Chris Mattson, professor of mechanical engineering, delivered Tuesday's devotional address. He taught that in order to withstand the storms of life, we must trust in the Lord and intentionally build our lives around Him.
Mattson began by recounting the story of the Book of Mormon group called the Jaredites, who were commanded by the Lord to construct boats and cross the sea into the promised land. On their journey, they had to learn to trust in the Lord through the many ups and downs that came their way.
Using this story as an analogy for our lives, Mattson shared that we too are each on a journey in which we experience trials and tribulation. He explained that our boat represents the vehicle which will take us through life, and what we choose to build will determine the way we experience the inevitable storms.
“The boat represents … our individual character, attitude, resiliency, our priorities, talents and habits — all of which undergo development while we live our lives.”
Designing our “boat” or our life intentionally is vital, Mattson taught. We must deliberately decide what kind of person we want to be and the destination we want to reach. Mattson suggested six ways we can become better boat builders.
1. Let the Lord lead you
Referencing another story in the Book of Mormon, Mattson pointed out that as Nephi constructed his own boat to take him to the promised land, he built it according to the Lord's instructions and “not after the manner of men.”
Mattson recognized that this would have been a difficult task, as many of us would rather have stuck to proven worldly techniques. Yet, building our boats requires the faith to acknowledge that the Lord knows best and to follow his counsel.
2. Use tools to amplify your strength
Listing off a number of tools the Lord has provided us with, such as the scriptures, living prophets, temple work and others, Mattson claimed that we must couple our faith with these things.
“We need to be proactive in the construction of our boats, we need to be faithful in following the Lord, and we need to use the tools we’ve been given to amplify our natural abilities and help us contribute in deeper, more meaningful ways than we could without them.”
3. Seek appropriate balance
Acknowledging that building our metaphorical boats can often become exhausting, Mattson urged us to take a break from personal development if we begin to feel worn out. He warned that sometimes it is easy to fixate on one area of our growth, such as our education, and completely abandon another part, such as physical health.
“Are you keeping enough in reserve to keep going on the other parts of your boat?” he said. “To keep the boat upright, you don’t need perfect balance — but neglect one entire category, and your chances of capsizing are greater.”
4. Ask good questions
While we are to be obedient to the Lord and His instructions, that does not mean we are supposed to follow the Lord blindly, Mattson said. The Lord wants us to come to Him in earnest prayer with our questions and concerns, and He promises He will answer us.
“Sometimes God gives us an answer to our question and that answer makes sense to us. And sometimes it doesn’t. Often though, in hindsight, His answers do make sense.”
5. Search for solutions in the scriptures
Mattson stated that sometimes, the Lord may not give us a direct answer but rather would have us seek for one by searching the scriptures and likening them unto ourselves. He suggested that even the brother of Jared may have studied the account of Noah as he sought a way to put light in his boat.
6. Commend yourself to the Lord
The Jaredites were incapable of steering themselves, but they trusted the Lord to guide them to their destination. Mattson recounted that while the Jaredites did go through many trying and fearful times, they eventually were led to the promised land.
Mattson testified that as we commend ourselves in the Lord's hands and continually strengthen the structure of our boats, the Lord will also steer us to safety, as He steered the Jaredites.
“Through it all, their boats held up, both physically and metaphorically. Throughout their journey they trusted the Lord and … ‘they did not cease to praise the Lord.’”