to others who see things differently that is so destructive” she said.

4. Use the resources we have for good, no matter how small and inconsequential they may seem. 

Crandall shared the widow’s mite story in which a poor widow’s small contribution to the temple offering is praised by Jesus over larger donations, emphasizing the significance of sincere giving. 

“Whether large or small, if our motivation is to glorify the Lord’s name, then I believe he accepts our offering,” Crandall said. 

5. Remembers Christs admonition to “Suffer little children to come unto me.” 

Christ set the ultimate example when he visited the Nephites he asked them to bring their children froward, Crandall explained.

“There are things happening in homes and our communities today that are harmful to children now. The savior is aware of the little children but He’s asking us to figuratively get down on the ground to participate in healing them,” she said. “Yes, most of the strength that can come to children hopefully comes from their families. However, my research and that of others indicates that children need positive relationships with a variety of adults in their lives.”

6. Trust our heavenly parents. 

“As we, the entire BYU campus and as a part of the entire church, take hold of Christ we will find that He is our shadow in the daytime from the heat and a place of refuge and a cover from storm and from rain,” Crandall concluded.

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