McKay Christensen, managing director of alumni and external relations, delivered this week’s devotional address. He spoke about how to “lay hold upon the word” of God and what prevents that.
Christensen shared that he learned to lay hold upon God's words after almost being killed in a farming accident at 15 years old. While working on a sod farm, Christensen was run over by a 14-ton sod cutter. As he lay on the ground with broken bones and a collapsed lung, Christensen fought the urge to give in to the excruciating pain and die, but a priesthood blessing given during that time promised that Christensen would live, walk again and have a good life and influence. Those words gave him the strength to live and recover. Because he laid hold on the words of this blessing, Christensen now leads a fulfilling life.
Christensen quoted Helaman Chapter 3 in the Book of Mormon, which reads, “Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked. And land their souls, yea their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven.”
Christensen taught that the word of God comes in several forms: scriptures, priesthood blessings, testimony, church lessons and class discussions.
“When you lay hold you take it to heart, you follow it, you taste it, you acquire it, you make it your own, you identify with it, you fully give yourself to it, follow it with real intent and let it change you," Christensen said.
Christensen shared that he had applied teachings into his life on several occasions, including his mission preparation and graduate school. He said that connecting deeply with the words of God leads us to personal change and growth.
“Yes, God can change circumstances. He can soften hearts and even heal sickness,” Christensen said. “But in my life, most of the blessings I have received have come by way of the word.”
Christensen asserted that God is giving gifts of His words to us frequently, but that we are not opening these gifts or laying hold upon them. One of the things keeping us from these blessings is distraction. Christensen said that we can focus on the word of God by “centering.”
“Centering means you center your attention and effort on what is currently before you. It means you do that thing with all of your heart or feeling and passion, your might or energy, your mind or focus and attention, and your strength or physical will,” said Christensen.
Christensen said centering helps us to concentrate our power on the task at hand. This helps us to get more out of what we are doing, whether that is schoolwork or studying the scriptures. The way to center is to stop multitasking. One blessing of being centered is finding purpose and meaning, Christensen said.
“It is in the depth of things that you are inspired to lay hold on the word in ways that can change you and change your life,” Christensen said.
Christensen said he imagines that God is eager for us to focus on and apply His teachings so we can receive more blessings.
“Laying hold upon the word is quick and powerful.... It’s able to change you. It is able to protect you,” Christensen said. “When you leave here today, look for ways you can lay hold on the word. By doing so, you will lay hold upon every good gift that our Heavenly Father has prepared for you. By continually laying hold upon the word you will come to know the word, even Jesus Christ.”
Next Forum: Brent Slife, Distinguished Faculty Lecturer
The next BYU Forum address will be given by Brent Slife, distinguished faculty lecturer, on Tuesday, May 16, at 11:05 a.m., in the de Jong Concert Hall.
His remarks will be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org (and archived for on-demand streaming), KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM, BYU Radio and will be archived on speeches.byu.edu.