“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Elder Patrick Kearon, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, wished students as he began Tuesday’s devotional. And then he spoke to them about messages of love.
When he was 10 years old, Elder Kearon went to boarding school in England while his parents lived in Saudi Arabia. Each week, he anxiously looked forward to a letter his mother would send, full of love, reassurance and advice.
“I savored every line and felt, for those moments, closer to home and closer to my parents’ love, and received the courage I needed to continue on another week,” he said. “The metaphor here with our eternal home is clear. Do you ever feel homesick and long for your eternal home, and for the love and affirmation and pure truth and light we know exist there?”
Elder Kearon reminded students that Heavenly Father has not let any of us leave home without the opportunity to access His love and guidance.
“Sometimes we forget this,” he said. “Sometimes we doubt this. Sometimes we cut ourselves off from it…. But as often as we sincerely seek and are worthy to receive, our Father in Heaven communicates with us through revelation—messages that come to us in the reflective moments of prayer, through the words and enlightenment of the scriptures, from the teachings of living prophets, or in the peaceful melodies of heavenly music. His messages are often quiet, and we all know that we can miss them if we are not ready to receive.”
Elder Kearon told the story of the Saturn 5 rocket and the need to travel around the dark side of the moon. That cut off all communication with mission control in Houston, but when they returned to the other side, where the moon was no longer between them and the earth, they could connect again.
“We can be, like the astronauts, astonishingly bright, capable, and gifted in our own ways—shooting for the moon…. But in order to continue our progression on the course the Lord would have us set, and return safely back to our eternal home, we must remain in constant communication with Him. If we place barriers between ourselves and the source of that critical communication, revelation from our Heavenly Father, we will be unable to receive the messages of guidance we need from Him,” he said.
“Problems will arise, and malfunctions occur, as our mortal lives take their natural course. When they do, will we find that we have cut ourselves off from the one true source of our guidance and direction?”
Elder Kearon talked of three conditions that can affect our ability to receive messages from Heavenly Father:
- Our hearts may be burdened by the cares of daily life and the clamor of the world
- Our hearts may be hardened by sin and unworthiness
- Our hearts may be malnourished by a poor digital diet
Our hearts may be burdened by the cares of daily life and the clamor of the world.
“We may not mean to do it, we may not even know we are doing it, but occasionally we can put ourselves round the dark side of the moon when our hearts become overburdened by the worries, pressures, irritations, and deadlines of daily life,” he said. “When you are feeling overwhelmed and overburdened, it seems impossible to find a way or a time to slow down, find a quiet space, and draw close to your Heavenly Father. Just the mere suggestion that you might carve out some time from your already overscheduled day increases the sense of pressure you feel. You may doubt that choosing to spend that segment of quiet time will actually yield enough benefit and so is better spent getting something else done. However, that’s when problems arise and small glitches can turn into a major malfunction.”
Elder Kearon said we must each find, and then guard, a time each and every day to remember these words of the Lord: All flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God. “A segment of time, when we can be still, quiet, and removed from the busyness of our lives will help to re-center us, re-focus our priorities, and bring us back into a position where we can receive and feel the messages our Heavenly Father wishes to send us.”
Our hearts may be hardened by sin and unworthiness
“There can be no doubt that hearts carrying sin and unworthiness place barriers between themselves and God, Elder Kearon said. “If there is something you carry in your heart today that is blocking you—in any degree—from truly connecting with your Heavenly Father and feeling his love and his plan for you, resolve now to put it right, let it go, give it up, or throw it out.”
Elder Kearon invited students to let their hearts feel the reality of Lehi’s teaching about our “perfectly loving and perfectly forgiving Savior: ‘Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ He offered himself a sacrifice for you, and his suffering can answer the ends of the law, for you.”
Our hearts may be malnourished by a poor digital diet
“Don't be surprised that if you spend much of your time consuming one kind of message that you become affected and influenced by it,” he said.
Elder Kearon advised against spending too much time with social media, celebrity or entertainment news, games, and the pursuit of online time-hungry activities which “constitute a poor digital diet.
“When we choose to consume the attitudes and opinions of the mass media, we will find our own values and viewpoints following suit, and most of the time we don’t even realize it is happening. We tell ourselves we’re not being affected by these messages, but that is not possible.
“We also need to be aware that many of today’s messages in the media can cause us to doubt our faith, compromise our convictions, and view the world through cynical eyes,” he said. “But we can deflect deceptive messages with our faith intact if we are connected in a vibrant, continuous stream to the source of truth, to the source of light. If we have questions or doubts, we get our answers from the Father and Creator of this universe, through the delicate and precious channels of revelation that operate when we remove all barriers to our hearts.
“As you examine the condition of your heart and the barriers you may be putting in the way of your communication with God, you will know what you need to do, you will know what you need to change.”
Elder Kearon invited students to act now, and to “be bold in choosing to remove any obstruction to the sweet, comforting, guiding messages of love from your Father in Heaven.”