Val Jo Anderson, department chair for Plant and Wildlife Sciences, spoke to students in the de Jong Concert Hall Tuesday in a devotional address titled, “Into the Burn.”
The title of his devotional came from a command he was given by his crew boss when he was working on a fire crew. While fighting a wildfire, his crew boss saw that the wind was blowing the fire directly toward Anderson and the other members of his crew. “Into the burn,” he yelled at them, directing them to go into the fire to the other side where the fire could not return. By following this counsel, though counterintuitive, Anderson and the other men were saved.
“This was an intense lesson,” Anderson said, “that helped me understand the importance of knowing in advance who you should trust and follow without hesitation, especially when the correct choice may be obscured by our own limited experience or instinctive bias.”
Anderson said there are many instances in the scriptures where God commands something that is counterintuitive. He pointed out the examples of Noah building the ark and Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son.
“An adequate test of our faith must necessarily be something that seems counterintuitive, otherwise we could trust in the arm of flesh, lean unto our own understanding and make the right decision without exercising our faith in God,” Anderson said.
“The time will come when God, by his own voice or that of his prophets, will command ‘into the burn.’ It is critical at that point in time to know whom you trust and who you will follow, because our response to this command will define our faith in God and our place in the eternities.”
Rebroadcast and archive information is available at byub.org/devotionals and speeches.byu.edu.