“To the Uttermost Ends of the Earth” with Elder Stone

Every day, I realize again how blessed I am to attend a university with a student body and faculty are so filled with faith, and that we are given the opportunity as Southern Virginia knights to be edified not only intellectually, but also spiritually. On Friday we had the opportunity to have Elder David R. Stone, formerly of the Quorum of the Seventy, come and speak to us for devotional.

I love devotionals, although I don’t often get to go because I’m studying or doing homework for class at 12:30. Half the reason I love it is because of the sense of unity – people announce their mission calls, President Sybrowsky welcomes the new missionaries (where else is a newly arrived missionary greeted by the majority of a student body?), and we always open with a hymn and a prayer. I have always appreciated that the speakers are willing to travel, oftentimes across the country, to spend their valuable time at a small school in the mountains of Virginia.

We opened with the hymn “Lead, Kindly Light,” which is one of my favorites – I love both the tune and the meaning. Little did I know that Elder Stone would include the hymn in his address to us in a pretty amazing way. Elder Stone was born in Argentina to a British father and an Argentine mother, who later moved her children to Utah in order that they might attend Brigham Young University in Provo. He relayed his childhood – his father left them when he was young, and his mother and sister were left without a home, and his mother without a job, while his father had arranged for him to attend a nearby boarding school. My heart ached as I listened to him tell of his mother searching for a job and a home near enough to the local school that his sister might walk to school.

Elder Stone, older than our white-haired President Sybrowsky whom he mentored, had this wonderfully bright presence, joking with us, and making all sorts of literary and pop culture references. In the span of only a few moments, he referenced Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Lord of the Rings, and quoted Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter.  He paced the front of the auditorium, switching between microphones so quickly that the tech crew couldn’t keep up, and he often merely spoke louder as he relayed his message to us. He has lived and served all over the world, headed multi-billion dollar corporations, and seen many things. He could have regaled us with stories of his travels and the people he met, and I’m sure we all would have been happy.

Instead, he wove a lesson for us into his stories. A lesson of trusting in the Lord and heading down the right path. Of making decisions in time, before time makes decisions. He posed to us a question: what are you going to do with the time and opportunities given to you? His main theme was simple: put your hand in the hand of God, and walk out of the darkness.

I love that phrase that he used, because it is applicable in so many ways. The first and perhaps most obvious is walking out of the darkness into the light of Christ and of God’s love. That is what touched me the most. How often do we keep ourselves in the corner because we feel blind, when we have Heavenly Father waiting to guide us at a moment’s notice? That is just want He wants to do – He wants to take our hand and lead us down a road that will bring us the greatest happiness.

A few bullet points taken from my notes:

  • do not take even one step down the wrong road
  • great doors swing on small hinges
  • Spanish saying, “when you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other end too” (decide wisely, there are consequences)
  • all travel their paths step by step
  • listen to those who know you best, and have your best interests at heart
  • no man stands in the same river twice
  • our choices are our steps on our life paths
  • D&C 88
  • don’t lose sight of your objective
  • keep the shore in sight and focus on your destination
  • a fool learns only from his own experience – learn from others
  • serve and live faithfully

His entire message was one that I appreciated, and there were several times as he spoke that I was reassured by the spirit that I’m on the right path, and doing the right thing. It means so much to know that, and I will gladly put my hand in the Lord’s and walk out of the darkness, because as we draw nearer to our God, He draws nearer unto us.

The last line of my notes from the devotional have been running through my mind continually since Elder Stone addressed us: the Lord looks at you, and asks you to let Him lead you. Let the Lord take your hand and lead you out of the darkness – “lead, kindly light.”

{if you’d like to read some more from Elder Stone, check out his 2006 conference address, “Zion in the Midst of Babylon“}

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