Richard D. Osguthorpe, dean of the David O. McKay School of Education and recently appointed associate academic vice president, delivered today's devotional address. He spoke on the importance of developing the spiritual gift to believe in the words of others.
Osguthorpe discussed the concept of “borrowed light” which he defined as when one relies on the testimony or spiritual experiences of another person. He said that while there is an expiration date on borrowed light, the incredible thing is that it can be the fuel to light a flame of faith for ourselves.
“Spiritual light is not loaned; it is freely given. Thus when we borrow light, we can use it to ignite our own testimony. That spark is the spiritual gift of believing on the words of others.”
Growing up as a passionate Cougar sports fan, young Osguthorpe would often listen to the radio to follow games that he was unable to attend in person. He would imagine the plays in his mind as he listened but later realized that he often pictured them differently than they actually occurred.
“I certainly never questioned the accuracy of the broadcast, even if I could not see the events in-person or on television. I simply listened and trusted the verbal account, even when I knew my radio mind’s eye might be off a little bit.”
This helped teach Osguthorpe that even if it takes time to fully understand the testimonies and words of others, it doesn't make them any less true.
While it is vital to seek our own personal conviction and revelation, learning from the experiences of others will help us in our journey to know Jesus Christ, Osguthorpe taught. He explained that in his own life, some of his most sacred and revelatory moments came because he believed in the words of others.
“Today I would like to share three experiences of believing on the words of others that have served to strengthen the foundation of my faith,” he said. “In turn, I will describe how each revelatory moment has provided a witness of Jesus Christ and his divine mission — specifically how He is the light of the world; the healer of the afflicted; and the lover of our souls.”
Light of the World
Osguthorpe first shared his experience as a missionary serving in Canada, at a time when he was so consumed with despair that he was contemplating going home early. He said that suddenly he had a vision of his mother, seated at a piano and singing a song he had heard only a few times before. The lyrics echoed in his mind and filled him with peace and comfort.
"When your world is filled with darkness, doubt, and fear Just hold on, hold on, the light will come."
“At the kitchen sink that evening, the light came as I believed on the words of my mother. Like the stripling sons of Helaman, I had been taught by my mother that if I did not doubt, God would deliver me.”
Healer of the Afflicted
About 20 years later, Osguthorpe again experienced an extremely difficult time in his life. It was December 24, and he and his family had sat down to read the scriptures that his grandma had insisted they read on Christmas Eve. As they read verses in The Book of Mormon, Osguthorpe said he was overcome with peace and understanding. Once again, he found solace in the testimony of another.
“Listening to those sacred verses immediately drew me into the embrace of the Savior’s love, and I was promptly overcome with a profound sense that our Heavenly Father was keenly aware of me and my family.”
Lover of Our Souls
Osguthorpe relayed a final experience in which another person's words were able to help strengthen his relationship with the Savior. He said that he was anxious over moving his family from Idaho to Utah to live in his late grandfather's old home. As he walked one day, he felt the presence of his grandfather come and tell him that it would be fine and that he would be there with him.
“The Heavens brought peace to my mind … through the angelic ministering of my grandfather. The Lord reinforced … that He was directing me and my family for good. I believed in the words alone which my grandfather spoke unto me, and the witness I received is that Jesus Christ is the lover of our souls."
Osguthorpe concluded by stating he has consistently been strengthened by the flame of others' words and testimonies when his own testimony was dim. Just as he had learned early on from listening to sports broadcasts on the radio, it is sometimes necessary to trust another person's account even if you don't understand every detail.
“I cannot speak to the exact brightness of the Savior’s light; I am not sure which hand that multitude held while bringing their afflicted ones to be healed; and I am unclear as to the precise size of the shadow of the Savior’s wing. But that uncertainty of detail in my mind’s eye does not change the ultimate outcome of the feeling in my heart.”