Elder Kevin W. Pearson, General Authority Seventy, spoke on “our divine duty to seek light and truth,” in a devotional held at BYU-Idaho on March 7.
While speaking in a stake conference, Elder Pearson noticed a little girl looking at him through what appeared to be a kaleidoscope. “As I stood there at the pulpit, I concluded that everyone was looking at me through a different lens,” he said. While some looked through the lens of struggle, doubt or disbelief, others seemed to have faith and hope in his message. And others were focused on their cellphones.
Elder Pearson then asked, “What lens are you looking through?”
Recent research shows that the average young single adult spends nearly nine hours a day immersed in music, games, virtual entertainment and social media. “Media is a powerful lens,” Elder Pearson said. “It changes the way we all see and understand the world. However, it is not the right lens to find and understand the truth about your divine destiny and purpose.”
“Truth is knowledge of things as they really are, not as we want them to be,” Elder Pearson said. “As such, truth is rarely popular, it can even at times feel hard, unbending and uncompromising. Truth withstands the test of time and eternity. Thus, it frees us from the consequences of error.”
In order to work properly, a lens needs light. Just as a physical lens filters and focuses light, a spiritual lens uses the light of Christ to illuminate truth. “Each of us is endowed with the Light of Christ, the ability to discern spiritual light and truth. Our spiritual eyes, however, have two lenses...,” Elder Pearson said. “Heavenly Father sends divine light into our minds and hearts. Through these lenses, principles of truth are transformed into understanding, knowledge and conviction.”
As “masters of our own fate and soul,” everyone will get “exactly what we choose,” Elder Pearson said. “Ultimately we will either choose to look through the lens of truth with faith, to overcome life’s challenges and to understand the issues of our time. Or we will choose a secular lens to filter truth and to rationalize life’s questions. The lens you choose will determine your destiny.”
Elder Pearson asked, “Why are truth and light so difficult to discover and discern?” The adversary has many tools at his disposal to keep God’s children from finding truth, including distraction, deception and desensitization.
Distraction opposes focus. “You can’t see what you’re not looking for,” Elder Pearson said. “Distractions can be fatally deceptive.”
Deception opposes truth, sows doubt and disbelief, breeds pride and enmity, and hardens hearts and destroys faith, Elder Pearson said. To find truth, one needs the Holy Ghost, whose mission is to testify of truth. “Without [the Holy Ghost], we are all exposed to distraction and deception.”
Elder Pearson described spiritual desensitization as “one of the great diseases of every dispensation.” He said, “Think of the influences in your life that are spiritually offensive. These influences harden our hearts and dull our spiritual senses.”
Reading the Book of Mormon is critical in the process of searching for truth, Elder Pearson said. In this book, “The Savior directed the inclusion of exactly what we would need to survive the distraction, deception and desensitization of our days.”
Elder Pearson suggested six ways to survive spiritually.
1. Love and obey God first and always. “Heavenly Father loves us and is always willing to give us understanding. We must however, put him first in our lives.”
2. Personal prayer is essential. “Constantly seek for and pray for the influence of the Holy Ghost,” he said. “This is the light the Father sends that brings understanding.”
3. Seek learning by study and by faith. “Great leaders are great learners. The church needs great leaders — women and men seeking greater light and knowledge, deeper understanding and conversion.”
4. Search the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, every day. “If you start to feel confused and/or lost, start again on page one, and immerse yourself in the Book of Mormon. Clarity, perspective, understanding and peace will soon return. It is the lens of truth.”
5. Focus on the big picture. “Don’t get lost in the tall grass of small things,” Elder Pearson said. “The big picture is Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, the Plan of Salvation. It is the lens of truth.”
6. Above all else, trust in Jesus Christ. “When you are encompassed and overwhelmed by doubt, difficulty and temptation, trust Him. When life isn’t what you expected and those you trusted disappoint and betray you, continue to trust in Him completely.”
In closing, Elder Pearson said, “You are indeed, the master of your fate and soul. Because of the Savior’s Atonement, we are agents, free to act and not to be acted upon. Each of us will stand before Almighty God and account for the light and truth we have chosen. I promise you that if you will follow these principles and cling to truth, your faith will never fail.”