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Emily Gottfredson
Commencement in the BYU-Idaho Center on Dec. 16.

REXBURG, IDAHO

“The Lord Jesus Christ is the answer for both the calamities of nations and the calamities of our individual lives,” Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department, told graduates and their supporters during BYU-Idaho’s commencement exercises on Dec. 16.

Some 1,966 graduates and their supporters gathered on the Brigham Young University-Idaho campus for commencement exercises, held on a cold and snowy night in Rexburg, Idaho, on Dec. 16. This year’s graduating class consists of graduates earning 406 associate degrees and 1,576 bachelor’s degrees.

In addition to Elder Wilson, Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of Church Education, and BYU-Idaho President Clark G. Gilbert spoke. The BYU-Idaho men’s and women’s choir provided musical numbers during the event.

In his keynote address, Elder Wilson spoke about building a life on the rock of Jesus Christ.

“As you face your own future, you need to know how to build a life that is strong enough to withstand the uncertainties that lie ahead,” he said. “Given all that we cannot foresee or control, what reliable foundation can you build your life upon?”

Elder Wilson shared three ways people can build a life with Christ as their foundation.

“The first way is make Christ your exemplar, your ideal — the standard by which you measure your own life,” he said. “People look to various sources for role models today. In some cases, they choose sports figures, or celebrities or accomplished leaders. However, they all have their flaws and drawbacks. The only one who does not is Jesus Christ.”

Christ is the ultimate role model, he said.

“This process will take our conscious effort,” he said. “It is the great pursuit of the Christian life, and temporary setbacks are to be expected when our goal is to emulate the Son of God. The constant refrain of repentance in the gospel message is a recognition that we will fail repeatedly and need to continue trying to do better. Each time we stumble, the Lord is calling to us to get back up and try again. …

“We need to practice being like Christ. Over and over again.”

The second way a person can build on the foundation of Christ is through being humble.

“You will find in life that there are these two ways to live,” he said. “The first way is the world’s way. It seeks attention, applause, recognition, glory. Its purpose is to exalt oneself. This is a natural thing to do. We like to win, to get awards, to be noticed, to be the assistant to the president. …

“But if we want to build a life on the rock of Christ, we must do as He says and try to be like Him. That means the very opposite of what the world promotes.”

A person must live to serve and glorify Christ rather than themselves.

The third way Elder Wilson shared is through coming “to know His redeeming power.”

“Because He took upon Himself all of our sin, pain and suffering — He can redeem anything that comes into our lives and turn it to our eternal good,” he said.

Sharing a personal story of ten years ago when he was so physically ill he wasn’t able to work professionally or in the Church, Elder Wilson spoke of how the Savior became his rock and refuge.

“The blessings of the Atonement are real,” he said. “For each of us this means that any calamity, any tragedy whether personal or national, can be redeemed through the power of Christ to lift and to heal if we are built upon that rock.

“Build your life, consciously and purposefully, on the foundation stone of Jesus Christ, the Rock of Heaven,” he said. “Be as one who serves. If you stay rooted in Him, you will be able to withstand the mighty storms and the shafts in the whirlwind that will beat upon you. Never get discouraged because it is hard. Failure is one more avenue for growth and learning. Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.”

Elder Clark shared the importance of “learning for a lifetime” with “the whole soul — the mind, the heart and your immortal spirit.”

“This is learning that increases our power to know and understand, to take effective action and to grow and become more like our Father in Heaven. Learning of the whole soul is inherently a spiritual experience and rests, therefore, on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and obedience to Their commandments.”

Elder Clark said it is essential for every person to continue his or her learning all through life. He shared three simple things — ask for a desire to learn, repentance and temple worship — to keep one’s mind and heart open to learning of the whole soul.

“If we do not learn, we do not grow and change. If we do not grow and change, we do not become more knowledgeable, more effective, more useful, more faithful and more like our Heavenly Father. In fact, if we do not exercise our God-given power to learn and grow and change, we will lose power until we know and can do less and less.”

mholman@desnews.com @marianne_holman

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