Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Sister Francis Monson sits next to her husband, President Thomas S. Monson, before his talk Tuesday. He described "guideposts that stand for our direction."

PROVO — A crowd of some 10,000 gathered Tuesday at Brigham Young University to hear President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speak of life's guideposts at a Tuesday morning devotional.

The Marriott Center audience laughed as President Monson recounted a heart-stopping experience he had as a newly commissioned apostle: "I met with my colleagues for the first time in the fourth-floor room of the Salt Lake Temple," President Monson said. "Everything was so new to me."

Moments before the sacrament was to be passed, then-Church President David O. McKay paused to invite the newest member — Monson — to instruct the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

"We will hear from you now, Brother Monson," President McKay said.

"That was a heart-stopper for me," a wide-eyed President Monson said, leaning into the pulpit.

Each of us will inevitably come across our own heart-stopping moments during our mortal voyage, President Monson said, "but I recommend looking to four guideposts that stand for our direction."

First, glance backward. President Monson told students to merely "glance at the past" and not dwell on returning to its events. "If any conclusion was reached, it was that there are no simple lessons in history," President Monson said, quoting John Tolands' book "The Rising Sun." "That it is human nature that repeats itself — not history."

He asked students to look backward to recognize things to be thankful for, then to express that thanks to "friends, professors and to any others who have helped along the way."

Second guidepost: look heavenward. "Some foolish persons turn their backs on the wisdom of God and follow the allurement of fickle fashion, the attraction of false popularity and the thrill of the moment," President Monson said.

The result of such worldly cravings are shattered dreams and crushed hopes, he said. "Such a quagmire of quicksand I plead with you to avoid," he said.

He also advised students to turn from feeling of "agnostic, doubting thoughts" that might destroy their house of faith, promising divine direction for those who look heavenward.

Third guidepost: reach outward. "No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellow man," he said.

Fourth guidepost: press forward. President Monson sketched a dismal world through analogies of "permissiveness, immorality, pornography and the power of peer pressure."

"Indeed, (life) has become increasingly more difficult," he said. "The world seems to have slipped from the moorings of safety and drifted from the harbor of peace."