David A. Thomas' patriarchal blessing includes the admonition to "study the laws of the temporal affairs of men as well as of their spiritual affairs."
He has been doing just that for more than 30 years as a professor of law at Brigham Young University's J. Rueben Clark Law School. Thomas, holder of the Rex E. Lee Chair, addressed university students and faculty at Tuesday's university devotional in the de Jong Concert Hall.
Thomas' devotional will be rebroadcast Sunday, June 15, on BYU-TV at 8 a.m. and 4 and 10 p.m., and on KBYU at 6 and 11 a.m.
Midway through law school, Thomas was called on to serve in the military. Upon his arrival in Vietnam, he had to travel by helicopter. As the helicopter took off it banked steeply to the side, so that Thomas, sitting on a metal stool, was looking almost straight down out of the open door.
"At that moment, I realized that I had forgotten to fasten my seat belt, and that both my hands were full of important things that I did not want drop out of the helicopter - my rifle and my helmet," Thomas related.
Somehow managing to hang on, Thomas said he learned an important lesson that day about the law of gravity and its effects.
Just like the law of gravity affects each of us and may bring unintended consequences, our obedience to the laws of God also brings consequences.
One of the most important Godly attributes is adherence to law, said Thomas. In order to obtain blessings, we must be obedient to the law upon which it is predicated.
"As we go through life, we come to understand some of the important cause-and-effect relationships between our conduct and our blessings," Thomas said, going on to outline some of the most important examples of this.
The Lord's laws are predicated upon many principles, Thomas said, including: health laws, liberty and the rule of law, obedience, teaching and learning by the spirit, humility and perseverance.
Thomas shared the story of his wife's ancestors as an example of obedience to the laws of God. Leaving a prosperous farm in Denmark, her third great grandparent's joined the Church and traveled to Utah. They faced many hardships along the way, including losing a daughter, joining the Willie and Martin handcart companies and being asked by Church leadership to relocate several times after arriving in Utah.
"They often said they would gladly do it all over again if necessary, to enjoy the blessings of their deep testimony of the Gospel," Thomas told students. "Many, many blessings are predicated upon the law of obedience."
Writer: Alexis Plowman